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Things to Do in Caribbean Coast - page 2

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Rafael Nuñez House Museum
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In Cartagena, the Casa de Rafael Núñez is a mansion that was once home to the famous politician, poet, and lawyer Rafael Núñez. The country's president on four occasions, Núñez' importance in Colombian history cannot be overstated — not only did he write the country's 1886 constitution, in effect until 1991; he also wrote the words to the Colombian national anthem.

A three-minute walk from the Walled City in El Cabrero, the Caribbean-Antillean styled white and green mansion was built in 1858, and today it's a museum where you can see Núñez' documents and personal possessions including furniture, paintings, and art. Just opposite the Casa de Rafael Núñez you'll see the chapel of Ermita del Cabrero, where the ashes of Núñez and his wife rest.

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Palace of Inquisition (Palacio de la Inquisicion)
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Boasting a prime location on Bolivar Square (Plaza Bolivar), the Palace of Inquisition (Museo Histórico de Cartagena de Indias) museum is housed in an 18th-century mansion that was once the headquarters of the Spanish inquisition. Not for the feint of heart, the museum exhibits diverse artifacts that range from torture devices and paintings to pre-Colombian statues and ceramics.

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Cartagena Cathedral (St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral)
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A striking reminder of Cartagena’s colonial heritage and standing proud at the heart of the historic district, Cartagena Cathedral (St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral) is not only one of the city’s most notable landmarks, but one of Colombia’s most famous cathedrals. Dating back to 1577 and taking over 84 years to complete, the historic church is remarkably preserved, with recent renovations helping to restore its original features.

Today, the cathedral stands out thanks to its domed clock tower and bright yellow-painted façade, and makes a popular tourist attraction, as well as hosting daily services. Highlights of the cathedral include a series of exquisite frescos, an 18th-century gilded altar and a gleaming marble pulpit.

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Cartagena Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena)
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Discover paintings and sculptures from Colombia and beyond during a visit to the Cartagena Museum of Modern Art, or the Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena. Located within the 17th-century Royal Customs House, this museum is home to both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions featuring young artists from around the world.

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Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario)
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With more than 200 species on display, Santa Marta’s Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario) is a must for nature lovers of all ages. Discover sharks, turtles, starfish, octopuses, seabirds, and more, while learning about conservation efforts in the region.

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Taganga
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Taganga is a sleepy fishing village and beach town near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Tayrona National Parks. The view from Taganga’s coast is spectacular, as are the sunsets. The small town has just a few paved roads and the rest are dusty - or muddy – depending on the season.

Taganga is next to the stunning Tayrona National Park, though it’s a bit of a trek getting there. If you’re interested in visiting the beaches at Tayrona, it takes an hour by bus to get to the park, followed by a couple of hours of hiking through the national park to get to a beach. Another option is to get a boat directly from Taganga to the beaches of Tayrona.

Both diving and getting a diving certification are inexpensive, which draws diving enthusiasts to Taganga. Many of the activities that can be booked in Santa Marta can also be booked from Tayrona. This is the place to head out not only to The Lost City and Tayrona National Park, but also farther east to La Guajira. Or go take a short hike over one of Taganga’s hills to Playa Grande.

With a number of beach bars and a few discos, the nightlife is often considered to be better in Taganga than Santa Marta, attracting both Colombians and foreigners. Even if your travels take you away from the town during the day, head back to Taganga in time to watch the sunset and join the rumba (party) on the beach.

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Playa Blanca
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For a tropical paradise experience, Playa Blanca is about as good as it gets. A short boat ride from El Rodadero beach on Santa Marta, this calm beach away from the larger concentrations of tourists is ideal for leisurely swimming as well as snorkeling and water sports like banana boats or mini diving classes.

Every day boats head out in the morning from the El Rodadero beach. The boat ride is a bit rough and fast but is an adventure to remember. There are no docks when you arrive at Playa Blanca, so be ready to jump from the boat.

Playa Blanca is set in a protected bay with mountains rising in the background. As its name suggests, the sandy beaches are white and are lined with palm trees. Thatched roof huts, ranging in size from individual to large buildings, line the beach. The smaller ones near the water are available to rent for the day, and don’t be afraid to haggle to get a good price.

As on nearly all the beaches in Colombia, vendors will come along to offer necklaces, pearls, cocktails and beachside massages. That gives a chance to see the local culture and cuisine. Try Colombia’s version of ceviche or taste delicious cocktails like Coco Loco. Some huts offer a seafood lunch, usually fried fish with coconut rice and plantain.

At Playa Blanca, kick back and enjoy the incredibly clear water and beautiful white sand beaches with a cocktail in hand.

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Cartagena Cruise Port
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Situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena Cruise Port welcomes 30 different cruise ship lines. Cartagena Cruise Port includes several attractions that reference the country’s natural resources: Before exiting, pass through a replica emerald mine and an aviary with birds such as flamingoes, peacocks, and parrots.

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Nabusimake

Deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Park in northern Colombia, there is a green valley surrounded by mountains that is home to descendants of the Tayrona people, the Arhuac. Nabusimake is the spiritual center for the Arhuac people, the place where they say the sun was born.

Visiting this indigenous tribe in their own village is an adventure. The only road to get there is from Pueblo Bello, and is a rough trip even in the toughest off-road vehicle. The roads to get there are in bad shape, there are no signs indicating the way to the town, and there are no hotels for visitors. Strange as that may seem, it is no doubt partly due to the Arhuac’s lack of interested in having outside visitors in order to protect their culture and way of life.

But entering Nabusimake is stepping back in time to a different world. Walk around the peaceful village and see the variety of plants, flowers and birds. The thatched roof huts and clay walls house the Arhuac, who wear traditional white tunics, tall coned hats and woven bags. Men and women alike have long hair long, and women use colorful necklaces.

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Barranquilla

Barranquilla, Colombia’s fourth-largest city, is also one of its most vibrant. Home to the country's largest port, this industrialized city sits where the Magdalena River meets the Caribbean Sea. The city is most famous for its Carnival, second in size to Rio de Janeiro’s and recognized by UNESCO for its Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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More Things to Do in Caribbean Coast

Naval Museum of the Caribbean

Naval Museum of the Caribbean

Opened in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the Americas, Cartagena's Naval Museum of the Caribbean tells the history of the city and its surrounding areas, as well as the story of how Panama became a separate country. Housed in what was once a Jesuit college, the whitewashed museum by the sea is easy to spot.

As you make your way round the exhibits, you'll see historic maps, ship tools, detailed model cityscapes, and model boats from throughout the centuries. And in the outer hall on the second floor, you'll get to see guns that have been salvaged from the seabed.

The history of Cartagena is immutably tied to its relationship with the sea, and the detailed texts on show at the Naval Museum of the Caribbean give a summary of 300 years of naval conflicts off the city’s shores. You'll learn all about the Spanish conquest of Colombia, and the later attempts of other European fleets to take Cartagena. And on the upper floor there's information about the modern Colombian navy and its role in the Korean War.

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Isla del Encanto

Isla del Encanto

Cartagena has its own beach, but venture farther afield to the Rosario Islands (Corales Islas del Rosario) for some snorkeling, scuba diving—or complete relaxation. Isla del Encanto provides a tranquil escape from modern life. The private island is home to a resort hotel where visitors can spend the day by the pool or on a beach lapped by the Caribbean.

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