Taganga is a small fishing village of about 6,000 people in northern Colombia. While Taganga is relatively small, its character and opportunities have expanded over the years as more tourists, foreigners, and backpackers flock to the low-key village.
And despite its size, there is a lot to do in this little town. Something is here for you whether you’re into beaches, diving, fishing, or shopping. This guide will cover the most popular and exciting things to do in Taganga and the surrounding area.
Make sure to also read my post 29 Best Places To Visit In Colombia.
Best Things To Do In Taganga, Colombia
Go on a short hike to Playa Grande
My absolute favorite thing when we visited Taganga was to “hike” to Playa Grande. It only takes about 20 minutes after leaving Taganga. However, it gives you a full view of the entire village, the surrounding ocean, and the nearby landscapes.
From the center of Taganga, where Taganga beach and pier are, you should walk right (coming from the main road down to the coast). You walk through Taganga for about 15 minutes until you get to the very end of the road. At the end of the road, a little path leads up and follows the coastline. You just follow this path, and it brings you straight to Playa Grande.
It is hard to miss once you get on the trail. There are usually a few other people hiking this route in both directions, and only one main path takes you there. In addition to the incredible views, during the hike you get to see lots of giant lizards, birds, and other small animals.
However, hike with caution and preferably with a friend or travel partner. While we did the hike (both ways) several times with no problems, we did hear stories of small robberies during the day on the trail.
Take a boat to Playa Grande
If you aren’t up for the short hike to Playa Grande, you can easily take a 5-minute boat ride to the beach. You can hop on the boat from the main beach in Taganga. The boats leave every few minutes and should cost around 15,000 COP ($3 USD) one-way.
Regardless of how you get to Playa Grande, it is a beach that can’t be missed. It is actually my favorite beach in the entire area. The water feels fresh and clean; there aren’t so many people during the week, and it costs only 5,000 COP ($1 USD) to rent a chair under an umbrella for the day.
You will also love snorkeling in Playa Grande. While there isn’t a thriving reef, many fish and other fun sea life can be observed near the floating buoys that encase the swimming area.
Explore the stunning nearby beaches
In addition to Playa Grande, Taganga has excellent access to some of the best beaches in Colombia. It is close to Tayrona National Park, home to some popular beaches (like Playa Cristal, a nice white sand beach with clear waters and in a lovely, small protected bay, and Cabo San Juan).
Another beach you may want to check out is Bahia Concha, which can be reached on a quick boat ride from Taganga and is a popular hang-out spot for both locals and tourists alike. You can also take a short bus ride to Santa Marta or Rodadero to access other city-style beaches.
With how many beautiful beaches are found in the area, it should be no surprise that there are also some great snorkeling spots and indeed one of the best things to do in Taganga is snorkeling. Many people love to snorkel in Tayrona National Park. However, finding the best weather for a calm snorkel day can be challenging.
Fortunately, you can also just book a snorkel tour. These tours take you, by boat, to the best snorkel spots. You can find snorkel tours at the main pier in Taganga or Santa Marta.
Or you can check out this full-day sailboating tour that includes several hours of snorkeling. The tour leaves from Santa Marta and will take you to some of the most beautiful areas on the Colombian Caribbean coast, including Tayrona National Park, for snorkeling.
If you want more adventure than snorkeling, you can try diving. Scuba diving from Taganga is a beautiful experience. Taganga is the closest boat ride away from Tayrona National Park (where all dive boats stop at). It should be about a 15-minute boat ride from Taganga to your first dive spot.
There are several dive centers right in the heart of Taganga. We talked to a few dive shops in Taganga; they were all super helpful, spoke some basic English, and offered great prices.
Most dive shops will quote you around 250,000 COP ($52 USD) for two dives if you have your open water or advanced certificates.
If you still need to be certified, Taganga is also a hotspot in Colombia for certification. It should cost around 700,000 COP ($146 USD) for an open water certificate. With your license, you are free to scuba dive anywhere in Colombia or worldwide.
