Santa Marta, on Colombia's Caribbean coast, boasts a fine natural harbor and splendid views, but that's only part of the reason the Spaniards chose it for their first settlement. Their choice was influenced by gold. The local Tairona indigenous communities were known for their goldsmithing work.
Some of their products, what didn't get shipped back to Spain via the new port of Santa Marta, is on view in Bogota, as part of the Treasures from the Museo del Oro. Now, the Tairona Heritage Studies Centre is devoted to the study of the indigenous groups which inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Santa Marta has warm, clean beaches, many in Tayrona, or Tairona, park.