ULTIMATE Guide to Taganga, Colombia (and 15 Fun Things to do!)
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Here’s everything you NEED to know about Taganga, Colombia before you go including 15 awesome things to do in Taganga, how to get there, where to stay, and more! In this blog, you’ll see why I personally love this tiny village and why I visited for the SECOND time in March 2020!
Taganga, the sleepy fishing village just East of Santa Marta that seems to attract more street dogs than tourists. But it isn’t such a bad thing. Between the run-down buildings and dirt roads, Tanganga has its own charm with kind people, a relaxed vibe, and the best sunsets ever!
If fact, many foreigners and Colombians head to Taganga for a beach holiday.
If you’re not a “city person” then Taganga may be more your style than Santa Marta. You’ll be able to hang at the beach in peace and wander the streets without any traffic.
And since Taganga is only a short 10-minute drive from Santa Marta city center, it is easy to get to!
So, if you’re planning to check out Taganga, Colombia (either for a day trip or a couple of nights) this blog will help you plan your visit. Here are the best things to do in Tangana and other relevant info for tourists!
Getting to/from Taganga, Colombia
Taganga is most commonly accessed from Santa Marta or Cartagena. But with that said, Taganga is also easily accessible from nearly anywhere in Colombia by first going to Santa Marta via bus or plane.
Tip: We use Busbud.com to search for buses in Colombia. They are a safe and secure website that allows you to purchase bus tickets and pick your seat in advance! If you want to fly, you can search for flights to Santa Marta online (the closest airport to Taganga.)
Santa Marta to Taganga
Once you are in Santa Marta getting to Taganga is easy! A taxi is the best and simplest option and will only cost about 12,000 COP from the city center or bus station.
Cartagena to Taganga
There are many buses going from Cartagena to Santa Marta for about 30,000 COP.
However, for about 58,000 COP you can get a shuttle (mini-van) which takes you directly 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 book with them online through Viator.
A private transfer is another option for getting from Cartagena to Taganga. Private transfers are more expensive than the shared shuttles but they are also more comfortable and way quicker.
15 Fun Things to do in Taganga, Colombia
Not only are there a few great things to do within the town of Taganga, but due to its central location, Taganga is also a perfect base for visiting other nearby attractions like some of the best beaches in the area!
Here are 15 awesome things to do in Taganga, Colombia!
1. Visit Playa Grande
Playa Grande is the most popular beach near Taganga and as such, definitely one of the best things to do in Taganga.
Playa Grande is a white sandy beach with crystal clear water. This small bay is surrounded by mountains and is nothing short of breathtaking.
You can only reach Playa Grande from Taganga as there is no road there. You can either hike (not recommended for safety reasons) or take a 5-minute boat ride for 10,00 COP per person for a return trip.
Do be warned, Playa Grande is filled with restaurants and chairs for rent. It is a busy beach where Colombians on holiday come to have a good time. But when I visited, the vibe was all part of the fun and no matter how many people were around, it was still breathtaking.
Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, go to Playa Grande on a weekday and first thing in the morning. The beach didn’t really start getting busy until after noon.
2. Day trip to Tayrona National Park
The easiest day trip to Tayrona National Park is actually from Taganga because there is a boat that goes directly from Taganga to Cabo San Juan beach in Tayrona.
For only 90,000 COP you can get a return boat ride to Cabo San Juan (the most popular beach in Tayrona.) This is a great option for those who don’t want to have to hike in Tayrona to enjoy the best beach!
However, if you want to do the famous hike in Tayrona from El Zaino entrance gate to Cabo San Juan, then you can take the boat one way and the public bus the other way. Alternatively, you can book a day trip that hikes both ways.
If you want, you can spend a night or two in Tayrona National Park. For more info, read our blog about where to stay in Tayrona!
3. Try Scuba diving
The calm clear waters around Taganga make it perfect for scuba diving and learning to scuba dive. In fact, scuba diving is one of the best activities in Taganga and the reason many people visit.
The scuba diving isn’t world-class but you’ll still see lots of fish and some corals as well as have a fun time with friends.
Prices for scuba diving in Taganga are considerably cheaper than elsewhere in Colombia. Therefore, many people get PADI (scuba) certified in Taganga before doing fun dives on islands near Cartagena or on San Andres Island.
Expect to pay about 700,000 COP for the Open Water PADI Dive Course.
4. Go snorkeling
If scuba diving isn’t your thing, you can still see tons of fish going snorkeling from Taganga.
From the shore, you won’t see too much, but if you go out on a snorkeling tour that takes you to a reef, then you’re guaranteed to see lots of coral and fish!
5. Go fishing with a local fisherman
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 our 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 to 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.
Some people also spearfish in Taganga, so if you want to try spearfishing this is also possible here.
6. Enjoy a beach sunset with cocktails
Easily one of the best things to do in Taganga is to enjoy the sunset at the beach. Taganga has one of the most magical sunsets ever all year round. And to be honest, I spent a total of 6 nights in Taganga and the sunset was beautiful every single night!
