Slightly over 720 km separate this archipelago from the Colombian coast, making it Colombia’s northernmost insular region in the Caribbean. It is known, among other things, for its seahorse shape and the spectacular seven shades of its sea, which may be seen from the aircraft, the beach, or even better, from the hill by the name of “La Loma”, the most authentic section of the island.
Thanks to its geographical position and natural environment,San Andres island is one of the most strategic locations for the influx of Colombian tourists and many foreigners captivated by what they have heard about it. For the ocean, the ecosystem, the Antillean music, and the beaches, San Andrés is like a stage where many natural and cultural elements are blended to make it one of the most visited Colombian destinations throughout the year – by Colombian residents and by visitors from Spain, Mexico, France, the United States, Sweden, Peru, Belgium, etc.
Many people beyond our borders decided to begin their acquaintance of Colombia with this northern region. Others, already visiting the mainland, inquired about the country’s many paradises and did not hesitate to come to San Andrés. Regardless of their expectations, they ended up with visions and experiences to treasure for a lifetime.
Tour San Andres island in four days
Like many couples, Claudia Milena Cano and her husband decided to honeymoon on this Colombian island for its natural beauty and shopping possibilities. During four days, she carefully planned her time so as not to miss any of its charms. Her recommendations are similar to the ones of other travelers who lived the marvelous experience:
Usually, a visit to Johnny Cay, an islet of white sand, with a natural aquarium for snorkeling and taking delight in the splendor of the multitude of marine species. On the beach, friendly natives enliven the day with good reggae and calypso music and the delicious taste of typical food. The tour begins at 10:00 am and ends at sunset.
A 32 km tour takes visitors around the island along the ring road by taxi, private car, bicycle, motorcycle, or golf cart. Stops include Morgan’s Cave, The Cove, The Blow Hole, Big Pond, West View bathing site, and La Piscinita, a cove of sorts inhabited by various kinds of mollusks. If time allows, another stop is La Loma sector; if not, it is left for the following day.
It is usually devoted to visiting the traditional La Loma sector, where the cultural values of the islanders converge. There is a lot to be learned that will be remembered forever. The afternoon and evening may be spent in the San Luis sector, a good place to learn to dance the Caribbean rhythms the islanders are more than willing to show and teach.
Supposing that this is your last or second to last day of a short vacation, it would be well spent on visiting the downtown shopping center to purchase home appliances, liquor, perfume, jewelry, crystal articles, and, naturally, legally recorded autochthonous music to play at home while reminiscing about the days spent in San Andrés.
Experiences of Foreigners in San Andrés
American David Kramer, a professor and ecologist, remembers the time when he worked in a school in Cali and his colleagues talked to him about the island. San Andrés became the opportunity to obtain a diver certification thanks to the courses offered on the island and the extraordinary visibility and rich flora and fauna of the crystal-clear sea. As a nature and marine sports lover, David says that the Colombian island will always be one of his best experiences.
Other citizens of the world, the Spaniards, for instance, frequently visit the island – several of them for the bonds or friendship with our compatriots. Clara Pinar, who married a Colombian, spent a week in this Caribbean landscape. “Everything was spectacular; the hotel, very good; the people, pleasant; the Caribbean beaches, very pretty; the inhabitants, very extroverted; they seem sincere and kind…” This is the impression of Clara, who was also captivated by the San Andrés Aquarium, where she met a group of fellow citizens who had decided to escape to the island, with no contact with Colombian people.
Argentinian María Beatriz Correa decided to arrive by the multicolored sea. She has a keen eye for detail during all her tours – from arrival to return. She got to know discos, beaches, music, musical instruments made from jaws of animals; she ate delicious lobsters and sailed on glass bottom boats specially built for admiring the submarine world.
Yet there’s a crucial moment in her trip that she described as follows: “…I think that visiting Johnny Cay and Rose Cay is an experience that will remain forever in my decreasing memory. I would return to San Andrés for this reason. You must be patient because we all leave and return at the same hour. They call you to board in order of arrival. If you don’t have one, it is indispensable to buy a pair of those little shoes for walking in the water, around the hedgehogs, corals, and other marine flora and fauna.”
María Beatriz felt flattered by the friendliness of the islanders and the respectful adjectives they use to call the women who visit: queen, pretty, precious. Our traveler complemented her description by stating, “In San Andrés, you understand why the waters of the Caribbean were called “the queen’s gardens” by Christopher Columbus. It is a true fact that the sea has seven colors, you feel like staying there for good…”
These were the sensations of a person who, all of a sudden, found herself in the midst of tropical San Andrés, at the mercy of the spell of the sea, music, good food, the stories of the legendary Pirate Morgan, and a total reverie brought forth by the colorful horizon of splendid nature and courteous, festive natives, true connoisseurs of the land in which they are fortunate to have been born and live.