Andres is a beautiful Caribbean Island some 90 minutes flight from the
mainland of Colombia. The culture is a mix between English Caribbean
and Spanish Colombian. There are beautiful palm fringed beaches and
turquoise seas - the sea of San Andres is fondly known as "the sea of
seven shades of Turquoise" by Colombians. The island is a very popular
destination for mainly Colombian tourists, and has a resorty feel to it.
really get away from other tourists, you can find a small piece of
unspoilt Caribbean paradise at the nearby island of Providencia, which is a
short onward flight or catamaran ride from San Andres. My personal
advice would be to spend most time on Providencia Island, which is a
very special place to visit.
Andres Island & It's Beaches
Andres has some very beautiful beaches, and the sea is an amazing shade
of turquoise. The North of the island has some lovely beaches, but all
are heavily developed and backed by buildings. The North of the island
is the busy section where most hotels are found, as well as various
restaurants and other forms of nightlife.
beaches are on the East coast - many have been semi-taken over by
beachfront resorts which are scattered along this coastline. Without
doubt, the best beach on the island is found at Sound Bay - beautiful
sea, beautiful sand and one of the least crowded beaches (the
Restaurant "Donde Francesca" is found here - great food, great location
- I choose to spend most of my time in San Andres there!).
West coast of the island has no beaches at all - it's all rocky here,
though very scenic.
on the beaches is the top activity in San Andres, though there is also
scope for various forms of watersports. Renting a golf buggy is a great
way to explore the island - we haggled down to a price of 65k Colombian
pesos per day.
who visits San Andres invariably goes to nearby Johnny Cay one day (see
photo on the right). Jonny Caye is a beautiful little island surrounded
by beach about 1 km offshore. Because everyone visits, it can get a
little crowded - especially at mid day when all the organized tours
arrive. Before 11am and after 3pm, Jonny Caye is far less crowded, so
consider chartering your own boat to drop you off and pick you up to
avoid those crowds - prices aren't that much more than the organized
popular tour is the visit the "Aquario" (or Aquarium). This involves
hundreds of tourists being squeezed onto a tiny island (about 5 metres
by 20 metres) to feel like sardines. The idea of the tour is to go
snorkelling, but there are few fish, and it's a complete waste of time.
far better tour to take is known as the "Mantaray tour" - a tour that
goes to the "Aquario" at about 4pm when the crowds are gone, and the
stingrays have appeared. It's an amazing experience to swim and snorkel
amongst dozens of stingrays - this tour is definately recommended.
Andres Hotels & Resorts
North of the island is heavily developed and with the majority of the
hotels, but as one travels South it becomes progressively less
developed and more peaceful. The island is scattered with a range of
hotels to suit all budgets. If you seek nightlife and lots of nearby
restaurants, stay in the North of the island. For a more peaceful
vacation in Colombia, stay further South. To be honest, a lot of places
to stay are rather bland, boring and lacking in both style and
character - thankfully there are plenty of exceptions so choose where
to stay wisely!
Hotels - All Budgets
of the larger hotels in San Andres have the spectacularly unfair policy
of charging higher prices for foreigners - if you can get a Colombian
to book for you, it may well work our cheaper.
San Luis Village Hotel (priced mid
range to expensive) - located right in front of San Andres' prettiest
beach (Sound Bay), and is a relaxing place to stay. Brand new, it only
opened in May 2009. Looks great and the prices aren't unreasonable
Tres Casitas (mid range price) - I
only recently (August 2009) visited this hotel, but believe it to be
the best mid range hotel in San Andres. Tres Casitas is found on the
coast with a lovely spacious decking area and swimming pool overlooking
the sea. The rooms are spacious with a kitchen but only average in
terms of decor and style. The hotel is in the town centre, and next
door to Los Delfines, which is one of San Andres' most expensive
hotels. What's appealing about this hotel is the location combined with
the decent price of 80,000 Colombian pesos (US $35) per person. If
booking Tres Casitas, make sure you request a sea view room - sea views
rooms don't cost any extra, the rooms are the most recently decorated,
plus they have great views. Unfortunately, this hotel never replies to
(my) emails, and seems to never answer the phone, so making a
reservation is almost impossible!
Casa Harb (expensive) - a small,
boutique hotel a little away from the centre in La Rocosa. This is the
island's most expensive (and exclusive) hotel at about US $400 per
double room. Furnishings and the design of the hotel are beautiful,
however there are no sea views.
Hotel (mid range price) - a 16 room hotel with an on-site
dive shop found at the quieter Southern end of San Andres Island.
