Practical Guide to the Lush Mountain Town of Minca, Colombia

Minca is a small town in the mountains above Santa Marta.  Sporting picturesque scenery with a lush forest, stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and several waterfalls, Minca is well worth a stop during a visit to Colombia’s Caribbean coast.  Read on for a complete travel guide to Minca, Colombia, including why you should visit, where to stay in Minca, what to do in Minca, how to get there, and travel and packing tips for when you do visit.

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Adam and Susana sitting on a giant hammock overlooking the Marinka Waterfall, one of the best things to do in Minca, Colombia.
Chilling on a giant hammock overlooking a waterfall! What more could you ask for?  Read on to learn everything you need to know to visit beautiful Minca, Colombia yourself.

Travel Guide to Minca, Colombia – Contents

  • Intro – Is Minca worth visiting?
  • Best Things to Do in Minca
  • Where to Stay in Minca
  • Packing List
  • How to Get to Minca
  • Is Minca Safe?
  • Where to Eat in Minca
  • Other Practical Tips for Minca

Intoduction – Is Minca, Colombia worth visting?

Yes, it is absolutely worth visiting! You may have heard Minca mentioned as one of the best hidden gems in Colombia or perhaps as a great off the beaten path in Colombia destination. That was true for a long time, as this small town was mostly just a stop for backpackers and avid hikers.

However, the secret has certainly gotten out, and Minca has become one of the top ecotourism destinations in Colombia and is very much on the mainstream travel map. I would go so far as even naming it one of the must sees in Colombia, especially on a visit to Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Waterfalls, hiking, birdwatching, great cafes, locally grown coffee, and even a local brewery, this little town has it all.

I first visited Minca during my first year in Colombia in 2011.  I just went up for a day and explored while staying in Santa Marta.  My wife and I returned to visit in May 2018, and the tourist scene has grown quite a bit, but is not overrun and still feels like a quiet little town in the mountains.

If you want to make your planning hassle free, you might also consider booking your Colombia trip with BnB Colombia. They offer a convenient 5 day tour that includes Santa Marta, Minca, and Tayrona. Use the discount code ExploreColombia10 to get 10% off!

Photo of a couple standing in the forest in Minca, Colombia.
Enjoying the pretty forest covered mountains makes a visit to Minca worth it!

Where is Minca, Colombia?

Minca is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains above Santa Marta, about 650 m above sea level. Its jungle covered mountains are a nice break from the more beach centric destinations of the coast like Palomino, Tayrona, and the San Bernardo Islands, as well as from the cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta.

It also makes for a great stopover before or after doing the Ciudad Perdida trek. Its higher elevation makes it a tad cooler than the blistering heat of the rest of the coast too, which can be a welcome break!

There has been a proliferation of small hostels and eco-hotels around the town offering easy access to the surrounding nature, and there are also some good little restaurants that have opened up in town catering to the tourist crowd, but still at very reasonable prices, especially when compared to Cartagena.

If you’re looking to see a couple beautiful waterfalls, do some hiking, or just relax in the peace and quiet of nature, you should consider spending some time in Minca. If I’ve convinced you to visit Minca, Colombia yourself, then read on.  In this travel guide to Minca, you will learn what to do in Minca, where to stay in Minca, how to get to Minca, and practical tips for Minca, including a packing list.

Susana standing on a footbridge over rocks and a little stream, one of the fun things for Minca what to do.
Pretending to be Indiana Jones and hiking over footbridges like this is one of the many things to do in Minca, Colombia.

Things to Do in Minca, Colombia

If you’re wondering what to do in Minca, Colombia, you might be asking if there is really all that much to do in a little mountain town. Actually, there are quite a bit of things to do in Minca! From multi-day hikes to easier, short ones ending with a dip in a swimming hole, from a coffee farm to a cacao farm, from early morning bird watching to friendly, little cafes with nice happy hours, Minca has something for everyone. Read on to learn about the best things to do and see in Minca, Colombia.

Visit the Marinka Waterfall

Photo of the Marinka Waterfall, one of best the things to do in Minca.
The Marinka Waterfall is one of the many examples of the beautiful natural scenery and one of the can’t miss things to do in Minca, Colombia.

