The center of Palomino consists of a long dirt road that connects the village with the beach. Most accommodations and restaurants are located on that road or along the beach. It is a 15-minute walk from the village to the beach and next to the many restaurants, you often come across stray hippies selling nice bracelets along the way. You also have to be in Palomino for a handmade, typical Colombian bag! Although Palomino was once a cozy fishing village, it has turned into a tourist resort in recent years. Most Dutch, French and German people do not skip Palomino during their tour of Colombia and we understand why. There is a nice, laidback atmosphere in this village. Exactly what you need after a trekking in Tayrona Park. Although we had booked three nights, we ended up staying there for more than a week.
Tubing in Palomino
The best known (and only) activity in Palomino is tubing. With a rubber band you float for hours on the river. The area is beautiful and you will automatically reach the sea. From there you can walk back to the center of Palomino in less than half an hour. Put on sunglasses, drink in your hand and go! Along the way you pass a few places where you can buy drinks (read: a cool box by the side of the river). There are travel agencies everywhere in Palomino where you can reserve tubing. Often you can also arrange this through the reception of your accommodation. You will be brought to the river by motorbike. There you have to walk a bit up to the starting point. Tubing is standard with a guide and we received a life jacket. Afterwards we turned out to be the only one and it was totally unnecessary because it was shallow everywhere, so (as long as you have a swimming diploma) I would refuse this. Take enough sunscreen with you and possibly put on a shirt against burning.
Beach in Palomino
Palomino has an elongated beach where you can sunbathe and walk. Don’t expect bounty beaches, but a nice place to relax. When you walk to the beach it can be first quite busy and you will find many beach vendors (with delicious cashew nuts) and musicians. If you don’t like that, it’s better to walk a bit further … then you almost have the beach to yourself! There are also several beach bars where you can buy a nice drink and use lounge beds. The sea has a strong current which makes swimming difficult and even discouraged. If you are looking for a quieter beach, take a look at the surrounding beaches such as Costeño and Las Camarones.
Sleeping in Palomino
There are many nice accommodations in Palomino. Keep in mind that the wifi is poor in most places (even though it is offered everywhere) and hot showers are scarce in this area. Given the Caribbean climate, that is not a problem. We always stay in double rooms with private bathroom. In Palomino we have slept in different accommodations and two of them are recommended. Casa Colibri is a good low-budget option in the middle of the village. This cozy accommodation is run by a Belgian (give Joachim our regards) and he will gladly help you on your way in Palomino. Moreover, at Casa Colibri they understand exactly what we find important: clean rooms and good coffee! Do you have a little more budget? Then take a look at Villa Trinidad Palomino. This accommodation is slightly outside the center but the Bali-style garden is more than worth it. The swimming pool, the lovely chill spots and the beautiful rooms … take me back, please!
- There is a direct bus from Barranquilla to Palomino which takes about 4.5 hours (according to the website 3 hours). Tickets cost 20,000 COP per person and you can easily reserve them online using BusBud.
- There is also a direct bus from Cartagena to Palomino. This takes about 8 hours and the tickets cost 32,000 COP. You can also easily reserve this online. In addition, there are shuttle services from Marsol and Berliner between Palomino and Cartagena. According to the website, these smaller buses take 5 to 6 hours. Unfortunately, this also took us a few hours longer and Berlinas has less legroom than the large bus from Brasilia. Because of this, in combination with the large price difference (79,000 COP p.p), we see no benefits to use this shuttle service. The large buses from Brasilia and Unitransco are comfortable and have a toilet on board.
- To and from Tayrona Park you can simply take a bus on the main road. It takes over an hour and we had to pay 7000 COP from Palomino to Tayrona (Calabazo entrance).
- First take the local bus (leave every 10 minutes on the main road) to Santa Marta (10,000 COP) and then change to a direct bus to Cartagena (23,000 to 30,000 COP).
- Grab a taxi to Mengueo (5,000 COP p.p). Get there on the direct bus (Expreso Brasilia) to Cartagena (35000 COP p.p). The advantage of this is that it only stops in Santa Marta and Barranquilla and therefore does not pick up other people on the way. The bus leaves every half hour and takes about 7.5 hours from Palomino to the bus terminal in Cartagena. From there you can take a taxi to the center, depending on the crowds this will take another half an hour.