Traveling throughout Colombia with three kids

I'm so happy we went to Colombia and you should go too.  So I'm going to start this post with my list of reasons why you need to head to Colombia ASAP... errr, as soon as we are done in quarantine:

1. Colombia is tropical and WARM.  It's a great location if you are looking for something to get away from winter.
2. Everything is inexpensive.  Our accommodations, cab rides, food; everything was cheaper than what we would pay in the states!  
3. Same time zone!  If you live in Eastern Time Zone like us in New York, you will love that Colombia is in the same time zone so you won't have to worry about jet lag- especially if you have little kids.
4. Rich culture and architecture.  I just love the beautiful colors around old Cartagena, so scenic!
5. Flights are easy and cheap!  We paid $600 per flight round trip and it was only 5 hours to get there direct from Toronto... easy peasy!  I imagine some of you pay more and travel longer (with layovers) to get to Florida.

We visited four different areas of Colombia and all were very different experiences, so depending on what you are looking for, you may consider one or all four of these locations to visit yourself!

Cartagena

The old city is just GORGEOUS.  We loved wandering around the old city walls admiring the vibrant colored buildings and architecture.  Everywhere wecwent, there were different venders selling all sorts of trinkets and food.... ice cream, coconut, fresh fruit, juice, arepas, etc.  And it was all super cheap.  We bought the kids popsicles for 60 cents.  Every night we'd eat dinner at one of the restaurants that had outside eating in one of Cartagena's big open squares.  We'd order the best they had- cerviche appetizer, sea food boil, pizza and chicken fingers for the kids, plantain chips and drinks- beer, wine and bottled water and our meals were never more than $15!

Our hotel in Cartagena was perfect.  We stayed at Casa Claver Loft Botique Hotel right in the city.  It really did feel like a boutique hotel.  Our room was the only one on our floor and we loved not feeling like we were at a box hotel.  The only downside was we did have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to our room so that made having a stroller more difficult.  There was an elevator though for other parts of the hotel.  Each night we could order our breakfast off their breakfast menu and what time we wanted breakfast served.  It was included in the price of the hotel and the kids loved that they could order pancakes!  We LOVED swimming in their pool right on the roof, it was small but perfect for the kids to cool off.  Our suite was perfect too with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.


Santa Marta

This section of Colombia was appealing to us because we read that the beaches were better than in Cartagena and it was close to the rain forest and the National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona), which we thought would be fun.  Unfortunately when we arrived in the country, we learned that the National park is closed for the month of February to allow the indigenous people to hold their ceremonies and whatnot without tourists.  We were super disappointed because none of our travel guide books or information we read online told us this.  However, we were happy to enjoy some relaxing beach days in Santa Marta!

If you are a people person, then you will love the beaches of Santa Marta.  We were literally stopped every 45 seconds by someone selling something along the beach!  The good news is, everything is SO cheap- so if you get hungry or feel like "shopping" you don't even have to get up to purchase pretty much anything- from popsicles, churros, drinks, sand toys, sunglasses, etc. The sand was fun to play in and the water was super refreshing!  Everyone had a blast!


Our family spent a good few hours at the beach and then the kids decided to play at our hotel's pool for the afternoon, which did not have any local vendors, so it was nice to play without interruption for the afternoon. :)

We stayed at Hotel Tamaca Beach Resort but it wasn't our first choice.  We were hoping to book Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida, however, they couldn't accommodate us for three nights.  Hotel Tamaca is a Colombian owned hotel so it has a more local feel than American branded hotels, but it was perfect and it was really fun to stay at because most of the hotel guests were Colombians!  Matt and I love experiencing the culture of the countries we visit, so what better way to do that than to stay at a Colombian run hotel.  The location was perfect; we loved trying some of their local dishes in the breakfast buffet and the prices for room service and drinks were sooo much cheaper than what you would pay in the states.  One afternoon we decided to take a break from the sun and went up to our room and Matt ordered room service- two coffees, a banana split sunday, and rice pudding all for $10!!




Minka

We read that Minka was super up and coming and that there were a bunch of hippie restaurants, which made us super excited!  However, it definitely wasn't what we expected.  In fact, I was adding to my stories on Instagram while we were there and someone actually replied to one of my stories asking if I am ever fearful that we are going to get murdered! Lol!!  We did find some really cool hippie type restaurants but honestly, I think it would be a better place to explore without kids.  We saw a lot of backpackers there.

We really wanted to see their waterfall, which was a couple of miles uphill from the town.  However, as we started driving to it, the dirt road we were on became so rocky that we decided to abandon our car and walk the rest of the way.   Matt is super conscious about getting a flat tire, which happened to us on a dirt road in Africa and left us stranded in an area that wasn't the safest.  Anyway, the whole thing was a huge inconvenience so we didn't want that to happen again.  We ended up walking the couple of miles, got a TON of tiny bug bites that itched for weeks only to find a very disappointing waterfall.  On the upside. we all learned to be more flexible and got a great workout in.  ;-) *If you don't have kids, it would be super easy to go if you hired a motor bike to take you there.   Don't forget to wear insect repellent.  And make sure to stop at one of the food stands along the way- all the foods and drinks were AMAZING!

Karibana

The last area we stayed in was just about 20 minutes outside of Cartegenia, Karibana.  We stayed at the Conrad Cartagena Luxury Hotel.  If you want your trip to Colombia to resemble something similar to a typical American vacation, this is the perfect place for you.  Matt booked the hotel with our Platinum American Express Card for $200 per night. There are certain hotels that are in the credit cards "Fine Hotels & Resorts" collection, which, when booked with your American Express card, you get a bunch of perks.  First, they automatically upgrade your room.  Our upgrade was a two room suite with two bathrooms, a walkout porch and hot tub.  It was probably one of the nicest rooms that we've stayed in.  Breakfast buffet was included, complete with mimosas, fresh squeezed juicing station, omelet station, etc.  Through the credit card, we also got a $100 spending credit to use for anything in the hotel.  We used it on food.  Food is SO cheap in Colombia.  Throughout our stay, we ordered two specialty drinks, two appetizers, a pizza, cake, ice cream sunday, chocolate crossaint, 4 coffees and two sparkling waters and still didn't go over our $100 spending credit.  I just love that our money goes a such a long way!!





If you have kids, you will love this: a kids club with free babysitting up to two hours per day!!  They also had their own private beach area where you won't have to worry about locals trying to sell you stuff, a number of pools to use with exercise classes and activities to do pool side, and a free shuttle that takes you to the old city.

If you are looking to travel a little more exotic than your typical American vacation but aren't ready to try anything too extreme, then Colombia is the best place for you!

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