A laid-back atmosphere, palm trees, beaches, good food, and coziness. That sounds like a lovely place, right? Palomino is a small village on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia and a great destination to relax for a few days. During the day, you can enjoy the beach, play volleyball, or take a long stroll along the shore. In the evenings, you can enjoy live music or sometimes a small party. You won’t find large resorts or hotel chains here, but instead, cozy hostels and small boutique hotels that complete your stay in Palomino. Welcome to Palomino!
Climate Change and Palomino
Unfortunately, Palomino is facing significant challenges due to climate change. Rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms have caused the sea to erode the entire beach in some areas in just a few years. We have visited Palomino twice in the span of four years. While the beach was about 10 meters (32.8 feet) wide during our first visit, it had completely disappeared in some places during our last visit.
Opinions among travelers about Palomino are divided as a result. In our opinion, Palomino is still worth a visit, but you need to know where to go if you want to spend an afternoon chilling on the beach. The areas where the beach has eroded are near the village itself. However, the beach is very long, so if you walk about 10 minutes to the east, the beach becomes wider. See the photo below. Efforts are being made in Palomino to find ways to restore the beach, but as with everything in Colombia, it takes time and it may still be a while before any significant changes occur.
How to get to Palomino?
The most common way to get to Palomino is by bus, but you can also take a taxi. If you’re traveling by bus, you’ll be dropped off at the bus stop on the main road in Palomino. Your hotel is probably too far to walk with your backpack or suitcase, so there are always motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks available to take you to your hotel. Below, we describe how to get to Palomino from different destinations.
From Tayrona to Palomino
You can flag down any bus that’s heading east on the main road. Some buses may not stop, but there are plenty of buses passing by, so you won’t have to wait long. When you board the bus, just double-check if it stops in Palomino. The journey takes about 45 minutes, and you’ll arrive in Palomino.
From Santa Marta to Palomino
Go to the Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta bus station and board the bus to Palomino. The journey takes about 1.5 hours.
From Cartagena to Palomino
From Cartagena, you should expect a travel time of about 6.5 hours. You’ll need to take a taxi to the Cartagena Transportation Terminal. It’s a 45-minute ride from the old town in Cartagena. From there, you can catch a bus to Palomino, which takes around 5.5 hours. The buses are often quite comfortable with air conditioning, a toilet, and sometimes even Wi-Fi.
What to do in Palomino?
The main attraction in Palomino is simply to relax on the beach or by the pool. However, if you’re in the mood for some activities, the following things are fun to do.
Important: There is no ATM in Palomino, so make sure to bring enough cash. If you haven’t withdrawn enough money, the nearest ATM is in the village of Mingueo, about a 20-minute drive away.
Tubing in Palomino
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Palomino, it’s tubing! You’ll plop down on an inflated tractor inner tube and float down the river at a relaxed pace towards the sea. As you float, you can enjoy the pristine nature surrounding you. If you want to spot wildlife, it’s best to go early in the morning. In the morning, the animals in the jungle are active, and you have the best chance of seeing howler monkeys and toucans, for example.
In the main street of Palomino, you can book tubing at every street corner. You have a choice of tours lasting from 1 to 4 hours. You’ll be taken to the mountains with your tube on the back of a motorcycle. If you prefer not to ride on a motorcycle, they can arrange a 4×4 for an extra fee. At a certain point, the motorcycle can no longer continue, and you’ll have to walk through the jungle with your tube. The distance you have to walk depends on the tour you’ve booked, so be sure to inquire about this. Once you reach the river, you jump into the tube and float downstream, enjoying the surrounding nature. On a clear day, you can even see the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada behind you! A guide will accompany you, connecting the tubes of you and your group so that you stay together.
Handy items to bring:
- Sandals or water shoes
- Bikini or swim trunks
- Drybag / waterproof phone case
Take a Beach Walk to Rio San Salvador
Let’s be honest, you don’t come to Colombia for the spectacular beaches. The beach in Palomino (where it still exists) is beautiful, but it’s not the Philippines or Mexico. Palomino is located between two rivers that flow into the sea. One of them is Rio San Salvador, which is on the east side of Palomino. If you feel like taking a long beach walk, it’s nice to walk there. It takes about 50 minutes one way from Palomino. The further away from Palomino you go, the more palm trees you’ll encounter, and the wider the beach becomes.
Note: The sea can be quite rough in Palomino, and there is often a strong current. Therefore, never go far into the sea and check the strength of the current before entering.
Walk the Dogs from the Shelter
If you love dogs and get excited about the idea of walking 12 dogs at the same time, then a visit to Dogshelter Palomino is for you. We had the honor of being the first to experience the walking tour of Dogshelter Palomino, and what an experience it was. Frank and Miguel are two super spontaneous guys who have taken on the care of stray dogs. Together with them and the super enthusiastic four-legged friends, you walk to the river to take a dip together. Walking with 12 dogs in Colombia is incredibly chaotic but also a lot of fun.
There is no fixed price for the walk, but a donation guideline is 30,000 pesos / $7 per person. With your contribution, they can take care of the dogs and sterilize as many dogs in Palomino as possible so that they don’t continue to reproduce endlessly without enough homes to go to. To book a walk, it’s best to send them a message on their Instagram. Say hello to Frank and Miguel from us!
Watch the Sunset on the Beach
Although you don’t see the sun sinking into the sea from Palomino Beach, the sunset is still worth it. The sky turns into various shades of pink and orange, and the beach is often pleasantly crowded. Play a game of beach volleyball or relax at a beach bar and order a delicious cocktail.
Best Restaurants in Palomino
Despite being a small village, Palomino surprisingly has a lot of excellent restaurants. For healthy breakfast and lunch options, head to La Sirena. You can sit here with your feet in the sand, under the swaying palm trees. Casa Cocotte Palomino is a great restaurant for dinner. The menu is not extensive, but the dishes on it are very delicious. The owner is French, so you can mainly order French dishes with plenty of fresh vegetables. SUÁ Restaurant is also a good choice, where you can create your own delicious dishes. For a tasty vegetarian lunch, make sure to visit Café Holss. If you’re in the mood for pizza, La Frontera is the place to go. They have a wide variety of pizzas on their menu.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Palomino
How about your own beach bungalow or a cozy hostel with a pool? In Palomino, there’s something for everyone, often at an affordable price. The Dreamer and Tiki Hut are the coolest hostels to meet other travelers. Tiki Hut is more peaceful, while The Dreamer is known for its lively atmosphere. They offer both private rooms and dormitories with air conditioning and a large pool. Looking for something smaller? Then Casa del Pavo Real is perfect. You’ll stay in a beautiful room with a balcony and hammock, enjoy a lovely pool in a tropical garden, and dine at the on-site restaurant. If you want to experience the ultimate paradise feeling, you must visit Aite Eco Resort. It’s one of the few hotels in Palomino with a great beach right in front. Choose a beachfront bungalow among the palm trees and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean in the background. Blissful! There’s also a nice pool for when the sea is too rough. This hotel is located a bit further from the center, but the beautiful location more than makes up for it.
|Casa Del Pavo Real
|Aite Eco Resort