A quick guide covering four awesome waterfalls in Minca, Santa Marta, Colombia. Discover some of the famous icons, as well as two hidden gems you might not have heard about!
Looking for a quick list of awesome waterfalls in Minca? I’ve got you covered. In this guide, I’ll outline the top four waterfalls, cascades, and freshwater swimming spots to help you plan your adventures in this beautiful mountain village.
I’ve also written independent travel guides to these waterfalls, which you’ll find if you click the links under each heading.
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
The Best Experiences in Minca
Before I get into this guide, here's a rundown of my favorite tours and experiences in Minca.
- Ciudad Perdida Trek - Perhaps the most fulfilling trekking experience in Colombia. Trek to "The Lost City" in the Sierra Nevada, an archaeological site built some 650 years before even Machu Picchu!
- Birdwatching Tour - Minca is world-famous for its wildlife, especially its birds. Let a local show you the best spots to photograph and spot beautiful tropical birds like toucans and hummingbirds.
- Minca Full Day Tour - The best-rated tour in town which covers all the highlights in one day. Includes waterfalls and cacao plantation tours.
4 Awesome Waterfalls in Minca
1. Pozo Azul
Pozo Azul is one of the most popular waterfalls in Minca and features two small but beautiful cascades nestled in dense jungle surrounds. The bottom falls have a large but shallow natural swimming pool that is a favorite spot for Colombian tourists and day-trippers.
However, if you continue upstream a little, you'll find a more secluded upper tier, which even has a fun little cliff jump.
If you're going to visit Pozo Azul, then you don't need a tour guide. Simply hike up the road from town, or pay a motorbike taxi driver 10,000 to take you to the entrance. From here, it's just a short walk down to Pozo Azul.
This is a great place to swim and take in the beautiful natural surrounds in the forested foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, try to avoid visiting this waterfall during busy periods like weekends or public holidays. Instead, the best time to visit Pozo Azul is early in the morning, or at lunchtime when many of the tour groups leave.
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2. Marinka Waterfalls
The Marinka Waterfalls, or Cascada de Marinka is another beautiful set of waterfalls near Minca town. Here, you'll discover two larger waterfalls separated by a short hike. My favorite place is the lower falls, which offers a wide, natural basin to swim in.
There's also a restaurant on-site which has an iconic giant hammock offering great views over the cascades.
Again, you can either walk here from the small town of Minca (one-hour walk) or take a motorcycle taxi. In my opinion, the best way to visit Marinka falls is to hike here in the early morning to have it all to yourself.
Also, if you're up for a quick adventure, you can also combine a visit to this beautiful waterfall with a hike up to Los Pinos. Along the way, you'll pass a cacao, banana, and coffee plantation where you can also get coffee tours from.
Book: Epic Waterfall Rappelling Adventure (from Minca)
3. Cascada Escondida (The Hidden Waterfall in Minca)
Looking for a more secluded place to swim and enjoy the gentle mountain streams of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta? Make sure to check out Cascada Escondida. This is a very little known waterfall hidden amongst dense forests near the small village adjacent to Pozo Azul.
You'll find the short 5-minute trail down to this waterfall just after a bend on the road adjacent to "Panaderia Alto de la Montana". While you won't see a signpost here, simply continue down the trail on the left side of the building.
When we visited a kind old man selling his art next door pointed us in the right direction. Once you reach the river, cross it, turn left, and you'll see the "Hidden Waterfall of Minca", on your right.
Unfortunately, it seems that the upper level, which has the deepest pool, is not off-limits. I'm not sure what the thought process was here. But regardless, it's a nice waterfall, and one you'll get to enjoy all to yourself!
4. Oído del Mundo (Ear of the World)
Now for the fourth and final Minca waterfall, the Oído del Mundo, or "Ear of the World" falls.
Similarly to Cascada Escondida above, the Ear of the World is very much a hidden gem. There aren't any signposts leading to it, and as a result, you won't find hoards of tourists here either.
Instead, at the Ear of the World, you'll discover a set of small, multi-tiered waterfalls plunging into a deep but shallow pool. What's cool about this one is that you can climb up on the rocks on the right. From here, you'll get access to the middle pool, which is a great place to cool off. Here, you'll also discover why it's called the "Ear of the World".
Conveniently, Oído del Mundo Waterfall is located just a short walk from the center of Minca. In fact, it's found on the same dirt roads leading to the Marinka Waterfalls, which means you can visit both on the same trip!
Where to Stay in Minca
The main town of Minca is quite small, and you'll discover that some of the best places to stay are on the jungle foothills of the surrounding mountains. Below I've included the current top-rated options for various budgets. But, don't miss this guide to where to stay in Minca for more options & a neighborhood breakdown.
While everybody knows about the famous Sierra Minca, there are several other great places to consider as well. Minca has some of the best hostels in South America, and the unmissable ones sell out frequently, so it's best to book in advance!
- Stay at an Organic Cacao & Coffee Farm: Finca San Rafael - This is where I stayed, and it was one of my favorite lodges in all of Colombia. Set in the jungle just outside of town, this beautiful oasis offers a pool with mountain views, and private or shared rooms, and offers plantation tours to learn about the cultivation process of cacao and coffee.
- Finca Carpe Diem Ecolodge - 9.6/10 rating on HostelWorld with over 800 reviews! This is an absolute backpacker heaven with 3 swimming pools, and amazing jungle views, and is well-located close to amazing hikes.
- Casas Viejas - Winner of the best hostel award in South America! Unfortunately, this place was booked out when we visited, but many claim that this is one of the best hostels in the world!
Minca Waterfall Packing List
Here's a quick list of things to bring on your waterfall-chasing adventures in Minca.
- Bug repellent - seriously, this is crucial, the sand flies are ruthless in Minca. I've stopped using deet and now swear by the natural alternative from Sallye Ander
- Bug cream - something to treat the inevitable bites. Again, the Sallye Ander cream helps reduce itching.
- Hat and sunscreen - many of the hiking trails are shaded, but you will be exposed to the sun a lot in Minca. I'm Aussie so I might be biased, but Blue Lizard makes the best natural sunscreen on earth.
- Grayl water purifier - I swear by this water-purifying bottle. I've used it all over the world (including tap water in India), and saved thousands of plastic bottles from landfill in the process.
- Hiking shoes and clothes - make sure to pack the outdoor clothes!
- A lightweight rain jacket - while the coast around Santa Marta is dry, the Sierra Nevada mountains around Minca get a lot of rain.
- Camera or GoPro - this mountain village is beautiful and totally safe to have your camera out! Read my guide to camera gear for travel for suggestions.
- Warm clothes - the cooler climate in Minca can result in some chilly nights, especially if you head further into the mountains to Cerro Kennedy.
- Travel quick-dry towel - a must-have travel essential
- Imodium - trust me, you might want to bring some
- Head lamp or flashlight - great for those return sunset hikes or when the power goes out.
More Colombia Travel Guides
I hope you've enjoyed this quick round-up of these awesome Minca waterfalls!
Before you head out, check out some of my other South American travel guides below for more inspiration, ideas, and travel tips for Northern Colombia!