Home DestinationsSouth AmericaColombia A travel guide to San Andres, Colombia

A travel guide to San Andres, Colombia

by Sam

Last Updated on January 10, 2020 by Sam

If you’re looking for a slice of paradise in Colombia, look no further than San Andres island. Situated in the Caribbean, almost 800 kilometres from mainland Colombia, the island boasts some of the country’s best beaches. Surrounded by beautiful crystal-clear waters, Colombian’s refer to the ocean as ‘mar de siete colores’ – the seven coloured sea. As a result, there’s a number of great diving and snorkelling spots, or the opportunity to sunbathe to your heart’s content if you’d prefer! Despite being named South America’s leading beach destination in 2015, many visitors miss San Andres off their Colombia itinerary. Don’t make the same mistake yourself. With flights to the island from Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin all less than two and a half hours, San Andres is the perfect spot for a few days of relaxation when in Colombia!

How to get to San Andres, Colombia

With no scheduled ferries, you’ll need to take advantage of one of the flights to San Andres, Colombia. Flights are available from most major cities in Colombia – with Avianca, Copa Colombia, LATAM Colombia and Viva Colombia all servicing the island.

Costs vary depending on where you’re flying from/to, but a return from Bogota will generally cost upwards of 200,000 pesos. International flights are limited but are available from Panama. From San Andres airport you’ll need to catch a taxi to your accommodation.

Before boarding your flight you’ll need to pay for a tourist card – costing 109,000 pesos. It’s not always possible to pay by card so make sure to have enough cash available to cover the cost.

Without the tourist card, you won’t be able to board your flight so ask about it when checking in. We weren’t told anything about it until we went to board so be prepared! Keep the card safe during your stay too, as you’ll need to present it at the airport before departing the island.

Johnny Cay in San Andres Colombia

Best time to visit San Andres, Colombia

Being close to the equator, San Andres is blessed with beautiful weather year round – a welcome change from some of the colder parts of Colombia. Rainy season spans from mid May to early December, but even then most days will only see an hour or two of rain!

With an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius year round, you can’t really pick a bad time to visit. We’d recommend either April/May or November/December – right before or right after the rainy season.

Easter and Christmas tend to be particularly busy times – so if you’re planning to visit then, book in advance!

Getting around San Andres, Colombia

By bus – A number of bus routes run on the island, but unfortunately there is no set timetable for these. They come fairly regularly, but the lack of structure means it’s hard to plan getting round the island this way. A single trip costs 2,000 pesos and your best bet regarding routes and times is to ask a local! 

By taxi – Taxis are available to take you round the island, with costs dependent on how far you’re going. Mototaxis are also available and are generally cheaper – although negotiate a fare in advance to avoid being overcharged.

By golf buggy – Renting a golf buggy is popular amongst tourists – costing around 100,000 pesos per day. It’s a convenient way to visit a number of points of interest around San Andres. Police often don’t allow vehicles to the south side of the island after 4pm, so head there earlier in the day if you want to go! 

Motorbike ride around San Andres Colombia island

Things to do in San Andres, Colombia

Head to the beach – As a Caribbean Island, there are a number of beautiful beaches. Take shade under palm trees and enjoy the pristine waters of Spratt Bight beach. Found adjacent to San Andres town, this is the most popular beach on the island.

Alternatively, there are a number of quieter beaches found around San Andres. In particular, San Luis beach is considered to be one of the best on the island – with the advantage of less people to share it with!

Island hop – Take a day trip to the islands of El Acuario and Johnny Cay for more gorgeous beaches. Make the most of the chance to snorkel in clear, refreshing waters or simply soak up the sun!

At El Acuario it’s also possible to swim to the nearby island of Haynes Cay. Trips to both El Acuario and Johnny Cay can be arranged from San Andres pier – either combined into one day or as separate days.

Many tours include lunch at Johnny Cay, although it’s best to confirm exactly what your tour includes before paying. Expect to pay around 19,000 pesos for a combined tour – which will include a 4,000 pesos ecological tax for visiting Johnny Cay.

We recommend speaking to a number of operators to get the best deal – and avoid booking through your hotel or hostel, as they’ll often charge more in order to earn commission.

El Acuario in San Andres Colombia

Go diving – Thanks to the incredible water clarity, San Andres is one of the best places to dive in Colombia. A number of dive sites are found around the island, with scuba shops located in the south as well as the main town. At approximately 165,000 pesos for a two-tank dive, it’s very reasonably priced!

Go snorkelling – If you aren’t a certified diver, snorkelling is a great alternative to check out what’s beneath the waves. One of the island’s best snorkelling spots is La Piscinita – a natural pool formed in between rocks. For a small 4,000 peso entrance fee, you’ll be completely surrounded by fish in wonderfully clear waters.

