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two people holding hands on white sand beach with perfect azure water on San Andres which is one of the most beautiful places in South America

Guide To The Beaches & Best Things To Do In San Andres Colombia

Ready to discover the best things to do in San Andres Colombia?

San Andres belongs to one of the most beautiful places in South America And even though it is a small island there many awesome unique things to do in San Andres Colombia.

Coming down from green Salento and Cocora Valley, colorful Guatape and Caribbean Cartagena, we were looking forward to seeing some pretty blues.

San Andres is a true paradise with water that has so many different shades of blue and turquoise, that you get confused when you try to count the shades. In fact, the waters around this island have 12 shades of blue.

In this post, we will showcase the best things to do in San Andres Colombia. We also included San Andres into our full guide on how to spend 2 awesome weeks in Colombia, so make sure to check it out.

view on an island covered by palm trees and surround by the Caribbean ocean
Acuario’s view on Haynes Cay

ABOUT SAN ANDRES

After visiting the jungle and beaches of Tayrona National Park we were really looking forward to visiting San Andres.

San Andres is located 750 km northwest of the Colombian mainland. The Archipelago San Andres consists of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. San Andres is the largest island among them. It is surrounded by small coral reefs and several keys, which make home to diverse fauna and flora.

Surrounded by Caribbean waters the beauty of this island blew our minds. San Andres is very close to Nicaragua, yet belongs to Colombia. For us, as beach addicts, this place is the jackpot.

HOW TO GET TO SAN ANDRES

The only way how you can reach San Andres is to fly from Cartagena. You might check flights from other cities like Bogota, Medellin, but we are pretty sure that there are no direct flights and you need to change in Cartagena. The flight takes around 1 hour and before you can hop on the plane, you need to purchase a so-called ” tourist card”.

Here, we got pretty ripped off by airline staff, so make sure to head our San Andres guide on a budget to make sure not to make the same mistake.

We spent one week in San Andres and we recommend you to come here for at least 4 days. Even though San Andres is a small island, 12.5 km in length and 3 km in width, you can do a lot of interesting things. Here are the best things to do in San Andres, Colombia.

The best things to do in San Andres Colombia, 
#sanandres#sanandrescolombia#sanadnresislas#bestislands#southamerica#southamericatravel#southamericabackpacking#sandandresyprovidencia#bestbeaches

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SAN ANDRES, COLOMBIA

ENJOY BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

As an absolute Caribbean paradise, you won’t be disappointed with what you will see. That is why the best thing to do in San Andres, Colombia is to relax on the best beaches. The beaches are so stunning. As we mentioned already, San Andres waters have 12 shades of blue and are surrounded by sugary perfect white sand and the island has a laid-back atmosphere.

CITY BEACH, PLAYA PRINCIPAL

We are not fans of city beaches. But we have never seen a city beach as beautiful as this one. We didn’t mind people walking around selling drinks and other things. In fact, you don’t even need to get a beach chair. Just find an “available” palm tree and you have shade for free. 

a girl wearing a blue dress and a straw hat walking a long a white-sand beach looking out the blue ocean with several buildings in the background
Playa Principal, San Andres

SAN LUIS BEACH

Many locals recommend going to San Louis Beach, which is more remote than the city beach. We visited in February/March and there was seaweed at the shores. We still liked it a lot.

view on a tropical san luis beach on san andres colombia with palm trees on the left and the ocean on the right
San Luis Beach, San Andres

SOUTHWEST COAST

This place we found by accident when we were driving around. We liked it that much, that we almost moved in into our little palm leave house. You can still go swim and snorkel here, just make sure you wear shoes for the sharp rocks. The place doesn’t really have a name but is easy to find in the south if you drive around the island.

aerial view on coast line with a little hut and a woman standing next to it
Somewhere in the South of San Andres

SEE MORE: 22 IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING TO COLOMBIA

ADVENTUROUS THINGS TO DO IN SAN ANDRES

RENT A SCOOTER AND DRIVE AROUND

It is not cheap to rent a scooter in San Andres. But we did rent it and paid for half a day a whopping $20. Yet we had a really nice time as we were very flexible and could stop wherever we wanted. We love to drive around ourselves. For us, it’s the best way to explore a place. Driving around San Andres is so much fun. There is not much going on, so you barely see a car driving by. It is also pleasant as the road is nearby the sea.

