The San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina archipelago is Colombia’s only department not located on the mainland—it lies on the Caribbean Sea, northwest of the rest of the country. Here you’ll be able to enjoy the unique experience of native inns.
Made up of three main islands and numerous islets and cays, the archipelago shares maritime borders with 7 Central American countries: Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
The archipelago’s unique charm and magic is showcased by its famous Sea of Seven Colors, by endless white-sand beaches lined by palm trees that softly sway in the Caribbean breeze and by the culture of the Raizal community—the welcoming hosts that make this destination much more than just another group of islands atop a beautiful barrier reef.
Dating its origins back some 400 years, the ethnic community of the archipelago speaks its very own language, an English-based Caribbean Creole, which makes up just a part of the larger Raizal culture.
The first indigenous natives reached the islands from Central America during the 17th century and were soon joined by European settlers who eventually brought along enslaved peoples of African origin.
Palm trees, the coast, and the blue sea of San Andrés and Providencia, one of these native lodges is waiting for you.
Throughout the years, this blend of African, European and Antillean evolved into an established Creole identity within the rich Caribbean cultural and social tapestry. Raizal islanders are naturally warm, welcoming and forward-looking people with strong ties to their cultural heritage and are also more than willing to share their traditions with newcomers.
This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve—key to the planet’s health—joins its lush and well-preserved natural diversity and ecosystems to an inestimably rich historic and human heritage. This all makes San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina an ideal destination for adventurers who also enjoy learning about culture and history wherever they go.
Native inns—a unique experience
Travelers who wish to experience culture as much as possible and truly immerse themselves in the local way of life by spending time with natives and sharing their traditions and worldview will find here their dreamed accommodation: native inns.
These welcoming homes are much more than just a place to unpack and spend the night—they’re true cultural havens, where roots can be unearthed and learned from through stories, rhythms and flavors alongside the natives in a warm Caribbean get-together.
“Tended to by its owner” is the slogan with which native inn owners promote their own homes, which, once certified by tourism authorities, are ready to welcome all who wish to experience islander culture firsthand.
It’s the very natives who know the island best and are ready to share with visitors the best-kept secrets of its geography while also promoting cultural and natural conservation values. It’s them who tie a tight bond between tourists and nature.
The sea of seven colors in San Andrés, where a wood bridge beautifies the turquoise of the sea. This is part of the native lodges.
It’s also the natives who are best at transmitting the warm, laid-back ambiance and cooking delicious traditional dishes containing fish, turtle, octopus, snail, lobster, beans, pork, beef, crab and even iguana meat to the sound of calypso and reggae rhythms.
Other reasons to enjoy native inns
A visit to a native inn is never complete without trying the archipelago’s flagship dish: Rondón. This Caribbean stew is prepared with coconut milk, fish and shellfish, and then topped with green plantain, yuca, tomatoes and onions. Its unique flavor and high nutritional value are best enjoyed in the company of natives and good friends.
Entire families are now dedicated to this unique accommodation model that allows natives and visitors to enrich each other’s worldview without compromising their culture or identity. Native inns, beyond being a great place for tourists to spend a calm getaway relaxing and learning about local culture, have also strengthened the islands’ tourism sector by creating new local business opportunities.
When you visit the San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina archipelago, make sure to book your accommodation at a native inn—it’s without a doubt a lifechanging experience.