How to get from Santa Marta to Minca: All Transport Options, Tips & Costs

Wondering how to get from Santa Marta to Minca and not sure which transport options to choose from? In this blog post, I’m covering all transport options, costs, and durations! With the pros and cons you can make a well-thought decision that suits your travel style best.

I’ve done this route myself and it’s super easy to navigate around when you figure out the Colombian system. 😉

santa marta to minca map

Quick Answers

How long is the drive from Santa Marta to Minca?

By bus, it’s only a short drive between 40 minutes and 1 hour into the mountains of Minca. 

What is the distance between Santa Marta and Minca

Minca is located very close to the big city of Santa Marta, only 22km south-east into the mountains.

Is Minca a day trip?

Visiting Minca could be done as a day trip however I do highly recommend staying a few nights to explore all the things Minca has to offer.

Is Minca worth going to?

Yes! Minca has so much to offer to truly unwind. Think of, waterfalls, birdwatching, and incredible mountain views.

How many days do you need in Minca?

3 nights will be enough to do and see the sights in Minca and still have some time to relax.

About Minca

While Santa Marta is for many a transit hub to other places along the coast, Minca is the jungle getaway only a short drive away from the bustling city on the Carribean coast of northern Colombia. With only 800 inhabitants, it’s a tiny village on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s fairly new to tourists in the country, but already full of fun activities, trendy cafes, and delicious restaurants!

colorful village in the mountains of santa marta

Before going over the options, many are wondering if it’s necessary to stay in Santa Marta when going to Minca.

If you arrive in the morning or during the day, you could easily skip Santa Marta and head off straight to Minca. So if you don’t have lots of time, plan your arrival in Santa Marta well and skip it.

However, it’s not recommended to travel after sunset so when arriving at the end of the afternoon or evening, stay the night in a nice hostel or hotel in Santa Marta and travel the next morning.

🚌 Option 1: Santa Marta to Minca by bus

⏰ Duration: ± 1 hour

When traveling along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, taking a colectivo (public bus) is the most popular and budget-friendly option. This is also recommended for the route from Santa Marta to Minca and the option I suggest for all the budget travelers among us.

Pros: really cheap!

Cons: no hotel-to-hotel service, and less convenient with lots of luggage.

Bus schedule from Santa Marta to Minca

Every day from 07:00 to 18:00.

I won’t take the bus later than 16:00 to make sure you’ll arrive at your accommodation in Minca before dark.

Step 1: Get to the bus stop

Buses to Minca depart from the bus stop on Carrera 9 between Calle 11 and 12. It’s on the same street as the buses leaving for Palomino and Tayrona.

It’s close to the city center of Santa Marta so you could take an Uber/taxi to get to the bus stop or walk there.

Finding the right bus is super easy. Upon arrival, drivers will come to you as soon as you only get out of your taxi and ask what your destination is. Tell them you need to go to Minca and they will guide you to the right bus. If somehow that’s not the case, their office is called Cootrasminca’ next to the bus stop.

Step 2: Get a ticket

To get your ticket for the bus, you need to go to the operator’s office of Cootrasminca, which I just talked about. Unfortunately, you can’t purchase these tickets in advance, but no worries as usually there’s a new bus coming or worst case scenario you’ll have to wait 20 minutes.

Buses run every 20 minutes and they’ll wait until the bus is full before departing.

Bus ticket price: 9.000 COP (€2,15)

Step 3: Arrival in Minca

The buses will drop you at the operator’s office within walking distance of the center of Minca. If your hostel is located further away, moto-taxis are waiting to bring you up the hill to your accommodation if you need them.

bus transport colombia

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public transport how to get from santa marta to minca
view over mountain village during sunset

Public Transport in Colombia

Colectivos are the local buses driving from point A to B throughout Colombia. In the north of Colombia, you can recognize them in a white and green color. They’re not like the big buses driving between Bogota and Salento for example, that drive from 1 spot to another. Transport in northern Colombia works a little bit differently.

How does the public transport work?

These colectivos can stop anywhere along the route, you just need to tell the driver where you need to go and they’ll stop at your location.

There’s nothing besides mountains and forests between Santa Marta and Minca so for this blog post, you won’t need to think about your way as Minca is the final destination of the minibus. However, you might need to use this tactic when traveling between Santa Marta and Tayrona/Palomino.

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🚕 Option 2: Santa Marta to Minca by taxi

⏰ Duration: ± 40 minutes

The most convenient and fastest way to get to Minca from Santa Marta is by taxi. If you’re traveling in a group or met some people along the way, a private transfer may be a good alternative. The best way to arrange these is from your accommodation in Santa Marta and make sure to set a price beforehand. You could also pre-book a taxi on Bookaway here!

Costs: ± 100.000 COP (€22)

Pros: fastest, safest, and most comfortable option.

Cons: expensive compared to the bus.

How to get from Santa Marta Airport to Minca

The only direct way to get from Santa Marta airport to Minca is by private transport. All the official taxis are standing right outside the arrival hall and they’re driving on taximeters.

No direct buses are leaving from the airport to Minca, you’ll have to transfer to Santa Marta center. You could either take the local bus to the center or one of the official taxis. I shared a taxi with a girl I met on the plane as we both needed to go to the bus stops towards Minca and Tayrona.

💡 If you’re arriving late at night, I recommend reserving one in advance through your hotel or arranging a pick-up from Bookaway.

How to get back to Santa Marta from Minca?

Colectivos depart back to Santa Marta from the same point as where you’ve been dropped off getting to Minca. The small Cootrasminca office located itself right outside the center and you can buy your ticket there, same as in Santa Marta. The price is also 9000 COP (€2,15).