The falls at Marinka were by far the highlight of our visit to Minca, and are one of the can’t miss Minca things to do and at the top of our list of what to see in Minca.  Sporting two falls and a nice little swimming hole, we found it much more impressive than the better known and more frequented (and therefore more crowded) Pozo Azul.

You can get to the Marinka Waterfall by following the main road to the right from the bridge at the center of town.  The hike there is mostly pleasant along the little road out of town, with the last leg being a bit taxing uphill (we were out of breath when we arrived). The hike to Marinka waterfall should take about 90 minutes depending on your pace. Don’t worry if you sweat a bit, the refreshing mountain water of the falls are perfect for cooling off!

Keep your eyes peeled for birds and butterflies along the way.  Do also watch out for motos and trucks coming around the bends on the road.  You could also opt to take a moto-taxi from town if you’re pressed for time or not up for the walk.

Photo of the upper waterfall at Marinka with some people enjoying swimming in the water below, another one of the best things to do in Minca, Colombia.
The upper falls at the Marinka waterfall also has a bit of room for swimming, although the water isn’t as deep as the lower falls. Marinka should be at the top of your list of Minca things to see!

Once there, there is a small entrance fee of 5,000 pesos a person.  However, it is worth it as the owners have put in the time to make it a nice place to visit.  There’s a little cafe on site as well as bathrooms and changing rooms.  Also, they have some of the big hammocks overlooking the falls, a great spot for a picture (the picture at the top of the post was taken here).

Be sure to hike up to the upper falls as well, as they are a bit taller.  Although the water isn’t deep enough to swim here, you can still stand under the falls and get a refreshing blast of icy cold water or be like Susana and do some supermodel poses for photos.  After seeing them, head down to the lower falls, where the water is about waist deep and you can go for a little swim.

Photo of a couple standing under the water in front of the Marinka Waterfall.
Susana and I enjoying the Marinka waterfall. You really just have to include it on your what to do in Minca plans.

If you’re looking for something extreme to include on your list of things to do in Minca, you can even rappel down the waterfall (this wasn’t there last time we were in town, but it looks like fun!)

I’d recommend heading to Marinka early in the day to beat the crowds and not feel rushed given the hike back to town.  We went in the morning and then stopped in town for lunch before going to Pozo Azul in the afternoon. Regardless of when you go, you’ll want to include Marinka amongs your things to see in Minca, Colombia!

Pozo Azul

Pozo Azul is another, smaller falls and watering hole just outside of Minca. It’s easy to reach and one of the most commonly visited places to see in Minca.  It’s about a 45 minute walk heading straight up the road from the bridge in the center of town.  Again, you can also take moto-taxis if you’re pressed for time or not up for walking uphill.  There’s no entrance fee for Pozo Azul in Minca.

The short waterfall at Pozo Azul, one of the best Minca what to do plans, with a girl sitting on a rock to the right.
The falls at Pozo Azul in Minca, another one of the popular things to see in Minca, Colombia.

The “blue well” was not really all that blue when we went as it had been raining a lot.  In fact, shortly after we got there, the water rose quickly as it was raining father up the mountain.

If you are short on time and can only do one of the falls, do Marinka, as it is more impressive.  However, if you have the time Pozo Azul is still definitely worth including in your plans for what to do in Minca spending some time splashing around.  Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than us and don’t have to hightail it out of there a few minutes after arriving.

If you able to enjoy it, there are 3 falls in total. You can find the path up to the others on the left hand side of the swimming hole at the first falls. You will likely find smaller crowds at the higher falls if you’re looking to hang out and do some swimming for a bit. Do note that during tourist high seasons around Christmas and New Years, Pozo Azul can get quite crowded as it is one of the most popular things to see in Minca.

Photo of a girl sitting on a rock at Pozo Azul, one of the best places to see near Minca.
In addition to the falls, it’s also nice to just sit on the giant rocks and enjoy the natural scenery at Pozo Azul in Minca.

Tour La Victoria Coffee Farm

I highly recommend including a visit to La Victoria in your plans for what to see in Minca.  They still use machinery imported into Colombia in the early 1900s.  Even more impressive is the whole process uses water, not only to hydraulically power the machinery, but to move the coffee beans from one step in the process to the next.