A coastal road on San Andres with palm trees and scooter driving on the street
Road 01, San Andres

THE BAPTIST CHURCH

This is the first baptist church built in South America. You can watch a little video about the history of the church and then you can go up to the tower and have a beautiful view of the island.

a white church building
First Baptist Church, San Andres

MORGAN CAVE

Many guides mentioned this attraction as one of the must-visits when in San Andres, but honestly, we didn’t go as we read so many bad reviews about this place. Basically it is a place about the story of Captain Henry Morgan. There are several fake pirate buildings and a pirate ship replica. The admission fee is 45.000 Pesos which is a lot for such a thing. I would rather go for the boat tour again for this kind of money. I wouldn’t call it one of the best things to do in San Andres Colombia, but some people like this kind of tourist thing.

WATCH SUNSETS

I don’t think we have to write a lot on this topic. Watching sunsets is one of our favorite things to do and San Andres is a wonderful place to do it.

A woman in a blue dress during sunset on the beach in San Andres Colombia
Southwest Coast, San Andres

READ MORE: HOW TO SPEND 2 PERFECT WEEKS IN COLOMBIA WITH BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE

ENJOY THE OCEAN

SCUBA DIVING AND OTHER WATER SPORTS

San Andres is a perfect spot for scuba diving, snorkeling and other sorts of outdoor adventures.

San Andres is surrounded by a diverse ecosystem of reefs, mangroves, and cays. Unfortunately, scuba diving is quite expensive in San Andres. For 2 dives (2 full tanks) without equipment, you would pay around 170.000 Pesos. Getting the essential equipment such as masks, fins, and BCD costs an additional 50.000. This is the first time I heard that you need to pay extra for your equipment.

underwater view on several rays swimming close to the sandy bottom of the ocean
Manta Ray Spot, San Andres

You can also hire a kayak and enjoy your time around the Mangrove forests. We were snorkeling next to Acuario and saw baby manta rays and a lot of other tropical fish.

Looking for more cool places to visit in Colombia, then you should check out this post: Guatape, Medellin: Colourful Photo Guide & Best Things To Do

ISLAND HOPPING BOAT TOURS

When you come to San Andres you have to do the day trips to the islands nearby. I can guarantee that you will love it and it is one of the best things to do in San Andres, Colombia. They are not too far away and very easy to reach. Be aware that some of the islands have several names. Spanish and English versions. Plus the locals pronounce the English names at times incorrectly. We try to use the names the locals mostly used to refer to the different smaller islands.

The best snorkeling/ island hopping tours you can do from San Andres

You can do the full day tour to see all the islands in 1 day. That is Johnny Cay, Cordoba Island, Natural Aquarium with a Manta Ray spot, and a quick boat ride through a mangrove forest. Actually we wanted to do it, but as we were the only ones not speaking Spanish, tour guides didn’t get what we wanted and we ended up doing a different tour. Which, in the end, was much, much better. They charge 50.000 Pesos per person to see all the islands in one day: It is a full day trip, you start at 9:00 a.m. and come back around 5:30 p.m.

The boat tours to the islands are the only activity which to us seemed to have fair prices on San Andres.

OUR TIP: You don’t need to book anything upfront. Just come to the pier in San Anders and book your ticket at one of the booths.

This is where the port is located:

ISLAND HOPPING TOUR TO ACUARIO ISLAND, SANDBAR AND CORDOBA ISLAND 

This is one of our most favorite island hopping tours ever. The price for one person is 40.000 Pesos. You will go to Acuario, Manta-Ray spot, and a mangrove forest. We stared at 9:30 a.m. and came back around 3:00 p.m. 

