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La Tortuga Hostel

La Tortuga Hostel
Calle 9 #3-116, Taganga, Santa Marta, Magdalena
+57 320.258.9677 (whatsapp/celular)
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tortugahostel.com

Overview: Tortuga Hostel is a charming, medium-sized hostel located on the northern end of Taganga, just three blocks from the beach. It features a delightful pool, a rooftop terrace, bar, and grill, a friendly staff, and a magnificent bamboo/cement construction.

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Neighborhood: Taganga is an idyllic beachside town that thrives on fishing and tourism, so there are always dining and entertainment options nearby. The northern side of Taganga features a delightful variety of restaurants and shops, and is just a five minute walk from the beach and the main drag of Taganga, which is packed with bars and great eats.

Just next door to La Tortuga Hostel there is a small restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, and there are plenty of small shops nearby where you can buy basic necessities, snacks, fruits and vegetables, and bottled water. Or, head down to the beach at around 5pm every day, where you can get some of the freshest seafood imagineable. A pound lobster is just $12.000 (around $4).

How to Get There: There are two ways to get to Taganga: by plane, or by bus. If you are planning on arriving at Santa Marta's Simon Bolivar International Airport (SMR) you can arrive at the hostel by either taxi or bus, depending on your budget and time frame. A taxi from the airport directly to the hostel costs around $40.000, and will take around 50 minutes. From the airport, you can also take a blue "buseta" (smaller bus) to downtown Santa Marta which will leave you near the "bahia" (the bay), which costs $2.000. You can then take a bus from downtown Santa Marta to the hostel for $1.400, which will take about 20 minutes. In total you should budget around an hour and 15 minutes for this route.

If you are arriving at the bus terminal in downtown Santa Marta, a taxi should be around 15 minutes to the hostel, and cost around $15.000. Of course, make sure you confirm the price before you get into the taxi. The best way to cut down costs is to share a taxi with other travelers.

Management/Staff: The hostel is owned by Mona, who is from Bogota. She has spent seven years developing the property.

Rooms: There is space for around 25 guests, in both shared and private rooms.

Shared Rooms: There are 5 dormitories in total. One is a 6 bed dorm, and there are four 4 bed dorms. The 6 bed dorm costs $32.000 per night, while the 4 bed dorm costs $36.000.

Private Rooms: There are two private rooms with private bath and cable TV. These cost $110.000 per couple.

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Amenities: 

Breakfast: No. Breakfast is sold, however, for $8.000.

Kitchen: There is a kitchen available for guest use, that is open until midnight every day.

Restaurant: No. However, there is a chef on the premises, named Rafael. He is available on request to prepare special dishes with advanced notice.

Bar: There is a full bar on the rooftop terrace which offers a wide variety of beers as well as a range of tropical cocktails.

Terrace/Patio: There is a terrace on the top floor.

TV Lounge: Yes

Computers: Yes. There is a computer for guest use in the reception.

Wifi: Yes. Both in the common areas and bedrooms. 

Lockers: There are small lo0ckers available in the reception for guarding valuables. Guests must bring their own locks.

Bicycles: No

Credit Cards: Yes. Visa, Mastercard, American Express

Luggage Storage: Yes. This is a free service.

Check-in Time: 2pm

Check-out Time: 11:30am

Restaurants: There is a wide variety of restaurants in the area that come highly recommended. Pachamama, featuring a French chef, serves up delicious seafood, steak, and pasta dishes, of course with a French touch. 

German-owned Cafe Bonsai offers up the best sandwiches in town, as well as a wide variety of healthy options, including wonderful juices. It's located in the center of town.

Baba Ganoosh offers up great meat dishes and Asian favorites, while featuring the best view of Taganga Bay that you'll find anywhere.

Casa Divanga, just two blocks south of La Tortuga, also features an impressive French restaurant, serving both lunch and dinner. At night, they offer poker tournaments, karaoke nights, and a pool table.

