Is Palomino Worth Visiting?

Is Palomino Worth Visiting? 12 Great Reasons To Visit In 2024

Palomino is a quiet town on Colombia's beautiful Caribbean coast. Here are 12 great reasons why Palomino is well worth a visit!

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Is Palomino Worth It?

If you want to get off the beaten track and see more of Colombia’s beautiful Caribbean coast, then Palomino is definitely worth a visit. 

 

As it’s only a short drive from the popular town of Santa Marta, it can easily be added to your itinerary.

 

Here are some reasons why I love it:

 

 

  • Palomino Beach – a beautiful white sand beach that stretches on for ages. You can find it deserted most days.

 

  • Tubing – floating down jungle rivers with a beer in hand is one of the best activities in Palomino. It’s a fun day out and a great way to meet other backpackers
Is Palomino Worth Visiting?

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 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. 

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

 

 

Balconies and Hammocks at 'The Dreamer' in Palomino (Colombia)
The swimming pool at 'The Dreamer' in Palomino (Colombia)

2. It’s The Perfect Base To Visit Tayrona National Park

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

 

One of the best things to do in the region is hiking in Tayrona National Park.

 

You can find several trails through the park that will take you through the dense jungle before arriving at some of the most secluded and beautiful beaches on the coast.

 

 

You can find hammocks on the beach to stay in overnight for the perfect adventure.

 

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.

TOP TIP: You can stay overnight in Tayrona, sleeping in a tent or a hammock on the beach. In the evening it's pretty warm and there are mosquitos but the amazing view in the morning makes it worth it.

Many people head home late in the afternoon, so it is more peaceful between 6 PM and 10.00 AM in the morning. If you want to return to Palomino in the evening then make sure you've left the park before it closes so you can catch the bus back.

How To Get To Tayrona National Park From Palomino

It’s super easy to visit Tayrona National Park directly from Palomino. You have two options:

 

  • Public bus – take a local bus along single road that winds its way around the Caribbean coast (Mingueo-Santa Marta/Troncal del Caribe). This will cost 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.
  • Taxi – if you prefer pick up and drop off at your accommodation then ask for a taxi instead.

Tayrona National Park is one of the best single-day hikes in Colombia and also South America. To see a full list of more of the best single-day hikes in South America, head to the post below:

 

 

Cabo San Juan Beach, Tayrona National Park (Colombia)

3. Palomino Is Turning Into A Foodie Paradise

The restaurants in Palomino are top quality and this will be one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood.

 

Most of the restaurants can be found along Calle 6 or on one of the roads adjacent.

 

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 – Sua 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.
Palomino Beach (Cololmbia)

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

See how you can spend a month travelling through Colombia with this epic one month itinerary:

 

 

surfboards on the beach in Palomino (Colombia)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.

 

It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.

 

Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

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 recommend going out tubing late in the day 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. 

Do you want to travel the Caribbean coast of Colombia and then see more of South America? Head to the post below to see how you can continue your adventures into Ecuador and Peru:

 

 

Palomino River (Cololmbia)

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 a unique hostel where you come to escape and do something a little different. 

 

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 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).

Joe on the beach in Palomino (Colombia)

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8. Go Tubing Through The Jungle

  • Daily departures: 7:00 AM to 15:30 PM
  • Duration: 2- 3 hours
  • Cost: 45,000COP

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 foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 ocean, hop out, plonk your rubber ring down in the sand and chill whilst taking in the views of the Caribbean Sea.

TOP TIP: I've linked to a tour below, but I always recommend paying for tours in person in Colombia. This tour isn't likely to sell out and you'll be able to find cheaper prices shopping around in town!

9. Palomino Beach Is Pristine

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

 

Whilst I love Santa Marta, the beaches in Palomino are much nicer!

 

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 9.00 AM-10.30 AM and 4.00 PM-5.30 PM 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. 

10. Palomino Is Still Off The Beaten Track

Palomino started as a quiet 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.

Views from hiking in Tayrona National Park (Colombia)

11. Visit Shrimp's Beach To See The Flamingoes

As Palomino becomes more and more popular, new activities and tours to the surrounding areas pop up.

 

This guided day tour is perfect for animal lovers seeking something even further off the beaten path.

 

Los Flamencos Sanctuary has been a designated wildlife sanctuary since 1977 and it’s one of the only places to see flamingoes in Colombia.

 

The tour includes transport to and from Shrimp’s beach, a boat tour around the bay and lunch. 

12. Sunset Horseback Riding

If you want to see the beach from a different perspective then why not go horseback riding.

 

This tour is the perfect choice for people who love horses, warm weather and the soft sand of the beach.

 

I’m a bit scared of horses so I’ve never actually done this but I always see people doing it and it seems like they’re having fun!

Birdseye view of the beach in Palomino (Colombia)

How Many Days Do You Need In Palomino?

I think 2-3 days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy this beautiful place!

 

If you’re a backpacker short on time in Colombia then 2 days is enough to see the town, enjoy the beach and go tubing.

 

If you’re on an extended stay in Colombia, stay as long as you want! 

 

Palomino is a great place to escape to where you can work on your tan, wandering along empty beaches and just enjoy life!

Palomino combines perfectly with the rest of Colombia’s coastal gems such as Cartagena. Head to the post below to see why it’s worth visiting next:

 

 

How To Get To Palomino

How To Get To Palomino From Santa Marta

The best way to get between Santa Marta and Palomino is by bus. 

 

Buses start at $7 and take around 2 hours.

 

You can book through Busbud or speak to the staff at your hostel who can also help you book.

How To Get To Palomino From Cartagena

Again, travelling along the Caribbean coast from Palomino to Cartagena is best done via bus.

 

Buses start at $15 and take around 5 hours.

When's The Best Time To Visit Palomino?

Here are the best months to visit Palomino:

 

 

  • January-February and July-August  – visit in these months for the best weather. In the summer months of July-August there will be more backpackers due to the American and European summer holidays.

 

  • March and September – these are shoulder seasons where you’ll find less tourists and cheaper prices.

 

  • April-June and October-December – these months are rainy season. It’s still going to be nice and hot but there will be more rain 
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