Boats in the water of Taganga, Colombia

Taganga, Colombia – Budget Travel Guide

Located just 5km north of Santa Marta, backpackers used to flood to Taganga, Colombia. 

Initially planning to spend only a few nights, they often ended up staying for weeks after falling in love with the town’s charm and accessibility. The gorgeous bay and green mountains are undoubtedly beautiful.

However, reports of crime and run down, dirty streets (see comments below this article for example) have affected Taganga’s image in the South America backpacking scene. While some travellers still rave about the place, others shun it in favour of other nearby towns. 

Whoever you ask, there is a mix of opinions about Taganga. The best thing to do is to go check it out for yourself!

Taganga, Colombia – Travel Guide

Taganga Map and Resources

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Best Time to Visit Taganga, Colombia

Much like Santa Marta, Taganga is hot year-round and the dry season of December-March is the best time to visit. During these months, it’s less humid and a cooling breeze off the sea often blows through in the afternoons.

December-January is a popular time for Colombians to travel to Taganga so expect accommodation prices to go up around the holiday season and New Year period. 

June-September marks the rainy season. Humidity is higher during these months and temperatures can feel stifling. 

Mountains and Sea in Taganga, Colombia
December-March is the best time to visit Taganga!

Where to Stay in Taganga, Colombia

The small fishing village of Taganga has a dearth of paved roads but plenty of hostels, guesthouses and hotels. There’s accommodation in Taganga to suit all budgets, from shoestring backpackers to high-flying world travellers. 

We recommend staying a little way back from the main road if possible. It can get super lively at the weekends and the music will keep you up all night if your accommodation is close by! 

Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Taganga…

Best Taganga Hostels for Backpackers

1. Hostal Palohe Taganga 

This hostel, complete with a small swimming pool and hammocks in a tranquil courtyard, is one of Taganga’s most popular! The staff are always on hand to help you with anything you need. Beds are well priced, with dorms and private rooms available, and the whole place is clean and spacious. The hostel is located just a minute’s walk from the centre of Taganga. 

2. Hostel Hiplandia 

Located just over a kilometre from Taganga beach, this chilled-out hostel proves popular with backpackers from across the world. The staff speak a range of languages and are more than willing to help you with any queries! There are dorms and private rooms available and each includes a simple breakfast. The only downside of Hostel Hiplandia is the lack of A/C which means the rooms can be roasting during the day! 

3. Hostel Nirvana 

Popular in the backpacker scene, Hostel Nirvana is a good choice if you’re looking for a place to stay with a buzzing social vibe. Dorm beds are available for less than $10USD and there are private rooms too. The on-site restaurant serves good food and is open 24/7! The best thing? The awesome swimming pool of course!

4. La Tortuga Hostel

A sweet hostel, that’s clean and comfortable. It’s located just a 10-minute walk from the beach with well-priced dormitories and private rooms – all include a fan or two but these do little in the roasting shared dorms. The swimming pool area is a great spot to meet fellow travellers and the rooftop bar offers a range of well-priced drinks!

Viví la experiencia Taganga con LA TORTUGA HOSTEL

5. Villa Mary

One of the cheapest options in Taganga, expect to find a dorm bed for around $5USD at Villa Mary! It’s a basic, no-frills, but friendly place, and the staff make sure that backpackers always enjoy their stay! Villa Mary is a wonderful spot to chill and meet fellow travellers. The shared kitchen means you can save even more money by cooking your own dinner too!

Best Flashpacker Accommodation, Taganga

If you’re looking to splash out on a more relaxing stay during your time in Taganga, we recommend these flashpacker favourites! 

1. Casa Relax

The beautiful Casa Relax offers exactly what it says on the tin. This adults-only accommodation has a swimming pool, spacious private rooms and great views. Breakfast is included and consists of eggs, toast and fruits. All rooms are private and come with an amazing view, either out to sea or towards the verdant green mountains. 

2. La Ballena Azul Hotel

Situated in front of Taganga beach, this hotel is a great base for those exploring the village or heading off on a dive course nearby. An ensuite double starts at approx. $40USD per night and includes an American-style breakfast. The hotel is well-located, with plenty of bars and restaurants within walking distance. 

