Things to do in Minca, Colombia
Minca is a tiny little village not far from Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park. Although there aren’t many things to do in Minca town, there are many great day trips in the surrounding mountains, whether a beautiful hike, waterfall swim, or sunset viewpoint.
The town is also the gateway to the ancient ‘lost city’ ruins: a city created by the Tairona people of this land. These ruins are thought to be about 650 years older than Machu Picchu! Because of this, many people come to this area for history and adventure, making it popular on the backpacker trail in Colombia.
1. Sierra Minca (Sunset Point)
Sierra Minca is one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the whole area. Jump on a motorbike (taxi or your own) and head for Hostel Sierra, which is about a 30-minute drive up into the mountains. This lovely treehouse-style hostel is nestled in the hills and is equipped with giant hammocks and decking, where you can sit to watch the sunset with a refreshing drink.
Arrive here early, so you can get your spot to watch the sun go down behind the beautiful mountains and skyscrapers of Santa Marta in the distance. You can even see the ocean from up here!
Coffee is one of Colombia’s biggest exports, and there are plenty of beautiful plantations to visit in the highlands of Minca. The most famous is Finca la Victoria; it’s one of the oldest in Colombia and the largest coffee farm in the north.
The Finca was opened by Charles and Alice Bowden back in 1892, and tours are available for 10,000 COP (2.50 USD). During the tour, you’ll get to learn about ancient coffee-making processes, and you’ll taste the coffee, too, as you wander around the beautiful estate of over 500 hectares.
Best of all, the farm is organic and uses eco-friendly practices like composting and renewable energy, making it a great sustainable travel tour on your trip to Minca.
Getting to Finca la Victoria: You can walk from the village (1.5 hours) or take a taxi. It’s located very close to the Blue Lagoon, so it’s the perfect stop-off.
3. Bird Spotting
One of the first things you’ll notice about Minca is the beautiful bird song you’ll hear as soon as you wake up. As the area has such luscious nature, it’s no surprise that you can find many types of birds, including graceful hummingbirds, colorful macaws, and toucans.
You can see many of these birds as you hike in nature or watch them among the treetops from your hostel. However, if you want to learn more, join a bird-watching tour in Minca. Not only is this interesting, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to get into nature and find some secret spots with a knowledgeable local guide.
4. Marinka Waterfall
Cascada Marinka (Marinka Waterfall) is one of the most popular things to do in Minca. Surrounded by dense green jungle, discover this beautiful waterfall (with both upper and lower falls) and a massive pool at the base for swimming.
Up this high, the water is exceptionally refreshing, making it the perfect spot to cool off after a long jungle hike. Plus, this lush natural park also has huge hanging nets for relaxing and taking in the sounds and sights of nature.
Getting to Marinka Waterfall
The falls are an hour’s walk from the village, which is doable, but it can get very hot during the day. Otherwise, you can take a motorbike taxi for around 15 minutes, costing 10,000 COP each way (2.50 USD).
When you arrive, pay 5000 COP (1.25 USD) to enter before embarking on a beautiful garden walkway that will take you through the jungle to the falls. We recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the crowds, as from 10 AM it will get very busy.
When you return to the entrance, motorbike taxis will take you back to town. Alternatively, you can carry on further uphill to Sierra Minca for sunset.
5. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon (Pozo Azul) is another excellent day trip from Minca. Plus, it’s free to enter! However, be aware that it’s always busy as many tour groups come here.
When you arrive, you’ll see a few small falls and pools which are great for swimming, although prepare yourself for the biting cold temperatures of the mountain water. There is also a swing at the main pool, which guarantees plenty of fun for visitors.
Getting to Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is just over an hour’s walk from Minca and is on the way to Finca la Victoria (we recommend visiting on the way back from your tour for a nice refreshing dip). Alternatively, take a taxi for 10,000 COP each way (2.50 USD).
6. Go Hiking
There are lots of incredible hikes you can do around Minca. The most popular is the Los Pinos Trail which gives you a magical view over the Sierra Nevada mountains. You will hike for 6 hours, with the first 3 hours dedicated to an uphill climb! Once at the top, though, it is all worth it for the magical views you’ll get over the green landscape.
