Best things to do in Palomino, Colombia’s hippie beach village

The bests things to do in Palomino include doing absolutely nothing and relaxing at the beach or hotel pool. A Caribbean beach, swaying palm trees, magical sunsets, stunning places to stay, pink flower bushes and lush jungle? It’s a quick summarization of the tropical beach town Palomino in the north of Colombia. This great beach destination is known as one of the ultimate backpacker spots and hippie towns in Colombia and should definitely be part of your Colombia travel itinerary. It’s the ultimate destination to relax at the beach or your hotel pool, as it isn’t packed with sights and highlights. Still interested in some fun things to do at Palomino? Continue reading for the best things to do in Palomino and our practical tips.

Palomino | reisroute in Colombia | Guatapé | The Orange Backpack

How to get to Palomino in Colombia?

Palomino is a beach destination on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast. The village is located in the east, so towards the border with Venezuela.

The coastal town is located near many other tourist destinations in Colombia. The popular Tayrona National Park and the jungle of the famous Lost City Trek are both just around the corner. Jungle destination Minca, Santa Marta with its airport and colorful Cartagena are also located in this part of Colombia. Palomino is therefore almost always easy to fit in on your Colombia itinerary.

Of all the destinations in the north, Santa Marta is the most central city. From Santa Marta, a bus service goes east past Tayrona National Park to Palomino. The bus journey takes about 2 hours in total. If you travel to Palomino from, for example, Cartagena or Minca, it will be via Santa Marta where you can switch to this bus.

Practical: there are no ATMs in Palomino, so bring enough cash with you. It also lacks good supermarkets and has only small tiendas with the bare essentials. So if you plan to cook your own meals in your hostel, it is a good idea to buy your groceries at your previous travel destination. Internet is also very unreliable here – which is why this is not a popular place among digital nomads – but with a local SIM card you almost always have coverage.

Palomino | reisroute in Colombia | Guatapé | The Orange Backpack

Where to stay in Palomino

Palomino’s unique places to stay are one of two reasons – the other being the Caribbean beach, of course – to travel to this destination in Colombia. Many hostels and hotels in Palomino are located directly on the beach and have a beautiful swimming pool with sunbeds. Accommodations are also beautifully built with natural materials and palm leaf roofs, which fits perfectly with this Caribbean destination! And for those who are not necessarily looking for the hippie shops and restaurants of Palomino, but mainly want to relax on the beach, there are also beautiful beach resorts and hotels along the Caribbean north coast outside of Palomino.

The most beautiful hostels and hotels in Palomino:

#1 Tiki Hut Hostel for a budget-friendly hostel with an outdoor swimming pool, tropical garden and its own restaurant. Guests stay in picturesque palm leaf huts scattered around the pool and in the garden. There are also many organized activities, making Tiki Hut a great place to meet fellow travellers.

#2 Casa del Pavo Real Boutique Hostel for a hostel that can compare in style and comfort to a boutique hotel. There are free bicycles, the hotel has its own private beach and an outdoor swimming pool in the gardens, and guests can enjoy meals in the on-site restaurant serving Caribbean and fish dishes.

#3 Dreamer Palomino for one of the most popular hostels in Palomino. In the tropical gardens are an outdoor pool with hammocks, a volleyball court and an on-site restaurant. The location a few meters from the Palomino Beach is perfect.

#4 Casa Juana Palomino for a unique place to stay with palm leaf roofs, located in a tropical garden. The hotel gets high review ratings for its relaxed atmosphere, lovely gardens, friendly staff and delicious breakfast.

#5 Hotel La Finca Buritaca for a stunning luxury hotel on the Caribbean coast, located between Palomino and Tayrona National Park. The small-scale hotel has a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool, a shared lounge and a garden. In their positive reviews, guests call La Finca Buritaca a paradise because of the intimate atmosphere, the beautiful gardens with exotic animals, the free kayak tour and the spacious rooms.

#6 UUTTAAKA Eco-Hotel for a sustainable eco-hotel on the beach east of Palomino. This unusually designed hotel consists of stacked hexagonal hotel rooms, each with a balcony overlooking the sea. The somewhat secluded beach location and unique architecture make this one of the most special places to stay at Palomino.

Casa del Pavo Real Boutique Hostel Palomino

Is Palomino worth visiting?

Opinions about Palomino as a must-visit destination in Colombia are divided. It is said that the beach town is not worth it, because it is overrun by tourists and there are no beautiful beaches. We understand that criticism, but we think Palomino is a wonderfully relaxed place to fit in between the many sights of Colombia.

Palomino is indeed very popular with tourists and the tiny coastal town is mainly travelers-oriented. Although the idea of a rustic dirt road from the highway to Playa Palomino sounds very idyllic, don’t expect an authentic, local experience. Instead, Palomino is full of hippy shops, Western restaurants and gorgeous hotels and hostels. That does sound good to us for a few days or relaxing, but it’s not authentic or idyllic.

