The little beachside town of Palomino has become extremely popular with travellers over the past few years and is now practically an obligatory stop on the Colombian Caribbean backpacker trail. But what is there to actually do in Palomino? Here are the top 10 things to see and do when you visit.
The most popular activity in Palomino is a tubing trip down the Palomino River. You can hire a rubber tube throughout the town, and then you simply head up into the hills behind the town until you reach the edge of the river, whereupon you simply jump in your tube and float back downriver for a few hours until you reach the sea. It’s a peaceful and beautiful trip that really allows you to get in touch with nature.
This lovely waterfall and swimming hole is easy to visit from Palomino and makes a nice change from swimming in the sea. It’s about half an hour from the town by bus, followed by an easy 20-minute hike through the forest. Quebrada Valencia is the perfect place to relax for a few hours, enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle, and take a refreshing dip at the same time.
The Palomino beach is beautiful at any time of day, and you’re sure to find yourself spending a few hours sunbathing and swimming in the sea, but it’s a real treat to get up early and wander along the beach at first light when it’s wonderfully peaceful. If you walk down towards where the river meets the sea you can see flocks of seabirds, local fishermen, and you’ll have the whole place practically to yourself.
There are some great seafood restaurants in Palomino, and it’s just not a trip to the Colombian Caribbean without enjoying some fresh fish by the sea. Some of the best restaurants are simple, local places just alongside the river mouth, where residents cook up fresh fried fish and coconut rice just metres from the waves.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains are located right behind Palomino, and on a clear day you can actually stand with your feet in the warm Caribbean Sea and see snowcapped mountains at the same time! There’s nowhere on earth with higher mountains closer to the sea, and it’s a unique experience, to say the least.
You’re at the beach, so the trip can’t all be hiking and swimming: you want to take some time to relax as well! One of the best ways to do that is to enjoy a beachside massage – most hostels and hotels can arrange a massage for you, and the masseur will come to the hotel so you don’t even have to walk!
If you get tired of the sea then you can always grab a sun-lounger and relax by a swimming pool instead. Both The Dreamer Hostel and the Tiki Hut Hostel – just metres from the beach – count on nice swimming pools, bars, and comfy chillout areas, so book one of them if you like the idea of chilling by the pool with cocktails for a few hours.
Palomino has some good waves and is a great place for surfers, particularly beginners (the waves aren’t that big and it might be a bit dull for more hardcore and experienced surfers). You can rent boards at a few places along the beach, and even sign up for some surfing lessons if you’re not too confident alone.
Less than an hour from Palomino is the Flamingos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, alongside the little village of Camarones. You can hire a local guide and sailboat and head out onto the lagoon to see the beautiful pink birds up-close. Plus, it’s a really easy day-trip from Palomino.
La Sierrita is the best ecotourism company operating in Palomino and they can arrange a series of excellent and unique ecotours around the surrounding mountains and jungles. From birdwatching excursions to visits to local Indigenous communities, if you’re looking for something a bit different on your visit to Palomino, then get in touch and book a trip.