A Gringo’s Guide to Santa Marta, Colombia Nightlife
I was impressed. The nightlife in Santa Marta was better than I ever imagined.
The combination of locals, traveling gringos, and Colombians on vacation was always entertaining.
Now, I’m not going to lay the hype on too thick. Santa Marta is a medium-sized city on the Caribbean coast in Colombia. It’s an amazing place to come chill out before visiting Parque Tayrona.
But the scene isn’t like nightlife in Bogota. Not even close!
There’s levels to this. Santa Marta can be one hell of a good time, but you can’t expect a city of 500,000 to offer as many nightlife options as a city of 10 million. The numbers just don’t add up.
What you can expect is a beach city filled with backpacker-style nightlife and a mix of tourists and locals. The parties rage on, but the scene is laid-back and you certainly wouldn’t want to rock a custom suit here.
What Makes Nightlife in Santa Marta So Much Fun?
There’s a little more to it than that. So, let’s dive in and take a look at what makes nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia so damn fun. Here are a few things I noticed while staying semi-sober and going out in Santa Marta:
~ Lots of Foreigners
Santa Marta is one of the backpacker hotspots in Colombia. The city boasts beaches, Parque Tayrona is just an hour away, and Taganga is a mecca of drugs and partying. As such, most places you go to in Santa Marta will have other foreigners enjoying a little rumba. Normally, I’d hate this. But in Santa Marta, it actually makes the nightlife more fun.
~ Cover Isn’t Common
Certain places charge cover around Parque de Los Novios, but the spots catering towards backpackers tend not to. That could always change, but I only remember one spot asking for cover when I went out.
~ Pretty Safe
I found Santa Marta to be a pretty safe city. Even at night, the center of Santa Marta didn’t seem sketchy at all. You shouldn’t have many safety issues enjoying the nightlife in Santa Marta. Someone could always drug your drink, as it’s still Colombia, but you have fewer worries here than in Bogota, Cali, or Medellin.
~ Mingling Made Easy
Since Santa Marta is a tourist spot, it’s pretty easy to mingle in the clubs here. People go out to meet other people. This isn’t like Cali, where people go out with huge groups of friends they’ve had since middle school. Personally, I enjoyed this aspect of the nightlife here.
~ Spanish Needed?
Since Santa Marta nightlife is fairly international, you can definitely get away without speaking any Spanish. Most of the people in the tourist areas can speak a little English. However, you’ll definitely make things easier on yourself by speaking some Spanish.
If you’re looking to learn, I recommend starting here.
Costs of Santa Marta Nightlife
Honestly, it’s pretty cheap to enjoy a big night out in Santa Marta. Many of the clubs cater to the backpacking crowd and we all know these types aren’t big spenders.
As such, you won’t have to spend too much money to have a great time partying in Santa Marta. Here’s a quick look at some cost estimates:
- Beer in bar/club: $1-4 USD
- Drink in a bar: $2-6 USD
- Drink in a club: $4-8 USD
- Cover charge: Many places don’t have cover in Santa Marta. The ones that do tend to charge between $3-7 USD.
- Bottle of wine at bar: $15-40 USD
- Bottle of booze at club: $20-100 USD
These are just estimates, but overall, everything is pretty damn cheap in Santa Marta. While you could spend a lot of money on a night out, you could also have a great time for under $20 USD!
While I won’t go too deep into this topic, it should be noted that drugs are cheap and common in Santa Marta, especially in Taganga.
Where to Party in Santa Marta, Colombia?
Santa Marta isn’t a huge city. In fact, I was surprised how small the place was. As such, Santa Marta nightlife is fairly concentrated around a few areas. If you’re looking for a little rumba here, you’re likely to end up at:
- Santa Marta Center: This is where I spent a majority of my second trip to Santa Marta. You’ll find solid nightlife here, especially around Parque de Los Novios. While Santa Marta doesn’t have a Zona Rosa, this is the closest thing you’ll find to one.
- Taganga: The backpacker mecca of cheap drugs, scuba diving, and nightlife. If you want to get into something, this is where you go. The nightlife here can be hit or miss, but when it hits you’re guaranteed one hell of a night.
- Rodadero: People party on the beach a bit in Rodadero and there are a few bars, but I’ve never been to a club here that was popping. Overall, you’re better off in the other two areas.
A Gringo’s Guide to Nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia
Now we’re getting to the good stuff.While I’ve been to the city twice, nightlife spots always change. So make sure to ask around. New bars and clubs open up every month.
Alright, let’s dive in and take a look at some of the nightlife hot spots in Santa Marta:
- La Brisa Loca, Santa Marta Center: This is my spot in Santa Marta. If you want to party in the centre of the city, this is where you want to be on Friday and Saturday nights. The huge rooftop bar turns into a dance club and fills to the brim with backpackers, travelling Colombians, and locals. Highly recommended, especially in high season.
- La Puerta, Santa Marta Center: If La Brisa Loca isn’t your speed, head over to La Puerta. This is a Santa Marta classic and most of the locals that come here enjoy hanging out with travellers. Beers are cheap and it’s one of those bars that has a club feel to it when it gets full.
- Crab’s Bar, Santa Marta Center: More of a dive bar than a nightclub, Crab’s Bar plays rock music and caters to a local crowd. The people are friendly and this is the ideal place to start a big night out while in the center.
- La Azotea, Santa Marta Center: A small rooftop bar/club near Parque de Los Novios that connects to a club below. This place isn’t packed with foreigners, as the crowd is a bit more local and the prices are a bit more expensive. I only stayed here for half an hour, but the spot had a good vibe to it.
- El Mirador, Taganga: While I checked out Sensation Club during my first time in Taganga, I heard it had since closed down. Not sure? However, the other popular club in Taganga is El Mirador. Offering amazing views harbour harbor in Taganga, this is said to be the hot spot right now. Definitely worth checking out.
- La Escollera: This is a club in Rodadero. I never went, but it’s apparently an amazing place when they bring DJs and reggaeton artists in town. The club is massive and considered high-end for Santa Marta. If you here of an event here while you’re in Santa Marta, make sure you check it out. An epic night of partying awaits!
- Bars and Clubs Around Parque de Los Novios: There’s legit at least two dozen bars and clubs around Parque de Los Novios in Santa Marta Center. If you’re unsure where to go, just head here and walk around on a weekend night. You’ll find somewhere that’s popping. Plus, this Zona Rosa is a five-minute walk from La Bris Loca. So, you could easily just go back and forth between this area and that fantastic club.
Nightlife in Santa Marta, Colombia | The Verdict?
Everything you need to know about Santa Marta nightlife. Honestly, I was surprised how amazing the nightlife in this small city was. If you love to enjoy a little rumba, you’ll have a great time here.
Overall, this would be my plan if I were to come back. I’d go out every Friday and Saturday. I’d start in the center of Santa Marta and have some drinks at one of the bars around Parque de Los Novios.
Then I’d bounce to La Brisa Loca around 11:30 pm. If I was bored around 1:30 am, I’d head back to Parque de Los Novios from 1:30-3:30 am and hit one of the clubs there.
Guaranteed to be a great night!
Hell, you could always just head out to Taganga, too. Parties, booze, and party favours always await you in the backpacker mecca of Taganga. Either way…