Palomino beach is also not the most beautiful in the Caribbean. In fact, Playa Palomino is very small. The main beach, Palomino Beach, is located between the Rio Palomino and Rio San Salvador rivers, and is just a narrow strip of sand. The beach has been eroding for a number of years and, especially at high tide, there is only a narrow strip left. It is therefore best to visit the beach during low tide or go to another beach. The more you go east, in the direction of the Rio San Salvador, the more beautiful the beaches are. Especially near the river are nice beaches, but it does take a long beach walk to get there.

Another big downside: you can’t swim at Palomino Beach. The current in the sea is too strong, so you cannot go deep into the water for a swim and you’ll have to stay near the beach. You will always see a few who do try, but only with a lot of effort and often some assistance to get back ashore.

That sounds like quite a few negatives, but we still think Palomino is definitely worth a visit on your tour through Colombia. We loved the relaxed atmosphere, the wonderful idleness, the beautiful accommodations with tropical gardens and the delicious restaurants. Many other destinations in Colombia are all about activities, sights and plans. Palomino is then a great relaxing destination to do nothing for a while and enjoy a short break. Especially if you know about the downsides in advance and don’t have sky-high expectations, you can fully enjoy this relaxed coastal town.

Palomino | reisroute in Colombia | The Orange Backpack

6 best things to do in Palomino

Palomino is highly recommended to visit in Colombia because of its relaxed atmosphere and Caribbean beach. It is not a destination for people who like to plan their days full of sightseeing and activities. There is actually not much to do. Visitors mainly come for relaxing at the beach or lazing by the hotel pool. This makes Palomino a very popular destination after the intensive, multi-day Ciudad Perdida hike or after hiking in the Tayrona National Park. But for those who still want to do some activities in Palomino, there are fun things to do as well. Continue reading for the best things to do in Palomino!

#1 Relaxing at the Palomino beach

Of course you visit Palomino for the tropical beach, located between the two rivers Rio Palomino and Rio San Salvador. Bring some drinks, find a nice spot and enjoy the sun. Take a beach walk along the water and enjoy relaxing beach days under the palm trees! Palomino Beach is especially beautiful during sunset, so don’t miss the golden hour.

The main beach Playa Palomino is located between the Rio Palomino and Rio San Salvador, but is actually not the most beautiful beach in the area. The beach is slowly eroding and especially at high tide, only a narrow strip is left. It is therefore best to visit the beach during low tide or go to another nearby beach. If you make a beach walk towards Rio San Salvador, you will find more beautiful and wider parts of the beach.

#2 Tubing the river to the Palomino beach

If you think of tubing as drunk teenagers floating down the river with cans of beer in their inflatable tires, you should try tubing in Palomino. At this destination, tubing is all about the Rio Palomino and its beautiful jungle environment with wildlife!

You will be taken up the mountain on a motorbike with your tire, from where you will float downstream to the sea in your tire. If you go early in the morning, you have a chance to see monkeys and all kinds of exotic birds along the way! We went as early as possible and were alone on the river with our guide. The silence and awakening nature were beautiful. You return the tires at the end on the beach to your guide. Then you’ll have the option of walking back to Palomino on the beach (or taking a motor taxi). Or find a nice spot to relax on the beach.

Tip: use sunscreen or even better: wear a shirt and pants. Even in the early morning, you can easily get sunburn. Because you’re in the water, sunscreen isn’t the best option and thin clothes would work best. Trust us, we would have loved to know this.

#3 The hippie shops and restaurants

The village of Palomino is located on the main highway from Santa Marta and the small town is still quite far from the beach. From the motorway where the bus will drop you off, a dirt road leads to Playa Palomino. This sandy main street is the main place to go in the village, as it is lined with great restaurants, places to stay, souvenir shops and also lush green fields and palm trees. Palomino is often called a hippie village because of the relaxed atmosphere and the souvenir shops where you can buy handmade jewelry, knotted tops and colorful bags for a small price.

We already mentioned the great restaurants of Palomino. We can recommend Casa Cocotte, Holls, Juntos, Pizzeria La Frontera and SUA. You can also enjoy a great meal along the beach in many places, where you can relax with your feet in the sand.

#4 Surfing

Although Palomino is not a big surfing destination, you can also go for surfing lessons and there are some options for renting boards. Dreamer Hostel is a well-known place to rent boards and equipment, but there are more hotels and places where you can go to rent a board.

#5 Unique places to stay

Palomino offers the most special places to stay for an affordable price. How about a hut with a palm leaf roof on the bounty beach or a huge tree house? In fact, for us and many other travelers this one of the main reasons to go to Palomino. Nowhere else in Colombia will you find this many beautiful tropical hostels and hotels with palm leaf roofs, wonderful outdoor swimming pools with sun beds and exotic gardens with palm trees.

#5 The perfect base to explore the area

Palomino is also a great base for some day trips in the area, such as to the popular Tayrona National Park, the jungle at Minca, the Quebrada Valencia waterfalls and a flamingo sanctuary at Camarones. However, we would not recommend a day trip to Tayrona from Palomino, but rather from a hotel or hostel near Tayrona National Park itself.

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