We were there during the offseason, but our tour guide still walked us through each step of the process, explaining how the machinery works.  I imagine it would be a real treat to be there during the harvest and actually see it all in action. I’ve done several coffee tours during my time in Colombia, so I had a handle on the plant to cup process, but I learned a lot during the tour.

In fact, I would probably say that this is tied with the tour we did outside Salento for the best coffee farm tour I have ever done.  In particular, I learned more about how the industry works and the different grades of coffee.  Of course, the highest quality beans are reserved for export, but they do keep some on hand that you can buy at the end of the tour and take home to enjoy later (also highly recommended!).

The engine with belts running in and out at La Victoria, another one of the Minca best things to do.
Wondering besides waterfalls, what to do in Minca? See the 100 year old machinery still in use today at La Victoria, one of the coolest things to do in Minca.

The tour takes about 45 minutes, and you get a cup of coffee before and after.  Even if like me, you’ve done the coffee plantation tour before, it’s still worth including Victoria as one of your places to visit in Minca to see the machinery and gleam some nuggets of extra wisdom.

The craft brewery Cervecería Nevada is also on-site, and while they weren’t offering tours of the brewery while we were there, you could sample the beers.  For a coffee and beer lover like me, Marinka and La Victoria are the two can’t miss places to see in Minca, Colombia if you have limited time.

You can get to Victoria along the same road straight out the back of town from the bridge that brings you to Pozo Azul. The walk should take around 2 hours and while mostly easy going, it is uphill. You can also get a mototaxi from town.

If you’d like to do a tour that includes La Victoria and Marinka, you can check out this tour (via Viator), which is on the pricey side but does include all admission costs and private air conditioned transportation.  You could also check out this one (via GetYourGuide) that is very similar but also includes lunch.

Visit a Cacao Farm

There are several cacao farms outside Minca as well. In fact, there are several that produce both coffee and cacao. We have not done this, but it sounds pretty interesting.

If you’re not a coffee fan or are planning on doing coffee tours elsewhere in Colombia, perhaps doing the cacao farm and learning the chocolate from bean to bar or cup process works is a good alternative to La Victoria.

Of course, doing both is also an if you have the time option since La Victoria’s machinery is so unique and the tour so good! You can book a day tour that includes hiking as well as both coffee and cacao explanations via GetYourGuide.

Photo of a girl laying on a big square hammock with a waterfall in the background in Minca, Colombia.
After waterfall hopping and relaxing in big hammocks, a coffee or chocolate to pick you up isn’t a bad idea!

Visit the Memorial Center of the Sierra Nevada

Minca was once a flashpoint of Colombia’s internal conflict as the FARC rebels controlled the town and the area around it before paramilitaries started a campaign against them in the mid-90s, one that saw many civilians brutally caught in the cross fire.

The Memorial Center of the Sierra Nevada tells that story as well as the history of the 4 indigenous groups that are represented in Minca’s local population.  It was not open the last time we were in Minca, but it looks to be very well done, and we will definitely have to visit it when we return to Minca. It’s easy to forget the long internal conflict of Colombia that so severely affected civilian populations and made many beautiful places like Minca no go zones for tourists for so long.

Supporting places like this helps to make sure that story is told as well as give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for Colombia and its people. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9-11 am and 1-4 pm.  It also offers language exchanges in the morning hours.  Learn more at its website or you can book a tour ahead of time (via Viator).

Visit Casa Elemento (*closed)

You’ll find Casa Elemento listed on most things to do in Minca and best hostels in Minca lists. It was a nice hostel located up in the mountains above town, most famous for its giant hammocks. Many considered it at the top Minca hostel, and you’ve likely seen the pictures there of someone standing on a huge hammock overlooking a stunning mountain view.

Photo of a girl sitting on the corner of a giant square hammock looking looking out with a cloudy sky in Minca, Colombia behind her.
It was too cloudy to properly appreciate the view the day we visited Casa Elemento unfortunately. If they do reopen at some point, the giant hammocks are pretty cool even on a cloudy day though.