Things to Do in Taganga, Colombia

1. Visit Taganga Beach

The small beach at Taganga is shared with the harbour and is surrounded by picturesque mountains. It can get extremely busy, especially on weekends, when Colombians descend from the nearby city of Santa Marta.

Beach activity at sunset in Taganga
Taganga beach is popular at any time of day!

2. Visit Playa Grande

One of Colombia’s best beaches, Playa Grande has a great viewpoint over the whole coastline and is just a 15-minute walk away. The trail begins to the right of Taganga Beach. If you can’t find it, just ask a local fisherman.


Several robbery incidents have been reported by travellers taking this short walk, even during the day. If you decide to do it, it’s better not to bring any expensive belongings with you just in case!

Another option to get to Playa Grande, if you are concerned about safety, is to take a boat from Taganga Beach. A round trip should cost less than 10,000COP (around $2USD) per person. Once at Playa Grande, there are many things to do, from renting kayaks to snorkelling and exploring nearby beaches.

Man juggling on Taganga Beach
You’ll find plenty to do at Playa Grande!

3. Visit Tayrona National Park

The spectacular Tayrona National Park is a must-visit for backpackers, with gorgeous blue waters, wonderful beaches, and dense rainforest – all easily accessible from Taganga.

Getting to Tayrona from Taganga is relatively simple. The simplest way is to get a boat from Taganga dock to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona. This costs around 60,000COP ($12USD) one way and you’ll need to pay your park entry fee too. The entrance fee is around 60,000 to 80,000COP for foreigners depending on the season and approx. 20,000 to 30,000COP for Colombians.

Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta Beaches
Tayrona National Park features some of the best beaches in Colombia!

Alternatively, you can opt to visit Tayrona via road and hiking. This will involve either getting a taxi or shuttle from Taganga to one of the Tayrona entrances – Calabazo or Zaino. From there you’ll need to hike into the park. Calabazo is quieter but the hike is longer and more strenuous. 

You can also get to Tayrona using public transport. First, you’ll need to get into Santa Marta either by bus or taxi. Then, from Santa Marta, take a bus heading out towards Tayrona, Palomino or Riohacha. Ask the driver to drop you off at your desired entrance. 


If you fancy a swim while in Tayrona National Park, be aware that some beaches have very strong rip rides and can be dangerous. Much safer are the natural ‘piscinas’ where you can enjoy the refreshing waters without worry.

4. Taganga Diving

Diving is a vibrant industry in Taganga and there are plenty of dive shops offering trips for all experience levels. Most dives will take you to Aguja, a small island that is a part of Tayrona National Park.

Taganga is promoted as one of the cheapest places in South America to get certified to dive. However, it’s worth noting that the quality of the water and biodiversity is limited compared to other dive spots around South America. But don’t let that put you off too much – with some of the lowest prices in the world, get your diving certificate then find some better dives elsewhere! 

Be Aware:

If you’ve been on a plane recently, you may need to delay your dive by a day or two. Let the dive company know if you’ve flown in the last few days.

5. Snorkelling in Taganga

If diving isn’t your thing, consider a snorkelling trip with one of the dive schools. The water straight off Taganga isn’t suitable for snorkelling and the currents in Tayrona make swimming extremely dangerous, so you need to take a tour to make the most of snorkelling in the area. 

Snorkeling over coral reef
A snorkeling tour can take you to the best spots!

6. Freediving in Taganga

If you want to take your underwater adventures one step further, why not try the unique sport of freediving? Freediving is taking the plunge, without any underwater breathing apparatus, by simply learning the technique of holding your breath for long periods. Delphinus Freediving Club offers freediving courses in and around Taganga.

7. Take a Fishing Tour with a Local Fisherman

For an authentic ‘Taganga experience’, get chatting to a local fisherman and ask him to take you out on his boat fishing for the day. You’ll have to leave early to get the best catch, but it’ll be worth it as you bob around the beautiful beaches around Taganga before other tourists have even woken up! 

Organised tours are available from some hostels in Taganga, or you can negotiate a deal yourself with a fisherman on the beach (brush up on your Spanish before doing so!).

8. Watch the Sunset

As evening approaches, head to a cheap and cheerful bar on Taganga Beach, grab yourself an Aguila and watch the sun disappear into the ocean.

Sunset in Taganga, Colombia
Sunsets in Taganga have to be seen to be believed!

