Taganga is a small fishing village 5km north of Santa Marta at the Caribbean coast in Colombia.
Taganga is a great and idyllic fishing village. Many tourists, local and international, visit this beautiful place every year. It has great charm and the surrounding attractions are plenty.
Although Taganga is a popular place to go, it has also its share of problems, mainly with the infrastructure and public services. There has been a prolonged drought in the area, so water pressure is very low, sometimes non-existent. Many hotels, businesses and residents have their water delivered in tankers. Be careful when you walk alone at night or in remote areas.
- Frequent minibuses (colectivos) go from Santa Marta Bus Terminal via the city center to Taganga for COP$1,600 p/p, or COP$1,700 on holidays and sundays (May 2017 prices). To catch this bus from the terminal, exit out of the main entrance and walk to the busy highway, then cross to the opposite side and wait. There is one every 15 minutes or so. It's about 15 minutes from Santa Marta Historic Center (or about 30 - 40 minutes from the terminal) and a beautiful ride. You can get off at the Mirador of Taganga and walk down to town (25 minutes). You cannot get a minibus back to Taganga from the main beach in Santa Marta (Carrera 1), because it is one-way. To go back to Taganga you have to take the minibus from 5th Avenue (Carrera quinta).
- Taxi fare from the bus terminal of Santa Marta to Taganga starts from COP $12.000 and from Taganga to Santa Marta it is $10.000 (standard rates). It raises $2.000 on Sundays, holidays and at night.
- From Santa Marta airport the fare is COP$40,000, and the ride takes about 30minutes.
- For cruise ship passengers arriving in Santa Marta there are plenty of taxis and mini-buses waiting in a gated police controlled area to take you around town.
- From Cartagena there are shuttle services that directly go to Taganga for COP $45.000. You can avoid the long way to the bus station in Cartagena and the transfer in Santa Marta bus station.
- DIVAEXPE office, ☎ "(57-5)421 ([email protected]). from 8 am to 7 pm. is representing Marsol in Taganga and selling shuttle tickets from Taganga to Barranquilla and Cartagena at COP $43.000 pesos(update March 2013). This way is the easiest way to go from Taganga to Cartagena
Taganga is surrounded by beautiful desert mountains covered in natural flora and fauna. There are millions of lovely fish and corals which can be reached by short walks and snorkeling out to corals. People watching and good mellow times are to be had along the beach road and loads of beautiful tourists.
There is only one ATM in Taganga and as there is a high demand of cash, it often runs out of money. It also does not work with all types of foreign cards, some banks cards do not work, despite the ATM having VISA/Mastercard symbols. If you run out of cash just take the bus to Santa Marta and get off along the street next to the beach, there are several large banks near here. In addition, many hostels and dive shops also accept credit card payment (although there may be a surcharge).
- Adrenaline Addicts Motorcycle Tours and Rentals, (Drop Bear Hostal Santa Marta), ☎ (57) 311 364 2134, . A truly adventurous way to explore the surrounding areas of Santa Marta. The all inclusive tours range from 1-7 days and custom tours can also be arranged. Lessons available for the less experianced riders, along with easy riding tours. Advanced riders can test their skills on off-road tracks surrounded by jungle. [email protected]
- The main beach is shared with the harbour of Taganga. It's small and simple but good for swimming. It is very crowded with Colombian tourists on weekends.
- A 15 minute walk north of town lies Playa Grande, definitely better than Taganga's beach but maybe even more crowded. It is also possible to take a boat to get there (from COP $7.000 per person round trip) or one of the more remote beaches in Tayrona Park like Bahia Concha, Chengue and Playa Cristal (from COP $50.000 to $80.000 per person for a round trip). Real unspoiled paradise. Ask the fishermen. The trail starts from far right of Taganga beach.
- A longer walk goes to Bonito Gordo and from there to Bahia Concha. Reserve a full day for this and ask around to decide if you need to contract a local guide. You can spend the night at Bahia Concha, but you may need to take your own hammock.
- Mountain Biking, Calle 18 No. 3 - 31 (by the football pitch), ☎ (5) 421 08 70, . The best way to see Tayrona park, unspoiled beaches and dense tropical forest away from the heat up in Sierra Nevada.
- The beautiful beach of Cabo San Juan del Guía in Parque Nacional Tayrona is about a 1hour boat ride away (COP$40,000) - boats leave a couple of times a day when full, inquire in town or along the beach.
- You can also be in Minca, a small town in the Sierra Nevada above Santa Marta, in less than an hour. You can get there by shared or regular taxi. Shared taxis leave from "Estacion de Minca", near the mercado in Santa Marta. A direct taxi should cost from COP$35,000-40,000. Many tour operators in town also offer a one-day all-inclusive tour, including waterfalls, a spectacular mirador and coffee plantation/factory.
