Is Palomino Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit In 2023

Palomino is a quiet town in the north of the country close to Santa Marta. It started as an off-the-beaten track town that has grown popular in recent years with backpackers. Travellers come here for a few days to enjoy tubing along the jungle rivers or to wander along the endless stretches of empty beach. Here are 10 great reasons why Palomino is well worth a visit in 2023.

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10 Great Reasons To Visit Palomino

1. Palomino Has Some Of The Best Hostels In Colombia

Palomino is worth visiting just for the hostels.

 

The Dreamer Hostel is one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in whilst travelling South America and it ticks almost every box you’d want from a hostel.

 

The dorms are built around decent sized pool with a social bar area set in the middle of the hostel. During the day most people are relaxing by the pool or going on one of the trips organised by the hostel such as trekking in Tayrona National Park.

 

It’s this communal area set around the pool where all the magic happens though, with an activity going on almost every night from salsa lessons to pool competitions. Then, every Saturday a DJ sets up for an epic pool party.

 

It’s impossible not to meet people here and make new friends. They also have a great sister hostel up the road in Santa Marta which is just as good and worth checking out. 

 

Tiki Hut is another great hostel to check out with a decent sized pool and laid-back vibe. The bar and restaurant regularly receive great reviews as well. Head here for happy hour to get strong but delicious cocktails!

For more of the some of best hostels in Colombia and all over South America, head to the link below:

 

 

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2. It’s The Perfect Base For Activities

Palomino is also a great spot to use as a base whilst your explore the north Caribbean coast.

 

You have multiple options to choose from including traveling up to Punta Gallinas in the La Guajira Desert or hiking in Tayrona National Park.

 

The La Guajira Desert is a unique experience and definitely worth a trip if you haven’t been to a desert before. This region is relatively untouched by tourism still so you can find great deals on excursions. 

 

Tayrona National Park is found halfway between Santa Marta and Palomino.

 

Most backpackers leave their big backpacks in hostel storage and spend one or two days adventuring in the park with a couple days’ worth of clothes and their day pack. You can find hammocks on the beach to stay in overnight for the perfect adventure.

 

This is the best strategy to do as you would never want to take your entire kit with you to somewhere like Tayrona. You have to trek a couple of hours through thick jungle before staying on the beach for the night.

 

After all the adventure, Palomino is the perfect base camp to return to due to it’s laid-back vibe, great hostels and quiet beaches.

How To Get To Tayrona National Park From Palomino

It’s super easy to visit Tayrona National Park directly from Palomino. All you need to do is take a local bus along single road that winds its way around the Caribbean coast (Mingueo-Santa Marta/Troncal del Caribe).

 

You can take the public transport bus for 8,000 Colombian pesos. This bus will drop you off directly to the entrance. If you are unsure where to get off, ask the bus driver for the Zaino sector which is where the main entrance to the park is, but you should be able to see the signs.

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3. Palomino Is Turning Into A Foodie Paradise

The restaurants in Palomino are great and this will be a great place to enjoy fresh seafood.

 

Most of the restaurants can be found along Calle 6 or on one of the roads adjacent. The great thing about Palomino is that they also cater well to vegetarians and vegans, with most restaurants offering dishes that are just as tasty.

 

Some of my favourites include:

  • Che Pacero – If you haven’t been to Argentina or tried Argentinian food yet then this is the perfect place for you. Che Pacero specialised in making empanadas – a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling. Empanadas are small so you can have one or two as a snack. If you are coming for a meal, try the pizza pan – a pizza that has been turned into a bowl shape, with the crust forming the outside of the bowl and the middle filled with melted cheese, sauce, and fillings of your choice

 

  • Loma – Loma is a great Italian restaurant with a wood fire oven. The reviews for this place often say “Best pizza in Colombia” and they aren’t wrong.

 

  • Sua – This is one of the top restaurants in Palomino. Yes it might be a bit on the expensive side for backpackers, but it is well worth it. Try the Fried Lionfish if you are looking for something unique. These are an invasive species, so they are caught and killed as often as possible.

 

  • La Happycleta – A solid hamburger joint that has great atmosphere and good music. Try the shrimp burger – its one of the best burgers on the mention and something a little different. You won’t be disappointed!
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4. It's a Great Place To Learn To Surf

Whilst Palomino isn’t known as one of the best surf beaches in the world, it is a great place for beginners to learn. And what better place to start than the beautiful white sand beach of Palomino.

 

There are a few places to check out if you want to book lessons:

 

  • Tide Escuela De Surf has some good recent reviews, and the instructors are known for being professional, patient and passionate about what they do which always makes for the best learning conditions.
  • The Dreamer Hostel  can also provide you will lessons. Ask one of the staff at reception and they will organise everything for you

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5. The Sunsets In Palomino Are Unreal

Watching the sunset on the Caribbean coast is a must and Palomino is one of the best places to see it from.

