Eco-friendly travel guide to Santa Marta advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Santa Marta, Colombia.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4 / 5
- Public transportation: 3 / 5
- Parks: 3.5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3 / 5
- Safety: 3 / 5
- Accommodation: US$25 - $400
- Budget per day: US$40 - $700
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Santa Marta is a small city which is situated in the country of Colombia. It is literally on the edge of the country and it is renowned for being the first Spanish settlement in Colombia. In addition to this, the city is well known in South America as it is the second oldest city on the continent and it is the oldest city in the country of Colombia. Beyond much of the above, the city is not too popular apart from being a well-known tourist destination in the Caribbean region. The city’s economy is on the shoulders of the local port activities, agriculture, fishing, trade, and above all tourism. Santa Marta has a rather small population of just half a million people and together with all the activities taking place here, the city seldom witnesses high levels of pollution or abuse of resources and to ensure that it continues in a similar fashion the onus is upon the tourists to be as careful as possible and to adopt eco-friendly measures on their trip to the city to truly be “responsible tourists”. Given in this section of the article are a few tips and tricks to help you with the same.
At first, it is consistently suggested that you as an explorer don't put your justified money genuinely into the pockets of the mega-corporations, associations and brands. These are available in different fields be it fashion or food, you will dependably have a decision to make. Consequently, you are recommended to shop from neighbourhood stores, this way you will beyond question discover out and out more concealed treasures, choicest craftsmanship and authentic Colombian things. Also, concerning food items, take a stab at heading to the local food markets and buy the freshest of produce. This way you will help the more subtle merchants and pushing neighbourhood affiliations that customarily make strides toward viability instead of benefit.
Reviewing the recently mentioned, as a capable explorer, screen your dinners, it is prescribed that you head to the best neighbourhood bistros, restaurants and shops that serve the best Colombian cuisine. Basically don't go for safe yet ordinary, inexpensive food chains and baristas, these hardly think about the local palette or do justice to the local cuisine. Eating up at near to bistros and road food trucks is conceivably the most ideal approach to manage like the real flavours and components of the local cooking in Colombia. In what could be named to develop the course of action fundamentally further, you will in like way find the event to taste a couple of novel dishes cooked utilising old recipes that are gone down through centuries in a family.
As an explorer, one of the essential examinations that add to your carbon impression is the hotel that you pick to live in. Overall, most hotels are following illogical practices and humble lodgings reliably are wasteful in the usage of their assets. As such fix your endeavours in different circles when you are out wandering out to a city as a responsible traveller. Subsequently, it is proposed that you overall give due idea to your lodging decisions and book a hotel which is a guaranteed green/eco-friendly hotel. These hotels ever so often use the assets in the most ideal manner and offer you sumptuousness and solaces in a feasible way.
Finally, exploring the city you travel to is maybe the best piece of your excursion. Thus, it is dire that you pick the most reasonable strategy for exploring the city. This generally speaking suggests that you seek after the most reasonable and eco-obliging modes for transportation. You could pick to stroll around, utilise a bicycle to explore the town, or you could even pick different strategies for public transportation that decrease congestion, pollution and energy use on the whole. These are a great option to meet locals and strike a conversation to know more about the city or even them. If you are charming enough you may even make new acquaintances.
Air Quality and Pollution
Santa Marta has a tropical savanna type of climate. The city experiences rankling, hot summers, and warm, brilliant winters. In inland districts of the city, temperatures of about 40-degree centigrades are typical. The hot weather conditions are pretty much stable throughout the year and there is occasional relief from the months of May to November when there is considerable downpour. Nonetheless, packing a bag while heading to Santa Marta is quite easy, the light apparel including the shorts, tank tops, vests, two-pieces, trunks, sunscreen cream and shades are staples in each voyager's sack. As a tourist, you shall most likely enjoy this kind of weather as it is perfect to lounge on the scenic beaches and enjoy your time off.
