With its setting in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, it’s easy to see why the sleepy town of Palomino has earned a spot on every Colombian itinerary. In recent times the fishing village has grown into a backpacker’s tropical paradise, with an appetizing spread of places to stay, seafood shacks and activities of every kind.
Expect a laid-back, bohemian ambience – Palomino is a gateway for nature lovers looking to overnight somewhere that’s welcoming while on their way to Tayrona National Park. You can happily spend a few days trekking the jungle, tubing the river, surfing, or sunbathing on remote beaches.
Get your doggy fix
Been on the road for a while and miss your pet? Consider a doggy picnic with Palomino Animal Soul. Regional fruits, coffee, home-made pitta bread and dips are the perfect accompaniment to the beach dog-walking sessions offered by this non-profit organization. All the proceeds go back to its animal shelter to support the rescue and care of homeless cats and dogs in the area.
Learn to surf
Palomino has some of the best waves on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Scattered along the beaches are a few surf schools, with surfboards and stand-up paddleboards for rent. If you’re a beginner, it’s recommended that you take a lesson with a professional instructor – the ocean has strong currents.
Go tubing on the Palomino River
After a short walk through the jungle, with awesome views of mountains, you’ll reach the bed of the Palomino River, from where you can tube directly to the beach. Sit back, relax and idle away a few hours floating down the tranquil waters towards the sea. It’s pretty simple to arrange yourself, but you may also be able to ask at your accommodation for excursion options. A trek through the jungle of Tayrona National Park and river tubing are included in Culture Trip’s eight-day Caribbean coast adventure.
Because Palomino is small, the easiest way to get around is on foot. Chances are, you’ll arrive in town by bus or minivan. They usually drop off passengers at the main petrol station. From there, walk the 15 or 20 minutes to the beach, where you’ll find most of the accommodation options. On arrival, you’ll also see several moto-taxis that will take you to your lodging at a reasonable price.
Palomino may be small, but the usual rules of travel caution apply, including never leaving your drink unattended, and securing your valuables in a safe or locker at your accommodation. The biggest danger is the ocean, with its strong currents – if you are warned not to swim due to prevailing conditions, take heed and find a pool instead. Always take a guide with you when trekking, since most trails are unmarked.
Interested in joining a small group of like-minded people to explore the country? Sign up for Paradise Found: a Taste of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast and see wildlife, mangrove forests and magnificent architecture.