San Andrés Island

Travel Guide South America Colombia San Andrés Island



San Andres

San Andres

© Raf-Ellen

San Andrés Island is a coral island in the Caribbean Sea, and together with the nearby island of Providencia and some smaller islands of the southern group of the Colombian archipelago, San Andrés forms the department of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina.




San Andrés is the largest of the island group in the Department of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. San Andrés is located in the Caribbean Sea, about 750 kilometres northwest of the coast of Colombia. San Andrés has a fairly flat topography with the highest point in the island reported at an elevation of 55 metres above sea level. San Andrés is crossed from south to north by a small mountain range whose highest peak is Cerro La Loma, also known as El Cliff. San Andrés' soils indicate that their formation is due to the eruption of a volcano which threw rocks older than the seafloor to the surface, creating the islands. Despite this, there is fertile soil and the soil is mostly red clay. It is easy to find small deposits of quartz on the island, especially in the neighborhood of Loma Cove. Aside from the main settlements, the island is almost entirely covered in grass, trees and other vegetation, as well as sand along the coastline rather than rocks. The central area is marked by a chain of hills (Flowers, Orange, Shingle and Lion's Hill). The island has only small, ephemeral streams draining the land area, but no major rivers.

On the southwest coast of the island are some features, namely (from north to south) Bobby Rock, Boobie Rock, Fisher Rock and Tyler Rock. A feature named Rock Point is located on the southeastern coast. Suky Bay lies in the central western part of the island near Cove Sea Side. The northern part of the island has a beach, while the western part of the island has no beaches.

The island is surrounded on its northwest side by a small coral reef (arrecifex) and several keys that are home to varied fauna and flora, and are visited by many tourists every year. The small cay in the San Andres Bay is said to be the most visited place in the archipelago. Johnny Cay is a small coral islet that is located to the north of San Andres Town. It is a scenic place with white-sand beaches surrounded by coconut plantations. The sea here is not suitable for swimming as the current of flow could be risky. A natural park was also created here in 2001. Haynes Cay is the place where cruise ships are docked. There are a number of large coral farms here with variety of species. The place is also popular for water sports activities like snorkeling and diving. Diving here with a mask and sandals (protection against sea urchins) colorful fish species can be seen.[9][22] El Acuario (Aquarium) Cay is off to the east coast of San Andres, adjoins the Haynes Cay. It is a popular center for snorkeling since the sea here has shallow and calm waters.



Sights and Activities

Rocky Cay. Wonderful beach near a little island. We can reach the little island walking.

  • San Luis. Beach good for kids. Protected by a little coral reef with small "ponds" great for children or relaxing.
  • West View. Not a beach, but a snorkeling point.
  • La Piscinita. Not a beach, but a snorkeling point.




The island experiences a tropical wet and dry climate that borders on a tropical monsoon climate. Average temperatures range from 24 °C to 30 °C in two periods dominated by dry and rainy spells. The rainy season is from September to December and also from May to June, when humidity is also high here. The trade winds from the north begin to blow in late October and during November and December until mid-January, the wind usually blows from the east, when there are storms in the northeastern Caribbean.



Getting There

By Plane

Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ) offers flights to/from Bogota, Panama City, Montreal, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin, Pereira, Barranquilla, San José de Costa Rica and the nearby island of Providencia.

The lowcost-airline VivaColombia offers the cheapest flights from the Colombian mainland starting at about 120 US$ for roundtrip. Colombian customs need to be cleared upon arrival to the island. Check with your local travel agency to see what documents you need to travel to Colombia. For many passengers, a tourist card has to be presented on arrival. Airlines flying to San Andrés sell them on the counter for the official price of 25 USD.

If arriving from outside Colombia, exchange currency at the airport, the rates are similar as downtown if not better. Any foreign exchange in Colombia is very formal and a passport is required and a big official receipt handed with the passport details on it, before returning local currency.

By Boat

By sea, there is the catamaran El Sensation which shuttles between San Andres and Providencia. The journey takes three to four hours.



Getting Around

Hire a golf buggy or a scooter. Golf Buggies can cost around $100,000pesos ($50US) a full day. Police does not let Golf buggies pass towards the south side of the island (away from downtown) after a certain time, usually 4:00pm.

Use public transportation. It is very convenient, safe and cheap (Bus = $1700 Colombian Pesos). Ask about the times though, busses may not go around the island (or outside downtown) after a certain hour of the evening.

Taxix will take you anywhere. You can also talk a taxi driver to pick you up other days and move you around. They are very friendly.

Be careful with the motorcycles! Most of the locals move around in them, and besides the noise they make, they appear everywhere at relatively high speeds.




Most travellers to San Andres have meal plans included with their hotel packages. The variety and quality of the food varies with the hotel choice, but it is in general acceptable. Downtown in San Andres there are plenty of restaurant that serve what they call "almuerzo ejecutivo" (Executive Lunch) or "corrientazo" (short circuit) which is the local term for an economic lunch which may include soup, meat/fish, rice, vegetables, etc. There are also many street spots that sell smaller snacks like "arepas" (thick tortillas) and other local fast foods.

Native cuisine is found downtown, though many foreign travelers enjoy typical islander cuisine found around the "El Cove" bay and San Luis, where the typical dish of the island can be enjoyed: Rondon, which is a soup of Crab, Fish, PigTail, Plantain, Potato, BreadFruit, etc.

Outside of downtown there are small shops selling everything from produce to beer and liquour. Ask at the hotel desk for the nearest one.




Tap water in San Andres is not suited for consumption. It comes from wells and/or desalinization stations.

Alcoholic beverages are sold to adults (18 years of age) and are found everywhere around the island; they are very cheap so feel free to bargain and ask around in several shops. Check the caps though, some bottles may have stayed long periods in humid containers and warehouses and develop rust. Beware of counterfeit liquors by purchasing from a reputable store.

Try coconut water, or local beverages served in conocut shells.




Various large all inclusive chain hotels can be found.

The largest chain is Decameron, with 6 hotels and a beach club: Marazul, MaryLand, SanLuis, Aquarium, Los Delfines, El Isleño.

Other hotels are Sol Caribe centro, Sol Caribe campo, Lord Pierre, Bahia Sardina, Casa Dorada, Casa Blanca, Cocoplum, El Dorado, Tiuna, Toné, Sunrise, Sunset, Calipso.

Another accommodation option are the guesthouses called "Posadas Nativas" or Native Inns, run by the local Raizal people. These are bed and breakfast style including a homemade traditional island breakfast, and hosts speak English and Creole, which is great for international speakers who speak English and not Spanish.

For more information visit your local travel agency to see what packages are available.

You can also rent apartments for as cheap as COP$130,000 a night. Search for them online, there are plenty.

Nearby Providencia Island also has a variety of accommodation options.

View our map of accommodation in San Andres Island


Accommodation in San Andrés Island

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This is version 8. Last edited at 9:57 on Sep 6, 18 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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