Being a rather small city with limited activities taking place the city does not encounter the issue of air pollution on an advanced level. In most cases, the air quality index stays well in the average to good zone and all tourists who are visiting the city shall not face breathing issues of any kind unless they suffer from pre-existing illnesses. In such cases only shall the tourist need to carry protective gear and prescribed medications, that too these shall mainly come in handy while traversing the busy streets of the city, otherwise the air quality across the city is so good that it can rejuvenate individuals.
Respect the Culture
In Santa Marta, the small population is jolly and laid back, it is easy to befriend them but to be a loveable tourist not only will you have to follow a few basic customs and etiquette, but you shall also have to tip-toe around subjects that can upset or enrage them. Given in this section of the article are more details about the same, consider it to be a guide involving tips and tricks to appeal to every Colombian in Santa Marta:
- Try not to allude to the United States as "America". In the event that you will do as such, determine it as "North American". All of South America is likewise actually American and Colombians can think that it's baffling when the term is diminished to allude to only those from the USA.
- Be aware and gracious, particularly around someone's folks or elderly people. Colombians are regularly exceptionally appealing and garrulous, yet their glow is for the most part consistent with polite manners.
- Try not to undermine Colombia's battles or try to cause them to feel embarrassed about it. Most are appalled by it and need to reclaim the standing of Colombia in foreigners' eyes. Besides, while they are disparaging of their own country's issues, they don't require further judgment from untouchables – particularly when this analysis is educated by generalisations.
- Put forth an attempt to control the discussion towards the positive parts of Colombian culture (for example the geology, biodiversity, writing, workmanship, just as the energy and disposition of the Colombian public).
- Try not to poke fun at illegal medications or medication utilization. Colombians don't prefer to be generalized as 'narcotraficantes' (drug dealers). A minute extent of the populace is engaged with such movement and the remarks can become annoying whenever conveyed heartlessly or again and again. Besides, consider a few Colombians may have been influenced by the savagery of medication cartels. In the event that you need to approach the theme, pay attention to it, not cheerfully.
- Be liberal and open to performing favours. Colombians frequently make a special effort to assist those that they with having a decent connection with.
- Try not to accept all Hispanic and Latin American people groups are the equivalent. There is a wide range of nations and cultures across Central and South America that shift significantly in numerous parts of life. Try not to homogenize Colombians with individuals from different territories of the landmass.
- Show regard for Catholicism and the Christian custom. It frames the premise and avocation for some Colombians' suppositions.
- Attempt to endure a higher volume of commotion. Colombians are for the most part more merciful with the degree of clamour that is passable in a social circumstance or coming from an adjoining house.
- Try not to get some information about "viciousness in Colombia" except if you have a particular inquiry. Colombians are for the most part open to examining the subject, however, they can think that its tiring or in any event, irritating when foreigners look for an expansive clarification. It is unfathomably mind-boggling strife that is difficult to sum up for individuals with little foundation information.
- It is exceptionally inconsiderate to turn down an invite to go along with someone to their home. Such a greeting is typically made to attempt to set up an individual friendship and dismissal is deciphered as an absence of interest in building a relationship with the other individual.
- Anticipate that a Colombian host should put on music or occupy the space with their own voice. Visits to individuals' homes are frequently profoundly engaging and parties.
- It is an affable motion to bring cakes, conventional breads and pastries to the host when visiting unexpectedly. Imported alcohol, costly chocolates or items inaccessible in Colombia normally make great blessings. If you are thinking of giving blossoms, evade lilies, marigolds or other yellow blossoms. They are utilized at burial services. Carnations are likewise the public bloom and ought to be saved for devoted occasions. Flower bundles ought to have an odd number of blossoms.
Top 10 Places to Visit
- Parque De Los Novios: During the day, you'll discover obscure trees, landmarks, and park seats, however, the genuine fascination is the number of eateries that encompass Parque de los Novios. At lunch, get a modest menu del día close by at one of the conventional or more current cafés. In any case, this park truly comes alive at night when youngsters assemble prior to taking off to the bars and clubs. Come here after you take in dusk at the marina to tune in to the music blasting from the close by bars or a live exhibition in the square. Get a beverage and hang with the locals prior to heading out to have a great time.
