If you’ve thought about travelling Colombia, then the chances are you’ve heard of Palomino, a seriously tiny town up north on the Caribbean coast that’s becoming an essential stop on the backpacker circuit. If you haven’t thought about travelling Colombia (why not?!) then the chances are you haven’t. It’s an up and coming backpacker destination that’s developing more and more each year, a bit like Pai in Thailand a few years ago. Think unspoilt white beaches, unpredictable electricity lines and a totally laid back way of living.
Now believe me when I say that Palomino is small. It’s so often compared to Pai that I had imagined it to be a similarly small town, but it’s really more of a village. It’s centred around one long road which runs from the bus drop off point right the way down to the beach; almost everything is on this sandy road but a few hostels are located down smaller dirt tracks just off it. Here you’ll find a couple of shops, five or six restaurants and only two bars that I know of. If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat from the cities, look no further! People come to Palomino to unplug and enjoy a simpler pace of life for a while – power cuts are frequent, WiFi is rare and ATMs don’t exist. This may sound like hell to some people but it makes for such a refreshing break – it does attract every wannabe white spiritualist for miles around but don’t let them put you off. It really is lovely!
Palomino’s greatest allure by far is its beach. Unfortunately the sea isn’t good for swimming as the currents are extremely strong; but the pristine white sand, coconut trees and Caribbean sunshine more than make up for it. This long stretch of beach is regarded as one of Colombia’s most beautiful, and you can relax here in peace without being bothered by anyone trying to sell you things. There may be a few friendly dogs who want to say hello though!
Palomino is hardly a party destination, but if you ever want to carry on after the hostel bars close then the beach is the place to go at night. There’s a big bonfire most nights, groups of people scattered around and locals selling alcohol. We lost track of time one night and ended up sitting out here with friends until 7am. Getting to see the sun rise over the sea was so beautiful, and one of my favourite experiences in Colombia.
I think we must have acquired about ten stray dogs this night, all of which walked us back to our hostel in the morning. One didn’t leave for two days!
Our hostel was called The Dreamer, which is the most well known hostel in Palomino and in my opinion the ONLY place to stay if you come here. It’s a little expensive for a hostel at £10 per bed (or £50 for an amazing private if you’re travelling short term), but this is because it’s practically a resort. It is everything!! It has a huge pool, comfy dorms, a busy bar area and a good restaurant. The bar is very sociable, with lots of drinking games and other activities, so it’s easy to meet people here. It also has working WiFi which is a pretty big deal in Palomino. Before I came everything I read told me there was absolutely NO WiFi in the town – we even met people who didn’t come for this reason – but at The Dreamer it was pretty reliable.
One more thing worth mentioning about Palomino is river tubing. I didn’t do this because I’m a huge wimp and would probably have whinged the whole time, but 99% of backpackers coming here do it. It costs 40,000 pesos (about £10) to do, and consists of floating down the Palomino river in a huge rubber ring for about four hours until you reach the beach. Some of our friends did this and liked it a lot!
The growing amount of tourists means Palomino is unlikely to stay this way forever – If you like the sound it, hurry up and visit!