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.
- Enjoy the long beach, either in one of the bars directly on the beach, or anywhere else. The beach is so that finding a nice spot under palm tree with very little people around is quite easy. Bringing your own beer is possible and alowed by the cops.
- Ecological walk into the Sierra Nevada.
- Visit to indigenous communities.
- Relax in a hammock overlooking the sea with a good book.
- Horseback riding on the beach.
- Tubing down the Palomino river to the ocean. As soon as you get off the bus, the motor taxi drivers will come and you can negotiate the price for the tube. Tube rental is about $10,000 pesos, but with a guide, it could range from $20,000 pesos to $30,000 pesos. You can get the mototaxi to drive you where you will start your hike. The hike takes 30 to 40 minutes hiking up and down the mountain, however it is not very strenuous. Although the hike 'can' be done wearing flip-flops (locals do it) it is recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes—especially sneakers. Make sure you bring a waterproof bag or backpack as you will be floating down the river with all your belongings and everything will get wet. Alternatively, leave anything that can't get wet in town. If you are staying in any hotel in town they can arrange the tubing for you. It is relaxing and fun.
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.
- El Fogón is a small Restaurant at the end of the Mainroad (when coming from Santa Marta). One of the view Restaurants that offers good food, to reasonable prices. You get a really good Vegeterian Meal (includes soup and Lemonade) for 10,000, and a Fruitjuice for 3,000. The young owner loves Electro Music, so if you wanna escape the Latin Musik for a meal, eat there.
- Arepa Rellena if you wanna try this traditional colombian dish a bit different, try this place. It is before the right hand gasstation (coming from Santa Marta) one block to the right. The owner is a very interesting young lady, that will make you also a great fruitjuice.
- Rancho Paisa a really really good menu del dia place. 8000 pesos for a tasty soup, fresh maracuya juice and a big main course. They had classic colombian dishes like Ajioca and Paisa Tipica some days for the menu del dia when i was there. Very friendly owners and staff. They also bake a range of savory and sweet pastries every day. Try the pan chocolate for 1500 pesos! Great breakfast for 6000 as well. It is located on the main road through town, opposite the petrol station where the buses stop. It has a large tatched (leaves) roof at the front but no sign when i was there... always busy. Dec 2015
- Panaderia just when you enter on the dirt road going to beach, on your right side is a bakery with chocolate croisants, and other pastery filled with ham, cheese etc. Piece for 1500. Probably the cheapest way to eat, and really convenient if you want to spend full day on beach.
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.
- A Luna This little, familiar Hostel is the perfect Spot to relax. 3 Minutes walk to the Mainroad and 10 Minutes to the Beach, it is close to everything. With a super clean kitchen, bathrooms, hammocks you will feel at home. This house is an eyecatcher. Per Person it is 25,000 COP per night for the dormbeds, with shared bathroom. As a couple you can get a room with private bathroom for 35, 000 each per night. Or one of the dorms on your own, if you are lucky (one has a Matrimonial), for 25,000 each.
- Palomino Soul is a small but really beautiful camping 3 minutes close to the beach. A little swimmingpool is in the centre of the spot. Tents you can get for 15,000 per Person. Hammoks for 10,000 (without moskito net). The owner is a extremly nice couple, who life there with you.
- La Aldea very nice hostel, with dorms (25,000 COP), hammocks (12,000 COP) or place for tent (10,000 COP). The owners are a very nice couple, the atmosphere is very familial, people are playing guitare all the time.
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.
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