Catch your fish for the day
Taganga is known as a small fishing village, so you can easily find many local fishing trips leaving from the main dock. Fishing with a local fisherman is a great experience, whether you’re passionate about fishing or not. You can learn a lot and experience something entirely new.
Taganga locals have a unique style of fishing. Many people fish in groups directly from the shore. They lay out large nets that fall to the ocean floor and trap fish. The group of people then pull the entire net onto the shore. You may see this style of fishing on the local beaches in Taganga and Santa Marta.
Gorge on delicious seafood
Speaking of fishing, it’s obviuous that one of the best things to do in Taganga is having lots of fresh seafood!
In fact, Taganga has no shortage of fantastic seafood. The main strip is lined with popular bars and restaurants, often filled with locals taking a break and watching some local football matches. The fish is so fresh, and the chefs in Taganga are masters at seasoning and sauces. We enjoyed some amazing fish fillets in Taganga with mouth-watering fruit salsas and fresh side salads.
A complete fish lunch should cost around 60,000 COP ($13 USD) to 100,000 COP ($21 USD), but keep an eye out for the menu of the day. This is often advertised as a large chalkboard in front of the restaurant, including the “fish of the day,” sides, and a drink.
Check out my post The Best Colombian Food To Try.
Go on a day trip to Tayrona National Park
One of the best things to do in Taganga is to actually go on a day trip to Tayrona National Park, which is only 18km (11 miles) from Taganga. It is easy to get to Tayrona by boat or bus. If you just want to visit some famous Tayrona beaches, hop on a boat or take a day trip to your favorite ones.
You can head to Tayrona on your own and spend several days exploring the jungles and beaches. The easiest way to get to Tayrona is by bus. You go to the Public Market in Santa Marta and take a one-hour bus ride to El Zaino (the most popular entrance).
Conversely, many of the popular sailing excursions leave Santa Marta and go to Tayrona. Or, if you want more of a full-day adventure, check out this Tayrona Park hiking tour. This nine-hour tour includes transportation to and from Santa Marta, a visit to Cristal Beach, a Cabo de San Juan stop, and all entrance fees.
Head over to my post A Guide To Visiting Tayrona National Park, Colombia.
Spend a day in Santa Marta
Santa Marta is about 6 km (3.8 miles) from Taganga. This is more of a hustle-and-bustle city compared to the low-key vibe of Tanganga. If you want to escape to a busier environment, you can take a bus from Taganga to Santa Marta anytime.
You can find the bus in Taganga on the main road (there is only one main road in and out), going west to Santa Marta. The bus costs about 2,000 COP ($0.50 USD) and only takes 20 minutes. The bus goes through all of Santa Marta, but you can get off at the Malecon (the boardwalk along the ocean and walking street in Santa Marta).
Santa Marta has a lot to see and do, so it can easily fill a day or two of exploring. Places you may want to visit include the Cathedral, the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino (Simon Bolivar’s death place), the Parque de los Novios, and one of the many museums.
For a walking tour of Santa Marta Historic Center, click here.
You should also read my post 15 Best Things To Do In Santa Marta Colombia.
Shop in the artisan markets
Taganga isn’t world-renowned for its crafts and artisan markets, but they still have a lot of quality things to buy at a good price. Shopping in Colombia is cheap compared to neighboring countries, so walking through markets and craft stalls to admire the jewelry and bags can be a lot of fun.
You can also find many handcrafted items from the indigenous Tayrona people. The most popular item is a hand-woven bag, often with a white base with some black markings. In Taganga, these bags can be more expensive because they are transported from the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Still, they are high-quality and precious gifts that support the local community.
Enjoy the beautiful sunsets
Finally, you can slow down a bit and enjoy the wonderful sunsets in Taganga. Taganga is situated on the Caribbean coast, and the sky turns stunning at dusk. So you can relax, have a drink, and soak in the beauty of this tiny fishing village. There are tons of bars, beaches, and benches with a great view of the sunset.
