Palomino is the kind of place where you could easily spend two weeks: a sleepy coastal community beloved by backpackers and travelers, with a gorgeous beach and the majestic mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Manta. However, many people traveling on the Colombian Caribbean coast don’t have time to hang around, so here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of 24 hours.
The best way to maximize 24 hours in Palomino is to arrive in the late afternoon, at around 4pm. Make your way from the main street where the buses drop you off, down towards the beach where all the hotels and hostels are located. The Tiki Hut and Dreamer hostels are highly recommended. While they cost more than the average, they have excellent swimming pools and quality facilities, with the beach just a stone’s throw away.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer a more secluded retreat, Playa La Roca Ecohotel is an excellent option just outside of town. Head there for a pool, wellness center, private garden and direct access to the beach. You can stay as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Colombian Caribbean adventure, led by our Local Insider.
Once you’ve unpacked and settled in, wander down to the beach to enjoy the beautiful Caribbean sunset. You’ll find plenty of other travelers doing the same thing, usually with some beers or cocktails. Head back to your hostel for dinner – the Dreamer’s pizzas are particularly good – and a few bottles of local beer produced in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. The Happy Toucan ale is especially drinkable.
The next morning, make sure you wake up bright and early to enjoy your main activity: a tubing trip down the gorgeous Palomino River. Rent a tube from one of the many vendors outside the hostels, and head up into the Sierra Nevada on the back of a motorbike taxi (also included in your tube rental). Once the bike drops you off, you’ll need to hike for another 30 minutes, then jump into the cooling waters of the stunning mountain river and float back to the sea.
The whole trip usually takes between two and three hours, but you can easily stretch it out a bit longer by stopping at one of the many little river beaches and spending time sunbathing and swimming. Keep an eye out for monkeys and toucans in the towering trees overhead as you meander down the river.
Once you reach the end of your tubing trip, it will be around lunchtime. Head for a table at one of the shacks alongside the river mouth, and take your pick from the plates of fresh fish on display. Enjoy your lunch with a cold beer just meters from the sparkling blue Caribbean waters.
When you’ve finished eating, walk back down the beach towards Palomino. There will still be time for one more excellent experience before you leave: a massage organized through your hostel or hotel. Our advice is to book one in the morning before heading out on your tubing trip. There aren’t many more relaxing experiences in Colombia than lying in the warm Caribbean sun enjoying a massage, especially after spending all morning lying in a rubber tube on the river.
Once your massage is done, it’ll be almost time to go, but you will definitely have made the most of your time in Palomino.