📍 Location of bus operator office.

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sunset in the jungle of colombia

Where to stay in Minca

Minca is only a small town with limited options in the center. Therefore all the best options within walking distance of the center fill up pretty quickly so make sure to book them in advance. 

I recommend checking the location beforehand as some places are located on the other side of the mountain.  You’ll also notice that a lot of nice accommodation is located further away from town, forcing you to take a moto taxi to get to Minca.

🎒 Budget 

Masaya Casas Viejas

Casas Viejas is located a bit further away from the center of town, however by moto taxi, it’s a short drive into town. The hostel has a beautiful pool overlooking the green jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, something I truly missed during my stay in Casa Loma. This hostel was my number one choice but it was fully booked during my time in Minca.

The hostel is very popular among backpackers, so booking in advance is highly recommended! 

Casa Loma 

A beautiful hostel located on top of a hill overlooking the mountains. The hostel offers a range of different accommodation options, including private huts. Prepare yourself for a short but intense 10-minute hike up to reach to hostel from the center. 


🛌 Mid-range

Costeño River Minca

Stunning property only 5 min from the center surrounded by lush jungle. There are multiple options between dorms and private cabins, a gorgeous pool, and a restaurant. Perfect place for couples!

💰 Luxury

Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge

A bit further located from Minca but well worth checking into is Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge. This more luxurious and peaceful accommodation is located deep in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountains with incredible views, an infinity pool, vegetarian restaurant. It’s an absolute treat to stay here and the perfect place to relax for a few nights. Getting to the hostel is a bit more difficult, but the lodge offers lots of activities.


One of the most unique places in the area of Minca, SelvaMinca places itself a bit up the hill in Minca in the middle of nature. They offer incredible treehouses, villas, and chalets to choose from. If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing place in nature, this is the spot!

city view from the mountains of colombia

Reasons to visit Minca

Marinka Waterfalls

A visit to the Marinka Waterfalls is one of the most popular things to do in Minca. The Marinka Falls consists of 2 beautiful cascades surrounded by lush jungle in the Sierra Nevada region. On-site you’ll also find hammocks and a restaurant to grab lunch (also vegetarian options) and make sure to keep your eyes open for tropical birds like Tucans.

From town, moto taxis are offered to take you to the entrance point of the national park or you can walk up the hill. I recommend taking a moto taxi up the hill and walking down as the hike is on a beautiful road through the jungle and bamboo trees.

📍 Location Marinka Waterfalls

Pozo Azul

Pozo Azul is a natural water source located on a 20-minute hike out of town. It has a large swimming area, great for a refreshing dip. It could get a bit crowded but could be the perfect place for a fresh morning dip or on a hot afternoon.

📍 Location Pozo Azul

waterfalls in the jungle of minca with lots of greenery
snake sign in jungle with waterfall in the background

Bird watching

Minca is home to over 190 bird species including colorful tucans, macaws, and hummingbirds. You can spot these by yourself or join one of the birding tours leaving every morning at 06:00, when the birds are most active. 

colorful macaw in jungle of Minca colombia

Explore the beautiful corners of Minca

Even though it’s only a tiny town, take an hour in the morning or afternoon to visit the shops, have a healthy breakfast at DUNI, and watch colorful street art around every corner.

Go on a coffee tour

Colombian coffee is one of the tastiest I’ve tried in my life and Minca is among the best areas in Colombia to visit a coffee farm. From town, lots of tours bring you on a coffee & cocoa tour to take you along the whole process of production and of course, let you taste all the goods.

I decided to skip this as I had already done a coffee tour in Salento, but it’s a good alternative if you don’t go to Salento or if you really love coffee. 😉

mountain village with lots of bars restaurants and shops
colorful corners in small village of colombia with streetart

Safety in Santa Marta

Santa Marta doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to safety for travelers. I’ve heard many stories during my time in Colombia from travelers who felt unsafe during their time there and were telling everyone to skip it.

Usually, I take this advice with a grain of salt, however, if you don’t need to be there, follow this advice. I stayed one night in Santa Marta before going on the Lost City Trek and quite liked it but I didn’t go out on my own after dark and didn’t do much as it was a resting day.

Petty Theft

Petty theft in Santa Marta is bigger than other touristy places in Colombia and even the hostel staff told me about recent happenings and which areas to avoid.

Now, I don’t want to scare you off, because most of the incidents I’ve heard from people were from those walking around late at night, drunk or giving papaya. If you’re thinking now, what the heck is this girl talking about – read my safety in Colombia post where I tell everything about it!

Petty theft is a risk basically everywhere in Colombia, so with the usual precautions, you should be fine. I recommend reading my blog post about safety in Colombia and listening to local advice from your accommodation.


Summary of how to get from Santa Marta to Minca

  • There are 2 options to get to Minca from Santa Marta; by public bus and by private transfer.
  • Going by bus is the cheapest way and only takes 1 hour.
  • Taking a private transfer is useful when traveling in a small group, is the fastest and easiest.
  • The only direct way to get to Minca from Santa Marta airport is by booking a private transfer in advance or by taxi.

If you have any questions or did this route yourself and notice anything that changed, let me know so we can keep this blog post up-to-date and as useful as possible! 🙂

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Simone Vromans

Simone is the owner and writer of Travel With Simone! By sharing these travel guides, she hopes to help you plan your epic adventures and inspire you to go on that long-overdue trip! 💛

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About Simone

Hi there, I’m Simone and the writer behind this travel blog. By reading my guides, I’m hoping to inspire you to travel more mindfully and have epic adventures all over the globe!

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