In this article, you will find out the best things to do in Minca and also my personal opinion on what to definitely do not try in Minca as a waste of time and money.
Before coming to Minca I read some blogs and watched some videos as research. I am not sure why a lot of bloggers recommend the same stuff, things that really are not worth it. So this article is an honest travel guide telling you the truth about the main activities in Minca. Also, as always some useful tips and recommendations to make sure your trip to Minca is amazing!
1. How to Get to Minca
2. Minca Town and Surrounding Area Explained
3. What to do in Minca
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Rent a Motorbike
Coffee and Cacao Farms
4. Some recommendations for a great trip!
How to get to Minca
Firstly you will need to get to Santa Marta, from here you can take a bus (a small bus - around 8 seats) to Minca. The bus will take around 45 minutes and will cost approximately 1.77 EUR / 1.48 GBP / 2 USD.
Another way is a taxi. They have the standard price of 70000 COP ( ~ 15.70 EUR / 13.10 GBP / 17.70 USD) from most of the areas around Santa Marta, so if you choose to take a taxi, make sure you do not overpay.
Note that the bus will only take you to the Minca town station, so you will need to get to your hotel yourself as most of the hotels are scattered all over the surrounding area. This leads me to our next point.
Minca Town and the Surrounding Area Explained
Minca town itself is quite small. You can walk from one end to another in 5 minutes. 90% of what you will find in Minca town are restaurants, so Minca town really is best in the evening for some lovely food and cocktails. Only a few hostels are located there. Most of the hostels and hotels are scattered all over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The area is quite popular for getting away from the city buzz and revive so a lot of hostels are truly a place where to relax and be away from everything, some are more than 5km away from the town centre.
A hotel I can highlight is Siembra. I do not have any affiliation with them. We discovered this place completely accidentally as we were hungry on our way and thought that it might have some food and it did. The restaurant is lovely and it has a great pool overlooking the mountains. The interior seemed fresh and cool. We searched to see if we could spend a couple of extra nights there whilst we were there in Minca, but they were fully booked so that’s proof yourself. If I will ever return to Minca I will definitely stay there.
Do not worry about booking further away as there are ‘mototaxis’ all over the place. It is basically a motorbike as a taxi. So one person at the time. They are fairly cheap and for 1 to 5 Euros you can get them almost everywhere.
What to do in Minca
Hiking and Mountain Biking
My personal number one activity would be hiking! First of all the views are amazing. Secondly, the Sierra Nevada mountains are a safe zone where you can wander around freely, which can be a problem sometimes in Colombia.
The trails are also amazing for mountain biking.
Just in case you do decide to hike or mountain bike yourself make sure you have navigation set up properly, as there are no signs or indications about any trails.
Here is a very popular trail that includes all the main sights you should see in Minca:
So you put in your navigation this:
You can skip the ‘Reserve Natural Caracoli’, it is just there to keep you on track for indication. Places to stop at are:
Los Pinos viewpoint - You will be able to see Santa Marta city on the one side and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountain tops on the other side.
Pozo Azul - Honestly, it is not worth going there just for the waterfalls, but is a great place where to stop during your hike and refresh by jumping into the water.
If you are doing the hike another way around and starting with Pozo Azul and then Los Pinos and then Marinka Waterfalls, I can recommend you to take the more hidden path straight from Los Pinos to Marinka Waterfalls. This route is not on Google Maps and it won’t offer you that route as it is completely off the track but so cool and adventurous. The red bit is the off-track hidden trail via forest:
After Los Pinos viewpoint walk around 150m more and there will be a sharp turn (360 degrees) that will take you down to the jungle path.
We of course took the less travelled path, you can see how it was in my video at the end of this blog.
The same trails will fit for mountain biking, The off-track one would be great for mountain biking as is it was quite challenging to hike it.
For mountain biking, I can also recommend getting to the ‘Mirador de la tagua la Y'. You will get amazing views from there and get a coffee to charge up for your further trip.
Rent a Motorbike
This is a perfect option if you only have a day in Minca and you want to see the most of it. Also if your hotel is quite far up in the mountains. With the motorbike, you can take the same route as above just stick to the main route. Even then the track once in a while will get bumpy, sandy and hard to drive so only rent the bike and go on a wander if you are an experienced driver.
Also note that to get to the actual waterfalls you will need to get off the bike, park it and walk short distances to reach the exact destination.
The average price for a motorbike for the whole day is 100’000 COP ( ~ 22 EUR / 19 GBP / 25 USD). If you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself as I mentioned there are ‘mototaxis’ with which you can easily get to one point to another by someone else driving you there.
So one thing that is a must-do in Minca is the 'Marinka Waterfalls'. (in the cover picture). They really were quite impressive and you can swim there, so you can spend a fair time there. There is also a cafe and changing rooms. Entrance fee is 10’000 COP per person ( ~ 2.24 EUR / 1.87 GBP / 2.54 USD).
Another waterfall a lot of people suggest is ‘Pozo Azul’. In my honest opinion I think they are not worth purposely visiting them, but please do go there if they are on your way.
Colombia in general is great for bird watching. 22% of all world bird species can be found just in Colombia. Minca is especially great for bird watching as it hosts most of the species. If you are into bird watching please do it yourself. A lot of guides will recommend you to do do ‘Jungle Joe’ bird watching tour but we tried it and it was so dreadful and boring. We were walking on the main road where all the motorbikes pass, how can this tour be ok? I regretted paying what we paid - 10 Euros per person. But don’t be distracted by this. I might have had awful luck with a bad guide and you might love it.
Visiting Coffee and Cocao Farms
In Minca you will find one of the best organic coffees as the region is famous for producing good quality coffee and let me confirm this - in Minca I did have one of the best cups of coffee.
So no wonder there are currently farms that offer tourist tours around the farm, explaining how the coffee and cacao is harvested and produced. I personally didn’t go on one as I am saving this special coffee experience for the Salento region, which is the main and best coffee region in Colombia, but if you are only travelling the North of Colombia then I definitely recommend you to do the coffee and cocoa tour in Minca.
Some recommendations for a great trip to Minca
Take mosquito and bug repellant as 20 different types of mosquitos will bite you! All-day, every moment! I came back from a 3 day trip to Minca and all my legs were covered with bites. It is the most bites I have ever had in such a short period. So make sure you have protection before and creams to relieve after bites.
Although most of the restaurants will accept cards, make sure you prepare some cash before getting up to Minca, as you will need to pay the taxi and all the entrance fees in cash. There is an ATM in Minca town, but as I said your hotel might be far away and you do not want to be stuck in the middle of the mountains without cash.
Try the local beer! Minca local artisans have created some wonderful beers that can only be found in the area. We tried 'Happy Tucan' and it was very light and nice!
Prepare your navigation in advance as there are no signs to anything!
Don't book any tours if you think you can do things yourself. Most of the tours are not worth the money. You will enjoy Minca much more by discovering places yourself!
See our adventures in Minca in this video:
My other articles and videos about Colombia:
Read: CARTAGENA TRAVEL GUIDE
Read: BOGOTA TRAVEL GUIDE
Read: GUATAPE TRAVEL GUIDE
Read: SALENTO TRAVEL GUIDE
Read: TAYRONA PARK