SAN ANDRES ISLAND
The San Andres and Providencia archipelago comprises Colombia's Caribbean islands, lying some 290 miles north of the South American coast. Palm-dotted San Andres is only eight miles long and two miles wide. It is noted for beautiful sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and good diving sites. At one time the island belonged to Britain and, according to local lore; it was a favorite hideout for the legendary pirate Henry Morgan. In 1822, San Andres came under the control of Colombia. In recent years the original population has greatly increased due to unrestricted immigration from the mainland. There are also Chinese and Middle Eastern communities. The official language is Spanish but English is widely spoken, especially in shops and hotels. The island is best seen via the scenic ring road that offers views of coves, beaches and palm groves. In the interior stands a Baptist church dating from 1847, and the attraction at the southern end is the Hoyo Soplador, a geyser-like hole where the sea shoots jets of water intermittently into the air during the right wind and sea conditions. On the island's northern tip lies the main town and commercial center, known by the same name as the island. San Andres Town is surrounded by beaches, with small hotels lining the waterfront. Being a duty-free zone, the town often gets crowded with Colombian shoppers who come from the mainland looking for foreign-made goods at duty-free prices.
To reach the town from the tender landing requires an approximate 20-minute taxi ride. However, it is not uncommon for drivers to choose the longer way around the island for a higher fare. From the downtown waterfront, boats offer trips to Johnny Cay, a tiny island just a stone's throw across from town and known for its powdery white sand beach and rustic, laid-back atmosphere. San Andres Island’s main attraction is its location off the beaten track, as well as pretty scenery, sandy beaches and clear, warm waters. Tourism infrastructure is limited. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to anchor off El Cove. Guests will be taken ashore via the ship's tenders. The landing site is about a 20-minute drive from San Andres Town. There are plenty of taxi drivers offering their services. Please be sure to agree on the fare before setting out (the one-way fare should be around $30). Keep in mind that not all taxi drivers speak English. Shuttle buses are not available. Shopping Most shops in town carry duty-free imports. At New Point Plaza you will find shops selling local souvenir items and jewelry including emeralds. Some stores close between 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The local currency is the peso. Many shops will accept U.S. dollars and major credit cards. Cuisine Outdoor cafés are available in town if you fancy a cold drink or a quick snack. Other Sites All of the island’s sights are covered on the San Andres Island Drive. Beaches Swimmers, snorkelers and sun seekers will find beach facilities right in town. One of the hotels also features water sport rentals. Johnny Cay can be reached via local boats departing from the waterfront. However, be aware that winds are fairly strong between November and January, which may cause delays for your return boat ride. There are no tourist facilities on Johnny Cay. Private cars/vans are not available in this port, except for taxis.