Unfortunately, in December 2019, Casa Elemento was closed, apparently due to a dispute between the landowner and hostel manager. There’s not a lot of clear information online, and there was originally reports it would reopen in early 2020. Well, the rest of 2020 happened, and they have not posted anything to social media since December 2019, so I think it is unlikely they reopen at this point.

If something changes, I will try to update, but for the time being, you’ll have to cross Casa Elemento off your list of Minca places to see.

Bird Watching

If you’re willing to get up very early and can fit it into your schedule, there are bird watching tours in Minca.  We didn’t do one since we didn’t have the time over our two days.  However, everyone I’ve talked to who has done it has said it was well worth it. Any of the hotels or hostels in Minca should be able to set up a bird watching tour, and I’ve also heard good things about Jungle Joe.

Photo of an owl in a tree.
We saw this owl near where we stayed in Minca. Birdwatching is another one of the top Minca things to do for the nature lovers.

Go on a Longer Hike to Cerro Kennedy or Los Pinos

Cerro Kennedy 2 Day Hike

Cerro Kennedy sits up higher in the mountains and offers some terrific views of the highest point in Colombia, the snow covered Pico Colón and its twin Pico Simón Bolívar, only a few feet shorter.

Getting to the peak takes around 8 hours from town, so you will have to do this over two days round trip, including taking a tent (you will also need warmer clothing for the cold night higher up). For those that don’t have the time to do the Lost City trek, this is a good, shorter hike.

We have not done this hike but have heard it is not too difficult if you are in decent shape. It is possible to hire a guide or go with a group tour or do on your own. You can see a write up on doing it yourself here if you’d like to learn more about it.

Photo of a map painted on a wall showing different things to do near Minca, Colombia.
I snapped this photo of a neat little map at a tour agency in town. You can see Cerro Kennedy at the top left and Los Pinos at the top right. It gives you a good idea of where some of the other best places to see in Minca are as well.

Los Pinos Full Day Hike

Los Pinos is a lower look out point that can be hiked round trip in a day. The total round trip hike takes 7-8 hours and is also of moderate difficulty, so make sure you leave early to give yourself the full day and plenty of sunlight.

We have not done this hike either, but we took mototaxis up to it after Casa Elemento, since it wasn’t too much further and allowed us to do a loop and stop at La Victoria on the way back down. In fact, if you’re pressed for time, hiring motos for the day to have you do a loop that includes Marinka, Los Pinos, La Victoria, and Pozo Azul would be a great way to maximize what you see in one day in Minca.

Unfortunately, the clouds made the view not so good the day we went, but on a clear day, you should be able to get a great view of Santa Marta and the Caribbean below. Los Pinos also be reached on mountain bike, and if you find yourself running short on time, you may be able to hitch a ride on a moto on the way back. There’s a good write up of the hike (which has a clearly marked path) at this Medium post from The Stella Way.

Enjoy the Peace and Quiet of Nature

If you’re pressed for time and want to fit in as much as possible, you can do moto-taxis to just about all of the things to do in Minca.  However, you came to Minca to enjoy the fresh mountain air, so make a point to at least hike to one of the things to see in Minca.  It’s well worth it to enjoy the natural surroundings.  And don’t forget to be on the lookout for butterflies and toucans!

A butterfly feeding on a small flower in Minca, Colombia.
Be sure to take in the nature around you when you visit Minca!

Where to Stay in Minca, Colombia

Can You Do a Day Trip to Minca?

Yes, you can certainly do a day trip to Minca from Santa Marta.  Especially if you’re willing to take moto taxis around, you can easily do the waterfalls and Victoria in a day on your own.

If you’d prefer to do a day trip to Minca as part of an organized tour, you can check out this day tour from BnB Colombia (use the code ExploreColombia10 for 10% off) and this tour (via GetYourGuide with stops at La Victoria and Marinka). For a creative way to do a day trip to Minca, you can do an E-Bike Tour of Minca out of Santa Marta (via Viator).

However, I’d really recommend staying a few nights in Minca.  It will let you not have to feel like you’re rushing through any of the things to see in Minca, and trust me, the cooler air in the evening is a nice break from the heat of the coast.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the little cafes and happy hours in town mentioned in the where to eat section below and feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit.  Plus, you can still easily go into Santa Marta for the day and see the sights there.