9. Hike the Lost City Trek

Many backpackers chill out in Taganga before or after experiencing the famous Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) Trek. Treks can be booked from travel agencies in Taganga or online in advance.

10. Visit Minca

If you’re short on time, it is possible to visit the mountain town of Minca on a day trip from Taganga, however, we recommend spending at least a few nights if you can! 

Amazing treks, waterfalls, coffee plantations, bird watching and great cafés are all reasons to stay longer in Minca. Don’t miss a stay at Casa Loma – one of our favourite hostels in the whole of South America!

Minca street art
Minca is a must-see town for backpackers in Colombia!

11. Enjoy Taganga’s Nightlife

For such a small place, Taganga has quite a few places to go wild in. However, a typical night out in Taganga ends up with a party on the beach – siempre! Before it gets to that, don’t miss the following Taganga party hotspots…


There have been some drug and robbery-related incidents in recent years in Taganga. Please take caution at night, particularly if you’re alone.

Republika Divanga: This hostel-turned-bar is a great place to hang out if you want to chill and meet like-minded travellers. The cool owner, Lucy, is a secret DJ who plays a wicked deep-house set (if you ask her nicely). There are tequila shots every night for any traveller who’s up for it, though the vibe is not pushy here, just chilled-out Taganga style.

Love Restaurante Bar: Tempting people in with 2-4-1 cocktails, free shots and promises of ‘amor y amistad’ (love and friendship), this cheerful bar, located right on the beach, is a good place to watch the sunset and start a night of frivolity in Taganga.

The Mirador: On the left and up the stairs of Taganga Beach. The view is incredible but the drinks are a little more expensive. Nevertheless, this place is always packed and has live DJs every night.

Food and Drink in Taganga, Colombia

Most of the hostels in Taganga have kitchens and there are quite a few small shops where you can buy groceries to cook your own meals. But if you get tired of this, or just want to try some amazing comfort food, why not sample the following great options:

Risto Pizza Garibaldi – Traditional Italian cuisine complete with Italian chef, on Calle 14. With great pizza, cocktails (also a happy hour 2×1) and live music every week.

Pachamama – With a variety of tapas, pasta, meat and fish dishes, this atmospheric spot is a favourite among flashpackers in Taganga. Live music in a cool setting, this place is great if you’re looking for a fancy evening in Taganga.

Divanga Bar and Restaurant – Set a few blocks back from Playa Taganga, Divanga Bar and Restaurant offers a vast array of dishes from steak and chips to coconut curry. They also have a range of fresh seafood dishes, featuring locally caught fish! 

Getting Around Taganga, Colombia

Taganga is a small town and you never need to travel far. Everything is within walking distance but there are also moto-taxis available if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. With recent reports of crime in Taganga, we don’t recommend walking around alone at night. If you’re out after dark, try to stay with a group. 

Taganga, Colombia
The unpaved roads of Taganga!

How to Get to Taganga, Colombia

Taganga is easily accessible by bus from Santa Marta’s downtown market. It takes just 15 minutes and costs only a few thousand pesos. 

Alternatively, you can get a taxi which will set you back a little more. 

If you’re coming from elsewhere in Colombia, you first need to get to Santa Marta, then catch onward transport to Taganga. Make sure you know how much the taxi should cost (ask in your accommodation if possible), as they have a reputation for ripping off tourists in Santa Marta. 

Where to Go Next:

Minca: Just 30-40 minutes by car from Taganga or Santa Marta, Minca is backpacker heaven in the mountains. Waterfalls, trekking and chilled-out restaurants and bars.

Santa Marta: Many backpackers base themselves here for a few days before they travel to Tayrona National Park or tackle the legendary Lost City Trek. A relaxing stay at the luxury backpacker hostel Masaya doesn’t go amiss either!

Cartagena: Beautiful colourful streets and colonial charm, Cartagena is the gem of the Colombian Caribbean coast. A few nights here is an absolute must!

By Gintare and Danas of the travel blog Off to Somewhere.

1 thought on “Taganga, Colombia – Budget Travel Guide”

  1. Don’t go to taganga.

    We were traveling on a public bus between Santa Marta to taganga when 3 men with guns and knives hop in to the bus and took out backpacks, money and phones.
    If you want to stay safe avoid going to taganga there is so many places better tan this part of Santa Marta.

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