Santa Marta beach in Columbia is one of the best Caribbean beaches. This exotic beach attracts both the locals and international tourists for its scenic and lively beauty round the year, though it still remains a largely un-traveled tourist spot with huge potential. Also known as the ‘Pearl of the Colombian Caribbean’, this natural harbor is a paradise for the beach-goers and water-sport lovers with excellent availability of many beach-front hotels. The city also preserves a splendid history of colonial architecture and other interesting places along with the varied ecosystems of tropical climate – making it a perfect holiday destination full of excitement and adventure.
Santa Marta is the capital of the Magdalena Department of Colombia. It is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other; and lies in the northern part of Columbia. Santa Marta is easily accessible via air, land and waterways. The Simon Bolivar airport in the city is only at a few minutes drive from various beach resorts here. It receives regular flights from Bogota and Medillin. The bus stand of the city is quite at a distance on the main highway and finds regular to and fro bus services from nearby towns of Bogota, Medillin, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, Cartagena, etc. Being a major port, Santa Marta is also a hub for various ships and vessels. With typical tropical climate, the city enjoys warm weather throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 27 to 37 degree Celsius at sea level. This keeps the waters warm and allows swimmers to enjoy the sea all through the year. Besides, being enveloped by high mountain ranges, this place has remained hurricane-free.
2) Scenic Beauty:
There are many places to be visited in Santa Marta for their historical significance or scenic beauty.
Santa Marta Cathedral was built in 1766 and is one of the oldest cathedrals in the whole of Colombia. This giant beautiful white-washed monument once held the remains of Simon Bolivar, who played a key role in the independence struggle of South America from 1830 to 1842, after which the remains were taken to his birthplace, Caracus in Venezuela.
San Fernando Fort was built during the Spanish colonial regime in order to protect the city from pirates.
The Museum of Gold in the Customs House of the city exhibits a splendid collection of artifacts of the Tayrona culture.
Tayrona National Natural Park lies 34 kms from the city of Santa Marta covering nearly 150 sq km of land and 30 sq km of sea area. The park is the holding ground to some 700 species of birds and fishes; and 770 species of plants and trees.
Lost city of Ciudad Perdida located in the Tayron Natural Park region holds the archaeological remains of the ancient settlements believed to be founded in about 800 AD. This site was discovered in 1972.
Quebrada Valencia Natural Reserve is known for its mesmerizing waterfall amidst the forests while Mamancana Natural Reserve is a wildlife reserve where one can enjoy adventure sports like downhill, rock climbing, paragliding, canopying, etc.
Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum provides an excellent view of marine animals including sharks, seals and turtles. It also hosts dolphin shows. Taganga is a suburb to the north of the city which is mainly a fishing village and is famous for its beaches and scuba diving adventure.
3) Eco System:
Being a coastal area with tropical climatic conditions, the deep blue-green sea and lush green forests of Santa Marta boast of an extensive list of plant and animal species some of which are endangered. The presence of the reserves and sanctuaries has further supported the survival of flora and fauna in this region. Animals like titi monkeys, iguanas, various lizards, jaguars, crested oropendolas and tanagers are present in this area. Some 700 species of birds are present in Santa Marta including owls, condors, humming birds, parakeets, hawks and eagles. It boasts of over 550 marine species living here including sharks, dolphins, various crustaceans, fishes and coral reefs.
Adventure is at its best in this coastal city with the presence of wide stretches of sea and lofty mountains amidst tropical forests providing ample platform for various adventure sports. Light adventures like nature walks, swimming, sunbathing, fishing and bird watching are most common. Jet skiing is a popular water sport on the Santa Marta beach. For adventure lovers, the coral reefs provide an excellent opportunity for scuba diving, particularly in Taganga. Besides, you can try out camping, windsurfing, kayak, trekking, paragliding, and zip lining as well. El Rodadero, a suburb to the south of the city center, is the hub of such activities.
5) Foodie’s Paradise:
Owing to its sea-side location, you can expect wide variety of delectable sea food in Santa Marta ranging from the inexpensive street foods to the sizzling preparations in restaurants and hotels. Sea foods like ceviche, langostinos and pargo are favorites in this part of the world. Plenty of fresh tropical fruits and juices are also readily available to quench your thirst. A coconut and flavored rice dish called arroz-de-coco is another specialty of this region. Restaurants serve some of the excellent Spanish and Caribbean foods here.
6) Rich Culture:
Santa Marta was founded by Rodrigo de Bastidas, a Spanish conqueror, on July 29, 1525. This led to the beginning of Spanish colonization in Santa Marta which brought with it the hues of Spanish culture in the region which until then had the colors of the Tayrona culture of Amerindians. The city holds the colors, vibrancy and joyousness of raw Caribbean nature. Carnivals are a regular feature here that bring the working of the city to a halt and merge the locals into the music and dancing festivity. Salsa and Vallenato music are favorite of the people here. Sea festivals are celebrated accompanied with sports competitions for the locals. Such festivals are a way to honor the Caribbean Sea
7) Where to stay in Santa Marta Beach?
There are plenty of accommodations available in Santa Marta to meet the needs of travelers in different budget categories. So, you can opt for the most expensive boutique hotels and beach-front hotels or may plan a stay at any of the affordable hostels in the city. Some of the well- known hotels in Santa Marta are La Brisa Loca, Sun City, La Sierra Hotel, Park Hotel, La Casa, Irotama, La Casa del Falol, and Hotel la Sierra.