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Palomino, Colombia 🇨🇴
The best "small" beach town in all of Colombia...
Guest post from the Twitter broski: Ortolan
If you're reading this, it's likely you're an adventurous gentleman trying to figure out the best spots to check out during a degenerate cruise through various locales in Colombia.
Maybe you're already here — stuck in a cafe in Bogota with the rain pouring wishing for warm wind and sea water — but not wanting to catch an international flight.
Maybe you just want to add something to the Colombia itinerary. Perhaps…beaches, sunshine, and surfing?
Look no further…
Palomino is where it’s at if you want:
Partake in “cosas”
Enjoy beach time
Maybe do a lil’ surfing
Go tubing on the river
Nightlife? Not a lot. Modern amenities? No, ser. Kinda developed? Hell no.
For the in-depth intel on the best “off-the-beaten-path” beach town in Colombia…
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How to Get to Palomino 🇨🇴
Fly to Santa Marta.
Cheap flights from anywhere inside Colombia.
Spend as much time as you feel like there, but personally I don't find it a very thrilling spot.
It's the best way to jump off to Minca and Parque Tayrona, but beyond that Santa Marta doesn't have a ton to offer.
P.S: Worst women in Colombia ;(
Once you’re in Santa Marta…
There are super cheap buses, 10k COP, that leave regularly from the Mercado Público de Santa Marta.
All you have to do is say the words "Palomino" a bunch and they will take your big luggage disinterestedly, shove it in the back of their bus, and point to where you should sit.
Sit on the left side. It takes about two hours and it's relatively uncomfortable, but it's fun to look out the window at the scene as it passes you by.
Arriving in Palomino…
Once you get there, the bus drops you off at a big gas station area.
They have this “mototaxi/rickshaw” combos, so don't be afraid to bring heavy/large luggage, it'll fit on the back of these taxis.
Surprisingly, the taxi costs about the same as the bus depending on how nice the driver is — about 10k COP. Don't walk if you're staying by the beach. The roads suck ass and are muddy. Even if it looks like 10 mins, it's not worth it.
When to Visit Palomino, Colombia
Avoid September and October, which is rainy season.
Best time would be January through April.
But you'll probably never really avoid a rainy day or two per week because of the proximity to the mountains.
With that said, I was there in August and it only rained from 5PM through the night — with the daytime being amazing and clear.
Where to Stay
Basically, Palomino is divided by one main road that goes to the beach from the main road.
You don't want to stay anywhere near the main road.
There is poverty there that will make you understand why the Venezuelans went full socialism and why the Colombians voted for Petro.
It's not pretty, but it is a good spot to do grocery shopping and get some cheaper food. You want to stay on the beach
To the left of the road to the beach is where it's at -- underdeveloped and beautiful, virgin feeling land -- but there isn't a lot of places to stay.
Frankly, I think there's only one spot worth staying at in all of Palomino, but it's not as cheap as you’d think…
I stayed there for two weeks and it was fucking awesome: Good wifi, good AC, awesome clean pool, friendly, helpful staff, fully functional and well equipped kitchen, etc.
It's also in the best area of Palomino by far. I walked up and down the main beach, between the two rivers, and this Airbnb and general area are the best places to stay by far. You cannot beat the proximity to the beach and amenities.
To the right of the main road is a bunch of resorts and where the main Selina hostel is.
The problem with that part of Palomino is that it is highly, highly eroded.
Just look at this photo…
As you can see, the sea has trashed the coast and made it incredibly ugly. The locals have tried to remedy this problem by adding these huge black tires to the beach, I assume, and that's not exactly aesthetically pleasing either.
Again, I don't know much about the other resorts or hotels, but that was enough for me to confidently tell you not to stay there.
Things to Do in Palomino, Colombia 🇨🇴
So let’s break this down…
Palomino is not a party town.
The Selina Hostel and a couple other spots are ok, but nothing crazy.
What you come here for is to chill.
It's also not exactly a great spot to meet girls. Especially not locals. There were a lot of couples and the few single girls I met were with friends staying at hostels. You know how that game goes.
I would either come to Palomino with a girl or, you know, focus on yourself, king.
The beach is legit.
Depending on the day, it’s swimmable. There can be a pretty rough current, so this isn't like lounging in a lagoon. Expect decent size waves.
