San Andrés is the largest of a group of three islands, and is at a distance of 800km northwest of Colombia, in the Caribbean Sea. It is well known for its wealth of history with pirates - and one in particular, the famous Sir Henry Morgan. It is said that somewhere on this island he buried his treasure…
The beauty and intrigue of San Andrés lures visitors to the island, although today people visit not in search of hidden gold, but instead to discover this paradise place, its soft white sands, and seas many shades of blue, green, and turquoise. Time seems to slow down, and then no longer matters, on this island of deserted beaches, coconut palms and reggae beats.
San Andrés is now a very popular tourist island to visit: relax and enjoy the beaches, or have fun and try some water sports. The capital ‘San Andrés’ and urban area is located in the northern part of the island, and is also known as ‘El Centro’. Around the island, you’ll find coral reefs, geysers, and mangrove forests, to name a few highlights. Be amazed at the vivid marine life and rich coral, and later enjoy the luscious seafood served in any and every restaurant. Discover the intriguing Creole culture of the Afro-Caribbean Raizal people; making San Andrés distinct from other destinations in Colombia. Below is our San Andrés travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
CUEVA DE MORGAN – This is the location of the cave that is said to hold the buried treasure of Sir Henry Morgan. It is now filled with water, but the mere thought that Sir Henry Morgan once walked this island, and that his treasure may be buried in the cave is enough for most people to come and see the famous Cueva De Morgan.
JOHNNY CAY REGIONAL PARK – Just north of the town, this park contains coconut groves and a beautiful white sandy beach that has become popular for swimming. There is a dangerous undertow that is worth being careful of.
LA LOMA – This is a small town on the island, and here you can find one of the island’s most traditional places, the Baptist Church. It is a large building that stands out in the village.
HOYO SOPLADOR – this is one of the most interesting places to see. Hoyo Soplador is a water geyser that shoots water up to 20 meters into the air. It only launches the water at certain times when the climate and wind are perfect.
EXCURSIONS – There are many places on the island that offer day trips to other islands in the area to visit the small villages. These are fantastic excursions that let you get a great feel for what life on the Caribbean Sea was like for pirates and Europeans alike. You can experience the small island wilderness and beaches.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
There are plenty of excursions that go to other islands in the area. This is one of the greatest opportunities to experience the Caribbean Sea and what life was like for the most renowned pirates in history.
Most of the hotels in the area usually include a plan for the meals. If you’re not in the mood for eating at your hotel, go downtown for restaurants that offer more local style food, for an authentic dining experience.
If you’re big on seafood, don’t miss Restaurante Capitan Mandy (Avenida Rock Hole). Popular with locals, this place is open from 12 noon until 5pm, so come here for lunch. Although it’s not fancy or cheap, everything is fresh and delicious - from paella to pulpo (octopus), or battered shrimp to ceviche.
A more budget-friendly option is Sea Station (Via Peatonal Frente Al Hotel Dorado), where you can sit outside and enjoy fish and chips or ceviche. For fast food, visit the Colombian version of KFC – Pollos Kikiriki (Avenida 20 De Julio). Here you’ll find your typical fried chicken, burgers, ribs, rice, and soup for a good price.
If you fancy pizza, go to La Pizzetta Florio (Av. Colon), and for coffee and pastries, Juan Valdez (Avenida Colombia), which is located close to the beach and the city centre. This place is great for breakfast or a quick snack, and you can sit outside in the sun – whilst taking advantage of the Wifi!
You can find places to party and drink all over the island. Check out Coco Loco Disco Bar (Av. Colombia) for a Caribbean-style night out. Known as the best place to party on San Andrés, here you’ll mix with people from all over the world, as many tourists come to Coco Loco for a good time. Dance to international and Latin music, and enjoy the view from the terrace. Note that drink prices are higher than average.
For a more chilled atmosphere, go to BIG MAMA Original Reggae Bar (Avenida Circunvalar Sector Cove Km 11+500) – a simple spot with spectacular sunsets – come here in the late afternoon and relax with a few cocktails.
The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius. San Andrés has a tropical Caribbean climate, bordering on a tropical monsoon climate, and there is almost always a wind blowing. The rainy season runs from May to December, and the temperature peaks between August and October.
San Andrés’ airport is situated in the north of the island. Flights are offered from Bogota (2 hours and 10 minutes), Medellin (4 hours and 20 minutes), Cali (4 hours and 30 minutes) and Barranquilla (5 hours and 15 minutes). There are also international flights from Costa Rica (San Jose – 1 hour and 25 minutes) and from Canada.
In San Andrés, there are mostly high-end chain hotels all over the island. The majority of these places offer multiple night stays with food included.
For those travelling on a budget, check out Blue Almond Hostel (Barrio Los Almendros Manzana 4 Casa 3). The owners Juan and Jennifer are perfect hosts and will make you feel at home. They’re happy to help with everything, and will even go to the effort to introduce you to other guests. The kitchen is well equipped, and in general this place is cozy, clean, and just a 10-minute walk to the city centre. Stay here for a friendly, family atmosphere.
There are still things to look out for in San Andrés, although it is fairly safe. At night-time, anywhere near the airport is dangerous and robberies can occur.
Always be careful with the locals and avoid traveling alone when it’s dark.