The road from Santa Marta undulates southward through dry hills forested with small-leafed trees and cardoon cactus. From the crest you see the high-rise condos and hotels of the portâ€™s richer half-sister, El Rodadero. This is where Colombian families come to spend the holidays, enjoying the warm sea and clean beaches. Along the coast, Colombian musicians and actors have their vacation homes. On the island at the mouth of the bay is Pelican Island, the privately owned retreat of the family of an ex-governor of Magdalena Department (no visits allowed).
El Rodadero was just a sparsely populated beach until the 1950s when the first eatery opened. Hotel TamacÃ¡ was the first hotel built, in 1959. Since then El Rodadero has grown into the large, moneyed resort it is today. Everything in this resort town is geared to tourism, from a water sport theme park to aquariums where you can feed the fish and swim with the dolphins. Travelers on excursions with more exclusive tour groups will stay in this part of town. However, that doesnâ€™t mean there are not places for journeyers with more modest budgets.