In fact, unless you just really feel like you have to experience the nightlife in Santa Marta, I’d actually suggest staying in Minca and doing a day trip to Santa Marta over vice versa.  Speaking of touring Santa Marta, check out this list of things to do in Santa Marta, or if you want a unique tour of Santa Marta, check out this audio tour with the voice of famous Colombian singer and Santa Marta native Carlos Vives.

If you’re wondering where can I sleep in Minca, there are a ton of options for places to stay in Minca, ranging from hostels, small hotels in town, or eco-hotels in the surrounding area.

Photo of a girl walking up a a natural staircase in the jungle of Minca, Colombia.
It is possible to do a day trip to Minca from Santa Marta, but you will have to either really hoof it or take mototaxis to see more than just two of the stops mentioned here on the list of what to do in Minca. I’d recommend spending a few nights.

How many days in Minca, Colombia do you recommend?

I think for most visitors, 2-3 nights will be the sweet spot. Two full days will let you see most of the best things to see in Minca if you are are on the go or willing to do motos for some of them. A third day will let you also get in a bird watching tour or let you hike to all the highlights.

For those planning the hike to Los Pinos or Cerro Kennedy or just wanting a day to two of rest and relaxation in the mountains planning on 4 or 5 nights might be best. Personally, next time we go back, I’d like to spend a week or more just to fully enjoy being away from it all! Here are some recommendations for the best places to stay in Minca:

Minca Glamping  – Where We Stayed and Highly Recommended

When Susana and I visited, we stayed at Minca Glamping.  The property was fairly new, just opening in early 2018 and run by a lovely couple.  About 20 minutes outside of town, it’s aptly named as you feel like you are really in the forest, but you can still get to town easily. 

There are only a couple small, lovely cabins, each sporting a little porch with a hammock, electricity, running water, and even a coffee maker.  While we were on the go during most of the two days we stayed, it was super relaxing in the evening, and we saw lots of birds and butterflies around the property.

The included breakfast was also great as were the dinners we had both nights. We also thought this was a good bank for your peso type of value and a good option for couples or a family.

Sierra Alta Finca Boutique – Best Luxury Mountain Lodge

Far removed from town along the road past La Victoria, Sierra Alta Finca Boutique is one of the best high end properties outside of Minca. For those looking for a secluded guest house experience while still being comfortable (there’s even a hot tub), this is tough to beat for the best place to stay in Minca.

Casa Loma Minca – Best Minca Hostel

Casa Loma was one of the first hostels in Minca and it definitely remains among the best hostels in Minca. It is located atop a hill above town, and has spectacular views. I actually hiked up here one day for a cup of coffee, not realizing it is a decent little hike up a hill not far from the center of town. This should be the top choice for those looking for a hostel in Minca, backpackers, and solo travelers.

Hostal Sierra Minca – Neat Minca Hostel in the Mountains

If you’re looking for where to stay in Minca that is similar to what Casa Elemento used to be, check out Hostal Sierra Minca. They are located pretty far up in the hills above town, they have big hammocks, and they have these cool hands you can stand on looking out over the mountains as well as a swing. You may have seen these be a hit on Instagram recently. There is a private bungalow here as well as dorms. For those looking for the hostel experience away from town with amazing views and/or looking for an alternative to Casa Elemento, this is a terrific option.

Casas Viejas – Fun Lodges at La Victoria

Casas Viejas offers a nice medium for those looking for an atmosphere where you can meet other travelers but wanting more comfortable accommodations than one of the backpacker hostels in Minca. The cabins here are very nice and there are activities offered. Plus you know you’ll have great coffee and craft beer made right on site!

Sol de Minca – Another Great Eco-Lodge Closer to Town

Sol de Minca is another good choice for an eco-lodge outside of town. It is also closer than most of the other eco-lodges, located just a little bit before town on the road from Santa Marta. The rooms are rustic and pretty and have amazing views.

Minca Ecohabs – Another Great Option for Cabins in Minca

Minca Ecohabs is one of the best known and established places to stay in Minca. They are just outside of town and would be a great choice for those who want to have the gorgeous views of the mountains and feel immersed in the nature of Minca but not feel removed from civilization in the middle of the jungle.

