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Santa Marta - Taganga


bluepig1

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I found so little info on here on Santa Marta before our trip a few weeks ago that I thought I'd come back to post what we did.

 

A group of 10 of us who met through Cruise Critic at the Meet N Mingle decided to explore Taganga, a fishing village only 10 minutes away from the cruise pier. We were determined not to let reports of "scariness" deter us from taking advantage of seeing a little part of this area of Colombia, and none of us were particularly keen on spending upwards of $70 for a ship excursion.

 

Overall - our experience was absolutely fantastic and I think one of the best port days we had, including Costa Rica, Cartagena, and Aruba. The key was to be a bit daring, and "safety in numbers" was reassuring.

 

We walked out of the pier and found a taxi van willing to take all 10 of us. To get out of the taxi parking lot (seems to be somewhat regulated by police) the taxi vans needed to have a "guide". Our guide was totally informally arranged and I'm pretty sure not licensed - he didn't really quote a rate beyond the $30 for all 10 of us that the taxi van quoted each way. A cab fare should probably be about $5-10 for 2 people, so for 10 people this was no issue. We'd also arranged that this van would allow us 3 hours in Taganga, then pick us up at an arranged time to bring us back to the pier. That said - there were several (probably 3-5) taxis in Taganga there the entire time we were there, so it probably wouldn't be a big issue if you just grabbed one of those. We weren't in port but for 7 hours, so we didn't want any issues with getting back to the ship in time.

 

The drive over is a short 10 minutes but it's impossibly scenic - you go over a small mountain and have a spectacular view looking down into the fishing village with the water and the mountains in the background. Make sure you ask to stop for a photo op either on the way there or back.

 

We walked around the beach in Taganga when we got there. It's not a big village. Seem to be lots of backpackers and dive operators as I hear the diving is terrific. A little English is spoken given the volume of western backpackers/hostellers who visit. It's cute but by no means affluent -- we saw run down buildings right next to little markets and shops. On the beach, we had the great fortune to encounter a woman selling beaded necklaces -- I think from our group of 10 she probably sold 10 necklaces with a few people buying multiples. They were only $5 each and with each purchase on the spot she would make matching beaded earrings in about 5 minutes. What a steal - they're beautiful necklaces and I've gotten a ton of compliments on mine since I've been back. We basically just sat on the beach (brought beach towels with us from the ship as there weren't really chairs available for rent) for the time we were there.

 

Having our informal guide was really helpful. Julio was 27, playfully fell "in love" with one of the ladies in our group, but really helped us translate the menus at lunch, talk with the taxi driver, and fend off a few other vendors who tried to descend on us -- Luz-Marie, the beaded necklace lady, spoke little to no English.

 

We had lunch at Las Velas Restaurant on the beach -- great seafood. I believe it's made by just one woman in the kitchen, and there were a few tables being served, so prepare for a relaxing and slow paced (think our food took an hour) meal. I had a terrific arroz con pollo, others had great fish dishes, and the ubiquitous coconut rice was also available. If you dine here, they bring you complimentary chimichurri and red hot sauce. The chimichurri is totally mild but uber-flavorful, I'm guessing with cilantro and tomatillos.

 

Our driver came to pick us up at the arranged time but as we were still waiting for our food, Julio (our guide) helped arrange with the driver to come back an hour later. The driver was reliable (I guess the promise of another $30 fare on the way back was worth it) and Julio was nice to chat with -- he had a nice conversation about "football" (soccer) teams with my boyfriend and I think we learned about each other's culture as he just sat with us on the beach.

 

There's some souvenir shopping at the cruise pier when you get back but no chance to really experience anything of the local atmosphere. Others from our ship went to the beach that's within walking distance of the pier but we heard reports afterwards that it was very touristy and they had a lot of vendors to fend off. There's also an excellent stand (official, I think) with tourist information and a great map at the end of the cruise pier before you emerge into the taxi/tour guide area.

 

Words of advice - go in with an adventurous spirit and don't let fear keep you on the ship. We didn't find it to be dangerous but all of us were fairly experienced travellers, knew to keep a close eye on our belongings/pockets, etc. Julio reminded one of us when we were paying the taxi driver never to pull out our entire money-roll when paying (which is just smart advice anywhere). Never go with the first price the taxi drivers quote you. Always respond first with "oh, that's too expensive", then move on to the next taxi driver. I think the taxi fare went from $10 a person to $30 for the whole van of 10 of us. We paid (tipped?) Julio $20 from our entire group of 10 for the 4 hours he spent with us (that's $2 a person) - he seemed fine with it. At no point did we feel in danger -- I think for me personally, I figured that being with a group of 10 of us was safer than just 2 of us venturing out on our own.

 

Enjoy!

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Awesome recap Michelle! For those reading, DW and I were two of the 10 on this tour. To say we had a great time would be an understatement.

 

This is truly one of the last spots in the Caribbean that remains quaint and Un-Americanized.

 

I don't have anything else to add other than the cervezas (Club Colombia = YUM!) on the beach are $2, and my lunch was caught by one of the local fishermen about 4 hours previous.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to let you know that if you walk outside of where the cruise pier is, and just hail an official taxi off the street, the car will fit four persons comfortably, and the official fare (it is printed on the government rate sheet posted in the taxi) to Taganga is 7,500 pesos one-way (just short of three dollars). That's not per person but rather for the entire cab.

