4 Ways to Explore Colombia's Caribbean Coast

Hike through tropical forests, go scuba diving or just chill out on Colombia's quiet beaches. Nomad Jacqui explores the best areas on Colombia's Caribbean Coast.


Photo © iStock/Cesar Okada

Santa Marta and Surroundings

As one of the oldest cities in South America, Santa Marta has a turbulent history full of pirate attacks and legends.

Spend a few days exploring the historical center, drinking fresh fruit juices, and eating in open-air restaurants while street musicians and break-dancers entertain you.

Tayrona Beach. Photo credit: iStock

Trek into Tayrona National Park to enjoy sandy beaches surrounded by tropical forests. Take a short trek and visit the ruins of Pueblito, a mini Lost City built by the Tayrona people. For the adventurous, go diving and explore the colorful marine life beneath Tayrona.

Escape the heat and head to Minca, a village just 9 mi (14km ) from Santa Marta, up in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This picturesque village has been declared an ecological paradise and is famous for its natural biodiversity and organically-grown coffee.

The locals come here to go mountain biking, canyoning, tubing, horse riding, hiking, and splashing in natural pools. 

La Guajira

Palomino, a small village in the department of La Guajira, offers long stretches of quiet beaches, freshwater rivers, and activities like kayaking, surfing, and tubing down Palomino River.

Wake up early to see the snow peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta before it disappears into the clouds.

Further along the coast among the dry, seemingly inhabitable desert landscape lies the fishing villages Cabo de La Vela and Punta Gallinas – the northernmost point of South America.

Archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia

The cultural mix of Spanish, English, Dutch and African traditions make this archipelago as diverse as the marine life beneath it.

Spend relaxed days drinking cocktails on white-sand beaches while reggae music sets the tone. Don't miss the chance for some world-class diving, fishing or snorkeling at El Acuario while you're here.

For a more vigorous adventure, try kayaking, wind or kite surfing.


Barranquilla’s rich cultural history is on display at several museums and provides a great understanding of this ever-moving city.

The Romantic Museum is overflowing with colorful Colombian artifacts. Musical instruments and handwritten letters by Simón Bolívar are on display next to the original typewriter, which Gabriel García Márquez used to type his novel, Leaf Storm.

Learn about the history, identity, and traditions of the Colombian Caribbean at the Caribbean Museum. Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza (Anyone who lives it, enjoys it), is the motto of the Barranquilla Carnival, the second biggest carnival in the world.

Every year, the city explodes into a magnificent array of music, costumes, performances, and festivities.

For jazz lovers, the annual Barranquijazz Festival brings together the best of African and Caribbean rhythms with soul-shaking performances.

For art lovers, the Museum of Modern Art is a great place to check out 20th-century Caribbean contemporary art. Take a colorful sensory tour to appreciate the history, music, costumes, masks, and the traditional characters of the famous Barranquilla Carnival at The Carnival House.

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1 Comment

  • Mr Eric East said

    Just intime so I can prepare for my Winter 2018 trip !

    Thank You Guys

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