Full Guide To Visiting Taganga, Colombia (2023)

The quaint seaside fishing cove of Taganga is a mere 15 minutes away from Santa Marta, but seemingly miles apart in vibe from the nearby high-rise buildings. Read on for all you need to know about why and how to visit this place!

Although Taganga’s beach isn’t as inviting as those in nearby Tayrona National Park, the seaside restaurants are fabulously inviting and it’s a great place to position yourself for scuba diving and snorkeling trips as well as boat trips to Tayrona National Park.

We really enjoyed slowing down the pace of our trip while we sipped on limonada de coco and tropical drinks while listening to good beats and gazing out at the Caribbean sea.

Where Is Taganga

As mentioned, Taganaga, Colombia is a small fishing village 15 minutes north of Santa Marta, located in the Magdalena Department of Colombia’s northern coast.

Map of Colombia's Northern Coast
The entire area above the squiggly black line is Tayrona National Park (“Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona” in Spanish)

The closest airport to Taganga is in Santa Marta, however, larger international airports along the northern coast include Barranquilla and Cartagena.

Many travelers that go to Taganga stop on their way to or from Santa Marta, Minca, Tayrona National Park, or Palomino, other popular locations along the “gringo trail”.

While you’re in the area, be sure to take a trip to magical Minca, the charismatic coffee-centered community surrounded by waterfalls and incredible vistas in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Coffee and chocolate lovers will enjoy a tour of a local “finca” (farm) complete with tastings and maybe even a mini-Spa session like we enjoyed at Finca San Rafael with farm-made organic products like a coffee face mask, a honey hand cream, and a coffee-based under eye cream.

How To Get To Taganga

All buses in the region go in and out of Santa Marta. Therefore, if you’re traveling by bus, you’ll need to get to Santa Marta before you can continue on to the smaller village of Taganga.

From Santa Marta

You can take a colectivo bus from Santa Marta to Taganga for about 2,500 COP per person (56 cents) or a taxi for 25,000 – 30,000 COP ($5.75 – $6.90 USD).

From Minca

You can take a colectivo bus from Minca to Santa Marta for 9,000 COP per person ($2.07 USD) and then another colectivo bus from Santa Marta to Taganga for about 2,500 COP per person (56 cents) or a taxi directly from your accommodation in Minca to Taganga for 80,000 COP ($18.39 USD).

From Tayrona National Park

You can take a colectivo bus from Tayrona National Park to Santa Marta for about 12,000 COP ($2.75 USD), according to a friend’s recollection who visited in September 2023. You’ll then need to take a colectivo bus from Santa Marta to Taganga for about 2,500 COP per person (56 cents) or a taxi for 25,000 – 30,000 COP ($5.75 – $6.90).

Book your bus to Taganga below through 12Go for the best rates!

Where To Stay In Taganga

Hotel San Marcos Taganaga – This is where we stayed and we would definitely recommend it. Marie received us on arrival and was our main contact person throughout our stay. She was so kind and helpful with a contagious smile and laugh. Despite a bit of a language barrier, we were able to understand enough and use Google Translate to help fill in the gaps.

The view from the rooftop terrace at Hotel San Marcos Taganga
The view from the rooftop terrace at Hotel San Marcos Taganga

Hotel San Marcos had strong AC (extremely important for the intense heat of Taganga); a comfortable bed; a nice rooftop with hammocks, tables and chairs, and views of the bay and sea; a small, but filling breakfast (coffee, eggs, and toast or arepa); and it’s located steps from the beach.

Two things to note are that the shower is cold (although not an issue when coming in from the heat and quite common throughout Colombia) and the hotel is a bit challenging to access with suitcases unless you take a taxi direct, which we did and I would recommend, as it’s located on a dirt road on the far side of town.

Hostal Palohe was our second choice option for accommodation, complete with private rooms, a pool, and nautical-themed decor.

Book other accommodation for Taganga below through Agoda for the best deals!

Restaurant Recommendations

For Food

Pacahama, hands down! Everything we had there was delicious – the goat cheese salad, the huge ranch hamburger, the pasta, and the pizza. It seems like you really can’t go wrong!

