This may be the last island I visit for more than three days. Not because it’s a terrible place to stay (although it’s nothing special), but because of the climate. At one time I luxuriated in hot and humid tropical climates: Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Caribbean islands. Now, I barely tolerate them. Here’s a photo of my shirt after walking outside one morning for 20 minutes.
About the island
San Andrés belongs to Colombia, but lies much closer to Nicaragua. It’s a 1 1/2 hour flight from Cartagena, the closest mainland city. And, you have to pay a visitors’ tax of ~$40usd, which is $35 too much.
The main downtown has 90% of the action. If you stay on another part of the island, like I did, services, restaurants, etc. are scarce. You really need to rent a vehicle to get around (moto, jeep, golf cart) and they will cost you a bit of money. The jeep-like vehicle was quoted at $60/day! The golf cart was $40 but could be driven only until 6pm.
I ate one of my four memorable meals here. Four memorable meals in 23 days. Enough said about that. But, a penne pasta with pears and blue cheese sat at the top of the list. It’s available at Aqua Beach Club.
There was a fast food stand near my Airbnb that opened at 6:30 each evening. The name was The Queen of the Fast Food. The owner, a young woman, sold only five items. I ordered the Chorry Perro (chorizo hotdog). Grilled, topped with bacon and onions, ooh, it was tasty.
I wanted to try a chuzo, but she was out of them. All she told me was that it’s made with chicken.
As an aside, I asked her what it was like living on San Andrés. Sometimes it felt like a prison, she said. She’s been to four cities on the mainland and hopes to travel more one day.
Things to do
Like most islands, snorkeling and diving constitute the main activities, along with hanging out at the beach. I’m sure boats can be rented or tours taken for some deep sea fishing. Beyond water-related activities, there’s not much to see or do. It’s a small island.
One day I decided to walk downtown. It took 75 minutes and I kept to the shade every chance I had. I passed by the oldest church on the island (Baptist, not Catholic as you might expect); built in 1844.
I was totally intrigued by a vacant house I encountered, including a car and a boat in the yard. Someone rich lived occupied it at one time. My Airbnb host told me it’s likely a narco trafficker resided there and had to make a hasty exit.
Anyone traveling to Colombia who wants to visit an island, I would suggest switching San Andrés for the Rosario Islands, just a short boat ride from Cartagena. Closer and much more beautiful.
If you still want to see San Andrés, bring money. Most everything is expensive. If you want to stay away from the downtown area, I’d recommend House of the Sun Hostal. It’s where I stayed and it made my time on the island tolerable.
One more post coming after this summarizing the entire trip.