 

Whether you are casually strolling up and down the beach, sat in one of the many beach bars with a cocktail or sat in a rubber ring at the mouth of the Rio Palomino, you won’t be disappointed.

 

I would personally recommend going out late in the day tubing and planning it so as you reach the mouth of the river and start coming to the sea, it’s sunset.

 

The way the sun illuminates the mouth of the river and the golden sand is a sight to behold. 

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6. Palomino Also Has Great Party Hostels Too

Whilst Palomino has many a great hostel to relax in, it also has some of the best party hostels in Colombia too.

 

Rio Hostel can be found  on the Buritaca river between the town of Palomino and Tayrona National Park. There’s no town here so you really are staying in the middle of nowhere. This is the type of hostel to escape to.

 

The hostel has a private riverside beach, sundeck and garden. They regularly organise tubing down the river and encourage family-style dining so that everyone in the hostel comes together to socialise.This hostel is just a load of random shacks in the jungle though. They understand that backpackers want a little luxury every now and then and offer private cabanas alongside dorms.

 

As well as paddle boarding, volleyball, pool and ping pong at the hostel, they also organise loads of activities nearby. Once a week you can enjoy an explosive game of tejo, Colombia’s national sport.  Tejo incorporates beer and gunpowder in an explosive but fun game.

 

Whilst being an all round great hostel, it’s here that you will find some of the best parties as well.  El Rio regularly hosts big events where popular DJs from Colombia and around the world will come to do sets. The hostel will pumping until the early hours of the morning with the best DJ ending with a sunrise set! 

 

This is an incredibly unique hostel that is well worth a stay if you are exploring the Caribbean coast in Colombia.

For a list of more of the best party hostels in Colombia and South America, head to the link below:

 

 

7. Full Moon Parties

Palomino isn’t an all-round party beach destination in South America. But if you know some insider information and who to speak to, you will be able to find some epic beach parties here.

 

When you arrive, make sure to speak to the locals or the staff working at your hostel. These beach parties won’t be advertised anywhere but all the locals will know about them. Another way to find some great parties is to stay at one of the surf camps – the full moon party at Casa Grande Surf Camp is known to be a mad one.

 

Or you can try El Rio Hostel which is a little bit further out from Palomino itself. It is an incredible hostel that will also throw some huge nights so staying there is also an option (see video above).

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8. Tubing Through The Jungle

Tubing is one of the best activities to do whilst in Palomino.

 

This super fun activity starts with you picking up a rubber ring, lots of alcohol, and being escorted on the back of a moped into the jungle foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

 

Once your guide has dropped you off you have to carry your rubber ring a little way to the river and then you can hop in.

 

This can be a relaxing journey or depending on who you go with, it can turn into a party. If you manage to join a big crew of backpackers, then people will bring alcohol and enjoy floating through the jungle with a few beers as well. During peak season, you will be floating down the river with a big crew of backpackers, making giant rafts, drinking alcohol and having a merry time.

 

It should take around an hour to float to the sea but you can also stop on one of the many sand islands to chill for a while and extend the fun.

 

Once you reach the end of the river you can stop up, plonk your rubber ring down in the sand and chill whilst taking in the views of the Caribbean Sea.

 

Try Sierraventur travel for more information on tubing, but you will likely find cheaper if you just book in person somewhere in town:

 

  • Daily departures: 7:00 to 15:30
  • Duration – 3 hours
  • Cost: 45,000COP
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9. Palomino Beach Is Pristine

The white sand beach fringed with huge palms trees is everything you would expect from a Caribbean beach.

 

On top of this, Palomino beach is empty most of the time so you can enjoy peaceful walks up and down it without coming across another person.

 

There are so many great ways to enjoy the beach too. Why not book yourself a Yoga session at Ecosirena which sits right on the beach. They have sessions at 9AM-10.30AM and 4PM-5.30PM cost 35,000COP. Yoga on the beach is the perfect way to either start or end your day!

 

Or you can try the beach bars and restaurants. Paluna Beach Rest and Restaurante Finca Escondida are both great places to eat that look out onto the sea.

For more of a relaxed vibe that focuses on drinks, try Playa Mojito.

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10. Palomino Is Still Off The Beaten Track

Palomino started as a quite off-the-beaten track town that has grown popular in recent years with backpackers.

 

With the Dreamer Hostel being one of the main and only hostels out of a handful, Palomino now has many great hostels to choose from, some that even rival the quality of the Dreamer like Tiki Hut.

 

With more backpackers, comes more hostels and then more restaurants and the tourism industry grows. I would argue Palomino is still largely off the Gringo trail due to how far north it is but this is definitely changing.

 

Visit now whilst you still can to enjoy the pristine empty beaches and feel like you’ve escaped the backpacker trail.

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