Santa Marta is cultural and touristy, and packs a magical coastal vibe all in one small package
I’ve been in Santa Marta for about two months now, and I’ve really enjoyed the mixture of moods the city brings to life. When I first arrived, I spent a couple of days exploring the historical section which also happens to be the central part of the city. During these first couple of days after talking with the locals, getting a taste of the coastal music and viewing some of the amazing scenery, I was left with a vibe of a vibrant city portraying the traditional aspects of the coast of Colombia.
One gets the feeling that the majority of Santa Marta is similar; there are so many tiny roads crisscrossing each other leading to old churches, plazas with merchants, as well as cultural restaurants and monuments portraying the heritage of the city. Everything seems to be within walking distance. Apart from the city center there are other regions as well, called barrios, that are regular neighbourhoods, however they are not as memorable as downtown.
Knowing Spanish helped me communicate with the locals and to get a feel of how life is for everyone who lives in Santa Marta. Since I’ve been here, I’ve spent most of my time in the centre of the city, and truth be told there is a little bit of something here for everyone. During the mornings you can go to the beach area where you can enjoy the sun above the dark bluish water. Many times, there are touristic events set up by the locals which can be interesting to see as well. Or, you can take some pictures of the many monuments such as the statue of Simon Bolivar, the famous military leader who fought off the Spanish colonies, located aptly in parque de Simon Bolivar.
In the afternoon you can get a quick bite to eat in one of the city’s many traditional restaurants, or perhaps you are looking for some of the fast food eateries from the west, or you happen to be a vegetarian or even a vegan. Many of these restaurants can be found here.
As the day goes into the night, during this time of the year, a light breeze replaces the humidity which feels amazing. One cool thing to do at this time is watch the sunset from the beach and get a feel for how quiet the waters are; believe me, it’s worth it. As the night sets in, different venues come to life, most of which encompass music and events from the coastal regions.
Having been here for a couple months now, I think its one of the most unique places in Colombia. It’s a special city where one can experience the true energy of the coast in a small package.
If you enjoy Santa Marta, you’ll love Cartagena.