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Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Tigard, Oregon
Level Contributor
82 posts
51 reviews
12 helpful votes
Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Next year (late winter 2024), we'll be on a cruise making stops in Santa Marta and Cartegena. Any suggestions on how to dress? We want to be comfortable, and to blend in as much as tourists can. We anticipate doing a fair amount of walking.

Thank you in advance for your advice!

4 replies to this topic
Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Colombia, Ecuador, Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena
Level Contributor
8 129 posts
330 reviews
139 helpful votes
1. Re: Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Light clothing, shorts, full brimmed hat, sunscreen, good walking shoes, there your set.

Don’t worry about ‘fitting in’ just not possible. I’m 6’-6” with blonde hair and green eyes, a typical surfer looking guy from Huntington Beach California, my point is that I stopped trying to fit in decades ago………just don’t wear jewelry and expensive watches.

Hope this helps.

SAV

Edited: 1 year ago
Medellin, Colombia
Level Contributor
1 821 posts
315 reviews
193 helpful votes
2. Re: Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Shorts are pretty much the mark of a tourist in Colombia, at least its rare to see Colombian men wearing them. You will need some protection from the sun but any elaborate kind of straw hat again is tourist wear. Nothing wrong with either as tourists but trying to blend in a little does have its advantages. Casual is fine but shoes are important. Colombian sidewalks/pavements are anything but perfect. Something reasonably sturdy but not too hot fits the bill. Turning your ankle can ruin your whole trip.

Colombians don’t dress badly, but their incomes prohibit them from buying really well made clothes. So you will be fine in some older clothes you are comfortable in. The comments about expensive jewelry and watches makes some sense but what has the most immediate value to any thief, as anywhere, is your cell phone.

Sun glasses are interesting. Again the mark of a tourist but conversely ones with dark lenses are quite useful as they avoid street touts being able to make direct eye contact with you,

Level Contributor
4 310 posts
104 reviews
33 helpful votes
3. Re: Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Comfortable and blending in may be easier said than done. You will see locals in pants and long sleeve shirts without any issue whereas for many tourists it's just too hot for them. I agree with SAV that you're going to be spotted as a tourist regardless but I can respect the effort. I'd say just try to dress as simple as possible and avoid accessories.

Tigard, Oregon
Level Contributor
82 posts
51 reviews
12 helpful votes
4. Re: Dressing comfortably in Santa Marta and Cartegena

Thank you SAV, Phileas and SirDAL - all very helpful. My sister, who has spent a lot of time in Latin America, recommended woven fabrics; as for "styling", what you've suggested matches her suggestions. I'll keep it simple and comfortable.

Safe travels to you all!

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