Up for a bit more of an adventure? The Cerro Kennedy hike is one of the top things to do in Minca (a 2-day walk with one overnight stay). The path will take you incredibly high (3100 meters above sea level), so as you can imagine, the views are unbeatable! At the summit, you’ll even see the snow-capped peaks of Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar in the distance.
7. See Minca Village
Minca village is tiny (only 600 people live in the entire town) with not a huge amount to see. However, that’s the beauty of Minca; it’s a place to relax, unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.
However, if you have some time, head to the main street, where you’ll find some cute restaurants and handicraft shops where you can buy souvenirs from your trip.
8. Day Trip to Tayrona National Park
Only a 50-60 minute drive away is the magical Tayrona National Park, bordering the Caribbean coastline. For paradise island beaches, this is the place to go! You’ll find white sand, clear turquoise water, and small huts and hammocks where you can camp under the stars.
Visit either on a day trip from Minca or spend the night so you can have this natural paradise all to yourself.
Tip: There are two entrances to Tayrona National Park (El Zaino and Calabazo). Calabazo is closer to Minca, but you’ll have to hike further distances to get to the main beaches.
Where to Stay in Minca, Colombia
Minca might get chillier at night because of its mountain location, but during the day, the temperatures can get very hot, so we recommend choosing a hotel with a swimming pool. Plus, in Minca, it’s all about relaxing, and aside from a few day trips, you’ll spend most of your time relaxing at your hotel and taking in the views and ambiance of the area.
We stayed at Siembra Boutique Hostel. It had a great pool, good food, and a lovely view overlooking the lush green valley below.
Tip: Make sure to check the location of your hotel, as many are located higher up in the hills and a good drive away from the town itself. This means you might want to hire a motorcycle or allow room in your budget for motorcycle taxis.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Minca
Minca may be small, but there are some really great places to eat! Because it’s on the backpacker trail, it’s got plenty of international options as well as vegetarian and vegan food. Some of our favorites are:
- Marhaba Restaurant (the best food in Minca!)
- The Lazy Cat (international food)
- Duni Cafe (healthy veggie options)
- WAIRA (iced coffee)
- La Miga Panadería (Bakery)
- Casa Lomo (veggie options)
- Siembra (veggie options)
How to Visit Minca
The closest airport is Santa Marta, and you can take a taxi from here that takes around 45 minutes and costs 90,000 COP (21.50 USD). Please be aware that as you’re going up into the mountains, the roads can become very twisty (top tip for those with motion sickness!).
The other option is to take a shared taxi (colectivo) from Estacion de Minca (Calle 12, Carrerra 9). The price is around 9,000 COP (2.25 USD) per person and is the only other transport option from Santa Marta, as there is no public bus route.
Getting Around Minca
Almost everyone in Minca gets around by using a motorcycle. You can rent them yourself (for approximately 100,000 COP (24 USD) a day), but it’s easier to jump on the motorcycle taxis, which will pick you up from the center of town and take you wherever you need to go. Prices are fairly reasonable, and it’s usually easier than hiking uphill in the heat.
If you don’t mind a bit of hiking, everything is walkable in Minca. Just prepare for uphill walks, and always bring plenty of water, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen. Be aware that depending on the weather, the paths can be muddy (rainy season) or dry and dusty (dry season).
How Much Does Minca Cost?
As Minca is on the Colombia backpacker trail, prices are very reasonable, with plenty of budget hostels that still come with amazing pools and amenities. Remember, you’ll need to allocate money for motorcycle taxis to take you to your hostel or on various day trips in the area.
Tip: Please note that there are no official ATMs in Minca, so bring enough cash with you to last the duration of your stay.
Best Time to Visit Minca
Minca is lovely to visit all year round. However, in the hot summer months of June/July/August, there are a lot of tourists. During this time, prices increase, and it’s a bit too hot for hiking.
November to May is the perfect time to visit, with warm and dry days and fewer tourists.