SAN ANDRES ISLAND
The first thing that you should know about San Andres is that it is tiny. At only eight miles long and a mile wide (or 22 m2), it would take just one hour to drive around the island. The second thing you should know is that it is beautiful. Palm treed dotted, ringed by coral reefs and sandy beaches, San Andres is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a diver’s paradise and a National Park. And the third thing you should know is that San Andres is a duty free zone, so shopping is plentiful and inexpensive.
The Island is almost 500 miles north of the Colombian mainland but geographically much closer to Jamaica and Nicaragua than Colombia. This island’s proximity to Central America means it was considered a strategic spot during the 16th-19th centuries. Despite Christopher Columbus allegedly visiting the island on his fourth voyage, the first official recording of San Andres is on Spanish maps in 1527, although the island quickly passed to the Dutch for a short while before becoming part of the British Empire in the 17th century. Spanish govern followed and the island did not become Colombian until the early 20th century.
San Andres’ wealthy history makes for an eclectic mix of culture and language, with local Creole dialect being a mix of olde-English, Spanish and African (and even a bit of pirate buccaneer thrown in!). The cultural mix is everywhere: from the reggae/calypso/salsa music that spills out from the bars and café to the traditional colonial architecture.