Tourism in the City:  Playa Grande is definitely your best bet if you want to stay close to Taganga. Just head to the northern end of the Bay, and it's a beautiful 15 minute walk from there through a cactus-strewn desert landscape, as you traverse cliffs which tower over the sea. Make sure you bring appropriate footwear, though, as flip-flops won't cut it. This is steep and rough terrain, although the hike itself is short. You'll soon find yourself at a marvelous sandy beach teeming with seafood restaurants, ceviche sellers, and buckets of ice cold beer. It is the perfect place to watch the sunset...just make sure to leave yourself enough time so you can make it back before dark.

Tourism Outside the City: All roads lead to Colombia's most famous national park: Taganga. It's just an hour away from Santa Marta, and the staff at La Tortuga will be happy to tell you how to get there. They can also sell you options where you can head to the park by boat, although these are quite a bit more expnensvie than merely taking the bus, which heads along the main road eastbound towards La Guajira.

Other tourism destinations include Palomino, which has really put La Guajira tourism on the map. Also, Cabo de la Vela and far-flung Punto Gallinas, round out wild La Guajira's tourism offerings.

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Conclusion: La Tortuga Hostel is a great spot to make your homebase for exploring Taganga, Santa Marta, and Parque Tayrona. It's also a great place to meet people, with its rooftop bar, grill, and pool area. The staff will make you feel right at home, and they will help you arrange your day trips around the area.

Casa Gypsy

Casa Gypsy
Calle 19 #5-40, Taganga, San Tropel, Santa Marta
+57 300.694.9107 (whatsapp/celular), (035) 421.9027
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Overview: Casa Gypsy is a delightful three story medium-sized hostel located on the southern end of Taganga, a few blocks up the hill from the beach. It features a great view of the village, tours of Magdalena and la Guajira, a friendly staff, and a third floor rooftop bar and terrace area.

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Neighborhood: Casa Gypsy is located on the southern side of the village of Taganga, in a neighborhood called San Tropel. Taganga is small (only about 1km wide north to south). A good point of reference is the large soccer field. The hostel is just three blocks east (up the hill) from the field.

In the San Tropel neighborhood you are just a few minutes walk from several restaurants, other hostels, bars, and small shops.

If you are interested in nightlife, you will enjoy the "Mirador de abajo" on the beach, also known as the "Mirador Viejo", and the "Mirador Nuevo." The Mirador Viejo is more traditional and laid back, while the Mirado Nuevo features a pool, and two dance floors, one featuring "crossover" music and another with electronic music. Cover is $10.000. You can walk to the Mirador Nuevo, but you must climb a long staircase with more than 100 steps.

There is also "La Brisa Loca," a favorite "discoteca" of the locals.

The favorite hangout for the Casa Gypsy staff is Taco, which is a hotel, restaurant, and bar in one. It features delicious tacos and quesadillas, hamburgers, pizzas, beef, fried fish, and from 5pm to 8pm there is a 2 for 1 happy hour. Taco is run by American/Colombian couple Tony and Carolina.

How to Get There: If you are arriving at Santa Marta's Simon Bolivar International Airport (SMR) you can arrive at the hostel by either taxi or bus, depending on your budget and time frame. A taxi from the airport directly to the hostel costs around $40.000, and will take around 50 minutes. From the airport, you can also take a blue "buseta" (smaller bus) to downtown Santa Marta which will leave you near the "bahia" (the bay), which costs $2.000. You can then take a bus from downtown Santa Marta to the hostel for $1.400, which will take about 20 minutes. In total you should budget around an hour and 15 minutes for this route.

If you are arriving at the bus terminal in downtown Santa Marta, a taxi should be around 15 minutes to the hostel, and cost around $10.000. Of course, make sure you confirm the price before you get into the taxi. The best way to cut down costs is to share a taxi with other travelers.

Management/Staff:  Casa Gypsy was opened in July of 2016, by Frenchman Julian Pernil. The manager is Colombian and "samaria" (someone from Santa Marta) Angelica Henriquez.