Acuario is an incredible paradise and we loved it there. We arrived around at 10:00 a.m. and could stay till 2:30 p.m. Usually, we feel rushed during such tours. So we were happy that here it was not the case. We could take many photos at different locations and really enjoyed it.

2 adults in swim wear stand in shallow waters with a boat and a small island covered by palm trees and a few huts in the background
View from Acuario on Haynes Cay

I was so excited about a small sandbank in the middle of the sea. I don’t know why, but I always dreamed about being on one. And this was the first time in my life. I was sooooo happy. Nico thought I will get a heart attack because I was just running around like I never had seen the ocean before. We have seen many beautiful beaches, but the Caribbean sea is a very special place for me. Here, the water is so crazy blue that I just can’t stop looking at it.

a woman in swimwear running in shallow water towards a sandbank
Acuario’s sandbank

Walk from Acuario to Haynes Cay

From Acuario you easily can walk to Haynes Cay, just use your water shoes as the ocean floor is rocky. You can walk to the other island called Cordoba, where you can find some shade under palm trees and a few cute bars. We absolutely loved the Jamaican bar (I think it was called Bibi’s Place). We had some beers (1 beer 5.000 Pesos) and listened to Reggae music with this AMAZING VIEW:

a man drinking from a beer can next to the ocean with a boat in the background
Haynes Cay, San Andres

Just note that you won’t be alone there. The amount of people varies and many people leave around noon as they were going to Johnny Cay. We were so glad that they made a mistake with our tour because after, there were not many people left. This picture was taken during peak time.

many tourist visiting Acuario on San andres
Acuario, San Andres

I am very glad we didn’t do all the islands on the same day. It was so hot, that we couldn’t have done it. And we got burned anyway 😀 Check out this sustainable reef-safe sun lotion if you want to keep cancer away and the ocean alive. Use code GIGI10 for 10% off.

BOAT TOUR TO JOHNNY CAY

Johnny Cay is more touristy than Acuario and Haynes Cay and for some reason, everyone wants to go there. We did a full-day tour to Jonney Cay where we had around 5 hours on the island with lunch included and on the way back we could snorkel with rays. We also went through the island’s bay to the mangroves in Old Point which was really beautiful. If you want to book a tour online you can have a look here.

It was quite hard to take this photo without a million people walking by. But we still liked it there and enjoyed our time. The west coast of this tiny island is not as busy as the beach where the boats land. We came there around 10:00 a.m. and the boat back to San Andres was picking us up at 2:00 p.m.

a woman in swimwear posing under palm trees next to a beach
Johnny Cay, San Andres

You can also do a day tour to an island called Cayo Bolivar. However, at the time of our travels, the island was closed due to reconstruction, or in other words: due to TOURIST OVERLOAD. We were told that the government closed the island to fix the canalization and other things. The island has been closed for over a year. Let us know once it reopens so we can update our information for other travelers.

WALK AROUND THE CITY CENTER

Lonely Planet’s Colombia guide describes the city center as something terrible and rather unpleasant. But we don’t understand why. It is a normal beach town with several cute shops, many other convenience stores, and a somewhat nice atmosphere. So check it out for yourself.

a woman sitting on a chair in front of a pink wooden hut drinking a coke
San Andres

We hope you like our ideas on the best things to do in San Andres Colombia. We had a really great time in San Andres and I hope that you visit this place someday as well. 

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The best things to do in San Andres Colombia, #sanandres#sanandrescolombia#sanadnresislas#bestislands#southamerica#southamericatravel#southamericabackpacking#sandandresyprovidencia#bestbeaches#colombia

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A pin for pinterest promoting the 15 most beautiful places in South America

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About the author
Since I was little I always wanted to see the world. Travel to new places, get to know new cultures, see how other people live. I love beaches and I love discovering tropical destinations. That is why, together with my partner Nico, we created this blog to share with you the most beautiful beaches and stunning holiday destinations which we visited during our travels.

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