A perfect place to cap off your Caribbean coast adventure is the beach town of Palomino. Calling it a town is a bit of an overstatement as there's not much more to Palomino than an empty beach—most of it un-swimmable due to riptides.
If you're looking for warm turquoise water, don't come here. But if you're okay with a slightly rugged beach and few crowds, then Palomino might just be your version of paradise.
Easily reached by public bus from Tayrona ($5.000COP) or Santa Marta ($8.000COP), Palomino has become somewhat of an obligatory stop for backpackers on the coastal trail. That said, crowds simply aren't a thing here, as those who make the effort to come out are few in number.
Yet despite the few tourists, finding accommodation can be more difficult than you imagine, especially if you want a view of the (sometimes) blue water. There are several options on the lower end—beach hammocks and hostels—and some on the higher end, but the best hotel we found was right in the middle. (Cue the "Story of Goldilocks"!)
La Sirena Eco Hotel is next door to the popular Finca Escondida, but it's a world away in terms of food and lodging. I kid you not when I say that our breakfasts and lunches here were some of the best food I've had in a long time. Honestly, even if you don't stay here, eat here. It's that good!
I mean, this plate is the "pancake" breakfast...
With a view.
We stayed in a Seaside Casita room, complete with an open air shower with a view of the palm trees and beach and a comfortable bed. The typical rate is about US$80, although La Sirena graciously comp'ed our stay. Breakfast is included in the room rate, as is unlimited coffee and tea and filtered water. That's pretty awesome for a beach town!
The other nice thing about La Sirena is that it offers daily yoga classes ($15.000COP). There's nothing quite like enjoying a savasana to the sounds of the waves.
Speaking of waves, the guidebooks aren't lying when they tell you that you can't really swim in the ocean. Riptides can be deadly here, but being on a beach makes you want to take a dip. Am I right?
If so, the best way to cool off is to go tubing in the Palomino River.
You start up in the mountains and end right in front of the Caribbean Sea, passing indigenous communities and pink flamingos along the way. The whole thing, complete with a motorbike ride from the beach, shouldn't cost you any more than $20.000COP. We paid $17.000COP by going straight to the motos parked outside of Dreamer Hostel.
Before you head up the mountain, ask to stop and pick up some snacks at the tienda in town. From there, it's a 10 minute moto ride and a 20 minute hike to the river. Allow about two hours to float down at a leisurely pace. You'll see a ton of birds and perhaps some kids, but nobody else. (We kept saying how if this were Laos, the river would be full of cocktail bars and craziness!)
Once you hit the ocean, head back into town and reward yourself with a delicious lunch at La Sirena followed by a good book in a beachside cabana hammock.
And with that, you've got the perfect ending to a Caribbean coast vacation.
Want to see more of Palomino? Check out our Palomino photo tour!
Have you visited Palomino?
Did you end up doing anything besides relaxing? Let us know in the comments!