Travel Tips on what to see and do in El Rodadero & Santa Marta, Colombia

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Above: The beach at El Rodadero

Two hours east of Cartagena is Santa Marta. My Lonely Planet guide had gone into quite a lot of detail on Santa Marta’s attractions. Really, in all honesty, there is really no reason to be in Santa Marta. The attractions are the towns and parks around Santa Marta: El Rodadero, Taganga, and Parque  Tayrona.

Map of Parque Tayrona and area
Lissette and I used El Rodadero as our base to the area. There really isn’t much to the place, it’s basically a beach resort town. But it is clean, comfortable, has some comfortable restaurants, and it was quiet when we were here (although I hear that Colombians come here in droves during the holidays).

views of el rodadero beach, santa marta, colombia
Getting escorted by men with machine guns seems to be a re-occuring thing with me in Colombia. I previously mentioned the two soldiers who had given me a tour in Cartagena. Last year when I came to El Rodadero, I had gone to the tourist information center (located on the beach) to ask directions to the bus station. There were two soldiers manning the booth and, after a little talking, they decided to take a walk with me, machine guns in hand. They brought me to the bus station. When I offered to give them a tip they had replied that they couldn’t do that, it was against the rules. This time around, with Lissette, we were walking around looking for a travel agency when we encountered a soldier. Another incredibly friendly and helpful guy, he walked us over to a travel agency. Again he didn’t want a tip. I’ll probably write about this in depth one day, but it is so great to travel places where they see little foreign tourists. People are so happy and proud that you come to their country and try so hard to make your experience pleasant. I’ve been to so many places where they don’t care, where a tourist is an easy target. Not in Colombia.

Views of el rodadero, santa marta, colombia
We stayed in El Rodadero one night. What surprised me was the dryness. I even saw cactus. This is a huge contrast to Cartagena and especially Parque Tayrona  which are much more lush and green. I’ll go into detail on another post – but one of the attractions in Colombia is the geographical diversity that you encounter just travelling within a small region.

photos of el rodadero, santa marta, colombia


My detailed guide and tips on what to see/do in Colombia.


Have you been to either Santa Marta or El Rodadero? What did you think?



  1. Tyler Thompkins says:

    He there guys. The pics look incredible. I flew down to Colombia last summer, my first destination was el Rodadero. Since I am not really the camping/backpacking type (way too old for that, would have jumped at the oportunity back in the 80’s though), I decided to stay at one of the many, many boutique hotels near the rodadero area (specifically, in case anyone’s interested). I was first struck by the fruit down there- so much flavor and color! It’s nothing like we have up in the States.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We’re too old for that as well Tyler. It’s been a few years since we were in the area, how did you find it? We’re sponsoring a little girl in Barranquilla and want to visit her one of these days…
      Have very good memories of the people and Colombia. And you’re right about the fruit 🙂

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