With that said, the beach is waste high for about 100 meters — so it's not crazy. You can rent a surfboard also, but the waves aren't huge.
Good place for beginner surfers or intermediate and probably one of the best surf spots in Colombia — but not great.
The idea with Palomino is to grab a beach towel and get some sun under some coconut trees. Meet some locals and get some psychedelics or weed from them, buy some beers from the guy on the beach selling them, and just enjoy the chill beach life.
Palomino is under developed as fuck, so you are not going to deal with resorts and the scum that comes with them.
The beaches are clean and open, plenty of room for everyone. In the area I describe above, it will feel like you are in virgin territory, with no hotels or houses. That's probably the best part of the area.
There are also great sunsets…
It's worth walking to the left of the road to hit this cool little village on stilts. I wouldn't get the food there, it's wildly overpriced for some reason — my guess is they want to price gauge gringos like me, but who knows.
Between the main road and that village is a stretch of the best beach in Palomino, and it's all fairly underdeveloped. Walk there, stick your legs in the cool water of the river, and admire where the river enters the sea and catch a crazy dope sunset. Maybe grab a beer at the stilt village.
Go river tubing.
Basically, a ton of dudes are on the main road offering the tubing experience. It's all the same people. Just walk up, say you want to go tubing, and they'll take you.
You don't need a reservation unless you know a bunch of people are going. I forget how much it cost, but its cheap.
If you're squeamish about bad ass jungle motorcycle rides, this isn't for you.
They plop you on the back of a bike, make you hold on to your tube, and then zoom through the jungle up and down some pretty gnarly, rocky hills to the main entrance where you have to hike up and then down a dirt trail for a half an hour.
You get good and sweaty, which makes the payoff at the river pretty great. They give you a guide, you buy some beers from the indigenous lady, and then you hop on and float down a gorgeous scenery for the next hour. Make sure they stop at the rope swing area — ask about it, if you speak Spanish.
Hard to get fresh meat, so you're eating out.
Some good restaurants there.
I liked 7 Mares quite a lot.
Unfortunately, there is no awesome fresh fish stand where you can get some fish straight from the ocean and fried or flame grilled on the spot. The locals are missing out on that for some reason. Maybe you can be the intrepid entrepreneur who stays and makes that happen.
Go to the gym.
There is a really cool spot called: Palomino Gym. It’s on the outskirts of the town, in the poorest area.
Like, real poor.
So maybe take a mototaxi. I walked there and I am fairly certain some kids threw rocks at me, but what am I gonna do? Fuck with kids? Also, coulda been a bird shitting a brick.
I'll never know.
Anyways, the point is that the gym is dope and run down and in the jungle. It has everything you need to get a decent workout in, costs about 6k COP for a day, and you will sweat your ass off and take some cool photos.
I went there many times in two weeks just to stay on top of things. Worth it.
Other spots nearby worth checking out:
Obviously Parque Tayrona, but I would do that from Santa Marta.
It is worth mentioning that right before Palomino is a spot called: Costeño Beach.
I haven't checked it out, but local buddies from Cali were going on vacation there and some friends who stayed there liked it a lot better than Palomino.
I haven't been there except passing through in a taxi, but I've heard good things. The hostel there that apparently holds great parties — with Colombians and backpackers alike.
Palomino, Colombia | Overall
Big ups to Ortolan on this post. Dude crushed it.
Some of the best damn Palomino intel on the web. Te lo juro.
I asked the broski to put this together because I’ve been curious about Palomino for years, as I started hearing backpackers go there way back in 2015.
Seems to be the best small beach town on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Some backpackers were hyping up the surfing, but from what the Ortolan has said…doesn’t seem like Palomino holds a candle to most Central American surf spots.
Seems like the perfect beach town to chill out in, unwind, and enjoy stunning nature.
Is Palomino safe? From the sounds of it, safe enough. Just stay in the Airbnb listed above or the Selina Hostel. Then do NOT go walking around in the super poor areas mentioned above — well, at least not at night.
Suggested length of stay? Seems like this is a spot to chill out for a weekend up to maybe two weeks. Seems a bit dull for much longer of a stay.
Comparable spots in Colombia? The only other small, chill beach town I can recommend in Colombia is Isla Fuerte.