We also tried food at neighboring Casita del Mar and we were disappointed with just about everything we ordered.

My coconut shrimp (not fried, but rather grilled shrimp in a coconut sauce) was nice, however, the sides tasted stale and bland. My husband’s salmon was terrible, not to mention they got the order wrong twice! I wouldn’t recommend the patacones con hogao – the presentation was nice but the taste was subpar compared to the same dish served at one of the small seafood shacks near the fishing boats.

The loaded french fries sufficed for a snack along with happy hour, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order them again.

For the best deals, try one of the seafood shacks near the fishing boats along Carrera 1, such as El Rey Marino. The Menú del Día should cost between 15,000-18,000 COP ($3.40 – $4.08 USD) for fish soup, a main course, patacones, rice, and salad. Alternatively, check out some dining options along Carrera 2 or one of the side streets for better prices than the oceanfront restaurants.

For Drinks

For the tasteCasita del Mar

Try the margarita de coco! This blended margarita was so deliciously refreshing! The limonada de coco was also quite good here (more coco than lemon, which we prefer. If you prefer more lemon than coco, try the limonada de coco at Pachamama, instead). The piña colada was strong but nice. We weren’t a huge fan of the mango daiquiri.

As a note, they’ve reduced their happy hour to Monday-Thursday from 4-6 PM with 2 for 30,000 COP ($6.81 USD) specials on select cocktails.

For the deals – Pacahamama

Happy hour happens daily from 5-10 PM. Select cocktails are either 2 for 28,000 COP ($6.35 USD) or 2 for 30,000 COP ($6.81 USD) depending on the type of cocktail (there are about 10 cocktails to choose from between the two categories).

Our favorites were the ginger mojito, the maracuya (passionfruit) mojito, and the strawberry daiquiri, although admittedly we’re not sure how strong the drinks were as we couldn’t taste any alcohol. But for me, that’s not a bad thing.

Hammock chairs at Pachamama - Taganga, Colombia
The hammock chairs at Pachamama were the best!

I had read a recommendation for Babaganoush on another blog, however after reading the most recent reviews on Google, it sounds like the quality of the food has gone down in recent years. People still recommend it as a great place for drinks to watch the sunset, however.

As a note, you can also enjoy the sunset from both Casita del Mar and Pachamama, which are both located directly on the beach and offer unobstructed views of the sea in the evenings.

What To Do In Taganga

There’s actually not much to do in Taganga itself. Rather, it’s a jumping-off place for snorkel and scuba diving trips as well as boat trips to Tayrona National Park. The hike along the coast to Playa Grande and Playa Escondida is well worth a quick jaunt – more on that below.

Additionally, you can hike to the Mirador Taganga (viewpoint) on the western side of town, or ask your taxi driver to stop for a quick photo op on the way in or out of town if transiting via taxi.

Getting To Tayrona National Park

Boat Trips From Taganga To Tayrona National Park:

Within about a minute of walking along the waterfront of Playa Taganga (Carrera 1), you’re practically guaranteed to be approached by at least one person trying to sell you tours. All of the ticket booths charge the same price and appear to consolidate customers into the same tours. Therefore, it doesn’t matter where you purchase from. The only difference is that the person who makes the sale is getting a commission.

We arranged our trip to Cabo San Juan through our accommodation to reduce the risk of getting scammed or having any miscommunication. The next morning, we were picked up on foot by someone who walked us to the meeting point where we paid for the trip, signed waivers and got wristbands.

Pricing (2023):

  • Playa Cristal: 100,000 COP round trip per person ($22.68 USD)
  • Cabo San Juan: 150,000 COP round trip per person ($34.03 USD)
  • There are several other boat trips that you can take from Taganga to other beaches in Tayrona National Park, however, I unfortunately didn’t catch the pricing. But, the good news is that Cabo San Juan is the most expensive boat trip offered, so all other locations are more affordable.
Want To Take The Bus Instead Of Boat To Tayrona?