- Paseo El Camellon: Santa Clause Marta's palm tree-lined waterfront promenade runs from the old port to the new marina. It merits a walk – particularly at dusk – to get a beverage or a tidbit while you look at the perspectives over the water. Along Avenida Las Bastidas, you'll discover men selling ceviche and arepas just as desserts, new coconuts, and tropical natural products. Tourists appear to adore presenting with the sculptures of the overwhelming native figures here, and you'll even see a few locals swimming here. Close by you'll discover the lead representative's home, make stores, and a couple of pleasant cafés.
- Taganga: An asylum for hikers, partiers, and jumpers, Taganga was a some time ago minuscule fishing town turned the travel industry hotspot. Despite the fact that somewhat messy and overdeveloped, the territory encompassing it – including Tayrona National Park – is genuinely lovely. Contingent upon whether you're feeling its vibe, you may simply need to visit for a gander at the perspective or an outing out on a boat. It's loaded with jump shops, a couple of good cafés, lodgings, and spots for partying at night. The beach here is not, at this point useful for swimming, yet you can climb to Playa Grande or Bonito Gordo for better beaches – simply check with the locals first to be certain it's protected and don't carry any resources with you.
- Rodadero: The cutting edge, beachy neighbourhood of Santa Marta, this is the place where you'll discover a significant number of the city's eateries, bars, resorts, and inns, and it's the place where numerous guests decide to state. There's extraordinary shopping, respectable nightlife, and a decent scope of fish and trinkets. Walk and try some road food, and tune in to the vivacious, local music. The beach in Rodadero is huge and effectively available, however, it becomes busy with tourists and aggressive sellers who won't take no for an answer. It actually does the work, but on the other hand, it's not difficult to take a water taxi to more disconnected beaches close by!
- La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino: This is an old pilgrim hacienda and sugar stick treatment facility only five minutes outside of Santa Marta. Its distinguishing strength is that Simón Bolívar spent the most recent days of his life here, and today you can visit the property to become familiar with its set of experiences and hear accounts of his last hours. Meander the greenhouses and the workmanship exhibition currently situated at the quinta – it's a great blend of history and nature. On the off chance that you like, you can get a guide as well – they're understudies from a local secondary school! You'll feel moved in time among the pilgrim design and furniture. Make certain to watch out for the iguanas that meander around as well.
- City Centre: Santa Clause Marta was the primary Spanish settlement in Colombia and it's one of the most established enduring urban areas in South America. Regardless of its dirty outside, awful traffic, and pockets of wrongdoing, a stay (or a walk) around the city's notable community merits your time and energy. The Catedral de Santa Marta is a whitewashed wonder that is supposed to be the most seasoned house of prayer on the mainland. Inside you can see where they kept the remaining parts of Simón Bolívar prior to sending them to his relatives in Venezuela. Take in the beautiful pilgrim engineering and old homes around here on your approach to Parque de los Novios.
- Minca: Set in the mountains right outside of Santa Marta, this town is a cool green get away from the hot city and beaches. Birdwatchers will adore this biodiverse zone of the cloud woodland that is as of late been found by tourists and hikers. You can likewise visit the two cascades of Marinka and Pozo Azul for a plunge in their invigorating waters. Make certain to do the three-hour climb up Los Pinos for a gander at the perspective and a touch of relaxing in the huge lounger at Casa Elemento. Mototaxis are accessible on the off chance that you would prefer not to climb the path the two different ways. At that point look at Finca La Victoria for a gander at one of Colombia's espresso locales and customary handling strategies.
- El Dorado Reserve: One of the top birding objections in Colombia, in the event that you need to spot huge loads of endemic, uncommon, and compromised species, head to El Dorado Reserve outside of Minca. Book convenience at the hotel here and they'll organise a private driver, or you could take a taxi (and perhaps a moto-taxi or 4×4) up from Santa Marta. You'll show up in the cloud woodland with perspectives on the mountains, lavish vegetation, and unadulterated regular environmental factors. Hope to see many hummingbirds just as quetzals, trogons, and tanagers (among others). Mastermind night strolls to encounter natural frogs, reptiles, possums, and monkeys. The cabin at El Dorado gives breathtaking eco-accommodating rooms and astonishing dinners.