Brain Coral in Tayrona Park
Taganga turned in to a popular scuba diving spot. Diving spots are usually near the small island "Aguja", a part of Tayrona National Park. The underwater of Taganga has a big diversity of marine life. There are a dozen diving schools in town, but be careful where you do your courses. There are many reports of travelers doing their courses, paying and never receiving any certificate. Be careful for your safety: some diving centers have pretty old equipment, never follow safety rules such as safety-stop and even skip important skills/exams during the course or have dive masters teaching courses, check if you will be with a real instructor. For more information check PADI alerts .
Prices for a half day with 2 dives all equipment included are between COP$150,000-250,000. Open Water courses are among the cheapest in the world, between COP$750,000-1.000,000 (January 2018 prices).
Available dive centers (incomplete list):
- Ocean Lovers Taganga - PADI 5* Dive Resort, Calle 15 No. 14 - 1B, ☎ (0057-5) 421 93 32 ([email protected]), . 7.30am-7pm. It is a fairly new PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, owned and managed by a girl from Austria. They have a very funny and professional team of local and international instructors, that speaks Spanish, English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. All the staff is very helpful, equipment is mostly new or well maintained and they have a big and comfortable boat. Safety and excellent education is guaranteed. Couples and groups get discounts.
- Oceano Scuba Dive Center, Carrera 2 No. 17 - 46, ☎ (0057-5) 421 90 04 ([email protected]), . Experienced in the area with over 25 years in which they have dived with over 40,000 individuals and certified more than 8,000 sport divers. They have three marine vessels equipped with all items required. They are located on the first corner once you arrive to Taganga and their distinctive color is yellow (all they have is on yellow).
- Tayrona Dive Center, Carrera 2 No. 18A - 22, ☎ (0057-5) 421 53 49 ([email protected]), . Tayrona is the oldest dive center in Taganga. This is where Colombian anti-narcotics policemen take their courses. They also know great sites for diving in the areas of the Tayrona national park. The instructors are very experienced and staff is very nice. They also offer accommodation in very clean rooms with sea view. The founder and owner, known as “muñeco” is one of the best PADI instructors in Colombia. They take great underwater pictures for no extra charge. They also have very good equipment. Courses can be taken in English, Spanish or German.
- Reef Shepherd, Calle 14 n°1-02 Taganga (down the main street of the church), ☎ (57-5)4219511 ("[email protected]".).
- Centro de Buceo Poseidon (Poseidon Dive Center), Calle 18 No. 1 - 69 (First street when you get to Taganga, turn left, big red door with the diving flag.), ☎ (0057-5) 421 92 24 [email protected] ([email protected]), . Every Day: 7:30am - 7:00pm. German-owned diving center. Price for OW+Advanced COP $1.300.000 (COP $ 670.000 for OW). One of the most professional diving centres, headed by a well known PADI course Director. Has a swimming pool inside and well-maintained equipments, also are very strict about safety local regulations. This is the place where instructors from Colombia, come to take their course, as they are a PADI 5* Instructor Development Dive Resort. Even some divers from the Colombian Navy come to take courses here. Without any doubt has the best boats in town, 2 well maintained very comfortable Catamaran boats. And there for the only ones that could take you to the furthest dive sites on the Park. They also let you dive until your tank reaches reserve, no time policy (as some others in town do). Courses could be taken in different languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and some others. Could be pricey compared to other dive centers in town, but the price is still way below average worldwide, totally worth it if what you're looking for is safety, comfort and a good experience. You also have the option of getting accommodations on their facilities.
- Calipso Dive Center, Calle 12 No. 1 - 40, ☎ (5) 421 91 46 ([email protected]), . Calipso is the only center that offers a Tayrona Park Safari, where people can spend 2 nights in hammocks on a beautiful beach in the park and dive. People have raved about this experience. The diving is good. They are also pioneering a project to restore coral, which is rapidly degrading worldwide. In conjunction with the C-Force Foundation they are growing coral in a coral nursery. They are the only agency doing this in Colombia and one of the only ones doing this in the world. You can even take a coral growing/ gardening course. The people are really kind and you can stay at the center before your safari. (note per http://www.calipsodivecenter.com.co/en-us/secpages/voluntariado_EN.php it is "4 weeks full program $2.000 U.S. Dollars") Calipso is a member of NAUI, the second largest Scuba Diving Association in the World. Any certification between NAUI and PADI is mutually recognizable. NOT a PADI facility according to the PADI website. Prices for OW or Advanced Tayrona Park Safari with 2 nights 3 days sleeping in the park are COP $680.000 or for both is COP $1.100.000 with safari. They offer cheaper courses if you don't want to do the safari. For a 3 day and 2 night Safari with 7 dives it's COP $550.000.
