Visiting Santa Marta On A Sailboat

hotel pool view marina Santa Marta

We checked into Colombia almost a month ago at Santa Marta Marina. We love the stunning views and friendly people. Here’s what it’s like staying in Santa Marta on a sailboat.

About Santa Marta

Located on the Caribbean Sea, Santa Marta is a busy port and Colombia’s oldest city, founded by the Spanish in 1525. It is interesting geographically because of the proximity of high mountains to this city by the sea. It makes for beautiful views when approaching on your boat or walking around the town.

Church in Santa Marta Colombia
One of Santa Marta’s churches

In addition to the marina, Santa Marta has an airport and a bustling downtown with restaurants, museums, and historic squares. We aren’t bored staying in Santa Marta on a sailboat.

Location map of Santa Marta Marina
Where we are in Colombia

Marina Life

The Santa Marta Marina is an IGY marina well situated within walking distance to the old town, restaurants and shops. As marina guests, we have access to amenities including laundry facilities, showers, a mini market, a restaurant, and an air-conditioned captain’s lounge with wifi. We are also connected to power and have fully charged and revitalized our batteries, no small feat.

The marina even has partnerships with local businesses like a gym and a nearby hotel. It was my first visit to a gym in well over a year and I could feel it! With the hotel, we can use their pool as long as we spend 50,000 COP on food and beverage. 50,000 COP translates to about $14 US dollars.

hotel pool view marina Santa Marta
The view from the hotel pool near the marina

We also have access to the local army base’s beach club, and we went there on Saturday. It’s very nice and extremely secure.

Pool at the local beach club
This is a nice pool!

Santa Marta Town

There’s a lot to see and do in Santa Marta. I didn’t know what to expect so was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant street life and busy restaurant scene in this coastal town. The pedestrian zone has a lively atmosphere with a full array of restaurants which we have barely begun to sample. And you know I like to sample the resturants.

Convenient Location

Santa Marta is close to a lot of northern Colombian tourist destinations. If you stay in Santa Marta, you’ll want to visit Minca for a day or weekend. Also close by are the very popular Tayrona National Park, and The Lost City. As a result, tour guides are everywhere in town, and the restaurants and shops cater to a mix of Colombians and foreigners.

dining outdoors Santa Marta Colombia
A pedestrian friendly street for dining al fresco in Santa Marta

Great Cruiser Community

One of the best parts of our life in the marina is spending time with the fun cruisers here! Since our first weekend in Colombia we’ve had group adventures in the surrounding neighborhoods of Santa Marta. From hikes and boat trips to music festivals and sundowners, we’re having a great time with our new friends!

cruiser friends in Colombia
Our Santa Marta marina cruiser group on an excursion to Nuevo Venecia, Colombia

Covid Restrictions

We didn’t time our visit to Santa Marta well with the Covid pandemic. While friends of ours in the U.S. and Eastern Caribbean are getting vaccinated, we are going through a severe lockdown.

Restrictions were minor when we arrived earlier in March, with curfews and mask requirements, but they’ve grown stricter. Last week, the mayor implemented lockdowns by day of the week. On Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, all but the most essential workers must stay home. On the other days, curfew is at 8PM and if you want to go to a supermarket or a mall, you can only go on a specific day based on your ID. Sunday was like a ghost town but we got a lot of boat work done.

Covid 19 rules Santa Marta
Schedule for shopping due to Covid 19 Restrictions in Santa Marta

Fortunately, with three passports we can almost always go to a store. Plus, on the open days, anyone can visit restaurants and corner shops. The new schedule and restrictions began on Saturday and run for a month. We likely won’t stay in Santa Marta the entire month. Other parts of Colombia are more accessible and we want to explore more anyway.

The Wind

The wind in Santa Marta is a major force. Experienced sailors warned us about how strong it gets but it’s still surprising, and I’ve experienced strong winds before! The gusts are so powerful we each lost a shoe the first week – they flew off the deck. Last night, we lost some of our dinner – it blew out of my hand. Around the marina at least, we are holding onto our hats and will have to be more careful with everything else.

Wind monitor on a sailboat
The wind monitor. Brian likes to see how high the wind gusts. It got up over 33 knots on this day

This wind gusts from the mountains, bringing lots of dust with it. We are constantly spraying the outside of the boat and sweeping inside, but the wind continues to bring it, day after day.

Wind in palm trees marina Santa Marta
Wind blowing through the palm trees at the marina

One good thing about the wind is it keeps us cooler. The weather is consistently hot, above 30C with minimal clouds, so winds of any kind are a blessing, despite the loss of miscellaneous belongings.

Where to After Santa Marta on a Sailboat

While in the marina, we’ve completed much of our boat work, including fixing the essential auto pilot. After a couple more weeks exploring the area and waiting for the wind to die down, we’ll push off for Cartagena. While we’ve visited Cartagena before, we’re sure we can find new things to discover and it’s a good base to travel to other parts of Colombia. With lots of sailing destinations still closed, we’re taking our time this season, enjoying the perks of slow travel and immersing ourselves in new cultures.

If you have any recommendations for Colombia, Panama, or Central and South America, please share in the comments.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

6 thoughts on “Visiting Santa Marta On A Sailboat”

  1. Wow! Staying in Colombia on a sailboat must be such an awesome experience! Colombia is definitely next on my travel list ????

  2. That sounds like a great experience. Even with the restrictions, sounds like you have enjoyed it. It is so great that you have really embraced finding a way to keep enjoying it and making it work! 🙂

  3. I’ve never been sailing but it sounds like it would be fun! I’m glad you were still able to get what you needed done even with the restrictions!

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