Taganga, Colombia Travel Guide – Travelers Journal
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This blog includes all of the info you need to know before visiting Taganga, Colombia (updated 2019) such as getting there, where to stay, what to do, tips and more! We hope this travel guide helps you prepare for your own trip and addresses any questions or concerns you may have!
A little bit about Taganga
Taganga, Colombia is a small fishing village only 10 minutes from Santa Marta. It is a place where beautiful lush green covered mountains meet a horseshoe-shaped bay. Regardless of what you may have heard, there is a ton of things to do in Taganga, Colombia.
The unpaved roads, old concrete houses, and friendly street dogs create a very relaxed vibe. Unfortunately, many travelers miss this small town. Instead, travelers choose to stay in places like Santa Marta city and skip the hidden gem that is Taganga, Colombia. It is so easy to get from Santa Marta to Taganga, there is practically no excuse to miss it.
Taganga was perfect for relaxing as nothing was too far and wearing thongs (flip flops for anyone not from Australia) is the only footwear required, so do yourself a favor and check it out.
Getting to and from Taganga
Taganga is most commonly accessed from Santa Marta or Cartagena (read blow on details from these locations.) That being said, Taganga is also easily accessible from nearly anywhere in Colombia by first going to Santa Marta.
Use busbud.com to search for buses from your location to Santa Marta. Tickets can also be purchased on the website.
Domestic flights are very affordable in Colombia so that is a great option for limiting travel time! VivaColombia generally offers the cheapest domestic flights. Alternatively, search here for flights to Santa Marta (the closest airport to Tanganga.)
Santa Marta to Taganga
Once you are in Santa Marta getting from Santa Marta to Taganga is easy! A taxi is the best and simplest option and will only cost about COP 12,000 from the city center or bus station. Uber is also available in Santa Marta and offers comparable pricing without requiring you to have to negotiate a price with the driver.
Getting from Cartagena to Taganga
There are many buses going from Cartagena to Santa Marta for about COP 30,000.
However, for about COP 45,000 you can get a shuttle (mini-van) which takes you to your accommodation in Taganga and picks you up from your accommodation in Cartagena. The direct shuttle is better because the bus station in Cartagena is 40 minutes from town and taxis are COP 20,000 (and that’s not in peak hour as it can take 1.5 hours at peak times).
Not only that, if you aren’t interested in visiting Santa Marta then the shuttle allows you to go straight to Taganga from Cartagena without the hassle of stopping at the bus station and then organizing a taxi!
This shuttle is also true for the reverse, from Taganga directly to Cartagena.
The shuttle company we used was called Marsol and you can contact them here or book with almost any hostel/hotel.
A private transfer is another option for getting from Cartagena to Taganga. Private transfers are more expensive than the share shuttles but they are also more comfortable and quicker. Click here for more information and prices.
Heading to Cartagena soon? Don’t forget to check out our travel guide for Cartagena as well!
Where to stay in Taganga
For such a small town there are surprisingly a lot of great options for places to stay! However, if you are looking for a 5-star resort or the Hilton Hotel, you won’t find that in Taganga. Most accommodation is hostels or small Bed & Breakfast type places. This all contributes to Taganga’s overall charm, relaxed vibe, and affordable pricing!
Don’t worry about the location in Taganga too much as everything is within walking distance. However, if you don’t want to walk up and down hills then book as close to the beach as possible.
Hostels in Taganga
We found a great hostel for our stay in Taganga, Hostel Nirvana Taganga. The hostel had a pool which came in handy with the heat, the wifi was good, and the vibe of the hostel was awesome for meeting people. The aircon ran nearly all day which was really needed in Taganga, and they had a restaurant and bar onsite.
Some other hostels or low-budget accommodation in Taganga are:
- La Masia Summer Hostel – This hostel is located right in the town center and has a pool! It is a great budget option at only COP 85,000 for a double room with breakfast included!
- La Tortuga Hostel – La Tortuga is a very social hostel great for meeting other travelers. It is slightly more expensive then some of the other hostels in the area but promises great quality. The location is central and there is an outdoor pool!
Hotels in Taganga
If you are looking for something a little bit more private than a hostel there are a couple of great options for hotels in Tanganga, Some options to consider are:
- La Ballena Azul Hotel – This hotel is only a couple hundred meters from the town center. Rooms offer ocean views and many have a balcony! While it is more luxurious than a hostel it is still reasonably priced costing only COP 175,000 for a private double room with air conditioning and an ensuite!
- Hotel Bahia Taganga – This beautiful hillside hotel offers amazing views of the coast! They have airconditioned rooms, an outdoor pool, and breakfast for COP 130,000 for a double room!
Instead of staying in a hotel, consider booking an Air BnB, they are great value! Use this link to search for what is available and get a discount on your first booking!
7 “Must-do” Things to do in Taganga, Colombia
Not only is there a few great things to within the town of Taganga, but due to its central location, Taganga is also a perfect base for visiting other nearby attractions.
1. Visit Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colombia, and for good reason. It is where thick green jungle meets the turquoise blue ocean. People walk through the national park in awe, some stay the night in hammocks staring up at the stars, and some visit just for the day to swim in the calm bays.
Not many people know this, but Tayrona National Park is accessible by boat, however, it can only be done from Taganga. The boat ride will save you a lot of time getting to the best beach and hence give you more time in the park. Taking the boat is highly recommended if you are only visiting Tarona National Park for the day. Otherwise, the bus stop to Tayrona is located only 10 minutes from Taganga by taxi (taxi to the bus stop from Taganga will cost about COP 10,000.)