- Delphinus Freediving Club operate out of Octopus Dive Center, instructor Carlos Correa teaches CMAS certified courses. You can do a 2-day course and get a 2* certificate (3minute static apnea, 20m dive) for as little as US$155 (January 2015), much cheaper than similar courses elsewhere. Not terribly responsive via email.
- Fundación Calipso Dive Center Calipso Dive Center and Tayrona National Park in Taganga Colombia are running a midwater marine nursery to recover species of corals around the marine area, control lion fish, educating the local fisherman and monitoring the coral reef. This is a opportunity for volunteers to enjoy scuba diving and support conservation. Volunteer in Coral Conservation Program Santa Marta - Taganga, calle 12 No. 1 - 40 Tel. (0057-5) 421 9146.
- Paola Mendoza is a private spanish teacher who offers you spanish lessons one to one in Santa Marta o Taganga. More information [email protected] Website ☎ (57)3106608528
Get homemade seasonal sweets and delicious frozen fruit treats at Kelly seasonally. And check out the handmade Wayu and Kogi shoulder bags. Excellent crafts and very Colombian! There are many local stalls with the usual arts and crafts, hammocks, bags, etc. Be prepared to bargain hard, but still expect to pay much more than at the market in Santa Marta - Taganga is a tourist town!
- Literar-té A book exchange/bookstore with a good collection of books in English (and other languages). Uphill after the police station and past the football field, follow the signs from there.
- Try the delicious streetfood along the main beachfront and at the other stalls dotted around the town - arepas, empanadas and more!
- Eat lunch in one of the local restaurants away from the beachfront, "Menu del Dia" should be no more than COP8,000 - a bowl of soup, a juice, and chicken/beef/fish with rice, plantains, beans and salad.
- Babaganoush Restaurant/Bar, above dive center tayrona (Cra. 1 No. 18 - 22), ☎ 318-868 14 76. 17.00-23.30. A new restaurant opened by the previous (Dutch) chef from Casa de Felipe. Beautiful place with nice sea view, lounge area and terrace. International cuisine: pumpkin soup, beef carpacio, vitello tonato, curries, tikka masala, pastas, fresh fish fillet, Filet Mignon with red wine or blue cheese sauce and homemade desserts. Sunset Happy Hour 17.00-21.30. Closed on Tuesdays. First in Taganga
- Republika Taganguera, French Restaurant/Bar. Tel. (0057-5) 421 90 92. Located in hostel Divanga, with nice swimming pool and just 4 blocks straight up from Delfin Hostel on the beach. Good vibes and Great French food.
- Café Bonsai, Calle 13 No. 1 - 7 (by the beach, a block from Taganga Xtreme), ☎ (0057-5) 421 94 95, . 08.00-22.30. Great breakfasts (freshly baked breads, wholegrain or rye sour dough, creamy yogurt with homemade jams and granola) with amazing coffees. Lunch with excellent sandwiches, big, fresh and tasty with some extremely nice sauces. At night great BBQ with pork chops, ginger chicken, balsamic rosemary skewers of tenderloin, and daily fresh fish. Also available: Colombian excelso arabica coffee or tea from India, tasty brownies, cocktails including martinis, daiquiris and a really fresh variant of mojito. AC, Wi-Fi and great music. 2-8 USD.
- Taganga Xtreme, Nice place on the beach front. Have (beach) clothes as well. Great coffee but bad service.
- Che Luis, Usually very crowded with locals and Israelis. Mostly an Israeli place and very loud as well. A lot of food for little money, but not the best quality though.
- El Reef, Cra. 1 No. 15 - 09. Near the beach. Great panini sandwiches and good salads. The speciality: good waffles with ice cream and nutella.
- Bitácora, Nice place on the beach front. Looks always crowded. Try the "Pescado Marinero" for an excellent dish (comes with a colorful side salad and self made fries. Maracuja juice (con leche) is also recommended. This may be a seasonal advice (true for September): beware of small (and not eatable) but nevertheless painful fruit falling from trees above if you get a seat not covered by the roof.
- PachaMama, Nice tapas restaurant near the church. French chef.
- Baguettes de Maria, Maria is a nice lady who makes great baguettes. Located near the soccer field.
- Pomodoro, Small local restaurant near the soccer field. They offer pizza and local food.
