So we’ve been hiding out in Santa Marta relaxing and working on our businesses for the past 20 days. We wanted to have some time to decompress from the go-go-go lifestyle of North America before we started moving around at a solid pace throughout South America. So here’s how we spent our time...
We rented this awesome villa, Villa Escobar, on airbnb and would definitely recommend to others to stay here. It’s actually located in El Rodadero, a nicer suburb of Santa Marta and is about 15 minutes from downtown Santa Marta (or a $5 cab ride- yes cabs are that cheap here!) For anyone who has been following along through snapchat and Instagram- all those amazing sunsets that we can’t stop posting about are taken right from our pool here. Every night, from the villa or the pool we get to watch the sky light up in numerous different colours as the sun sets. It worked perfect for us as there was grocery stores, restaurants and a shopping mall right close by. And if you weren’t sold on it yet- one of the owners has the most adorable husky pup Akira (well she was still a pup when we were here). Akira will even ride on your back around the pool!! Can you tell we loved her?? :)
Interesting thing to note about most places in this area is that there is a lot of precaution taken in guarding their homes. Most of them have padlocked gates to enter and razor wire attached around to the outside walls to deter anyone from entering onto their properties.
Although there’s a plethora of different places to eat around El Rodadero we liked the options in Santa Marta much better. If you head to Parque De Los Novios you’ll find all the amazing eateries, bars and nightclubs within a 2 block radius, many of them offering 2 for 1 cocktails after dinner. During the daytime the streets are bustling with stores and shops and people selling things on every corner but at night things calm down a little more. The overhead lanterns come on, illuminating the streets and the little cafes. Careful to watch out for the overhanging leaves and branches sprouting from Parque De Los Novios or you may lose an eye! We ate at two restaurants that we ranked way above all others, Ouzo and A Deriva (which has an amazing cocktail bar “Taste” above the restaurant).
Ouzo was first recommended to us by locals so we went out with a group one night and it was definitely one of the best meals we’d eaten in a long time. We sat upstairs on the balcony, which was a bit quieter and you avoided all the buskers coming to ask for money. Their menu upstairs is made for sharing and boy would we recommend doing so. Every single item that came out was even more delicious than the last- even better was the reasonable price that everything was.
Our other restaurant we’d recommend opened only a few days prior to us eating there. A Deriva is a French fusion restaurant and the food is to die for. The chefs had a restaurant in Taganga prior to this and we were told there was never an empty seat. The menu has a great selection of carefully prepared items broken into 3 categories "Food from the Earth, Food from the World and Food from the Sea". There were 4 of us and we all chose food from the sea and all the plates were delicious! Piet and I shared a shrimp curry which has been our favorite meal so far. Upstairs is an open air bar called Taste where they serve the most amazing cocktails, we’d recommend trying the Afrodisiaco Mojito. They’ve even got a back patio where you can dance after having consumed a few of the cocktails.
Tayrona Park was one of the reasons we decided to stay in Santa Marta for a while longer. Our timing wasn’t the best when we first arrived because the park was closed for 1 month! We’d definitely recommend checking into this before you come because they close it down at different times of the year and only the Indigenous People are allowed on the land during this time. So we decided to stick around so that we could see these outstanding beaches and picturesque lagoons and rainforest that everyone bragged about. Well we weren’t the only ones sticking around because come March 1st when the park reopened people were waiting 3-4 hours at the gate just to get into the park. Once you are inside the entrance gates, it’s still a couple hours of walking until you get to places where you can stay the night or grab a bite to eat so we decided to take another route and boy were we ever glad.
We chose to do the Bahia Concha Tour with Vergel Tours which ends up taking you to a more secluded beach in Tayrona Park. Even before the tour we had amazing communication with the owners Christine and Jose, and we were quite impressed with how organized they were. Our tour started off by getting picked up at 11am from where we were staying and then we were taken straightaway for lunch. Now this wasn’t any old kind of lunch, they took you to the house where Jose had grown up to cook for us. We thought this was a great personal touch that just added to our tour. We were able to meet the family and see how traditional Colombians grow up. Let’s just say it’s very different than what we are used to back home! Boy do we ever look spoiled with all of our individual bedrooms and huge closets filled with a multitude of outfits.
Next we took off on motor bikes for 20-30 min through the streets and forest where we rode right up onto Concha beach. This was Piet’s first time on the back of motorbike and I swear he felt like Evel Knievel. Upon arriving to the beach, we were immediately taken to a local hangout where we were able to test our nerves with cliff jumping from a few different heights. Piet was crazy enough to climb up to the top to do the biggest jump- I stayed safely in the water. After all that adrenaline we headed back to the beach to relax in hammocks they had set up for us for the afternoon. Jose took us to a part of the beach that was very quiet which was exactly the atmosphere we were looking for. Throughout the day they provided us with beverages to quench our thirst and snacks, including some delicious Pineapple. After relaxing for a couple hours and learning a lot about everyday life in Colombia we tested our luck snorkeling right near the beach. (This was another first for Piet!) We were luckily enough to see some amazing sea creatures!
When we were done at the beach we started walking back to the motor bikes and came across 5 or so fisherman who were carrying their days catch. It was pretty amazing to see them walk along the beach carrying 10-15 heavy fish per person! We watched as our guides bartered for some fish to have for dinner later that evening. We rode off in the sunset back to Jose parents house for some evening coffee and then we were taken back home. This tour is perfect if you want to do multiple activities and relax at an amazing beach for the day. Jose and Christine are very well spoken in English which was a bonus for us. For the price you pay for this tour it is definitely a steal of a deal and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and relaxing day out in Santa Marta.
Check below for our video on our day trip!!
Some Fun Things to Note
The cats here are crazy! We knew there would be a lot of stray cats and dogs and the dogs just sort of lay down and sleep wherever they want and that’s about it. But the cats- they are crazy! We’ve never seen cat fights (or heard them) like we have here. They are crazy roaring loud- we could have sworn we heard a lion one night and this can go on for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
So far, bartering in Colombia has been virtually nonexistent which we were really surprised about. You can maybe get them down a couple thousand pesos (so $1-$2 CAD) if you are lucky and that’s on items over $30 but other than that basically what price they tell you is the price you pay. And this is coming from two excellent negotiators (or so we thought before coming here)!
We now we feel rested and ready to journey throughout the rest of Colombia. Stay tuned as we have lots of stuff planned in the coming weeks.
Next Stop: Cartagena, Colombia
B & P