Guide books from just a few years back paint Palomino as a pictoresque, unspoiled fishers' village . Its current (2019) situation is, however, far from idyllic: for a few years now, the town has been overrun with tourists and streets sellers, and has therefore lost most of its peaceful and quiet character (not to say that there is no enjoyment in it, however). To add insult to injury, it lies within the area of influence of paramilitary groups, specifically the "Pachencas", who exert territorial control in the area and extort local businesses. On occassion, the town and its surroundings have seen violence derived from this state of affairs; recently, a newlywed couple was murdered on the way to Palomino.
Most of the restaurants and hostels are located on the dirt road connecting the beach with the main road where the busses are going. This dirt road is the "gringo" part of the city which is not necesarily a bad thing, as some of the places are really nice and the city has seen a lot of improvement - unfortunately also a signoficant increase in prices.
Palomino has a long (approx. 5km) white beach with an average temperature of 28°C. You can also see the snow peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta from the beach, if the clouds permit. The ocean can be very rough near the shore, but once you get past the point where the waves are breaking, you can enjoy a nice swim.
You can arrive by public transport (bus, minibus and taxi) or private car.
Take the main highway (90) from Santa Marta towards Riohacha. Palomino is located at KM72, about 1 hour.
Buses from Santa Marta to Palomino cost COP 10,000 (july 2018). They leave from near the "mercado" at the intersection of Calle 11 and Carrera 11. The approximate travel time is 1 hour 45 minutes. There are also buses running directly from the "Terminal de Transporte de Santa Marta" and passing by Palomino. Companies like "Copetran", "Expreso Brasilia, etc. for 15,000 COP (September 2015). You can wait for one of the buses at "La Bomba" if coming from Minca, but since they usually only leave when full there might not be space and it would have been quicker to just catch a bus back into town. You shouldn't have this problem if trying to get on from the highway outside Tayrona, since passengers get off there, leaving vacant seats.Marsol has a direct door-to-door service from Cartagena (75.000 COP - about 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic) which you can book in some hostels, ask around.
Taxis can be up to COP150,000 (Nov 2014) - be prepared to bargain - but the trip takes only 1 hour.
It is about a 20 minute walk to the beach from the highway, there will be plenty of mototaxis waiting at the bus stop to take you down for COP3,000.
The snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains while lying on the beach. Also the sunset tends to be really nice ať the beach.
There are many restaurants along the beach, along the road to the beach and on the highway. The general rule is like anywhere - the closer to the beach you get, the more expensive. The Restaurants on the mainroad offer mostly local dishes, but as of 2018, the prices are not much different, and generaly higher than in other cities. As of 2018 expect to pay at least 10000 for a lunch.
A beer or a coconut on the beach (or anywhere else) will both cost you about COP3,000 - COP5,000. If you want to save some money on beer, get the 0.75l bottle (Aguila Grande) at the shop at the main road for 3500 COP.
There are many hostels that offers dorms, camping and hammocks (use their tents/hammocks or bring your own). Most of these are not on the main booking websites. The cheapest options are on the mainland-side of the main road, and thus a bit further form the beach.
Once in Palomino, tell the bus driver to drop you off at the TIENDA DE LEOPOLDO and take the road in front of you which is the main road to the beach (carrera 6) . Walk 3 blocks on direction to the beach until you see pizzeria LA FRONTERA, then turn left. Tribe is the first door you'll see once you turn left.
Buses leave frequently back to Santa Marta from the opposite side of the road to where you were dropped off. You can also get out at one of the entrances to Tayrona. Marsol has a direct door-to-door service to Cartagena for 79.000 COP (February '19) and takes about 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic. You can pre-book at their office in Palomino which is located opposite of service station Estacion El Papi.