You might come to Taganga for the diving -one of the cheapest place in the world to take your PADI open water certification – but you will stay for the rest. It’s not that the beach is that nice, nor that the city is the biggest party place of Colombia. But Taganga has everything that backpackers like: the proximity of the beach for the lazy feeling, plenty of hostels and restaurants for the service, cheap menu del dia for your budget, happy hours for distraction, and a good base to explore the region and the underwater world.
It´s easy to get stuck there
Located in a lovely bay of the Carribean coast, 20min from Santa Marta, Taganga is a small fishing village. Or- it used to be. Dozens of fishing boats are still anchored by the beach but quite a few of them are also used for diving tours, once they return from the early morning fishing trip. On weekends, the place attracts dozens/hundreds of locals living a few hours away, in quest of a weekend of party by the beach. Taganga´s beach gets over crowded and the town noisy. During the week, the pace slows down and it´s mainly backpackers who enjoy the happy hour cocktails at the terrasse of the bars and restaurants. Still, the center is so small that after a few days, you won´t be able to cross the village without recognizing some familiar faces. And when you will come back to Taganga, after your diving class or day trip, you will feel home. We thought we will stay 4 days, we spent 7 nights in Taganga.
Little Big Explorations´ favorite in Taganga:
Where to eat
Next door to Yammy Yammy (does this place has a name?): this small place may look a bit dodgy but we got a great menu del dia for 6000COP, including soup and juice. The soup was not great, but the cow tongue we had was delightful. Calle 9
Cafe Bonsai: after 3 years in Sweden, I can recognize a swedish place when I see one. This one, with garlic bread offered as a starter and a sign “please order and pay inside“, was easy to spot. It was also there we had the best mojito of Taganga (“the best of Colombia!“, according to one guy working there) and also delicious barbecue food. Dinner from 18,000COP Calle 12
Babaganoush: fanciest option in Taganga. International menu and nice view overlooking the bay of Taganga. My seafood thai curry was really tasty! Main starts around 22,000COP, menu for 27,000COP. Carrera 1, at the entrance of the village
Where to stay: The town is filled with hostels so you won´t have problem to find a place to stay. To be close to the party, stay by the beach. For a bit more peace, find a place just a couple of streets away. If staying a bit far from the town center, consider taking a cab to get back to your hostel after dark.
We stayed at Villa Mary and loved it so much that we were there for 7 nights in total! The hostel is not located directly on the beach so it´s a good option if you want to relax. It has good value rooms (double with private bathroom for 60,000COP, breakfast included) and a charming, really colorful patio where you can relax in hammocks.
What to do around Taganga when you get bored
You can of course just chill by the beach, but Taganga is also a fantastic base to explore the surroundings.
- for underwater lovers: The area has beautiful coral and huge variety of tropica fishes and is supposed to be one of the cheapest in the world where to take your PADI open water certificate.
- for beach dreamers: Go on a day trip to National Park Tayrona, or even stay there for the night
- for adventurers: 4-6 days trek to Ciudad Perdida in the Sierra Nevada
How to get there: It´s just a short ride from Santa Marta, which will cost you 1500COP if you take the bus or around 10,000COP if you take a cab.
Good to know: We heard that the unique ATM of the village was declining most of foreign cards -not ours-, so you may want to take out some cash before reaching the village.