Is Taganga safe?
Taganga does have a reputation for being more “rough” and “raw” compared to other nearby towns. An influx of backpackers and foreigners moved into Taganga in recent years, causing a slight crime increase (largely robbery-centered crime).
However, if you follow your instincts and simple recommendations, you should be able to stay out of trouble during your stay. Here is a refresher on how to reduce the likelihood of being targeted in Taganga:
- Don’t wear flashy or expensive jewelry to draw attention to yourself.
- Don’t leave your bags or belongings unattended, especially on the beach.
- Learn Spanish, or some basic Spanish, to be able to communicate easily with people around you.
- Don’t hold your phone while walking or while distracted.
- Only bring your absolute necessities when going out.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Try to avoid being out after dark on your own.
While some people may have negative experiences in Taganga, not everyone does. You should always be mindful and aware of your surroundings, but this goes to travel to almost any country.
Where to stay in Taganga
As far as accommodation is concerned, there is something for everyone. Whether you are looking for fun party hostels, relaxing low-key homestays, or more comfortable villas and hotels, there is something in Taganga for you.
Hostel Nirvana in Taganga is a popular choice among party-goers. It has a good vibe, an onsite restaurant, and a swimming pool.
La Tortuga Hostel has a similar friendly atmosphere but is a little more laid back. It has a great rooftop bar (making it an excellent spot for the famous Taganga sunsets), rooms with A/C, and a well-kept swimming pool.
If you want something a little more luxurious, Hotel Bahia Taganga is another favorite. It has large, stylish rooms (most with a sea view) and a beautiful pool that overlooks Taganga bay.
How to get to Taganga
From Santa Marta
Taganga is only 6 km (3.8 miles) from Santa Marta. It should take about 15 minutes by taxi or 20-30 minutes by bus.
The easiest way to get to Taganga from Santa Marta is by taxi. The taxi will cost around 15,000 COP ($3 USD) one way.
If you want to be a little more adventurous, you can take a local bus to Taganga for about 2,000 COP ($0.50 USD). The bus picks up on 5th avenue in Santa Marta’s historic center. This is a bustling street full of shops and vendors, about five blocks back from Santa Marta’s beach and pier.
You take the blue bus with “Kra 11 Taganga” sign on the front. Before taking a local bus, always verify your destination with the driver.
Taganga is about 234 km (145 miles) from Cartagena. The easiest thing to do is take a bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta and then take a 15,000 COP ($3 USD) taxi from Santa Marta to Taganga.
You can get your bus tickets to Santa Marta at the main bus terminal in Cartagena. The bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta takes five to six hours, with a short stop in Barranquilla and a few other small cities. Buses leave for Santa Marta regularly throughout the day and should cost about 35,000 COP ($7.30 USD).
Remember that public buses can be somewhat unreliable in Colombia. If you want to cut out the hassle, you can also book a shuttle service from Cartagena to Santa Marta.
Viator does offer door-to-door shuttle services between Cartagena and Santa Marta which is perfect if you can share the price of the ride with your friends. You can book it here.
If you are planning a trip to Colombia, these other posts will be useful:
- 19 Unmissable Things To Do In Bogota
- 7 Great Day Trips From Bogota
- A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Bogota
- 15 Useful Things To Know Before Visiting Cartagena
- 22 Incredible Things To Do In Cartagena
- The Best Day Trips From Cartagena
- Where To Stay In Cartagena: The Best Neighborhoods And Places To Stay
- An Excellent Guide To San Gil, Colombia
- A Concise Guide To Salento, Colombia
- A Complete Guide To Hiking Valle De Cocora, Colombia
- 12 Best Things To Do In Medellín, Colombia
- 8 Best Things To Do In Guatape Colombia
- A Concise Guide To Villa De Leyva, Colombia