Hotel Minca La Casona – Place to Stay in Minca Proper

All the places on this list of where to stay in Minca so far are a bit out of town. Hotel Minca by La Casona is smack dab in the middle of town. If you’d prefer to have options for dinner or enjoy some drinks in the evening in town, this might be a good option for all or part of your time in Minca. If you want something a bit nicer in town, you might also consider Hotel On the Rock.

Packing List – What to Pack for Minca, Colombia

What to Wear in Minca

While it’s cooler than at sea level along the coast, it’s still a mostly humid, tropical climate. You’ll also likely be doing plenty of walking and paths can get muddy after rain, so wear comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Having along something in case it gets chilly in the evening after it rains or if you plan on staying a bit higher up at one of lodges or hostels outside of town is also a good idea.

Recommendations for What to Wear in Minca for Her

Recommendations for What to Wear in Minca for Him:

Travel Gear to Pack for Minca

  • Susana and I both have Osprey Porter 46L bags and love them. They pack a lot, can be carried as a backpack or duffle, and work as a carryon. If you’re looking for a day pack, I also love my Roam backpack (see my review here). It packs down to a little, easy to pack pouch and expands.
  • If you’re staying in a hostel (or even if you’re not), a good lock for your bags and/or a locker is nice to have. If you want even more security, consider taking along a Pacsafe portable safe.
  • A good quick dry towel is also good to have for travel, especially for the waterfalls.
  • A good dry bag would also be helpful for the waterfalls and the frequent rains in Minca. This one comes along with a waterproof phone case, perfect for getting some great photos in the falls.
  • The water in Minca is not drinkable, meaning you can save some pesos if you bring along a Lifestraw Filtering Bottle or a Steripen.
  • If you are staying at one of the fincas, lodges, or hostels out of town, a good little flashlight will come in handy in the evenings, especially if you are hiking back a bit after dark.
  • Finally, you’ll be glad to have bug spray for the mosquitos in Minca!

How to Get to Minca

You will need to get to Santa Marta first (more on getting to Santa Marta from different places below).

How to Get to Minca from Santa Marta

For the most comfortable and convenient transportation, consider booking private transportation from Santa Marta to Minca with our partners BnB Colombia (use the discount code ExploreColombia10 for 10% off).

The cheapest option to get to Minca from Santa Marta is to catch colectivos from the market. Look for the company CootransMinca by the corner of Calle 11 y Carrera 10.   The cost is $8,000 pesos a person (last confirmed August 2021).  It used to be you could catch them as well from the gas station in Mamatoco, near Dreamer Hostel, but that is no longer the case, as we learned the hard way when we could only find normal private taxis and moto taxis there.

You can also get private taxis from just about anywhere in Santa Marta to take you to Minca.  Prices may vary depending on where in the city you are coming from, but expect to spend approximately $40-50,000.  The mototaxis from Mamatoco should cost around $10,000 pesos.

Photo of the forest covered mountains outside Minca Santa Marta.
The road from Santa Marta will take you up into the mountains where you’ll find Minca in Santa Marta.

How to Get to Minca from Cartagena

Again for the most comfortable and convenient is with private transportation from our partners BnB Colombia (again, don’t forget to use the discount code ExploreColombia10 for 10% off).

You can travel between Cartagena and Santa Marta on buses from the main bus terminal, Berlinas, or Marsol.  Usually, you will make a pit stop where you can use the bathroom and buy snacks just before or after Barranquilla.

Buses from the Terminal

Prices for buses to Santa Marta at the terminal may vary depending on company and time but should be between 30,000-50,000 depending on company and times.  Do note that the terminal is far away from the main tourist areas of Cartagena and can be a costly taxi ride.

You can see some (although not exhaustive) options from the terminal for buses to Santa Marta from Cartagena at BusBud.

Berlinas (recommended for budget travelers)

Berlinas operates vans and buses with transportation from Cartagena to Santa Marta.  Their office is located in Marbella, about a 25 minute walk or 5 minute, $8,000 peso taxi ride from Centro.  This is my recommended way of travel. 