- Cactus, A kiosk on the beachfront. Very local.
- El Compass, Calle 19 Number 4. Really Alternative Place! Nice atmosphere. Easy to find.. It's just up the soccer field. Ask Around/ It is a must see
It would be good idea to take a couple of "Stubbie Coolers" (Australian vernacular for an item which keeps the beer in your bottle cooler or longer) as the heat in Taganga will have you drinking warm beer by the time you are at the end of your drink (or just don't hold your bottle when not drinking from it and don't take half an hour to finish each bottle).
- Divanga, Calle 12 No. 4, ☎ (0057-5) 421 90 92 ([email protected]). Divanga Hostels Backpackers bed and breakfast. Includes a beautiful swimming pool that creates a great social area. The staff is friendly. Comfortable and clean rooms with shower/toilet at only COP $35.000 per person, in dorm COP $29.000 pesos (breakfast is NOT included for guests in dorms, it is COP $8.000 extra). The view from the roof is fantastic, especially at sunset and a roof top bar plays excellent music. There is also a comfy TV room with cable TV and DVD player, an internet room with free high speed internet and Wi-Fi access and a restaurant inside serving excellent food. Free luggage storage. Discount for Hostelling International (HI) members. All credit cards accepted, VISA MASTERCARD, AMEX...
- La Casa de Felipe, Carrera 5A No. 19 - 13 (behind the football field), ☎ (0057-5) 421 91 01 ([email protected]), . Popular hostel. Several apartments some with kitchen, dormitory and hammocks if everything else is full. There is a communal kitchen, internet facilities, free wifi, laundry service, nice terraces and a friendly staff. Always crowded by backpackers. Located 15 minutes by walk from the beach. Prices between COP $15.000 and COP $45.000. Breakfast COP $6.000.Discount for Hostelling International (HI) members..
- Casa Divanga, ([email protected]). Casa Divanga Divanga's little sister at one block down. You get access to divanga's pool. Shady patio with hammocks and communal kitchen. Includes a tourism information point with Taganga's map and full information about Tayrona park. Free WiFi and two decent computers for free use. French run. Dorm : from COP $22.000, Double w/bathroom: COP 60.000.
- Casa Blanca, ☎ (5) 421 92 32 / 300-805 49 68. Opened in 1998 by Colombian/Swiss team Carlos Botache and Bernard Gusten, Casa Blanca has become a favorite amongst beach-loving travelers and provides an excellent base for those taking dive courses in town or those wanting to make the most of their time by the sea. Prices are COP $18.000 p.p. with a COP $2.000 single supplement. Double rooms are COP $40.000.it is a run down dump it may have been nice 10 years ago but it has gone backwards with new owner Heavy drug influence on beach in front, so be careful at night.
- Hotel Oso Perezoso, Calle 17 No. 2 - 36, ☎ (0057-5) 421 80 41 ([email protected]), . Hotel Oso Perezoso is a three-story structure, perfectly designed to catch the cool breezes of Taganga and enjoy a chill atmosphere amid a 360 degree view. The first floor has three rooms and a store, free bag storage, and a book exchange. The second floor has four bright guest rooms with views of the ocean that open onto a breezy open-air corridor. The third floor is a gorgeous rooftop Tsunami bar and cafe with Wi-Fi internet (COP $5.000 extra), a 800GB jukebox, plenty of room for hammock chillin' and a sassy parrot. From here you can watch the sun rise over the mountains, watch the sun melt into the Caribbean, sip on a cold beer, and order something from the full-service restaurant. Restaurant and bar are open to the public. Room prices range from COP $15.000 a night per person (hammocks), to COP $20.000 a night per person (first floor), to COP $28.000 per person per night (on the second floor). All rooms have private baths, excluding hammocks. Big breakfast is included with each room rate.
- La Tortuga Hostel, Calle 9 No. 3 - 116, ☎ (0057-5) 421 90 48 / 320-258 96 77 ([email protected]), . Clean and comfortable en-suite dorms and privates, a roof bar, tour info, private diving instructor, Lost City treks, jenga tournaments, friendly staff, 24 hour reception, free storage, internet access, free Wi-Fi, book exchange and laundry service. This hostel is located pretty far up and in an "not-so-nice" area. Be careful when you are returning after dusk or at night. When exiting the hostal, do not walk the street straight to the beach, but make a left asap and avoid that street. From COP $22.000. www.tortugahostel.com
- Moramar Backpackers International, (In front of the football field), ☎ (0057-5) 421 92 02 ([email protected]), . New. Good atmosphere, great service, nice views of the sea and the Sierra Nevada. COP $15.000 pesos for a single room to COP $8.000 for a hammock,.
