The No. 1 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 planet’s most important ecological areas by National Geographic. A visit to these forests can yield amazing sightings of monkeys, toucans, parrots, and many more unique and beautiful species.
Palomino’s beach is one of the nicest in the Colombian Caribbean: a kilometres long stretch of white-sand fringed by palm trees facing an endless azure blue sea. The waves are great for surfing, and there are plenty of beach bars and small restaurants dotting the shoreline. 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 – the Lost City Trek, travelling up to Punta Gallinas in the Guajira desert, or hiking in Tayrona National Park – so you’ll definitely need a spot to relax at some point. 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 relax.
With its Caribbean location, Palomino is naturally home to some excellent restaurants serving some of Colombia’s freshest and tastiest seafood. The best of them are located 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 might not find a better fish dish in all of Colombia!
With its beachfront location, Palomino is a wonderful place to enjoy lovely 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 wonderful 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. However, Palomino might just be home to a few of the best ones: The Dreamer on The Beach Hostel and Tiki Hut are both located 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 travelling on the Caribbean coast: it’s located on the same long highway that links Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park, the start of the Lost City Trek, and on to La Guajira and the northern Caribbean deserts. Therefore, you won’t have to go out of your way at all 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 – perhaps none – where you can sip a tropical cocktail on a Caribbean beach and see snowcapped 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 on clear days from the Palomino beach.
Such a long expanse of sand is the perfect spot for some beach horseback riding, and luckily there are now tour operators who offer tours 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 maybe no more liberating experience in Colombia.
Palomino is fast becoming an essential backpacker stop in Colombia, and the little town has grown according to that trend: from barely having any hostels as little as 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…