The little beachside town of Palomino has grown from an off-the-beaten-track spot to a beloved traveler destination over the past five years, and with good reason: from tubing down lazy rivers to sunbathing on empty golden beaches, there’s plenty to do for active or tired travelers in need of some downtime. So here’s why you should visit Palomino, Colombia, at least once in your lifetime.
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The top tourist activity in Palomino is to ride a tube down the lovely Palomino River from the jungle foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to the Caribbean Sea. The activity is fun, cheap and a wonderful way to experience the calm and natural beauty of one of Colombia’s most unique and irreplaceable ecosystems.
The jungles surrounding Palomino are part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the most important ecological regions in Colombia, and named one of the most important ecological areas on Earth by National Geographic. A visit to these forests can yield amazing sightings of monkeys, toucans, parrots and many more unique and beautiful species.
The beach in Palomino is a long stretch of white sand, fringed by palm trees facing an endless azure sea. The waves are great for surfing, and there are plenty of beach bars and small restaurants dotting the shoreline. Despite the erosion it has suffered in recent years, taking a stroll along this lovely beach, or sunbathing there for a few hours, is a great way to spend some time in Palomino.
There are loads of really active and energetic activities to experience along the Colombian Caribbean coast – such as the Lost City Trek, traveling up to Punta Gallinas in the La Guajira desert or hiking in Tayrona National Park – so you’ll definitely need somewhere to relax eventually. Palomino is perfect for that: with not much more to do than wander along the beach, sunbathe, eat seafood and swim in the pool, it’s the ideal spot to kick back.
With its Caribbean location, Palomino is naturally home to some excellent restaurants serving some of the freshest and tastiest seafood in Colombia. The best of them are at the far end of the beach where the river meets the sea: simple little seafront shacks cook up fresh fried red snapper with coconut rice. You may not find a better fish dish in all of Colombia!
With its beachfront location, Palomino is a wonderful place to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. Walking along the beach at dawn towards the mouth of the river will give you amazing sunrise views, while you can just sit on the beach near the main strip of hostels to see unforgettable sunsets over the waters of the Caribbean.
Colombia has some top-notch hostels these days, and you can always find a top-quality spot to spend a night, wherever you travel in the country, but Palomino is home to a few of the best. The Dreamer hostel and Tiki Hut are both right by the beach and have great bars and restaurants and swimming pools. It’s like staying in a luxury hotel at backpacker prices.
Palomino is perfectly located for traveling on the Caribbean coast: it’s on the same long highway that links Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park and the start of the Lost City Trek and goes on to La Guajira and the northern Caribbean deserts. This means you don’t have to go out of your way to enjoy a few days in Palomino, and you’ll be a matter of hours away from some other stunning destinations.
There aren’t too many places in the world where you can sip a tropical cocktail on a Caribbean beach and see snow-capped mountains at the same time. The peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are the highest in Colombia and their glacial heights can be spotted from the Palomino beach on clear days.
Such a long expanse of sand is the perfect spot for some horse riding, and there are now tour operators who offer the chance to do just that – you can saddle up your horse and gallop through the surf, enjoying the waves crashing around you and feeling the wind in your hair. There’s no more liberating experience in Colombia.
Palomino is fast becoming an essential backpacker stop in Colombia, and the little town has grown accordingly. From barely having any hostels five or six years ago to boasting tens of them nowadays, Palomino has grown a lot, but has so far escaped any large-scale hotel developments. But that could change at any time, so now is very much the time to visit.