Sitting 660 metres above sea level and with a considerably cooler climate than down by the coast, Minca is a refreshing place to add to your Colombian travels. It's become a cult favourite with travellers in recent years due to its memorable panoramas of jungle scenery and enlightening coffee tours on independently run fincas (farms). This mountain town is also popular for its laid-back atmosphere, making it just the place for relaxing afternoons spent deep in thought on a hammock.
Travellers to Minca can stay in a rustic wooden house with superb sunset views, an eco-resort with pools surrounded by virgin forest or on a famous coffee farm with a bar serving local craft beers. Many Minca hostels organise horse riding, hiking and bird-watching trips so you can get to know the local area. Being surrounded by such beauty, you'll want a Minca hostel with an outdoor terrace for surveying the scenery (plus free tea-and-coffee-making facilities so you can enjoy it with a relaxing beverage).
Minca town is made up of just a few streets but has a central area featuring a handful of international restaurants ranging from steakhouses to Italian bistros. Its smaller alleys have tiny shops selling artisan goods, including handicrafts made by the region's indigenous Tayrona people. As Minca is all about growing chocolate and coffee, there are clusters of fincas to discover in the surrounding countryside. Places like La Victoria and Cacagualito are accessible via hikes of between 30 and 60 minutes.
A trip to Minca isn’t complete without a visit to a coffee plantation for a tour bookended by cups of authentic Colombian joe. Take a walk to the natural Pozo Azul swimming hole for cliff jumping and swimming an hour from town. You can also trek to the Los Pinos viewpoint, dropping by Casa Elemento hostel for a rest on the world's biggest hammock. Walking's a fine way to explore the area: try the Cerro Kennedy trek, looking out for views of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada when you reach the summit.
Buses leave Santa Marta for Minca at Carrera 9, midway between Calles 11d and 10 beside the Cootransminca office. You'll be dropped off at the main bus station in town, which is also where you'll get your return bus to Santa Marta. Motorbike taxis are available for seeing the sights nearby, while hiking through the rainforest – often with expansive views out towards the glittering ocean – is a rewarding way to get around.