They have buses departing everyday from 6 am to 3 pm. They make a stop in Barranquilla and the trip takes between 4 and 5 hours (sometimes traffic in Barranquilla can make it take longer). The cost is $60,000 pesos a person (last confirmed August 2021) and I’d recommend reserving ahead of time. See their Facebook for contact information.


Marsol operates vans like Berlinas but offers an optional pick up service (for an extra surcharge).  They have buses between Santa Marta and Cartagena that leave Cartagena every 2 hours from 6 am to 4 pm.  Their office is in Cabrero, about a 10-15 minute walk from Centro or 3 minute and $8,000 peso taxi ride from Centro.   

Return trips from Santa Marta to Cartagena leave at 5:30 am, 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.  The routes both way stop to drop off and pick up passengers in Barranquilla so expect a short delay there, so expect again a 4-5 hour trip. Marsol charges *$70,000 pesos.  (Price last confirmed August 2021).

You can make reservations using the contact info on Marsol’s Facebook Page (they are pretty good about responding, although you’ll want to ask in Spanish).

Photo of a girl laying in a giant hammock in Minca Santa Marta Colombia
Although you can’t enjoy Casa Elemento’s hammocks anymore, some of the other places to see in Minca have them for you to relax once you get there.

How to Get to Minca from Elsewhere

You’ll pretty much have to arrive to Santa Marta first to get to Minca from anywhere else. It is possible to fly into Santa Marta, and if you’re trying to get to Minca from Bogotá or travel to Minca from Medellín or other cities and do not want to stop in Cartagena first, that might be a good option.

Although, of course, I’d recommend you fly into Cartagena and spend some time there first (see this website’s name!). Or, you can compare your options to both Cartagena and Santa Marta which you can do on Colombia’s flagship Avianca airline, look for a package deal at, look for a steal at or, or compare prices across different airlines at Jet Radar.

If you’re planning to bus to Minca from Bogotá, it’s worth considering stops at Villa de Leyva, Barichara, and/or Mompox along the way. While if you plan to bus to Minca from Medellín, consider a stop at the San Bernardo Islands. Either route can also include a stop in Cartagena.

Here are a few other notes on how to get to Minca from a few other nearby spots along the coast.

How to Get to Minca from Tayrona

For comfort and convenience, again choose our partners BnB Colombia for private transportation (get 10% off this one too with that code ExploreColombia10).

The easiest and cheapest option for how to get to Minca from Tayrona is to take the bus that goes by the main entrance of the park back to the market in Santa Marta and then follow the instructions above.  The bus from outside Tayrona should cost around 7,000 pesos.

How to Get to Minca from Palomino

Most comfortable option is again our partners BnB Colombia for private transportation (don’t forget the discount code).

The easiest and cheapest option for transportation from Palomino to Minca is the same bus that passes by Tayrona (it starts its route farther north).  The price from Palomino to Santa Marta was 10,000 pesos in mid-2019 and shouldn’t have changed much if at all.

Photo of a couple with a Minca watering hole and waterfall behind them.
The trip to Minca is well worth it for the lovely Marinka waterfall alone, much less everything else to see in Minca!

Is Minca Safe?

Yes.  Minca is very safe for travel. It is very much on the tourist map in Colombia, and not just for backpackers but for families as well as more upscale travelers as well.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Minca was a flashpoint in conflict between now demobilized guerilla group FARC and paramilitaries. However since at least 2010, there has been no major conflict in the area and like much of small town Colombia, crime is uncommon.

Still, I would advise following general tips for safety in Minca, such as not being out on the roads and trails to the waterfall or the hotels out of town after dark and definitely not late, being aware of who is around you, and not flashing cash or jewelry.

If you follow those basic Minca safety tips, you should be just fine.

Where to Eat in Minca

There are a number of nice little cafes and restaurants in Minca, including several of which offer good vegetarian options.  If you’ve been traveling in Colombia for a while, Minca is also a great place to get some more international inspired fare or a good steak at much more reasonable prices than you’ll find in Cartagena or elsewhere on the coast.

The Lazy Cat – Coolest Restaurant in Minca

Our favorite place to eat in Minca was the Lazy Cat.  We both got burgers for lunch one day, and enjoyed a great quesadilla as a late afternoon snack the next.  They also had a great looking Wok option that can be ordered with your choice of meat or vegetarian.  With 2 for 1 cocktails during a late afternoon to early evening happy hour and a little deck outback, its a nice place to grab a drink as well.

