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Day 14 – Santa Marta

It was another sunny, hot and humid day in Cartagena and we had to check out from the airbnb residence at 11am. Also, the bus ride from Cartagena to Santa Marta takes about 4 hours. Checking out early at 8:30am, we hoped to catch the 9am bus, so we took a taxi to the “bus terminal” costing COP 7,000 and taking 10 minutes.

The main bus terminal (B) is located about 11 km outside the city, but this is NOT the terminal you should go to take a bus to Santa Marta, but the MarSol Transport terminal (A) just outside of Centro in the San Diego area – see map below.

A- Marsol us terminal and B- Main bus terminal


One way trip to Santa Marta from Cartagena costs COP 42,000 in a 20-seater bus that leaves every two hours. We reached the terminal just before 9am, but we found out that the next bus was at 10am (two hours from the previous one). MarSol has semi-luxury buses and makes two 10-minute halts on the way to Santa Marta – one in a side street and other in Baranquilla.

The ride took about 5 hours and we reached our hostel at about 3pm. Make sure to let the driver know your hostel/hotel and they will drop you at the door. We stayed at Hostel Masaya which happened to be a backpackers choice. Although a lot of fellow travelers recommended The Emerald Hostel, just down the road from Masaya, to be a better option in terms of noise, people and cost.


Hostel Masaya

Hostel Masaya, Santa Marta, Colombia

Breakfast included: No.

Address: Calle 14 # 04-80, Centro historico, Santa Marta
Phone: +57 (5) 423 1770
Website: masaya-experience.com/en/residence/masaya-santa-marta

The de-facto place for every backpacker to stay, hostel Masaya is located on the main street, Calle 4, right across from Iglesia de San Francisco and a walking distance from the beach.

The hostel does not have ant private rooms, but dorms only – only male, only female and mixed. Every room has multiple beds, with each bed having curtains on both sides, a fan and a light at the top of headboard. Bathrooms are shared between the residents of the same room. They are clean and well maintained.

Having said that, remember that this is a party hostel and the rooftop has a bar, a stage area and lounge chairs and hammocks laid out. The hostel has events happening every night and the schedule is posted at the lobby area on the ground level – karaoke nights, salsa dancing lessons, live performances and disco nights.

The ground level also has a swimming pool that is kept clean. And the rooftop area has a small kitchen where you can prepare meals if you’d like.

Luckily for us, we got the beds right next to the balcony and the fantastic breeze kept the temperatures low in the hot and humid port city.

The staff was not helpful in many-a-ways and the wifi was terrible at the hostel. If you’re looking for tours to Taganga or Tayrona national park from Santa Marta then the hostel has a tour agency next to the gate of the hostel.

[Upper decks]

[Typical dorm room][Swimming pool]


Santa Marta

The prime destination for beach activities like snorkeling, diving, scuba diving, etc., Santa Marta is a small town and an important commercial port. Aside from the old center, the main attractions of Santa Marta are its two resort-like suburbs El Rodadero, to the south, and Taganga, to the north. El Rodadero has several high-end hotels and private “clubs” that cater mostly to wealthy Colombians, whereas Taganga was originally a fishing village and is very popular with (mostly foreign) backpackers. Taganga has many scuba-diving agencies.

A 5-day trip to the Lost City can also be organized through the hostel.





After relaxing at the beach side and taking a stroll through the flee markets, we called it an early day with full of activities the next day.

Upon reaching the hotel, we realized that Hostel Masaya offered Salsa dancing lessons every Thursday, so it was time for some booty-shaking before heading to bed!



Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = COP 2200 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.

What Cost Notes
Taxi from airbnb to bus terminal $3.19 COP 7,000 one-way, for a ride. Airbnb Residence in Cartagena to MarSol terminal.
Snacks $2.27 COP 5,000 per person.
Bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta $19.10 COP 42,000 per person.
Hostel Masaya $27.27 COP 60,000 per person, per night. Dorm room bed.
Water & snacks $4.54 COP 10,000 per person.
Dinner at Club Colombia restaurant $11.82 COP 26,000 per person.
Total Costs $68.19 Per person
Overall Costs $2,351.83 Per person


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Bocagrande, Gestemani neighborhoods.

Day 14

Santa Marta

Gorgeous beach town and beaches.

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Taganga, Santa Marta to Cartagena

Hiking, diving and travel from Santa Marta to Cartagena.


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