 

There is a taxi queue in Taganga and you can take the same official taxi back to the ship for 7,500 pesos.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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  • 1 month later...
I found so little info on here on Santa Marta before our trip a few weeks ago that I thought I'd come back to post what we did.

 

A group of 10 of us who met through Cruise Critic at the Meet N Mingle decided to explore Taganga, a fishing village only 10 minutes away from the cruise pier. We were determined not to let reports of "scariness" deter us from taking advantage of seeing a little part of this area of Colombia, and none of us were particularly keen on spending upwards of $70 for a ship excursion.

 

Overall - our experience was absolutely fantastic and I think one of the best port days we had, including Costa Rica, Cartagena, and Aruba. The key was to be a bit daring, and "safety in numbers" was reassuring.

 

We walked out of the pier and found a taxi van willing to take all 10 of us. To get out of the taxi parking lot (seems to be somewhat regulated by police) the taxi vans needed to have a "guide". Our guide was totally informally arranged and I'm pretty sure not licensed - he didn't really quote a rate beyond the $30 for all 10 of us that the taxi van quoted each way. A cab fare should probably be about $5-10 for 2 people, so for 10 people this was no issue. We'd also arranged that this van would allow us 3 hours in Taganga, then pick us up at an arranged time to bring us back to the pier. That said - there were several (probably 3-5) taxis in Taganga there the entire time we were there, so it probably wouldn't be a big issue if you just grabbed one of those. We weren't in port but for 7 hours, so we didn't want any issues with getting back to the ship in time.

 

The drive over is a short 10 minutes but it's impossibly scenic - you go over a small mountain and have a spectacular view looking down into the fishing village with the water and the mountains in the background. Make sure you ask to stop for a photo op either on the way there or back.

 

We walked around the beach in Taganga when we got there. It's not a big village. Seem to be lots of backpackers and dive operators as I hear the diving is terrific. A little English is spoken given the volume of western backpackers/hostellers who visit. It's cute but by no means affluent -- we saw run down buildings right next to little markets and shops. On the beach, we had the great fortune to encounter a woman selling beaded necklaces -- I think from our group of 10 she probably sold 10 necklaces with a few people buying multiples. They were only $5 each and with each purchase on the spot she would make matching beaded earrings in about 5 minutes. What a steal - they're beautiful necklaces and I've gotten a ton of compliments on mine since I've been back. We basically just sat on the beach (brought beach towels with us from the ship as there weren't really chairs available for rent) for the time we were there.

 

Having our informal guide was really helpful. Julio was 27, playfully fell "in love" with one of the ladies in our group, but really helped us translate the menus at lunch, talk with the taxi driver, and fend off a few other vendors who tried to descend on us -- Luz-Marie, the beaded necklace lady, spoke little to no English.

 

We had lunch at Las Velas Restaurant on the beach -- great seafood. I believe it's made by just one woman in the kitchen, and there were a few tables being served, so prepare for a relaxing and slow paced (think our food took an hour) meal. I had a terrific arroz con pollo, others had great fish dishes, and the ubiquitous coconut rice was also available. If you dine here, they bring you complimentary chimichurri and red hot sauce. The chimichurri is totally mild but uber-flavorful, I'm guessing with cilantro and tomatillos.

 

Our driver came to pick us up at the arranged time but as we were still waiting for our food, Julio (our guide) helped arrange with the driver to come back an hour later. The driver was reliable (I guess the promise of another $30 fare on the way back was worth it) and Julio was nice to chat with -- he had a nice conversation about "football" (soccer) teams with my boyfriend and I think we learned about each other's culture as he just sat with us on the beach.

 

There's some souvenir shopping at the cruise pier when you get back but no chance to really experience anything of the local atmosphere. Others from our ship went to the beach that's within walking distance of the pier but we heard reports afterwards that it was very touristy and they had a lot of vendors to fend off. There's also an excellent stand (official, I think) with tourist information and a great map at the end of the cruise pier before you emerge into the taxi/tour guide area.

 

Words of advice - go in with an adventurous spirit and don't let fear keep you on the ship. We didn't find it to be dangerous but all of us were fairly experienced travellers, knew to keep a close eye on our belongings/pockets, etc. Julio reminded one of us when we were paying the taxi driver never to pull out our entire money-roll when paying (which is just smart advice anywhere). Never go with the first price the taxi drivers quote you. Always respond first with "oh, that's too expensive", then move on to the next taxi driver. I think the taxi fare went from $10 a person to $30 for the whole van of 10 of us. We paid (tipped?) Julio $20 from our entire group of 10 for the 4 hours he spent with us (that's $2 a person) - he seemed fine with it. At no point did we feel in danger -- I think for me personally, I figured that being with a group of 10 of us was safer than just 2 of us venturing out on our own.

 

Enjoy!

Thanks for that as we are going to Santa Marta in Oct .. as you say hard to get information.

 

We have been to Cartagena before (loved it) and look forward to another Colombia Port .. as you say be sensible when ashore.

 

Neil

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  • 1 month later...
Thanks for that as we are going to Santa Marta in Oct .. as you say hard to get information.

 

We have been to Cartagena before (loved it) and look forward to another Colombia Port .. as you say be sensible when ashore.

 

Neil

 

Enjoy your stop here. Although your attitude tells me you don't need my encouragement for that to happen. As I mentioned a couple of posts above, DW and I were in the group with the O.P. back in April. Had a great time visiting Taganga.

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