Things to do in Palomino
Palomino is a small village on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, known for its backpacker/hippy vibe, beaches, food, and nightlife. Visiting Palomino is about taking it slow, relaxing on the beaches by day, and stargazing at night.
There are not many things to do in Palomino, but that’s what makes its laidback vibe so infectious; people come here for a proper vacation—to chill, do yoga, see wildlife, and enjoy the long, sunny days. Enjoy all the top things to do in Palomino!
Relax on Palomino Beach, Colombia
One of the top things to do in Palomino is simply to enjoy the many beaches. The main beach is called Playa Palomino (Palomino Beach), which is the most popular (although maybe not the most beautiful). Here you’ll find small beach shacks selling juices made from fresh fruit on a palm tree-fringed beach.
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There is plenty of sand at low tide for you to relax, read a book, and enjoy the sun. However, because of rising sea levels, the beach has been eroded, meaning there is not much sand at high tide.
Important Note: It’s not very safe to swim on the coast of Palomino because of strong riptides and choppy waves. Although there are coastguards and signs about where it’s safe to swim, people still get caught out; we watched a young guy get caught in the waves, needing 4 people to help him out!
Surfing and Sunsets in Palomino
Palomino Beach (Colombia) is situated between two rivers, Rio Palomino and Rio San Salvador. However, if you cross the river, you’ll find a beautiful beach with palm trees that is less harmed by the ocean. Around the beaches, you’ll also see surfing lessons advertised, which is a fun thing to do when the tide is right!
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In the evening, the sunsets are spectacular in Palomino, best enjoyed on the beach with a beer. If you’re an early riser, you can also head down to the beach at sunrise to catch a glimpse of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountains. During the day, it’s rare to see it because of the clouds, but there’s a good chance in the morning.
Visit the Dog Shelter, Palomino
Sadly, there are a lot of stray dogs in Colombia. However, there are people running shelters in Palomino to rescue and rehabilitate dogs. We went to Dog Shelter Palomino for a tour; we did a river walk with swimming and rope swings and ate a fruit picnic as we cuddled the incredible dogs.
The tour is run by a lovely couple, Fran and Miguel, in partnership with Pavo Real Hotel. It’s a great opportunity to show these beautiful fur babies some love and make a donation to support them in living healthy lives. This is one of the most memorable things to do in Palomino!
The dog shelter asks for a donation of 45,000 COP (11 USD), but you can always give more if you’re able to. They run two tours a day (morning and afternoon). Book your tour on their Instagram.
Tip: don’t forget your swimsuit so you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the river!
Tubing in Palomino, Colombia
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Palomino is tubing, where you sit in an inflated tube and float down the river. It’s the perfect way to relax with friends and slowly flow down the river until it merges with the sea. Because the current on this part of this coastline is powerful, tubing on the River Palomino is the perfect alternative.
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Book a tube tour in town, and they’ll collect you from your hotel (we stayed at Casa del Pavo Real) and drop you off close to the river. From here, it’s a 30-minute hike to the water. Once you’re in the tube, you’ll float along for 2.5 hours until you reach the endpoint. When you’re finished, you can walk or take a motorbike taxi back to the village.
Tours cost between 40,000-50,000 COP (10-12 USD), including return transportation to the river. All you’ll need to bring is reef-safe sunscreen and a waterproof bag to protect your belongings (or leave them safely locked up in your accommodation).
Tip: Ask the staff at your accommodation about the current water level; if it’s shallow, the tubing will not be possible or extremely slow.
Quebrada Valencia Waterfalls
The Quebrada Valencia Waterfalls are a great thing to do in Palomino if you have a bit of extra time. Just a 30-minute bus ride from Palomino, you’ll find these beautiful falls with a pool below. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon cooling off in the refreshing water.
Take the public bus to Santa Marta (from Carerra 6a/7a) and ask the bus driver to stop at Quebrada Valencia. Once you get off the bus, walk for 30 minutes through a beautiful green forest until you reach the falls and pools.
Tip: In the dry season, the falls can dry up, so make sure to ask the locals about the water levels before visiting.
Day Trip to Tayrona National Park
Just a short drive away, discover the incredible landscapes of Tayrona National Park. The vast protected area of land is home to some of the most stunning, unspoiled landscapes and paradise beaches. Among its 150 square kilometers, you’ll also find diverse wildlife and fantastic hiking trails that meander through lovely palm tree forests and lagoons.