- Tayrona National Park: The greatest draw of any visit to Santa Marta is an excursion to the close by secured national park of Tayrona. It's found right on the coast with numerous square miles of forested mountains and different beaches. The rich green scene is abounding with biodiversity, and you'll see winged creatures, monkeys, leaf shaper ants, and perhaps sloths on your way in. You can show up by means of public transport from the city and afterwards climb right to perspectives, wilderness trails, and beaches. It's justified, despite all the trouble to go through the night since the stroll takes such a long time. Lease a lounger or a tent and stay outdoors at Cabo San Juan – it's provincial yet inconceivable! You could likewise ride a pony into the recreation centre or haggle with a boat to drop you off from Taganga. You'll discover beach cafés here selling singed fish, rice, and cold lagers. Make sure to bring mosquito repellant, great shoes, and sunscreen.
- Tairona Museo de Oro: More modest than the Bogotá Gold Museum yet with clever social data nonetheless, the Tayrona gold assortment is an extraordinary free fascination in Santa Marta. It centres around the antiquated native civic establishments of the Sierra Nevada locale, particularly the Tayrona. You'll likewise get familiar with the historical backdrop of the city of Santa Marta itself as you explore all the gold and fired antiques gathered from past social orders. Situated in an excellent old house, there's a stunning inside patio where you can sit after you're done perusing.
Santa Marta is a scenic destination for tourists to visit and there are plenty of attractions that one can enjoy on their trip to the city. Hence, given in the sections below are the different types of attractions that you can visit to enrich your trip.
The city of Santa Marta is home to a lot of greenery and this can be best enjoyed at some of the city parks here, a few of which are listed below:
- Santa Catalina Park
- City Park
- Avenida Del Rio Park
- Bolivariano Sports Park
- Simon Bolivar Park
The city of Santa Marta isn’t just home to common flora, it also houses rare species and exquisite wildlife, some of which can be best witnessed at the following national parks:
- Camellón Rodrigo de Bastidas Park
- Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
- La Tienda de Parques Nacionales
- Ecohabs Tayrona Santa Marta
Being a coastal city you can be assured of some rejuvenating sunlight, sandy beaches, and lovely Caribbean sea waves. Thus, given below are some of the most popular beaches of Santa Marta that you can chill at:
- Playa del Centro
- Bahia concha
- Cabo San Juan
- Playa Cristal
- Pozos colorados
- Santa Marta Bay
Some of the most popular landmarks of Santa Marta are listed in this section of the article, these simply cannot be missed if you are taking a trip to the city. So, make your plans well in advance to visit these and capture the true essence of the city:
- Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
- Cathedral Basilica of Santa Marta
- Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum
To truly delve into the rich history and culture of the city of Santa Marta, it is extremely essential that tourists head to some of the local museums which shall exhibit the well-documented history of the city. A few of the local museums that any tourist must visit are listed below:
- Tairona Gold Museum - Casa de la Aduana
- Bolivariano Museum of Contemporary Art
- La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
- Casa De Madame Agustine
Santa Marta is a lovely destination in Colombia to enjoy some of the most authentic Colombian meals. While many of these are available across the country and even in a few neighbouring nations, the original taste can be found only here. Hence, listed below are some of the most popular dishes that you must try in Santa Marta:
- Canned Corn
- Stuffed Potato
- Cheese Arepa
Traditional Local Restaurants
To enjoy the best dishes of Colombia and the most authentic ones at restaurants in Santa Marta, you shall have to opt for the best restaurants in town, and these are listed below, so start planning your gastronomical adventures:
- Restaurante-Bar Burukuka
- Donde Chucho
- Restaurante Bar Babaganoush
- Entre Cuates
- Ouzo Restaurante
Vegetarian and Vegan
Many tourists who are eco-friendly go as far as following a vegan lifestyle and for such heroes, there are quite a few restaurants in town that shall cook up delicious meals without harming animals or using products derived from them, to satisfy cravings head to:
- Casa del Ritmo
Believe it or not, it is here in Santa Marta that you shall find some of the best street food in the entire nation of Colombia. The reason behind this is the location of the city. Being on the Caribbean coast, the city does have a really diverse culture and there are plenty of flavours and ingredients being mixed in street food dishes that have absolutely no connection to Colombia, not only does this make it interesting but it also deviates from the normal cuisine here. It is recommended that any tourist wishing to explore the street food in a short span of time should directly opt for the street food tours that are offered locally.
