Before I traveled to Palomino, I was warned by other travelers, “Once you arrive in Palomino, you never want to leave!”. It’s a real backpacker village and it’s true, plenty of travelers have stayed in this cute village and some have even decided to live there. I also found it a fantastic destination and would have loved to stay there even longer!
Most streets in the village are unpaved and the inhabitants have a clear reason for that; Palomino must remain authentic and as soon as a paved road is laid, it will become much busier. And it can certainly get quite busy in high season.
What to do in Palomino?
What makes Palomino so popular is its great laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. There are not very many sights to see, but the tranquility makes up for everything.
There is no ATM in the village, so bring plenty of cash. There are a few stores where you can get cash, but it’s not a guarantee!
One of the most popular and fun activities in Palomino is tubing: floating on a large inflated tire. Palomino is situated between two rivers that flow into the sea. The rivers are fairly calm and therefore perfect for a relaxed tubing trip.
Several hotels and tour operators offer tubing tours in Palomino. The tour starts with an exciting ride on the back of the motorcycle with the giant inflated tire under your arm. This already raises the adrenaline levels! Next is a hike of about 30 to 60 minutes through the jungle (still with the giant tire). The hiking time depends a bit on which tour you book.
Now that you’re nicely sweaty, you can finally jump into the refreshing water. All the tires are tied together making it one big floating fun fleet. The larger the group, the more entertaining the tour is! Crack open a cold beer and keep your eyes open for wildlife. The tour guide takes on the task of helmsman using his sandals as efficient paddles.
At the end of the route you end up on the beach after which you have to walk a bit to get back to the village.
Don’t forget: a waterproof bag, sunscreen, swimsuit, water.
Relaxing on the beach
Palomino beach is not what it once was. Climate change and increased weather conditions have wiped out most of the beach and only a small strip remains. Especially at the village, there is very little beach left.
Nevertheless, you can easily lay out your towel between the trees. If you walk a little further, then the beach after about 10 minutes already somewhat larger.
The sea can be quite rough and there is often a strong current. Therefore, always be careful when you go swimming.
Palomino is a backpacker village and that means there are plenty of parties!
For example, there is always something fun to do at Dreamer Hostel and they also often know the locations of other fun parties. This is also one of the best places to meet other travelers.
How to get to Palomino?
The only ways to travel to Palomino are by bus or cab.
From Tayrona: The entrance to Tayrona Park is on the same road to Palomino. Wait along the road and hold buses heading east. Often you only have to wait a few minutes for a bus to get here. Ask the bus driver if it actually goes to Palomino and about 45 minutes later you will be in the village.
From Santa Marta: Buses to Palomino leave from Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta. The bus ride takes about 1.5 hours.
From Minca: You first travel by minibus to Santa Marta where you can change to the bus to Palomino.
From Cartagena: It is also possible to travel from Cartagena to Palomino, but this ride takes a total of almost 7 hours. First, travel by cab to Cartagena Transportation Terminal in about 45 minutes. The drive to Palomino is then about 6 hours.