San Andres is so beautiful!
After landing in Bogotá from Cancun in the afternoon, and getting the world’s cheapest Mani/Pedi ($12AUD for both), we made our way to San Andres early the following morning.
San Andres is a small Colombian island located in the Caribbean, close to Nicaragua. It used to be a British colony until it became part of Colombia after WWI. People there speak mostly Spanish, but also (mostly the elder generations) speak ‘Caribbean English’. Think ‘me watta’ = my water.
The flight from Bogotá took about 2 hours. When we landed we made our way straight to our accommodation on San Luis beach, located on the south eastern side of the island.
Our accommodation was a nice little 1 bedroom apartment, with a pleasant sea view. The apartment was right on the beach, which made it the ideal holiday rental. At $77 per night it was perfect, and the host was also lovely.
As we arrived a bit before check-in time, we went to one of the nearby restaurants to have lunch before checking in. Not the cheapest, but a lot of prawns for our money!
The water was so clear and warm, the beach so empty and quiet. Our accommodation provided some loungers, which made the perfect set up for a mid-afternoon nap.
We later enjoyed some time relaxing in the hammocks in the backyard, and some fresh beers on the balcony with the most gorgeous sunset. What a place!
The next day we decided to chill by our beach in the morning, and then make our way to La Piscinita on the western side of the island, a little beach club known for good snorkelling and clear water.
After a hot 20min walk across the island, we arrived at what we thought was La Piscinita. We didn’t get a warm welcome, and were told it was further down the road. A bit confusing!
So we went around the corner anyway and found another beach club where we decided to base ourselves. There was no entry fee (unlike La Piscinita). All we needed to do was to buy a couple of beers, which we happily did for 8000 pesos (about $3AUD).
That place was ideal. We were the only 2 there, surrounded by the most gorgeously clear water filled with dozens of exotic fish. True paradise. We hung around there for a while drinking our beers and swimming around the fish, before making our way back to the apartment to chill for the evening.
For our last day we decided to go ahead with one of the famous tours that you ‘need’ to do when in San Andres.
It was a full day (7 hour tour) going to Johnny Cay, Aquarium island, and a swim with Manta rays.
After looking online, we realised all the tour companies seemed to offer the same thing from the same place, so we decided to head to the area in the morning and get a tour there.
We got the bus to the city center quite painlessly (no timetable or bus stop, just hail the bus when you see it), and made our way to the busy Port area.
We didn’t really want to do a full day tour, but to do all 3 activities you kind of have to. No half day tour offered all 3 spots, so we went with one that was coming back at 4pm.
To get to Johnny Cay you need to hop on a very crowded speed boat, that takes you at the speed of light through the waves. The ride was extremely bumpy, but the views from the boat were sensational. So many shades of blue could be seen on that sea. Incredible!
As there are dozens of tour companies that offer the exact same itinerary, it came as no surprise to see hundreds of people heading at the same time to the same island. It kind of ruined it a bit, as it was VERY crowded, but the island was truly beautiful.
We went for a short walk around the island (it was very quick, the island is tiny), and then chilled by the beach for a while. We met a couple of German guys that were quite cool, so we had a drink with them waiting for the tour to move on to our next stop.
At 1pm all of the tour boats left at the same time, again in a very chaotic fashion, to head to Aquarium island, a tiny national reserve. The scenery there was again incredible. The turquoise water was cristal clear and warm. There was also a reef behind, so many fish could be seen. True paradise. Well it would have been if it wasn’t trashed by hundreds of tourists visiting every day! You can see them all walking on the reef, even though it’s fragile, and they all feed the fish. It’s just TOO BUSY!
After hanging around for a while, we made our way back and stopped on the way to swim with Manta rays. There were so many around, it was awesome to be able to swim so close to them.
At 4pm we arrived back to the port and went for a little browse of the shops. San Andres is a duty free island, so you can find hundreds of duty free shops selling perfumes, sunglasses, and other items you’d find in airports.
Overall, we had a blast in San Andres and got super lucky with the weather, despite still being the wet season. Well worth visiting if in Colombia, Costa Rica or Nicaragua.
- San Luis is the perfect area to stay in if you want beautiful and quiet beaches. It’s about 20min away by bus to the town center. If you prefer more lively areas though, probably better to stay in the town center.
- Head to the west side of the island to see the fish. There aren’t any beaches this side, only rocks and coral, but the sea life there is big and the water is an incredible colour.
- The tour to Johnny Cay/Aquarium island is a must do. The water colour alone is worth going, but be warned, it is jam packed with people which is very frustrating. Book through your hotel or go straight to the port, there are so many companies to choose from at similar prices so no need to panic.