San Andres is a study in contrast. As a Colombian island, roughly 93miles (150km) off the coast of Nicaragua, it’s 12.5 km (7.8 mi) in length and 3 km (1.9 mi) in width. Its charm is largely discovered by skipping the kitsch of shopping and focusing on spending time in its real allure – the water. The Caribbean beaches of San Andres boast a beautiful series of cays from which travelers can explore the sea by diving, snorkeling, or fishing. Locals lament its residential overcrowding and safety concerns are common, and pickpocketing and petty robbery is a common complaint of travelers. Despite those concerns, it is still a hidden gem for divers and snorkelers in particular and here’s why.
Diving in San Andres, Colombia
More than 35 spots are popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. The clear Caribbean sea is teeming with colorful wildlife and coral, including the soft coral that looks like trees. Diving in San Andres is perfect for those that prefer longer dives, rather than deeper dives because the boats take you nearly directly to the dive spots, maximizing the time in the water. Some of the sites include:
- Trampa de Tortugas
- La Rocosa
- Los Recuerdos
These sites are all between 60-80 feet in dive depth, with an average dive time of around an hour. Using biodegradable sunscreen is a must, as the sun is very intense and, more importantly, it won’t harm the coral. Wearing a lycra shirt is another option. Another tip routinely mentioned is to not bring anything on the boat that you don’t wish to get wet, and don’t leave valuables unattended, especially cameras or camcorders.
Hiring a reputable dive company is critical, and the very best will help you choose the sites to visit and pair you with dive buddies, as well as perform buddy checks before you enter the water. Safety instructions are generally avaiable in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The water temperature in February averages above 80F (28C) even in Winter, so wetsuits aren’t typically worn, although good dive shops have them available and included in the cost of the rental, which typically runs around $50 (56€) and includes the trip and equipment for 2 hours.
Sunbathing & Beach Spots
Various beaches dot the island, which are accessible by scooter or taxi. Parking is generally free, as long as you pay for your food and drink. An “unofficial” waiter will greet you when you arrive and keep your tab running while you’re there. The beaches can fill up quickly and visitors share with iguanas, birds and crabs at several cays. You can swim to other small islands, just be mindful of the current. But for the sublime tropical experience of coconut trees and white sandy beaches, it’s an experience not to be missed while in San Andres.
General San Andres Information:
- San Andres is a 2-hour flight from Bogota, making it very accessible.
- Divers should plan to stay 2-3 days to maximize dive time.
- More than 90 hotels occupy the small island, with no major chains.
- Wifi is widely available, and free in most hotels.
- Food choices are plentiful and fairly inexpensive.
- Seafood is plentiful and several beachfront restaurants offer unique preparations and ceviche with local ingredients.
- Spanish, Creole, Portuguese, and English are commonly spoken.
- Upgraded safety precautions should be observed and keeping valuables safe should be a high priority.
- Skip the tap water in all places
San Andres is best incorporated as a secondary destination to your larger Colombian Vacation. Your Class Adventure Travel specialist can help you add San Andres to your itinerary in the order it makes sense to enhance your trip to Colombia or any of our Latin America destinations.