San Andres Island

San Andres island is the largest coral island in the San Andres Archipelago, approximately 140 miles east of Nicaragua. This large and relatively flat island is teeming with plant and animal biodiversity, and is home to a varied selection of mini ecosystems, from turquoise beaches, to mangrove forests, to grasslands and mountain tops. The temperature usually stays within a pleasant 78-84 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cool Caribbean breeze is hardly ever absent from a San Andres afternoon. Although the year is punctuated with dry and rainy seasons, the weather is typically far milder than other Caribbean locations, and many travelers report being able to count on the beautiful weather to hold throughout their relaxing days. Getting to the island is fairly easy thanks to an international airport which shuttles passengers to and from a variety of major airports in Colombia, as well as Panama City. On the island itself, a network of neatly paved roads provides access to much of the island, however in keeping with the relaxed Caribbean attitude, public transportation usually consists of an improvised tractor with articulated coaches.

The current resident population of the island is approximately 75,000, mostly descendants of Jamaican slaves and immigrants from Colombia, who speak a hybrid of Creole, English Creole, and Spanish. Although some native English speakers report difficulty with the local accent, generally most people do not experience too many problems in communication. Most of the residents are either local fishermen, or work in support of the tourist industry, which is fairly heavily regulated by the local government. San Andres Island prides itself on remaining fairly undeveloped in the face of other heavily commercialized Caribbean vacation spots, and has therefore passed strict regulation to both keep the tourist industry in the hands of the locals, and preserve the beautiful habitats on and around the island. Therefore, much of the island is actually a nature preserve, including the coral reef and the adjacent sea, comprising of a total area which is about 10% of the Caribbean Sea.

Travelers visiting San Andres will have no problems entertaining themselves, so long as they value the relaxed Caribbean attitude. Of course, San Andres offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the area, and the local scuba guides are both properly equipped and expertly trained. The fishing is also excellent, and many area fisherman can arrange a guided fishing tour relatively inexpensively. Lazing about on the beach is perhaps the most popular tourist activity, and travelers will find no shortage of beautiful beaches on the east coast. The western side of the island is rocky and relatively devoid of picturesque sandy beaches, although the hiking and sightseeing are still beautiful. Guided tours to the outlying islands are also a popular way to see San Andres from a different point of view, and although the most popular tours can get crowded during midday, many savvy travelers take advantage of the availability of friendly local fishermen for a more authentic experience.

Travelling to San Andres, be sure to see:
  • Manta Ray Tour- This tour for both novice and experienced scuba divers takes travelers through the manta ray habitat, where dozens of the majestic creatures can be viewed gliding through the water.
  • Aquanautas Helmet Diving- This walking tour along the ocean floor is facilitated via a diving helmet with continuous air supply. Truly a unique diving experience, this tour offers a view of the local marine life unlike any other.
  • San Andres Guided Segwey Tours- See the beautiful island astraddle a futuristic and intuitive Segwey machine.