If you go to Tayrona Park, I would definitely not recommend the boat from Cabo San Juan to Taganga. It was VERY DANGEROUS. Our boat sunk in the middle of the ocean, and we had to be rescued. During the rescue the owners kept operating...More
It depends on a variety of factors. We went to Colombia in December 2017-January 2018. We had only 2 weeks (Christmas vacation between school terms). We were two parents with a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old. We started... More
It depends on a variety of factors. We went to Colombia in December 2017-January 2018. We had only 2 weeks (Christmas vacation between school terms). We were two parents with a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old. We started in Bogota, then, by airplane, went to Santa Marta area, then to Medellin area, then to Cartagena, then back to Bogota area. It may seem an odd itinerary but was the most logical since driving times are long and may be a bit problematic whether by rental car or bus, etc., yet domestic flights are inexpensive and plentiful. However, there were no direct flights between Santa Marta and Cartagena. All first went back to Bogota or Medellin, with a long layover in between connecting flights. Thus, we decided to do that order. I would, as others, recommend Santa Marta for things that you don't find in Cartagena, or which are better than in Cartagena. Outside Santa Marta is Tayrona National Park, with rainforest, hiking and beaches. Also, Santa Marta has great beach resorts in its western area near the airport and more peaceful ones east of Tayrona, in quiet areas with small places and few people. If you want the quieter places, check out that area, like Playa Los Naranjos. Our Colombian sister-in-law recommended Santa Marta for beaches, swimming, and nature, and said that Cartagena was not as good for that (only crowded beaches and high-rise resorts, etc.). Our experience supports her view. However, Cartagena has a huge, lively old town - touristy but worth it andone of those places which is touristy for very good reason. Santa Marta has an old central area but smaller, less beautiful, more grimy and definitely a genuine Colombian experience - an old working town, not touristy at all, but trying to get there. We loved that, but it can be a little intense. As a side note, I recommended Cartagena in the morning,wehn it's at its most quiet. In the daytime, it can be a little hot and full of cruise-ship tourists. In the evening, it's overrun with drinking, rowdy party-goers.