Nativa Cli's Place (budget) - this is a small hotel
found in the centre of town owned by the friendly Cleotilde Henry. The
pleasant air-con rooms are clean and perfectly suitable for budget
travellers, costing 45,000 Colombian pesos (US $20) per person. Call
(0057) 8 572 0591 or (0057) 3144908850. Next door is another little
"posada nativa" owned by Cli's brother.
May Inn (budget) - describes itself as the "best little
hotel in town", and it's hard to argue with that statement. Air
conditioned rooms are very reasonably priced at 60,000 Colombian pesos
(US $30) for a couple. The place always seems to be full so try to book
in advance - (0057) 8 5125669 or (0057) 8 512 7654 or email
email@example.com. Cli's place (see above) is just round the corner,
along with the good value (and perfectly reasonable) Hotel Mar Verde -
so if you're a backpacker who can't be bothered to book anything in
advance, this area is a good place to turn up at to see what's
available whilst lugging your rucksack around.
Hotel Casablanca (mid range to
expensive) - a small "four star" hotel, and one of the longest
established on the island of San Andres. It's in the North of the
island -ie. the busy, more happening part. It's highly rated by many.
When I stayed, the hotel was overbooked upon my arrival, so we were put
in a shabby apartment around the corner - not very impressed. Take note
that prices are very different depending upon whether you're a
foreigner or not - much cheaper if you're a Colombian tourist (or if
you get a Colombian person to book on your behalf). If you want a good
hotel in the centre of town, this is one of the best options.
Blue Almond Hostel - a newly
opened travellers hostel in San Andres, a ten minute walk from the town
centre. Looks good, and reasonably priced.
might also consider renting an apartment - consider Hansa
Bay 505 (Spanish only website).
Hotels in San Andres
Decameron - have a range (maybe 6
in total) of all-inclusive resorts. The standards are rather variable.
If I had to pick one to stay in it would be Los Delfines, which is much
smaller than the other big resorts.
Hotel Cocoplum - "where the beach
has it's own hotel", this is a good beachfront option that is out of
the the town in the San Luis area on the East coast. It's a lovely
location. Overall - tempting...
Sunrise Hotel - a larger
beachfront hotel with some fantastic views of the Caribbean.
Lord Pierre Hotel - a 48 room,
"four star" beachfront hotel with swimming pool.
Tiuna Hotel - good value for a
beachfront hotel, but nothing particularly fancy.
Bahia Sardina - a beachfront
hotel, but rather boring looking and bog standard.
Noble House Hotel - good value
small hotel, friendly service but it's not in front of a beach, but
rather in the centre of town.
Portobello Hotel - a cheap and
cheerful option - don't expect anything fancy from this 31 bed hotel
located on one of the island's best beaches (though it's a busy
Katty's Paradise - a bargain value
friendly guesthouse / hostel. Good option for backpackers or those on a
the peak tourism season, San Andres can get very crowded with
Colombian tourists, and hotel prices will increase - best to avoid this
period (mid December to January, Easter week and June and July). Mid
June to Mid July are especially busy with adolescent schoolchildren who
descend on the island on school trips. Avoid this time especially.
& Getting There
are various direct flights from mainland Colombia to San Andres -
Aerorepublica have flights to San Andres from Bogota, Medellin, Cali,
Cartagena and Barranquilla (from Cartagena and Barranquilla it's not a
daily service though - about every other day there's a direct flight).
The airlines Avianca, Aires and Satena also have flights from Bogota to
San Andres. Avianca also has flights to/from Cartagena (on Thursdays,
Saturdays and Sundays at the moment). Aerorepublica is normally best
value, though sometimes Aires have some great value tickets, though
their schedules mean that arrival is very late at night. The average
cost of a return flight to San Andres from Colombia's mainland is about
650,000 pesos (US $220). You might want to consider using an Avianca
airpass to fly to San Andres - this is often a good value way of
getting there. See the domestic
flights routings section for more information.
Transit has weekly charter flights from Montreal (Canada) to San Andres
Island. Air Transit's week long all inclusive packages cost only a
little more than the flight only tickets - both are good value, though
you'll end up in one of the rather tasteless Decameron all inclusive
are also regular flights available to/from Panama City with Copa
Airlines (plus connections to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and various
other central American countries). You could also try Tame (from
Airlines apparently has charter flights to San Andres from Prague (this
is a very new service) - only during Europe's winter though (so I was
told when asking in San Andres' airport in March 2010).
your flight arrives in San Andres before 2pm, it's easy to catch one of
the afternoon flights onwards to the paradisical island of Providencia.
flights to San Andres is simple - any vaguely serious travel agency
(anywhere in the world) can book such Aerorepublica or Avianca flights
in a few minutes. Alternatively, you could book online at well known
flights websites such as travelocity.com (US) or lastminute.com