Rooms: The hostel has a capacity for around 50 guests, in both private and shared accommodations

Shared Rooms: There are 5 dormitories, with space for 18 people: there are 2 dorms with 4 beds, 1 dorm with 6 beds, and 1 dorm with 8 beds. There is also a family room, with one double bed and one bunkbed. The prices range from $20.000 to $30.000 per night, per person.

Private Rooms: There are five private rooms, each with their own private bath. Three have fan, and two come with air conditioning. The ones with fans cost $60.000 per night and the ones with air conditioning cost $80.000.

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Amenities: 

Breakfast: Yes. There is breakfast served daily for $10.000, which includes eggs, toast, fruit, and coffee. There is also often a breakfast option which includes yogurt and granola.

Kitchen: There is a kitchen available for guest use on the second floor. It is open 24 hours a day. 

Supermarket:  The nearest supermarket is two blocks away, and is called El Esquinazo.

Restaurant: Yes. The hostel can prepare dinner for its guests on request. There are also barbecues at 8pm from time to time.

Bar: Yes. There is beer available for purchase: Club Colombia, Aguila, Aguila Light, and from time to time BBC.

Terrace/Patio: There is a terrace on the third floor with hammocks.

TV Lounge: Yes

Computers: Yes. There is a computer for guest use in the reception.

Wifi: Yes. Both in the common areas and bedrooms. 

Lockers: There are lockers in the dormitories. Guests must bring their own locks.

Bicycles: No

Credit Cards: Yes. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner's Club

Luggage Storage: Yes. This is a free service.

Check-in Time: 3pm

Check-out Time: 12pm

Restaurants: There is a wealth of great dining options around Taganga, which have blossomed as tourism has really taken off in the village.

Pachamama comes highly recommended by the staff at Casa Gypsy: it features an innovative and delicious menu prepared by a French chef. Particularly recommended are the seafood options.

Cafe Bonsai is owned by a German/Dutch couple, and features juices and smoothies and their signature sandwiches. Try the shrimp salad sandwich with pesto dressing.

El Bonito right by the beach serves up delicious mojitos and a wide-ranging menu.

Casita del Mar is a beachfront restaurant which also offers cocktails...a great place to enjoy a sunset.

La Baguettes de Maria is run by a South African who serves up delicious baguette sandwiches. There are a variety of meat and vegetarian options. Particularly recommended is the steak baguette, which comes with mayonaisse, barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomatoe, and capers.

Tourism in the City:  One of the most interesting activities you can try is the flyboard, a jet-powered hover-craft that can fly through the air or water. For just $100.000 you can have a 15 minutes lesson followed by 15 minutes of flyboarding.

If diving is your interest, the hostel has a relationship with local instructor Michael.

If you would like to try your hand at fishing, local fishing guide "Toti" offers "El Dia del la Pesca." For $170.000, including breakfast and lunch, you can head out to try your luck at catching red snapper, tuna, grouper, swordfish, or local favorite "cojinoa." The tour leaves at 6am, and returns at 3pm or 4pm in the afternoon.

Tourism Outside the City: Casa Gypsy offers complete package tours to the legendary Ciudad Perdida: they cost $850.000 for 4 or 5 day tours, including all meals, bilingual guide, and transportation to and from the hostel.

Parque Tayrona: Now all tickets to Parque Tayrona are purchased online. Casa Gypsy can help you with planning your trip, and offering you complete information. They also work with a local boat captain who can transport you by boat to the Cabo de San Juan for $90.000 roundtrip.

If you are interested in heading to la Guajira, Colombia's wild northeastern department, the Cabo de la Vela tour costs $280.000 for two days and one night. This includes transportation, guide, and three meals a day. It is 4 hours away from Taganga.

They also offer 5 day 4 night tours to remote Punto Gallinas, located in the nothern part of la Guajira, close to the Venezuelan border.

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Conclusion: With a friendly staff, great options for local tourism, Ciudad Perdida, and la Guajira, and a great location just 5 minutes from the beach, Casa Gypsy is a great place to stay for experiencing the natural beauty of beautiful Taganga.

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