Getting stuck in Taganga

When I arrived in Taganga, my first stop on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, I wasn’t all that impressed. And yet I somehow managed to end up staying more time in the area than anywhere else I’ve been so far on my trip.

The obvious highlight of the place is that it’s a great place to start the Lost City trek from, but there are plenty of other reasons to stick around too.

After five days of intense, sweaty hiking, all most people want to do is go and recover on a beach. Fortunately enough, Taganga is right next to the stunning Parque Nacional Tayrona, which has some of the finest beaches I’ve ever seen.

It’s a bit of a trek getting there – an hour on the bus, followed by an hour’s trek through the jungle of the national park, followed by another hour of hiking along the beaches (although if you’re the flashpacker type you can skip all that hard work and just get a boat direct to the beach from Taganga) – but boy is it worth it.

My accommodation: sleeping in a hammock on the headland

My accommodation: sleeping in a hammock on the headland

As it’s a national park, the area is almost completely undeveloped, with just a few cabins on one beach, and then an area with camping and hammocks to rent a few beaches along at Cabo San Juan. Aside from that, it’s just pristine beaches, backed with palm trees, and then with thick jungle behind that. With most travellers for some reason staying put at Cabo beach, that leaves the next two beaches along almost empty. There’s nothing to do there apart from lie on the beach, read your book, and cool off with the occasional dip in the crystal clear, warm sea. So that’s exactly what I did for a few days.

Aside from the Lost City and Tayrona, Taganga itself has a few other things going for it that keep people sticking around. Best of all was the hostel I stayed in, La Casa de Felipe, which is the nicest I’ve stayed in. Perched at the top of the village with a view across the bay, it’s a fantastically relaxing place, much more spread out than most, with a lovely garden for wasting time chilling out in hammocks. Probably the most unexpected feature there is the restaurant. Most hostels I’ve stayed in don’t serve food at all (or at best offer breakfast). Not Casa de Felipe. They have a French chef who makes amazing food at very reasonable prices for Colombia. The place is packed out every evening as people come from all the other hostels, mostly attracted by his amazing filet mignon in a red wine sauce. If only backpacking was always like this.

After filling up on steak, the place is pretty lively in the evening too. There’s always something going on the beach, which is where we ended up most nights, and on Wednesday the village fills up with Colombians coming up from nearby Santa Marta to visit the one nightclub in town, El Garaje. It’s semi open-air, and is a fantastically relaxed spot to spend an evening, dancing (or in the case of most gringos, not dancing but sitting there admiring and envying all the locals salsaing away. Shame I have two left feet or I’d have been up there with them) and chatting away, followed by heading back to the beach to continue the partying into the small hours.

With all that to do I managed to spend nearly two weeks in the area, and still didn’t even get to try out the other thing the area is famous for, its diving. I kind of wish I’d hung around for a few days more to get my advanced course done, but I just never seemed to have the time. It’s the kind of place that willl do that to you – pretty much everyone I met ended up overstaying for days (weeks even) longer than planned.

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11 responses to “Getting stuck in Taganga

  1. Ahhhh….I’m envious! I couldn’t tear myself away from Medellin even though I’d heard amazing things about these beaches. Reading about your experience just makes me want to go back.

    Filet mignon at a hostel restaurant? That’d be a first for me.

    A bunch of Irish people I hung out with at Carnival in Barranquilla had spent the previous *month* in Taganga. I knew then it had to have something special going for it.

  2. amazing! i want to sleep in a hammock on that beach too!

  3. That beach looks flippin’ awesome!

  4. Dave / Chris / Matt – yes, it really was amazing, I can’t recommend it highly enough

    Although according to some Colombians I’ve met, there are even better beaches further to the east, heading towards the Venezuelan border. Harder to get to, but they barely get a mention in the guidebooks so if you head there you’ll get them all to yourselves.

  5. I’m loving your last few Coloumbia posts, it really takes me back to my time in Ecuador 18 months ago only you’re really managing to pack in so many different experiences.

    I particularly like going places like Columbia (Lebanon where I just visited is another) where you get all the great bits with hardly any crowds.

    • Thanks Heather – it’s a fantastic country, and if you want to see it without crowds now really is the time to go, as word has got out how great it is and the numbers are rising week on week

  6. Indeed Taganga is a fantastic place. Some dont like it due to the amount of backpackers, but I thought it was great. Case de Felipe is without doubt one of the best hostels in South America and the Filet Mignons in Patrick’s (Dutch by the way) Restautant are incredible.

  7. Ivisit Colombia, maybe, six times in my life, an I visit the Magdalena area, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. I have the opportunity to visit the Taganga area and is so beauty. The Taganga’s beach water are cold, this is a strange detail anthe place is visit by many canadians citizens. Another detail is that there are many pople call
    “juglares” singing many song related witn the sea.

  8. Pingback: My 7 Links: Revisiting some old favourites | Itinerant Londoner

  9. the filet mignon is not from the french chef…he stole the concept of the dutch chef…tiny detail ;-)

  10. I like your article. I myself got stucked in Taganga! not so long ago. July 2013, was planning to be there for a few days but left 2 & 1/2 weeks later. Including Tayrona Park & Palomino.
    Also stayed at Casa De Felipe, the Owner is French and his chef…definitely French too.. His name is Dominique and has been there for 5 years, after talking to him we weirdly realized we are from the same small town in the Champagne region of France. Great Chef, thought he was actually wasting his wealth of knowledge & experience in a backpacker place. Lucky for us travelling though for sure!
    By the way, filet mignon or filet de boeuf, either way is a steak cut of beef taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin (said in French)… it just means beef fillet. Red wine sauce is a daughter sauce derived from a mother sauce (Sauce Espagnole with wine reduction added) as named in French Cuisine invented by Chef Antonin Careme early 19th. Sorry for being technical, was confused about stole the concept from a Dutch Chef comment.
    Maybe “Patrick the Ducth Chef” was replacing Dominique during a break ;)
    Another really good place to eat is the Sandwich restaurant just down the road from the Hostel “Los Baguettes De Maria”, really yummy gourmet toppings in a baguette bread.
    Cheers for the article, felt like i was back a la Casa…

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