You’ll need to first take the bus or a taxi from Taganga to Santa Marta (56 cents for the bus vs. ~$7 for the taxi) and then take a bus to Tayrona, which should cost somewhere between 8,000 COP – 12,000 COP ($1.85 – $2.76 USD).

Snorkel And Scuba Diving Trips:

Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the 2023 pricing for snorkel and scuba diving trips from Taganga, but the area is known to be one of the most affordable locations in South America to get PADI certified and go on dives.

Playa Grande And Playa Escondida

We had read that Playa Grande was a beautiful white sand beach with crystal clear water, and when we found out we could walk there and visit for free rather than needing to go by boat (15,000 COP per person, $3.40 USD), we were over the moon.

The hiking trail was steps from our hotel complete with picturesque cacti as well as stunning views of Taganga Bay and the Sierra Nevada mountains. We learned after the fact that muggings have occurred on this trail even during broad daylight! We didn’t run into any trouble, but if you do take the trail, I’d recommend leaving all valuables at home just in case!

However, as we began our descent to Playa Grande, we were extremely put off by the rowdy mob scene. Granted, we went on a Sunday, so the area was extremely populated with locals who come to Taganga and Playa Grande on the weekend. However, it was a scene we wanted very little to do with.

The entire, very short shoreline was engulfed by sun shades and plastic, upright chairs for rent with hardly any space to place a personal towel. Music was blasting and we were constantly badgered by people trying to get us to eat or rent out a spot on one of their plots. The beach and water were far from white sand and crystal clear. Instead, they were a bit littered and murky.

Playa Grande - Taganga, Colombia
The view of Playa Grande from the hiking trail

There were a lot of water sports, including kayaks, peddle boats, jets skis, banana boats, and floats. Although I’m not sure which were for public rental and which were private. But, that could be a fun way to make lemonade out of lemons if you wanted to spend more time in the area.

Playa Grande - Taganga, Colombia

After taking a hydration break on a concrete wall at the far end of the beach, we continued along the trail towards Playa Escondida, a pin we discovered on Google Maps. The trail took us through a tiny cove with a shack and what appeared to be a family of fishermen.

We continued walking until we could see the next populated cove. Although much quieter and a fraction of the crowd, the quality of the beach and water appeared to be similar to Playa Grande, thus we decided to turn around and head back to Taganga without descending fully.

Playa Escondida - Taganga, Colombia
The water looks nicer from a distance!

It is important to note that Taganga Beach was also extremely populated and quite loud on the Sunday we were there. Most of the sand in the desirable section of the beach was consumed by sun shades and upright, plastic chairs as we had seen at Playa Grande.

However, this was not the case on Friday. There were only a handful of sunshades and plastic chairs with a large area of open sand for personal use and relaxation. I assume Saturdays are a similar mob scene to Sundays. I actually didn’t even take a picture because it was so unappealing, but in hindsight, I should have for the blog!

The Sunday night vibe was much better, as the sunshades and chairs had all been cleared away, leaving a clear view of the coastline, sea, and sunset, complemented by live music and the fun energy brought by the day trippers to the restaurant scene. 

Sunset - Taganga, Colombia
Photo taken from our dinner table at Pachamama

How Long To Stay In Taganga

Instead of planning to spend time at the beach in Taganga or Playa Grande, I’d recommend a second trip back to Tayrona National Park, or relocating altogether to be closer to/inside of the National Park.

I would recommend 1-2 nights maximum in Taganga unless you plan to go on multiple snorkel and/or scuba diving trips as well as multiple boat excursions to Tayrona. Basically, plan your time wisely, and if you don’t want to experience the boat ride to Tayrona, relocate closer to/inside Tayrona National Park as your base for exploring Tayrona once you’re done snorkeling/scuba diving.

If at all possible, try to plan your time in Taganga during the week to enjoy a more relaxed and scenic vibe.

I hope you found this post helpful, and that you feel well equipped to plan your trip to the Santa Marta region. Comment below if you have any additional or updated information to share with the Good Dimes community.

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