San Andres is ultimate definition of a tropical paradise. A Colombian coral island sitting off the coast of Nicaragua, one hour away from Cartagena by plane (Also cheap tickets using low cost airlines such as Viva Air or Wingo), San Andres is only 26 km2(10 sq mi) but boasts some of the most beautiful ocean sceneries and most crystal clear water imaginable.
Known as the ‘sea of seven colors,’ the inspiring picturesque ocean views, exceptional coral reef, and white sand beaches, allow travelers of all interests and adventure levels a chance to enjoy a slice of their own version of paradise. Know where to spread your towel: San Andres has some of the loveliest stretches of sand in the world, and these three, in the island are among the best.
You can split a few days of your vacation to know this destination and get cheap tickets from low cost airlines such as Vivacolombia or Wingo.
Located on the north end of the island next to the Centro (this is the heartbeat of the island and it is recommended to stay in or close to this area) Spratt Bight is one of the easiest and quickest beaches to get to for most visitors. With the iconic scenery and close proximity to hotels, restaurants and shopping, it’s no wonder this is one of the most visited beaches in San Andres. And although there are often a number of people here soaking in the sun and surf, Spratt Bight does not feel overcrowded and still manages to maintain it’s beauty and charm while allowing visitors a chance to mingle with other travelers, enjoy a drink from a local vendor, and be within steps of dozens of restaurants and shops.
As this beach does not have as much coral as some of the other beaches, families and beach bums alike can enjoy the calm waves and emblematic blue waters without worrying as much about stepping on the sharp reef or getting in the way of snorkelers. That being said, this strip of beach is not the most ideal on the island for snorkeling or viewing sea life.
Johnny Cay Island
Johnny Cay is small coral islet located 1.5 km (0.93 mi) to the north of Spratt Bight beach. Costing around 20,000 pesos (approx $6.50) you can reach the island by local boat.
Johnny Cay has absolutely breathtaking views and the opportunity for amazing snorkeling. Much of the island is surrounded by rocks and coral that invite sea life creatures of all kinds to live close to shore. A quick view under water and you’re almost guaranteed to see colorful fish and picturesque coral and rock formations. If you look carefully, you may be lucky enough to see an octopus or eel in their natural habitat as well. Keep in mind, it is highly recommended to wear water shoes.
Additionally, as it recently gained a “natural park” on the island, visitors can take a break from the sun and surf and take a short walk through the park while covered in the natural palm tree umbrellas filled with iguanas and colorful lizards.
Pro tip: There is a small natural water pool at the end of the walking trail that few visitors ever make it to. If you need a break from the crowds or strong waves, take a short walk here to bask in calm serenity.
Keep in mind, the swimming area of the surrounding waters is not especially huge and there are often many visitors here. Additionally, the waves are a bit rougher so it is recommended that visitors be strong swimmers.
San Luis (Rocky Cay)
Considered by many locals to be the best beach on the island, the calm waters, white sand beaches, and less crowded atmosphere make this beach ideal for almost every traveler.
Enjoy the island breeze and temperate waters while taking in the views of Rocky Cay and the nearby shipwreck. After enjoying the tranquility of the beach, adventure to Rocky Cay coral islet to snorkel it’s rocky shore and part of the shipwreck. Despite it being offshore, this islet can actually be reached by simply walking through the water as it does not get very deep. Be sure to wear water shoes for when you get to the Cay itself as it gets it’s name for being made of rock and not sand.
Additionally, you can find easy access to vendors with jet skis and kite boards to rent without the crowds of the other beachers. This beach hosts the perfect balance of tranquil beauty and the opportunity for water adventures.
BONUS TIP: Locals suggest heading to the waters surrounding the Aquarium for some of the best snorkeling areas that can be reached without a boat.
San Andres has an entrance fee of 110,000 pesos that must be paid IN CASH before boarding the plane - be sure to give yourself extra time at the airport in addition to ensuring you have enough cash on you to board.
Be conscious of the fact that food, lodging and transportation on the island tends to be more expensive than mainland Colombia.
Ask the staff at your lodging for prices with taxis, rentals, and excursions in San Andres.
The island is duty free! So you can stock up on well-priced liquor, candies from around the world, and perfumes/lotions.
Many people bring an empty bag or purchase a cheap bag once on the island to fill with items to bring home or you can purchase many items at the airport, with little to no upcharge, and they will give you a box or bag that commonly does not count against your total baggage allowed on board.