Deep green to a translucent aqua blue – the range of hues of the sea around San Andrés is huge and the crystal clear water looks just gorgeous. The sea in this corner is called „the sea of the seven colors“. It is home to about 85 species of coral and one of six key sites for the health of the Earth (according to Ocean Conservancy).
San Andrés is an island in the Caribbean sea. It is located about 200km off the Nicaraguan coast and around 800km north of South America. Nevertheless, it is property of the Colombian government. A beautiful destination for your next holidays.
Transfer to downtown
Since the island is rather small the airport is very close to downtown and the main beach. You could easily walk to downtown. Depending on the amount of luggage you carry. It’s like a 15-20 min walk. If you leave the airport just turn left and then all the way straight to the beach (3min). At the beach you turn to your right and follow all the way until you reach the center.
Otherwise take a taxi.. or a moto-taxi, which is quite a bit cheaper than the car taxi. Heaps of taxi drivers will wait for you at the airport asking if you need a ride.
The information of people living on the island varies greatly between 100,000 and 150,000. Officially, it is somewhere in between at around 120,000 inhabitants. The population consists of islanders and people from the Colombian mainland who immigrated.
The Islanders speak a weird language called Creole. It is a mixture of English, some African language, and other languages. Therefore, some people understand English pretty well may have difficulties to speak the regular English, though. However, there are also many immigrants who just speak Spanish.
Moreover, there are a lot of tourists from all around the world on the island. Many Colombian tourists as well who come here to buy the tax-free perfumes alcohol.
The island is pretty safe. There is one neighborhood called cliff, though, which you better avoid going to.
On the east side of the island you find all the beaches – very nice ones – whereas on the west side it is very rocky and all the dive spots are there.
best time to visit
If you like it hot come in July, August, or September. With temperatures above 30 degrees and its humidity the caribbean climate allows or forces you to spend the entire day at the beach and in the water.
Generally speaking it is hot and humid all year around. The temperatures are a little lower starting from November through January with around 26 degrees on average. Precipitation and probability for hurricanes is highest from late September until November.
where to stay
If you just stay a few days to a week I would recommend to stay in the „center“ located north east of the island. You find all the commercial, restaurants, main beach, as well as best options for transportation. Also, the few nightclubs on the island are located in the center.
However, if staying a little longer, personally I would look for a place somewhere towards the south east of the island. The area is called Rocky Cay or San Luis and mainly the islanders live there. The beaches are less crowded and generally speaking not as touristy as in the center.. which has quite some advantages – like prices are a little cheaper in restaurants for example.
In any case, there are a lot of Posadas on the island. These are like guesthouses and offer private rooms for reasonable prices.
Public transport on the island is somewhat complicated. It is quite unreliable. Nevertheless, there are busses that take you pretty much anywhere on the island. It just takes a while to understand where each bus goes to. But usually, people are very friendly and offer you help when being asked. A bus ride costs 2,000 pesos (0.80 USD).
Another, probably the better option are moto-taxis. One taxi can carry one, two, or even three passengers – as many as fit. No restrictions. Helmets are not used. Depending on the distance you pay from 2,000-7,000 pesos (0.80-2.50 USD). It is pretty safe although some people drive like being part of a moto race. The drivers charge more the later at night it gets. It means after more or less 10pm the prices get more expensive and may be doubled for the same distance than during the day.
Official taxis in San Andrés can be found on paginasamarillas.com.com. For example Miotaxi or Megataxi.
If your budget allows you can rent a moto yourself or a golf caddy and drive around the island. Motos you’ll find from 60’000/day and more expensive – getting cheaper the more days you rent it. Caddies cost about 90’000/day (30 USD) the cheaper and weaker ones (you cannot go uphill with them) up to 150’000/day (50 USD) the stronger and better ones.