Diving on Colombia's Caribbean coast

Trip Start Jun 04, 2005
Trip End Apr 05, 2006

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, March 2, 2006

Ahhh, natural light! Fresh air! Open spaces! BEER!

It's amazing how three-and-a-half days' non-stop travel makes you appreciate the simple and basic things in life. On Tuesday afternoon 28 February, as we sat on the beach with cold Aquilas in our hands, flexing our toes in the warm sand and gazing out at a perfect Caribbean sunset, we reflected on the great trek we'd just completed, and breathed sighs of relief that it was all over.

To summarise (will try not to bore you): Departed Porto Seguro by bus at 15.30 on Saturday 25 Feb; arrived Rio at noon on Sunday; immediately flew to Santiago - landed 8pm. Spent night in Santiago and flew at 9am on Monday to Caracas; landed Caracas at about 4pm, took night bus to Maracaibo. Arrived Maracaibo at 6.30am on Tuesday and immediately boarded local bus to Maicao (Colombia); then another bus to Santa Marta. Arrived Santa Marta about 4pm on Tuesday 28th. PHEW!!! Our longest non-stop travel stint in nine months of travelling!

Rather than stay in Santa Marta, which is a large port town (and Colombiaīs oldest settlement) we caught a cab to the fishing village of Taganga, about 5km out of town. Itīs a quaint little place, wedged between a half-moon, palm-fringed beach and arid, cactus-clad mountains. Taganga's claim to fame is its dive spots, and of course that's what we'd come for!

On Wednesday morning we headed out for a morning in the crystal clear but rather cold Caribbean waters with Oceano Dive. Taganga is relentlessly windy, but divemaster Roberto selected two relatively sheltered spots. Our first dive, around an island, featured some stunning soft corals, a mean-looking moray eel and a puffed-up burrfish.

The highlight of our second dive, on a reef near the shore, was a large snake eel. The divemaster coaxed it from its hole in the sand, and we watched as it slithered around, snakelike, before burying itself tail-first. Some cool underwater pics are attached. The water was colder than we expected and, despite the visibility not being so good, it was a great day's diving... well, I guess we just LOVE diving!

In the early evenings, the Taganga's fishermen sell their day's catch on the beach. On Wednesday evening, we bought a fresh 'salmon' (not of the pink kind, but a white-fleshed gamefish) and barbequed it at our hostel, which had a patio and excellent views over the bay (anyone going to Taganga - Hostal Techos Azules, or 'Blue Roofs' is the place to stay. They have cabaņas too). Jurgen, an Austrian fellow we'd met on the dive, joined us in devouring the salmon.

Well, Taganga is lovely, but apart from diving an lying on the windy beach, there isn't an awful lot to do. So on Thursday morning we packed our small backpacks and headed out to Tayrona National Park, located about 35km east of Santa Marta.
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