The people of Colombia are stereotyped by Hollywood movies as drug loving South Americans who know how to party crazily but this is not true as a large portion of the local people in Santa Marta despite the lovely sea and party spirit stick to their alcoholic beverages. A couple of drinks that you must try in Santa Marta are:
On the whole, the local people of Santa Marta do drink water straight from any tap, the water is known to be decently purified, and one shall have no issues, but if you are a traveller who has a weak belly and is susceptible to water-borne diseases and you wish to avoid falling ill and spoiling a perfectly good trip, then it is recommended that you either boil your water before consuming or you could rely on water purifiers and bottled mineral water.
There aren’t many organic cafes in Santa Marta but the few that are worthy of a visit are listed below:
- Ikaro Cafe
- Lulo Cafe Bar
- Coco Marina Café
On a hot and sunny day in Santa Marta, there isn’t quite anything like a chilled pint of beer, hence, given below is a list of some of the most popular breweries in town, here you can go and grab a freshly brewed cold one with some good company around:
- The Beer Garden
- Punto Águila
Santa Marta is an excellent destination for those tourists who wish to indulge in a variety of activities, right from enjoying a shower under the lovely Valencia Brook’s waterfall to enjoying a swim in the beaches and treks to the high altitude regions on the mountain of Pico Cristóbal Colón.
Yoga and Retreats
Yoga is a globally renowned form of exercise and physical wellbeing, hence, all the tourists headed to Santa Marta can certainly expect a good yoga scene in the scenic city as well. Right from enthusiastic like-minded individuals to lovely retreats to practice under experts and rejuvenate, you have it all here. Thus, given below are some of the most renowned yoga retreats in Santa Marta:
- Casa Yoga Minca
- Finca Corazon del Mundo
- Gambhira Eco Yoga Village Santa Marta
- Still Yoga
Santa Marta is one of the foremost tourist destinations in Colombia and it is absolutely no surprise when one discovers that the city offers a wide variety of accommodations for the visiting tourists. Thus, if you are a tourist just keep your needs and budget in mind while finding a place and the locals shall point you in the right direction.
Some of the biggest hotels in Santa Marta are known to be certified green hotels and these shall offer tourists and travellers luxury without compromising on sustainability. Given below are a few hotels that you can consider:
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Ac Hotel by Marriott
- Inspira Santa Marta Hotel
Hostels and Guest Houses
Hostels are frequently a noteworthy choice for solo tourists who are searching for specific company around them and chilled out living spaces without paying for the excesses. The latest choices of hostels are dynamic, they offer some astonishing amenities and that too at a fraction of the price of the luxury lodgings. Given under are the best lodgings that you can consider for comfort while visiting Santa Marta:
- El Rio Hostel
- Dreamer Santa Marta
- Viajero Santa Marta
- La Brisa Tranquila
Renting an apartment in Santa Marta shall not be much of a hassle as there are plenty of options available. Right from cozy studio apartments to luxurious independent houses you shall find them all and can pick depending upon your needs and budget. They are infinitely much more private, they are cost-effective, and they do allow you to live beyond the rules and regulations of a hotel. You could find such apartments on popular rental websites such as Airbnb.
Couchsurfing is not advisable for most tourists who are headed to Santa Marta and though it is an option, you are dissuaded as the security risks are real and gringos are often a soft target unless they have a trustworthy host with verified details and good reliability.
Camping in and around Santa Marta is a stellar experience, the scenic locations are a big draw and if they are designated campsites or if you have the necessary permissions you could even camp at the beach or head up to the hills.
