The 7 best things to do in Palomino

Palomino is a small town on the Caribbean coast and the ultimate place to unwind after visiting Tayrona National Park or completing the Lost City Trek. In Palomino, you'll find a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere where you can chill for a few days and enjoy the sun, sea, and beach. Attend a party, take a long beach walk, and tube on the river. We'll provide you with the best tips for this laid-back village in the north of Colombia!

How to get to Palomino?

Most travelers take the bus to Palomino. You will be dropped off at the main road, near the gas station. From here, you can take a motorcycle taxi or tuktuk to get to your accommodation. Of course, you can also take a taxi to Palomino. Keep in mind that there are no paved roads besides the main road, and a taxi may not reach every hotel or hostel. Fortunately, there are tuktuks and motorcycle taxis available in Palomino.

From Tayrona National Park to Palomino

To go from Tayrona National Park or your accommodation nearby to Palomino, you can flag down a bus traveling east on the main road. If you want to make sure you're on the right bus, you can ask if it goes to Palomino. In general, all buses stop here, as the main road passes through Palomino. It's approximately a 30-minute to one-hour ride, depending on where you board.

From Santa Marta to Palomino

Buses to Palomino depart from Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta in Santa Marta. If you're coming from Santa Marta Airport, it's a 20-minute taxi ride to get there. However, this bus terminal is located far outside the city center, so it may not be the best option if you're staying in Santa Marta. Local buses also depart from a small bus stop behind the central market (Mercado Central), quite close to the center. You can find the exact location here. These buses operate from early morning until 6 PM. They depart once the bus is full, but you typically wait between 15 and 30 minutes.

The journey from Santa Marta to Palomino takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on how frequently the bus stops. The cost is around 4 USD.

From Cartagena to Palomino

To reach Palomino from Cartagena, you first need to go to the Cartagena Transportation Terminal to catch a bus. This is a 45-minute taxi ride, or you can take a local bus, which may take about an hour. The bus line you need is X104, departing every 20 minutes from La Bodeguita station near the port.

From the terminal, there are luxurious and comfortable buses to Palomino. Two reputable bus companies operating this route are Expreso Brasilia and Unitransco. Both are safe and well-established companies. Tickets can be booked online via Busbud, but they are also available for purchase at the terminal. We recommend Expreso Brasilia based on positive experiences in Colombia. The journey from Cartagena to Palomino takes approximately 6 hours and costs between 18 and 20 USD.

What is the best time to travel to Palomino?

The best time to visit Palomino is during the dry season, which runs from December to March and then from June to August. During these months, the weather is typically sunny and dry. Keep in mind that Palomino has a tropical climate, and short, intense rain showers can occur even during the dry season.

What to do in Palomino?

Palomino is a tranquil coastal town, but there are certainly enjoyable activities to do in the surrounding area. We've compiled the best tips for you.

Tip: Many blogs mention that there is no ATM in Palomino. This was indeed the case until recently, but now there is one. However, it may be out of order, or your card may not work. Our advice is to bring enough cash for your stay in Palomino. If you need to withdraw money and can't do so at the ATM in Palomino, there is an ATM a 20-minute drive away in the village of Mingueo.

1. Tubing over the Rio Palomino

Tubing on the river is by far the most well-known activity in Palomino. But what is tubing exactly? It's nothing more than drifting down the river towards the sea on a large inflated inner tube. Don't expect an adrenaline rush, but enjoy a leisurely float while sipping on a drink and taking in the jungle scenery. With a bit of luck, you might spot some wildlife. Along the river, you can find howler monkeys, parrots, ospreys, and toucans.

You'll see tubes everywhere in Palomino, and locals will ask if you're interested in tubing. You then hop on the back of a motorcycle, with the tube over your shoulder, and you're taken to a hut where you can purchase a ticket. On the way, you can ask the driver to stop at a supermarket to grab some drinks. Then, the climb uphill begins, and at some point, the motorcycle can't go any further. You walk a bit through the jungle with your tube until you reach the starting point on the river. You then jump into the tube and float gently towards the sea. Once there, you can return the tube and walk back to Palomino along the beach. Or, take some time to relax at Playa Los Cocos (tip 4). You're now very close to it.

2. Go wild at a beach party.

Around Palomino, fun beach parties are often organized. When we were there, there was a Full Moon party just outside the village. Expect mainly tourists and not many locals, but it's a lot of fun to experience on the Caribbean coast. We took motorcycle taxis to get to the party. When we left the party early in the morning, they were already waiting at the exit to take us back to Palomino.

3. Enjoy the view of snow-capped mountain peaks

From Palomino, you have a magnificent view of the Sierra Nevada. This is the highest coastal mountain range in the world. The highest peak, Pico Cristóbal Colón (Gonawindua), is an impressive 5,775 meters (18,947 feet) above sea level. It's truly amazing to be able to see snow-capped mountain peaks from the tropical beach. Throughout the day, the mountaintops are often hidden in the clouds. Early in the morning, the weather is usually clearest.

4. Relax on Playa Los Cocos

he beach in Palomino can get quite crowded, especially on sunny days when the sea is calm. Especially if you're in Palomino during the high season, between December and February, you may seek a quieter spot on the beach. In about 20 to 30 minutes, you can walk to the much calmer Playa Los Cocos. The beach is on the other side of the river, which means you have to walk through the river mouth to get there. It's best to visit this beach when the sea is calm.

5. Spot flamingos in the wild

A very cool and relatively unknown excursion to take from Palomino is visiting Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos. This is a nature reserve just over an hour from Palomino. You take a trip on a sailboat with a local guide and can spot many flamingos. There is not much information online, but you can easily find a tour guide in Palomino. If this is not possible or you prefer to book online, GetYourGuide offers a tour, but it is a bit pricey.

6. Take a beach walk to Rio San Salvador

Had enough relaxation in Palomino and in the mood for something active? Take a delightful beach walk to the San Salvador River east of Palomino. It takes just under an hour, and the beach becomes increasingly beautiful as you get closer. The beach here is wider than in Palomino itself, and there are more palm trees.

7. Pay a visit to the dog shelter

During your stay in Palomino, you will notice that there are a considerable number of stray dogs. The founders of Dogshelter Palomino want to address this issue and rescue as many dogs as possible. To receive donations for the dog shelter, they organize daily Dog Walking Tours at 08:00 AM and 3:00 PM. You can also book trips with a guide and dogs through their website.

The funds from donations are used to care for the dogs and to sterilize stray dogs, preventing them from reproducing.

If you don't want to take a walk but still visit the dog shelter, they have recently opened a café where you can enjoy a drink in the company of the dogs.

Do you want to read more about Colombia?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Colombia.

Do you want to read more about Colombia?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Colombia.

About the authors

How nice that you are on our website and that you have read this article! We are Mirte and Matthew, two Dutch adventurers with a passion for traveling, discovering cultures, and gaining new experiences. We've translated our love for the world into this website. We hope our articles inspire you to go on adventures! You can learn more about us through the button below.
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