The most beautiful beaches are a long hike away, but they’re less crowded. A beautiful (and closer) beach is Cabo San Juan, where you can relax on perfectly white sand and swim safely.
Entry Fee and Opening Times
- The park is open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Try to get there between 8 AM to 9 AM to avoid long queues and beat the tour groups.
- It can get very busy, so avoid weekends and major holidays.
- The entry fee is 68,500 COP (16 USD) in the high season and 57,500 COP (13.5 USD) in the low season. Buy a ticket on arrival or buy in advance online.
- Make sure to also bring your passport as identification.
How to get to Tayrona National Park
- Visit on a day trip by taking the bus from Palomino (to Santa Marta) from the highway between Carrera 6a/7a. Tickets will cost around 2 USD per ticket (ask the bus driver to stop at Tayrona).
- You can also do an organized tour for ease, but it’s cheaper to do it yourself.
- If you want to spend the night in Tayrona National Park, you can stay in huts, hammocks, or tents. Please note that there are no hotels or hostels actually inside the national park.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Palomino
There are many great places to eat in Palomino; it’s a bit of a foodie paradise! Particularly on Calle 6, you’ll find plenty of beautiful restaurants with stylish interiors. They’re all fun places to enjoy a drink, eat some food, and listen to live music. Palomino also has plenty of veggie and vegan restaurants.
Some of our favorites were:
- Casa Cocotte
- La Sierrita (Bakery)
- Salome (Tapas)
- Juntos (Bali-style restaurant)
- Casa del Pavo Real
- Playa La Ola
Tip: Water from the tap is not drinkable in Palomino, so you’ll need to buy your own or use a filtration straw (much better for the environment).
Where to Stay in Palomino, Colombia
Palomino is home to lots of beautiful hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. However, because the sea is not safe to swim in, we recommend finding accommodation with a swimming pool.
We stayed at the incredible Casa del Pavo Real, which had a bar, restaurant, jungle gym, hammocks, and an excellent breakfast (one of the best food spots in town!). The staff worked together as a small family, giving it a really friendly, intimate feel and a super relaxed atmosphere. We spent our days here chilling in the hammocks by the pool and enjoying cocktails on the comfortable sunbeds.
Pavol Real is not located on the main street, so it’s very quiet at night. Plus, it’s only a 5-minute walk from the beach! Choose from double rooms or dorms, depending on your budget (reserve Pavo Real here).
How to Visit Palomino
The best way to reach Palomino is from Santa Marta, which is only a 2-hour bus ride away. A ticket costs between 10,000-15,000 COP (2.50 – 3.50 USD). The cost is dependent on whether you leave from the center of Santa Marta or the bus station. If you’re coming from Cartagena, buses can take around 7-9 hours with a change in Santa Marta. There’s no need to pre-book the bus in advance.
Alternatively, Santa Marta has an airport with flights from major Colombian cities like Bogota and Medellin.
Getting Around Palomino
Palomino is a tiny village with a laid-back charm. You can walk almost everywhere within the town, but if you want to get to the river or other surrounding villages, consider hiring a motor taxi (similar to a tuk-tuk). You can also hire bikes at different hotels, but it’s not really necessary because everything is so close.
To reach Tayrona National Park and the Quebrada Valencia falls, you can take a public bus or join an organized tour.
How Much Does Palomino Cost?
Palomino can cost as much or as little as you want it (it has a range of accommodations and restaurants). However, because of its popularity and remote location, it is slightly more expensive than other destinations in Colombia. This is especially true if you want to visit places like Tayrona National Park (which has a slightly higher entrance fee).
- Hotel: 30 – 130 USD / night
- Hostel: 10 – 50 USD / night
- Price per meal: 3 – 10 USD
- Transport: 5 – 10 USD / day
Tip: There is no ATM in Palomino, so bring plenty of cash with you, as many places don’t accept cards. If you run out of money, there is an ATM about 6 km away from town, but you’ll need to hire a moto-taxi to take you there.
Best Time to Visit Palomino, Colombia
The best weather in Palomino is between December and March. This is the dry season when you’ll have very little rain. However, with the dry season also comes low water levels, which means you are unable to do some of the best things to do in Palomino—for example, tubing and swimming at Quebrada Valencia Waterfalls. It’s also the high season which means more expensive accommodation and busier beaches.
Instead, we recommend coming in April/May or October/November. There is a higher chance of rain, but there will be fewer people, and accommodation will be reasonably priced. You may also find places like Tayrona National Park quieter during these times.
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