How to Get There
Though it may not be the biggest destination in Colombia, Santa Marta certainly does have a variety of modes of transportation which you can make use of to reach the city. Given in the sections below are more details about the same.
The Simón Bolívar International Airport serves the city of Santa Marta, it handles all of the domestic and international loads, often serving to be the perfect choice for tourists flying into the city. The airport is just 20 minutes away from the city centre and thus you can get to town really quickly via almost every possible mode of local transport.
For those looking to travel to the city via bus must know that the bus station is far out of town and is situated on the main freeway, thus reaching here via bus at odd hours of the night isn’t suitable and pre-planning further travel to your accommodation is advisable.
Santa Marta isn’t connected via an active railway line and thus tourists shall have to look for alternative means of travel.
Hitchhiking your way to Santa Marta can be considered but tourists are recommended to be very careful about whose car they enter as they could be looted. Tourists are often a soft target but if you have some local friends and can share your hitchhiking information with them then you could consider it a viable option during the daytime.
Beyond the above-mentioned means of transportation, a few tourists could either choose between renting a car and riving down from nearby major cities or could consider coming via the sea on ships and cruises.
Moving around Santa Marta isn’t too difficult as the city is quite small and there are a few types of transport available, more details about this are given in the section below.
Walking around Santa Marta is an immensely pleasant experience as the air is fresh and crisp, the scenery is enchanting and it enables you to truly soak in your surroundings.
Riding a bicycle around town is a good option for eco-friendly tourists who want to explore town faster than walking but not rely on fossil fuel-run modes of transports that add to pollution especially while commuting to nearby destinations.
Electric vehicles haven’t gained much traction in Santa Marta with the exception of a few wealthy individuals owning them, thus you may have to settle for electric scooters at the very least.
The local bus service is the backbone of transportation available to the general public, thus, as a tourist, you may want to consider this option seriously especially if you are travelling the city on a budget.
Tram, Train and Subway
The lack of any kind of rail transport here implies that no tourist shall be able to find trains, trams or subway services either.
Sustainable shopping is a fundamental piece of each eco-friendly voyagers' excursion. This is fundamental as you can unmistakably add to the local economy and with no additional help deal a blow to ravenous money-making institutions. Shop from neighbourhood stores on the off chance that you wish to take back some authentic craftsmanship and antiques.
Some of the most well-known food markets in Santa Marta are:
- Public Market Santa Marta
- Estación Central
- Surtitienda Santa Marta
Some of the most well-known flea markets in Santa Marta are:
- El Pueblito
- The Good Site
- Granero Central
Second Hand Stores
Santa Marta is home to some really noteworthy and captivating second-hand stores, in any case, you should realise that the vast majority of them manage utilised attire, hardware, vehicles, and modest imported merchandise. Except if you discover something of total worth don't get it.
Eco-fashion in Santa Marta is gaining momentum with the increasing presence of wealthy and eco-friendly tourists who are looking to make some purchases that suit the holiday mood.
Due to the rising consciousness of the locals, there is an increasing effort being taken to recycle as much waste as possible. Efficient methods are being set up and the local government is also being as proactive as possible. Glass, plastics and metals are currently being recycled, with capacities for the same being increased periodically.
Waste collection in Santa Marta is relatively straightforward with most of the tourists throwing their garbage in the bins according to it being wet or dry waste and the locals are also being increasingly educated about the importance of systematic and timely garbage collection and disposal.
Work and Study Abroad
Working in Santa Marta provides opportunities only for digital nomads and those who are closely linked to the various arms of tourism and hospitality. As far as education opportunities are considered those are scanty and more details are given below.
Exchange students are rare to come across in Santa Marta since its not a major education destination.
Being an Au Pair in Santa Marta is not a tough task but certainly one shall have to hunt for the perfect opportunity and the best chances of that are primarily over the listings on the internet.
Volunteering for a host of sea cleanup drives in Santa Marta is a great way to give back to society as a tourist in town. You could additional volunteer for community kitchens and some initiatives taken by NGOs.