For all the information you need on Tayrona National Park check out this blog post
If you want to visit Tayrona on a day tour, there are plenty of affordable tours available. Check out information and prices here!
2. Learn to Scuba Dive
The town of Taganga, Colombia sits right on the water’s edge of a calm bay. The calm water makes for a perfect place to scuba dive with better visibility than many other spots along the coast.
Taganga, Colombia also offers some of the cheapest dive courses in South America and is very similar to Asia prices (I did my Open Water and Advanced PADI in Asia). Expect to pay around COP 700,000 for an Open Water course in Taganga.
There are loads of dive shops in town that offer all sorts of courses and intro dives, so no matter what your level is, there something for everyone!
3. Visit Minca
Minca is a beautiful town that is located in the mountains around Taganga and Santa Marta. Minca has become a popular spot for backpackers as it is remote and feels less touristy than Santa Marta.
In Minca, it is possible to visit coffee plantations, go on hikes, go to waterfalls, or even watch the sunset on a massive hammock! Many people love Minca so much they spend a few days there, however, day trips are also a good way to visit especially if you prefer spending most of your time on the coast!
We wrote a blog all about Minca, check it out for more detailed info!
4. Go Fishing
I wish I had found out earlier that is was possible to go on a fishing tour as it looked like so much fun! On my last day in Taganga, three backpackers came back to the hostel after fishing and had managed to catch loads of big fish! So, if you’re like me and love heading out with a few beers and bring home a tasty dinner, I wouldn’t pass on this opportunity.
You can book a fishing tour with a registered travel agency in town or just negotiate with one of the local fishermen to take you out. The latter option will definitely be the most budget-friendly but will require some good knowledge of Spanish.
5. Enjoy the sunset on the Beach
Taganga, Colombia is located perfectly for watching the sun go down over the water (and I’ve not met anyone that doesn’t like a good sunset!)
Head down to the bars on the beach. Walk along the beach to the left (from facing the water) and walk to the end of the bay, this is where the cheapest local bars are. Grab a beer, pull up a plastic chair, and take some amazing photos.
6. Visit Playa Grande
Only a 20-minute walk from Taganga or COP 6,000 by boat is Playa Grande, a beautiful beach to spend the day. Although Taganga itself is right on the water, the water in the bay isn’t the most beautiful due to all the boats in the area. A day trip to Playa Grande is great for checking out a nice beach without having to venture too far.
Note, it is not advisable to walk from Playa Grande at night for safety reasons. Make your visit to Playa Grande a day trip only and be back before sunset!
7. Go on a Sightseeing Tour of Santa Marta
If you don’t plan on spending a couple of nights in Santa Marta then consider doing a day sightseeing tour. There are lots of beautiful spots with historical significance in Santa Marta. You can also try some great food and do some shopping while in the big city.
Where to eat in Taganga
Taganga, Colombia has surprisingly good food and it doesn’t cost much to enjoy it either, the beach is lined with street food and the empanadas are amazing! Make sure you have a fruit smoothie from one the ladies on the beach, and for a couple of dollars more head to the French cafe called Cafe Bonsai for a Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie! It’s so good!
The number one restaurant on TripAdvisor is Babaganoush, our budget was a little tight so we didn’t go, however, some friends of mine did and said it was the best food they have ever had in South America, so if you can afford it check it out!
Pachamama is also a good choice for dinner and we ate here one night. The portions are big and the food is delicious. I recommend the burgers, the patties where huge! A main is as little as COP 20,000.
Taganga, Colombia Safety
Before we went to Taganga we had heard through the grapevine that it wasn’t the safest place. But after visiting for myself, I found the little town to be quite safe. We went out in the evenings (in a group of four) and the locals all seemed very inviting and nice.
However, like all places in Latin America, there is a good reason to be safety conscious at all times.
Police presence in Taganga is very minimal. The entire time we were there we didn’t see one police officer. This wasn’t a problem in terms of violence because it is a very relaxed town, but it does promote the selling of drugs and locals will approach tourists offering drugs for sale.
I would recommend only going to take money out of an ATM during daylight hours. I would also advise that if you are going out at night not to go alone and don’t bring any valuables. The town is small and seems safe, but at night it is dark with very little streetlights.
The other thing you will notice as soon as you arrive in Taganga is all of the street dogs. I get a little nervous around stray dogs but the ones in Taganga seemed very friendly and relaxed. We had no problem with the dogs while we were there.
Overall, the safety in Taganga, Colombia should not deter you from visiting. It is a beautiful little town with such friendly people!
Other important information
- If you are getting a taxi to Santa Marta the price is fixed and all cabs have a chart in them with the prices so have a read and don’t get ripped off.
- There is a Bank of Colombia in town, but we have been told that sometimes it doesn’t work so to be safe, get cash out in advance.
- Although it is safe to drink the tap water in some Colombian cities, it is not good in Taganga. Save yourself from getting sick and buy bottled water.
Where to go next
- San Gil – Colombia’s adventure capital. Try bungee jumping or whitewater rafting.
- Medellin – a city rich in culture and history and definitely worth a visit.
- San Andres Island – A beautiful Caribbean island, simply paradise.
- Guatape – a cute little town with the most colorful streets you will ever see.
- Salento – drink some of the world’s best coffee and walk amongst the famous wax palm trees
I hope you got a lot of information from this guide and you enjoy your trip to Taganga, Colombia.
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January 5, 2020