- ReyMARIn (used to stand for Miramar backwards when it was a Miramar hotel, now, it is the sea king). Manager Chichi has 50 years of fishing experience. Family serves nice food next door.
- Techos Azules, Sector Dunkarinka Cabaña 1 - 100, ☎ (0057-5) 421 91 41, Cel. 316-648 07 31 ([email protected], [email protected]), . Nicely placed at the entrance of the town, it has hammocks, private rooms with bathroom, "cabañas" (two rooms, sitting room with kitchen, shower with toilet). Beautiful views of Taganga and the bay. Around COP $20.000 per person, discounts can be contracted if you are in a group or staying for a longer period..
- Bayview Hostal. Located next to hostel Moramar, in front of the football field. Very friendly Colombian staff. Private rooms and fan/AC dorms available, all quite clean. Prices as of December 2012 (high season) Fan dorm 20,000 COP, AC dorm 28,000 COP. Plus if you buy one night you get the next free. Large communal kitchen, small lockers for valuables, Free Wifi, and computers you can use for a small fee. Nice pool in the back. They organize many after parties in the pool..
- Casa Caluca, ☎ +57 312 5104791 ([email protected]), . Popular private apartments overlooking the village. Double w/bathroom: COP 45.000.
- Another option is to ask around for an apartment or room to rent. There are gringo shacks and rooms for rent all over town. But be carefull; most of those places to stay do not have running water and you never know who has another key. Taganga has a long history of people's belongings disappearing as everyone in town often have keys and people lose stuff the day they are scheduled to leave. There is always the option of find a person who's renting a room in their house, or seeing who's out of town and turned their home into a temporary guest house. If you do this, be sure you trust where you are staying, and bring your own locks as a precaution. Also, Taganga has no water due to political issues, so there are times where water can be an issue. Most of those renting places are ilegal. They do not have permision to rent out those rooms.
- El Alquimista Hostel, Calle 13 No. 3 - 139, ☎ 57 (5) 421 9196, . A clean hostel a little ways up from the hustle and bustle of the main road in town (but still only a 5 min walk to the beach, like most places in town). Nice courtyard area with hammocks to hang out in. Free wifi, fastest in town (in a sample size of comparing to three other hostels, the wifi in town is generally a little slow). Friendly staff. If you're going to do the Ciudad Perdida, it is recommended to book through them. Six bed dorm COP 15,000 fan room, six bed dorm with AC COP 20,000 (cheap for AC). Double room from COP 22,500 per person. Single for as little as COP 25,000. Hammocks are an option for the very budget traveler. You're sleeping exposed outside, but you have access to the hostel facilities, costs COP 10,000. Prices as of April 2013.
There is a great little internet cafe a block to the west of the police station and ATM, which adds little friendly touches like the occasional cup of water.
Taganga has recently become notorious for mugging and robbery, so regular precautions should be taken.
There are quite 7 small beaches outside of Taganga (15 minutes walk), which are connected by walking paths covered by vegetation. These paths are used by local robbers, especially on late hours when there are not many people walking to and from. Do not walk there by yourself. Wait for a small group. If you carry valuables with you and don't feel adventurous, it's better to take a boat (3 minutes; COP $3.000).
If you consume illegal/recreational drugs (you can't walk down the main beachfront street without being offered them multiple times) be careful of getting shaken down/searched/harassed by the local police. If they find anything on you be prepared to be taken into custody and threatened with jail unless you pay an on-the-spot fine (in cash, of course). Anyone traveling with you is also subject to harassment and could be made to contribute to your "fine" as well. Know the law - marijuana has been decriminalised in Colombia - but it is still wise to exercise discretion and caution and may less hassle to pay a small fine if caught by the police.
Santa Marta airport can be reached by either Taxi or Regular Colectivo. Direct flights to Medellín, Bogotá and elsewhere. Taxi is a 30-40 minutes journey and will cost about $40,000 COP. You could catch the Collectivo Bus out of Taganga past the Santa Marta beach front till it gets to the corner of Carrera 4 and Calle 22. Here change buses to one marked Rodadero Aeropuerto, which will take you directly to the airport for 3,200 COP (60-90 minutes).
- Ciudad Perdida — Taganga, even moreso than Santa Marta, is the main jumping off point for the famous trek, and you should be able to arrange a trek on short notice with any of the hostels or tour companies dotting the main road.
- Tayrona National Park — an unspoilt natural paradise of jungle, birds, ocean, and absolutely gorgeous beaches. A boat leaves for the backpacker beach haven of El Cabo every morning around 10AM.
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