Where are we going this week? Colombia, South America! If only in our minds. Colombia, South America has become a tourist destination for many great reasons. It’s truly a dynamic wonderland that has something to offer for every type of traveler. Mountains, beaches, cities, colorful towns, vibrant markets and some of the best food you’ll ever eat. Oh, and islands. Yes, tropical islands right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
About 445 miles from the coastal town of Cartagena, Colombia lies a three-island archipelago that belongs to the country of Colombia. In that archipelago, you’ll find a tiny little buzzing treasure of an island called San Andres. If we take into account all of its cays, reefs and sand banks, San Andres Islas (the word for “island” in Spanish) takes up about 17 square miles total. Blink in flight, and you might just miss it.
It’s a popular tropical destination for both Colombian travelers and foreign travelers hopping from one Colombian city to another, and is just a short 1.5 hour, and usually inexpensive flight, from the mainland.
The ocean surrounding San Andres and the other islands in this archipelago is commonly referred to as the “Sea of Seven Colors.” Coral reefs are responsible for the range of different blues and greens you’ll witness outside your plane window. San Andres and the other islands are home to more than 85 species of coral. Without healthy coral reefs, San Andres Island and other beautiful destinations like it will slowly lose their beauty and magic. So before you get there, be sure to pack reef safe sunscreen and other biodegradable sun care products — biodegradable sunscreen won't harm coral reefs like chemical sunscreens, just an FYI.
On the perfect trip to Colombia, San Andres Island would certainly make the itinerary. Here’s why:
It’s a duty-free zone. You’ll pay no extra taxes for goods. Why? Because San Andres is technically part of Colombia, but lies in Nicaraguan waters. Therefore, it’s duty-free — cheap shopping!
Coco-loco, which literally translates to “Crazy Coconut” is the popular coconutty cocktail found all over the island, and is most often served in a coconut. It’s usually made with rum, coconut milk, fresh coconut water and maybe a squeeze of lime.
Snorkeling and scuba diving galore! Although there’s much more to do on this little island than one might initially presume, the obvious island excursions are plentiful. There are boats departing all throughout the day to take you to the best spots to see amazing marine life. There is no shortage of locals ready to sign you up for snorkeling or scuba diving day trip.
There are plenty of al-inclusive resorts to choose from. And no matter where it’s situated on the small island, you little piece of beach is sure to be beautiful, relaxing and simply amazing. Unlimited drinks, anyone?
That being said, there are plenty of reasons to get out of the resort. On of my favorite reasons? Stingrays. A man in a boat will take you to a spot in the ocean, not too far from the coast where stingrays more or less just hang out. You’ll arrive, the boat will drop an anchor and sure enough, stingrays will begin to appear. And one of the professionals will get their hands on one for you to pet and take photos with. Afterwards, they release them and everyone goes about their happy way.
Take a boat ride to Johnny Cay - a teeny tiny island filled with coco locos, as mentioned earlier, fried fish and plantains, hair braiding, coconut groves, music and the clearest water you’ve ever seen. But don’t miss your boat! The island clears completely early afternoon.
Rent a golf cart and go exploring on your own. This might be one of the best parts of your time in San Andres. They say it only takes four hours to circle the entire island. You’ll drive the perimeter leisurely where you’ll find spots to jump off (small) cliffs, street food, snorkeling spots and yes… more coco loco. Independent time to explore is blissful.