The Caribbean coast of Colombia and Santa Marta
At over 1,600 km in length, the Caribbean coast of Colombia is blessed with an almost endless array of beautiful beaches that are among the best beaches in the world.
This epicentre of natural beauty and profound indigenous history is in and around the capital of Colombia’s Magdalena province – Santa Marta.
With its close proximity to these remarkable beaches, thick jungle and the highest coastal mountain range on the planet, it has become an unmissable destination for any discerning traveller visiting the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Things to do
PNN Tayrona Beaches
By far the most famous location for sun, sea and sand on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, PNN Tayrona was voted as having some of the best beaches in the world. Boasting a collection of intimate coves and bays, there is an abundance 0f beaches for you to relax on and enjoy the sun, all with the backdrop of lush, virgin jungle.
PNN Tayrona Trek
Pueblito Day Trek
Discover the fabric of an ancient civilization in the tropical coastal jungle.
Created in 1969 and with an area of 15,000 hectares, Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is a must-see for any intrepid explorer on the Caribbean coast.
It has easy access from Santa Marta (around 45 minutes/34km away) – perfect for an early start and hike through tropical forest, some of which is among the most threatened ecosystems in the world.
After a couple of hours you’ll reach the archaeological site of Pueblito or Chairama – ruins of an old Tairona town where over 3,000 people lived nearly 500 years ago. With well-crafted stone paths and terraces that emerge from the jungle, this site is in an excellent state of preservation.
Various animals such as titi and howler monkeys are known to inhabit the park among others and may be sighted at any time.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Mountains, Ecosystems and Diversity
This National Natural Park stretches for over 383,000 hectares and is home to Colombia’s highest mountains – the glacier-capped Pico Cristóbal Colon and Simón Bolívar, the former standing at around 5,775 metres (over 19,000 feet) above sea level.
Being the highest coastal mountain on Earth, it’s home to an astounding array of animals and birdlife in particular, its geography and biodiversity is nothing short of amazing. Of the 340 endemic species of animal and plant that only live in Colombia, 44 of them are found in the Sierra Nevada. This unequalled statistic has recently seen the Sierra be named as the most important concentration of threatened wildlife in the world. Here you really are among the most special ecosystems and animals in the world.
The mountains are also home to the Kogi and Arhuaco indians, who stand guard over the mountains and their natural riches against outside intrusion and interference.
Venture to the small village of Minca, perched in the foothills of this great mountain range, which has day treks and visits to ice-cold mountain rivers – perfect for cooling hot, weary travellers.
Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
Simón Bolívar – ‘El Libertador’
This old hacienda is the place where Bolívar spent the last days of his life. It has since been converted into a museum dedicated to this great man – liberator of half of South America – almost 200 years ago.
Wander among the rooms of the old hacienda and observe period artefacts as they were at the time of his death.
Explore the extensive Caribbean gardens and grounds with their various statues and stonework, as well as the monument built in his honour.
Old Santa Marta
Santa Marta is the oldest city in Colombia and worthy of a tour in itself. Walk among the colonial architecture, visit the cathedral or wander among the plazas that make up this quiet Caribbean city.
Santa Marta has its own gold museum, full of Tairona artefacts that were protected from the Spanish during their conquest.