Taganga is a small beach town just outside of Santa Marta, Colombia on the Caribbean coast. It’s located in a picturesque little bay surrounded by cacti-covered hillsides. As with most places we have been in Colombia so far, we arrived at what seemed to be the busiest time of year. The Ciudad Perdida trek took us away for a while, but after 5 days in the jungle we were ready for some relaxation and Taganga provided the perfect spot to chill out.
Our hostel (Divanga) was more like a small resort with everything we could possibly need: excellent restaurant, shared kitchen, pool, hammocks, bar, and communal space with sports channels (so those of us with teams in the NFL playoffs could watch). Plus we were fortunate to have found a 4-bed dorm that acted like a private room for us and our friends during our stay.
The food in Taganga was surprisingly awesome. There is lots of street food available and we usually started the day with fruit smoothies along with arepas or empanadas. The beach is lined with restaurants serving huge typical Colombian lunches and dinners. There were a few places we ate at that were exceptional. The Italian style thin crust pizza at Pomodori was the perfect fix after days in the jungle and the French restaurant Pachamama served up some of the best dinners we have eaten on our trip so far. Many people highly recommended a place called Babaganoush but we didn’t get to eat there as it was closed Tuesday’s.
As the days drifted by we became friends with many other travellers and Colombians in town on holiday. There were great nights enjoying cocktails, beers and aguardiente over stories of where we’ve been and where we’re going. An absolute highlight was Divanga’s bartender Jennifer, who created a fun and lively atmosphere every night. It didn’t take long for her to know the four of us by name and created nicknames like “Miguelito” for Mike and Rebecca “Muneca” which means doll in Spanish.
Taganga also has some great reefs off shore and excellent prices for diving and snorkeling. Our friend Paul got his dive certification while we were there and loved the experience. We also went out on a snorkeling trip and saw some amazing sea life.
The highlight of our time in Taganga was absolutely the people we met. The town – especially at this time of year – is quite dry and dusty with garbage littered “roads”. The beaches, while a good place to get some sun and cool off in the sea, aren’t as nice as the ones close by in Tayrona Park. Fortunately, we met a ton of really amazing people from all over the world to spend our time with.
We had arrived in Taganga on January 1st and didn’t leave until January 13th (don’t forget we had a 5 day trek in there). In that time we had a chance to see this beach town at potentially maximum capacity with hostels fully booked and the streets bursting with locals catching buses back to Santa Marta. By the time we left, the number of tourists had dropped significantly and our friends at Hostal Casa Jamaica said it would stay that way for months. It was time for us to move on, but Taganga was a fun spot that we won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Taganga is a 15-minute taxi ride from Santa Marta (which is a 4 hour bus ride from Cartagena). It has many accommodation and restaurant options for every type or traveller and budget. There are many boat tours offered to other beaches including Tayrona National Park; Scuba diving and snorkeling is some of the best found on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.