You can either head to the beach and chill in the sand or find yourself a beachfront restaurant to have a drink.
Our personal favorite is called Casita del Mar because they have the best Pina Coladas on happy hour (during sunset) 2 for 20,000 COP!
7. Have a beach day
I’m not going to lie to you, the beach in Taganga isn’t amazing but it isn’t overly busy like Santa Marta and has nice calm water.
A couple of years ago when I visited Taganga for the first time the beach had lots of garbage scattered around and the water was full of anchored boats. This made swimming here not very appealing.
But that’s no longer the case.
I was just in Taganga again and they have really cleaned the place up! Not a single bit of garbage was in sight and they have sectioned off a large area in the water for swimming only.
Sure, the beach isn’t as nice as the ones you’ll find in say Tayrona, but it is still swimmable and much more relaxing. For a chill beach day, Taganga is a great choice.
8. Eat cheap seafood
Remember how I said Taganga was a fishing village? Well, that’s why eating fresh (and cheap) seafood is one of the best things to do in Taganga!
You can get a fresh fried fish in town complete with plantains, coconut rice, salad, and fish soup for only 17,000 COP – such a great deal!
9. Visit the Taganga viewpoint
On the way to Santa Marta from Taganga, you’ll drive up a steep and windy road to the top of a large hill. Here there is a pullover bay where vehicles can stop and check out the view of Taganga and the bay.
I recommend just asking your taxi driver to stop here on the way to/from Santa Marta. Otherwise, you can hike here from Taganga too.
10. Explore Santa Marta historical center
To me, Santa Marta is an interesting and fun city. It may seem a little rough around the edges but I really love it! Between the trendy street-side restaurants, street performers, marina, and busy local beach it really captivated me.
I recommend heading into Santa Marta one afternoon around 4 pm to explore the historical center. At this time of day, the city comes alive and you’ll find lots to do and explore. Walk the cobblestone streets near Parque de Los Novios, eat at a busy restaurant, drink beer, or even watch the sunset at Sunset Bar.
11. Relax at Playa Cristal
Playa Cristal is known as one of the best beaches in all of Colombia! It has white sand and crystal clear water in a sheltered bay. It is actually part of Tayrona National Park but can only be visited on a day trip via a boat from Taganga. This makes Playa Cristal much less crowded than other beaches in Tayrona such as Cabo San Juan.
From Taganga you can book your return trip to Playa Cristal online in advance.
12. Check out Bahia Concha
Bahia Concha is another beach not far from Taganga. It is also beautiful but can be reached by boat from Taganga or via an hour-long drive. Because it is easier to get to, Bahia Concha is often pretty busy.
However, that doesn’t take away from how gorgeous this beach is! It is an easy day trip from Taganga and well worth checking out if you’re looking for as easily accessible pristine beach!
13. Eat at Pachamama
This restaurant in Taganga is amazing! In fact, it is so good that I just had to include it on my list of things to do in Taganga.
Pachamama serves everything from burgers (with huge tasty patties) to seafood pasta (which is literally to die for!) They also serve craft beer, wine, tapas, and more!
I ate at Pachamama a couple of years ago when I was in Taganga, and then a few days ago when I was there again, and I must say, it is still just as amazing as I remember.
14. Drink fresh fruit juice
Lining the streets in Taganga is fresh fruit juice stands. These stands offer tons of amazing fruit juices and you can even create your own flavor by mixing different fruits.
Expect to only pay a few thousand pesos for a juice.
15. Take advantage of cheap shopping
Cheap fish, cheap fruit juice, and now cheap shopping! Honestly, Taganga is considerably cheaper than Santa Marta so it makes for the perfect place to do some shopping.
You’ll find lots of shops selling souvenirs or even beachwear. Just remember to negotiate as bartering is all part of the shopping experience in Taganga!
Where to stay in Taganga, Colombia
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 in Tagnga are 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 Tortuga Hostel – La Tortuga is a very social hostel great for meeting other travelers. It is slightly more expensive than some of the other hostels in the area but promises great quality. The location is central and there is an outdoor pool!
Hostal Palohe – We’ve also stayed here before and it is a very chill hostel in a great location. The owner is super nice and the hostel is clean, comfortable, with lots of common areas including a decked-out kitchen and plunge 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!
Book La Ballena on Booking.com
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!
Book Hotel Bahia on Booking.com
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 eat some fresh seafood at one of the beachside restaurants too!
The number one restaurant on TripAdvisor is Babaganoush, but we didn’t have time to check this one out for ourselves. However, some friends of ours did and said it was the best food they have ever had in South America!
Pachamama is also a great choice for dinner and we’ve eaten here a couple of times. 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.
Safety in Taganga, Colombia
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 isn’t huge but they are around especially on the main walking streets along the coast. Basically stay away from quiet streets late at night.
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 Things to Know Before you go to Taganga
- 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.
- 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. Be sure to check out the rest of our blogs about Colombia to help plan the rest of your trip!
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March 8, 2020