Squatted in the ever-blurring line between tourist destination and off-the-beaten track is Taganga, a fishing village on Colombia’s Caribbean coast that boasts a burgeoning nightlife, unforgettable fruit juices and some of Colombia’s most lively beaches. Situated next to Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park, Taganga may not be the most obvious tourist destination but certainly it’s worth a thought if you’re in that region of Colombia. In fact, many people I spoke to while I was there had planned to visit Tayrona, but found the relaxed atmosphere of the village too enticing to leave.
The view from Taganga’s coast is spectacular. Green, tumbling hills rest either side of you and beautiful blue waters stretch on as far as the eye can see. Fishermen wade in the water and compare their catches and boats come and go from Santa Marta. Taganga is a small village with only a few concrete roads – most of the streets are muddy and uneven and most the houses have only the bare minimum inside (barring the ubiquitous loudspeakers that you’ll find from house to house). Shops are limited to selling only essentials and restaurants are more or less limited to the same meals, delicious as they are. But this shouldn’t deter anyone, in fact, it’s part of Taganga’s charm. The beaches are full in the day time, but this isn’t Majorca. Parties by the coast are the name of the game, but Ibiza this is not.
The day time you can spend on Taganga’s beach itself, or you can wander to Playa Grande, a short hike over one of Taganga’s hills. A boat is an option, but be wary of being overcharged, they shouldn’t cost more than a few thousand pesos. Playa Grande is primarily a beach with more beautiful views surrounding it. Its bustling with locals and it’s dotted with restaurants and smoothie sellers to keep you nourished. The sea is warm and inviting and you can swim out and explore the craggy hillsides that boast a few more isolated beaches. I’d recommend spending your day there, but heading back to Taganga just before the sunsets, where I’d regularly have a few beers with friends on the beach, watching the sunset.
As night comes on, the hues of the sea change, fading through blue to purple and finally to black. And as night comes on, the ambience of the village itself changes, too. No longer does vallenato trickle from the small restaurant huts and seaside cafes that dot the coast. Instead locals and tourists alike begin wandering the streets dressed for the night, drinking cocktails and beers while reggaeton begins blaring out from bars.
Once the bars are finished for nightlife there’s only really two choices in Taganga (Sensation and Mirador) but both warrant repeated visits as they’re full of hedonistic party-goers intent only on having a good time. Dancing out in the open in the Caribbean air with a view of the sea in front of me was an unforgettable experience and, frankly, I can’t wait to return to Taganga to spend more days on the beach recovering from the night before.
You can reach Taganga from Santa Marta by taxi (roughly $10,000 pesos) or by bus ($1,200 pesos). If you’re on a Colombian vacation and fancy an unforgettable party on the beach, be sure to check it out.