Long Weekend in Santa Marta

Warm weather, sandy beaches, salt water, poolside lounging, yummy food… I haven’t taken a tropical vacation since my honeymoon and I’m so ready for Santa Marta.

…. Except we’re traveling with two tiny children. I have a hysterical toddler terrified of water and a baby who wakes up 100x a night.

We’d been talking about taking a trip over the “Puente” (3-day weekend in Colombian Spanish) for Memorial Day. But, then we didn’t do anything about it, until one week beforehand when we made a snap decision to book flights to Santa Marta.

Santa Marta is a beach town in north-east Colombia. The main draw is the beaches and Tayrona National Park. It’s situated between the ocean and the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the only place you can find snow and the beach in the same place.

On Saturday, we got up at the crack of dawn to catch an 8:15 am flight out of Bogota. By 11 am we were at the Irotama Resort eating an early lunch before jumping in the ocean.

The toddler is afraid of the water, the baby wants his mama.

The two popular resorts with foreigners (and Colombians of course) are the Irotama and Zuana which are about 10 minutes north of the Simon Bolivar airport and twenty minute south of Santa Marta.

And really – there’s not much else we did over the next three days: pool, beach, nap time, meal time, repeat.

The Highlights:

  • The ocean is beautiful, the waves are calm, and the beach is totally fine. It is not fine white sand, but it was clean.
  • The Irotama is huge and has a wide variety of lodging options at many price points. We opted for a “villa” which was the cheapest way we could get a separate room for the kids.
  • Lots of meal options. The easiest and totally delicious option was the buffet. There was also a seafood restaurant and some fancier places in the hotel as well as poolside snacks. There is a new shopping center just a few minutes’ walk from the resort that has a Carulla (grocery store; we bought a case of water since the water is not potable) as well as a Crepes and Waffles.

The Downsides (of Traveling with Tiny Humans):

  • My two-and-a-half year old was terrified of the water. She was content to play in the kiddie pool, and I thought this would translate to loving the beach shallows, but it did not! She was in hysterics anytime we went to the beach. I would have ignored it and let her do what she wanted, but Gray decided she had to get over her fear. He patiently introduced her to the water and helped her face her fears by singing songs. I was surprised it helped – although it was hard not to laugh at her singing “you are my sunshine” while swallowing sobs.
  • The baby needed multiple naps… but would only sleep in a quiet dark place, which limited the times I could be on the beach.

Despite the rainy season, we had lovely weather the whole weekend. It did rain all afternoon on Sunday, but that just meant long wonderful naps for all. When the rain finally died down, we walked down to the beach and watched all the local teenagers play soccer and swim in the ocean.

There’s No Place Like Home

When we got home on Monday evening, we felt immensely grateful to be home in our own beds and back to cool weather. Despite how tired we were, we were glad that we were able to explore a little bit more of Colombia. I’m still excited for when I can leave my kids with their grandparents and take a trip with just Gray… but that’s still a few months (years?) away.

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