Upon entrance you’ll also be given bread to feed the fish, however for most fish consuming bread isn’t healthy so we recommend not to feed it to them.

Swimming in La Piscinita San Andres Colombia

See caimans – Known as Laguna Big Pond, this small body of water is home to a number of Caiman. There’s not much else to see in the area so we’d only suggest visiting if you have spare time.

Just before you reach the Laguna, a number of locals will demand payment (normally 5,000 pesos), however this isn’t an official entrance fee. If you continue past you can access the area without paying, although they will shout aggressively at you. Guides have also been known to scam people by charging but offering no information at all. 

Best places to stay in San Andres, Colombia

Accommodation is generally more expensive here when compared to mainland Colombia. There’s variety to suit all budgets in San Andres, Colombia – from dorms to hotels to all-inclusive resorts.

Budget

Unfortunately good budget accommodation is a struggle to find on San Andres. That being said, Breeze View and Culture offer private air con rooms from around $43 USD (120,000 pesos) per night in the San Luis area. On top of being located near to one of the islands’ best beaches, the owner is extremely helpful and will happily offer tips of what to do and see during your stay.

Click here to see the great value Breeze View and Culture on Booking.com or if you prefer to use Agoda then click here to see the property on their website!

If you’d prefer to be nearer to San Andres town and the main beach then Casa Turista is the best budget option. All rooms have air conditioning, with prices starting from around $43 USD (120,000 pesos) per night.

Click here to book a stay at Casa Turista on Booking.com or if you would rather use Agoda then click here to view the property on their website!

Mid-Range

If you’re happy to spend a bit more, then we suggest a stay at the excellently located Zojo Island. The property is close to plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as being walking distance to the pier for day trips to the nearby islands.

On top of that, the proximity to the main beach make it the perfect place for a siesta if you need a break from the afternoon sun. Prices start from $72 USD (201,000 pesos) per night, and all rooms have a private bathroom.

Click here to take a look at the wonderful Zojo Island on Booking.com or if you prefer to use Agoda then click here to see the property on their website!

A brilliant mid-range option in the San Luis area is Villa Sunny Days. Rooms are air conditioned, and prices start at $89 USD (248,000 pesos) per night – with breakfast included in the price.

It’s a great place to stay if you’d prefer to be in a less busy area of the island, and the owners are more than willing to help with your trip where they can.

Click here to arrange a stay at the lovely Villa Sunny Days on Booking.com or if Agoda is your preferred booking platform then click here to arrange your stay on their website!

Treat yourself!

One of the best places to stay in San Andres is Tamarindo. Although the property costs around $143 USD (400,000 pesos) per night to rent, it sleeps up to 6 people – working out at around $24 each.

With air conditioning and your own kitchen, this spacious property has everything you need for a comfortable stay. The location is great too as you’re close to the airport, Spratt Bight beach and a number of restaurants.

Click here to book a stay at the brilliant Tamarindo on Booking.com!

Alternatively, click here to reserve your stay at the property on Agoda’s website!

If you haven’t seen anything that suits you, Booking.com regularly have discounts on properties in San Andres so click here to see the best deals for your stay on their website!

Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This money is used to support this website and cover the costs of keeping it online and free to access!

Like this travel guide to San Andres, Colombia? Pin it!

San Andres is a travel destination worthy of any Colombia itinerary. One of the best things to do in San Andres is enjoy the beautiful beaches. With beautifully clear blue waters to snorkel in around the island, this should be one of your top bucket list destinations in South America. Nearby Johnny cay and El Acuario are essential places to visit. Click the pin to see our guide including, places to visit, where to stay, tips and more! #southamerica #colombia #sanandres

San Andres is a travel destination worthy of any Colombia itinerary. One of the best things to do in San Andres is enjoy the beautiful beaches. With beautifully clear blue waters to snorkel in around the island, this should be one of your top bucket list destinations in South America. Nearby Johnny cay and El Acuario are essential places to visit. Click the pin to see our guide including, places to visit, where to stay, tips and more! #southamerica #colombia #sanandres

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2 comments

Gearoid McSweeney November 20, 2017 - 5:58 pm

It looks like a slice of Central America in Colombia. I have to say that there’s so much of mainland Colombia that I’d like to see before I’d go there, but it does look like an ideal destination for beachy types.

Sam November 21, 2017 - 2:41 am

Thanks! It’s closer to Central America than Colombia so you’re definitely right there. There’s so much to see on mainland Colombia so we don’t blame you – but like you say, this is a go to destination for those that enjoy the beach!

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