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jorgesanchez San Andres - A travel report by jorge
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San Andres,  Colombia - flag Colombia -  San Andrés y Providencia
21042 readers

jorgesanchez's travel reports

Little known Caribbean paradise

  25 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4
San Andres is a quiet Caribbean island that has not yet been invaded by the hordes of tourists in luxurious cruises. It was discovered by Columbus during his forth journey to America and called it San Andres because he saw it a 30th of November.


view of San Andres downtown
view of San Andres downtown
You need to pay a tax in the same airport when you enter in these protected islands, independently of the time that you plan to stay there. I remember that I paid 19.000 pesos, or 7 US dollars, in February 2005, and filled up an immigration form. I was requested to show a return ticket to mainland Colombia. The round trip ticket by plane from Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla or Cartagena costs around 500.000 pesos. Sometimes the price is even cheaper if you buy special packets, and they include several nights in a hotel. I just walked during 5 minutes from the airport to the downtown. I looked for a hotel near the beach, all there were very cheap, around 8 US dollars a night for a single room, left my bag in one of them, had a shower and went out to discover the island. San Andres is very dense. There live about 85.000 persons in 27 square kilometres. Until some years ago the population was principally black, but today most inhabitants are from Colombia mainland. Many of the black population are Rastafarian. Providencia Island is not far from San Andres, but I felt so well in San Andres during the week that I spent there, making so many local friends, that I did not want to move. In Providencia live around 5000 people and 80 % of them are black who speak a Caribbean English, hard to understand when they talk fast among themselves. Nicaragua has territorial pretensions over San Andres and Providencia Islands owing to its proximity to that country. The island is served by many airplanes from Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and most Colombian cities (I flew there from charming Cartagena). San Andres has not yet been much exploited by the organized tourism; practically all the visitors are from Colombia or Spanish speaking countries. I saw a group from Quebec and another one from Italy. I did not meet any individual traveller. After Corn Islands, in Nicaragua, San Andres is my second favourite island in the Caribbean Sea.

Favourite spots:
San Andres geographical location
San Andres geographical location
There is an excursion by an open bus that surrounds the island in about three hours that you should not miss. It costs in pesos the equivalence of 5 or 6 US Dollars and is worth, better than hitch hiking. They stop in several lovely beaches, in the villages where live the black inhabitants brought there in the past by the English as slaves to exploit the sugar cane plantations; in a cave called Cueva de Morgan where according to a legend this pirate occulted a treasure from a Spanish galleon; in the blow holes; you taste local liquors, etc. There are many sea activities in San Andres: surfing, parachutes, snorkelling, etc.

What's really great:
one of the many nice beaches of San Andres
one of the many nice beaches of San Andres
VIEW SIDE HILL, in La Loma, is a hotel and restaurant at the same time from which roof you can drink a beer and enjoy the superb panorama view of the island. Just in front of this restaurant/hotel there is the first protestant church (Baptist) erected in the Island, in 1844. You can walk there from San Andres downtown; it will take you one and a half hour, more or less.

Accommodations:
I had breakfast every morning in this palafito of my hotel
I had breakfast every morning in this palafito of my hotel
In San Andres Island I choose the Hotel Central. View Side Hill is beautiful, but a little far from the downtown and the beach.
Hotel EL VIAJERO is where I stayed in Cartagena, with friendly staff and spacious and cheap rooms on the second floor.
In Barranquilla I did not go to any hotel. People do not sleep during the Carnival period; it is like in the Sanfermines Fiestas in Pamplona, Spain.

Hangouts:
there are many sea activities in San Andres Island
there are many sea activities in San Andres Island
There are many discos in the same beach, in downtown, and the ambience is harmless. You can walk alone during the night and nobody will cause you any trouble.

Restaurants:
harmless Rastafarians of San Andres
harmless Rastafarians of San Andres
I advise you to go for lunch (unfortunately it is closed in the evenings for supper) to my favourite restaurant in San Andres: COOPERATIVA DE PESCADORES DEL CENTRO, by the beach, at a walking distance from the town, just next door to the airport. Ask for the local dish, called RONDON, prepared by the fishermen, almost all black people. It consists in several delicious fresh fish caught during the previous night and sea escargots with coconut milk. The rum El Llanero is considered one of the best in Colombia.

Other recommendations:
Cartagena de Indias street
Cartagena de Indias street
Cartagena de Indias is the most enchanting Spanish colonial town in America, even more than Potosi in Bolivia or Guanajuato in Mexico. There you will feel like in the Barrio de Santa Cruz of Sevilla, Spain.
Cartagena will enthral you and you will like to spend long time there. It is walled, with Spanish balconies in its streets and Latin atmosphere. It is completely safe (only inside its walls!) and in its interior there are many wonderful and historical buildings protected by the UNESCO.
If you happen to be in Colombia in February, please do not miss the Carnival of Barranquilla! (I was so lucky to be there in time!). I would say that after Rio de Janeiro’s is the most cheerful in the world.

Published on Wednesday July 6th, 2005


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Fri, Apr 09 2010 - 08:33 AM rating by sujoy

Really nice reading . Full of minute details and useful tips. thanks.

Thu, Jul 07 2005 - 02:23 AM rating by mkrkiran

Nice report

Wed, Jul 06 2005 - 03:37 PM rating by davidx

Como todos tus 'reports' me gustó mucho y me enseñó tambien. grracias, David

Wed, Jul 06 2005 - 03:08 PM rating by eirekay

Jorge, I always enjoy reading your reports! I am curious as to what the beaches are like and, given that the population is so dense, how crowded the beaches are. Thanks for another great report!

Wed, Jul 06 2005 - 02:42 PM rating by rangutan

I learnt a lot again -most those islands off Nicaragua are (far) Columbian territory!

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