San Andres: In the Islands of Colombia

The Basics
Getting to San Andres from Medellín is fairly simple. Direct flights leave from MED (international airport) several times a day via LATAM airlines. Upon arrival, we skipped the crowds offering cab rides into the town. We were able to walk to the center in about 15 minutes! We strolled along the coast to get our first views of the beach, which can get crowded on the north side of town.

We spent a total of 3 nights in San Andres, with a visit to Providencia sandwiched in between. The first night we stayed near the town center, which had its pros and cons. This area is popular for duty-free shopping, touristy restaurants, and weekend beach-goers. It is easy to get around and has everything you may need (beaches, shops, restaurants, bars, discotecas, souvenirs) in walking distance. If we were looking for a quiet spot to relax, we would not choose here. We enjoyed walking around the area and getting a brief taste of the island. Choosing lodging for your trip will depend on what you are looking to do in San Andres.

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The other 2 nights we spent here were on Cocoplum Beach. We rented a room in a bed and breakfast a couple blocks from the beach. This beach is a $15000 COP taxi from town or you could try to catch the local bus. We enjoyed the quiet atmosphere, restaurants on the beach, and snorkeling in this area.

Get Your Adventure On
Rocky Cay: On Cocoplum beach, there is a long spit that reaches out to this piece of land, full of snorkeling, locals fishing and chopping into live lobsters, and an abandoned sunken ship. It’s worth checking out, and you can walk all the way from the coast!

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Hair braiding and smooth piña coladas at Cocoplum Beach

Hair-braiding: I don’t care if it’s the most touristy thing to do (coming back from a beach trip with a head full of blond hair whipped tightly back into braids and beads), I loved having my hair done here. Shisti caught my eye at the bar. She came over, started pouring coconut oil all over my sun-beat, salty hair. How could I say no??

Snorkeling: These islands are simply made to be seen from underwater. We didn’t make it over to Johnny Cay or the southern side of the island, but there is plenty to explore. Bring your own snorkeling gear, buy some in town, or sign up for a tour that includes it. We bought our own sets in town and then sold them back to some locals working on the beach (win-win).

Eats and Drinks
El Regatto: Several friends recommended this one and it didn’t disappoint. Although the prices were high, the atmosphere was nice and portions were large. If you can, request one of the tables sitting on the actual dock, overlooking sting rays swimming by!

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Aqua Club: This was our go-to spot on Cocoplum beach. Delicious piña coladas to make you feel like you’re living vacation. Snacks and dishes also divine! Coconut battered shrimp with coconut rice? Yes please, and could you provide a coconut beverage on the side too? Okay thanks.

What Next?
Providencia.

Seriously! If you have made it to San Andres, it would be a shame to miss Providencia, an island of its own magical essence. Without going into details here, simply check out my post on hopping over to this gem.

If we spent more time in San Andres, I would explore the southern side, possibly by moto or biking. Although there are less beaches, there are more snorkeling opportunities and different landscape to check out.

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