Lazy Cat also has the locally brewed craft beers from Cervecería Nevada on tap.  I recommend the Happy Tucan, a red ale or Happy Coca, a pale ale brewed with coca leaves, although the Happy Nebbi, a Pilsner, is a good option if you’re looking for something lighter.  If not on tap, most places in Minca should have them bottled, and you should definitely do yourself the favor of taking a break from Aguila and Club Colombia and enjoying one….or four.

Other Places to Eat in Minca

  • Casa Cristi – We wanted to check out Casa Cristi, which is really more like 3 restaurants in one, sporting vegetarian, burger, and grilled fare.  Unfortunately, we missed lunch time our second day. 
  • El Bistro at La Victoria – We did enjoy some great coffee cake at El Bistro at La Victoria, while waiting to do the coffee tour.  Their sandwiches also looked delicious, but they had run out by the late afternoon when we were there.
  • Santisabella – They have rave reviews for their Italian food
  • Casa Antonio – friends recommended Casa Antonio for their big, juicy, and reasonably priced steaks. 

Needless to say, there’s no shortage of good options for restaurants in Minca.

Photo of a girl standing in front of a waterfall in Minca Santa Marta holding her hands up.
One more of Marinka, because it’s just so pretty. Hopefully you’ve been convinced to visit Minca in Santa Marta yourself!

Practical Tips on a Visit to Minca, Colombia

  • There’s no ATM in Minca, although there is a place that would do cash-back for a small percentage fee if you’re desperate.  It can be found in the tourist shops to the right by the bridge if you have your back to town.  However, you’re better off hitting an ATM in Cartagena or Santa Marta.  Some of the restaurants in town may accept cards, but you should definitely bring cash.
  • You will beat the crowds if you get to the waterfalls (particularly Pozo Azul) early.
  • Minca is a quiet little mountain town, while some of the hostels outside of town may have a bit of a party atmosphere, don’t expect to go out clubbing in town.
  • Also, remember the indigenous peoples consider the Sierra Nevada mountains sacred. But even if they didn’t, you should still take care of them. Pack in and pack out when hiking to the waterfalls and elsewhere, leaving these natural areas beautiful for others.
  • Do keep an eye out for snakes when hiking along the trails. They aren’t super common, but it is a forest.
  • During the rainy seasons from October-December and April-May, the roads and trails will likely get muddy, and the evenings could be chilly.
  • The tap water is not drinkable in Minca. Tree cover may make it less noticeable than the blazing sun of Cartagena and Santa Marta, but it is still tropical. Stay hydrated!

Ready to plan your trip to Minca, Colombia?

In conclusion, Minca is well worth a couple nights or more during a tour of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.  You should absolutely try to fit in at least a night or two here, and if you’re really looking to escape it all, then stay even more!

There you have it, a complete guide to a visit to beautiful Minca, Colombia.  If you do decide to go, I hope you find this guide useful in planning your trip.  I’d also love to hear about your trip in the comments below!

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

Did you like this post?

Check out these others you might like:

Practical Guide to Tayrona
Practical Guide to Palomino
Practical Guide to Costeño Beach
Practical Guide to Cabo de la Vela
Practical Guide to Punta Gallinas

Planning your trip to explore Cartagena?

Check out the following posts to help plan:
Insider’s Guide to the Best Areas to Stay in Cartagena
Complete Packing List for Cartagena
Top Things to Do in Cartagena

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Graham Binns

    Hi Adam,
    I’m Graham Binns a retired Honorary British Consul living on a small farm in Turbana just south of Cartagena.
    Three years ago twelve small local farmers and I iniciated a proyect in orden to form an oasis in the middle of a proposed open cast limestone mining concession, save the área from the desert it was destined to become and create an alternative “country life” tourist destination.
    We now have the properties more than half way into the transformatión between being just farms and becoming an alternative getaway.
    After having seen your article “Minca” I’d like to try and do something similar here and wondered if you’d be prepared to visit us and consider the possibilities.

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