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Johnny Cay, San Andres, Colombia | © Joao Carlos Medau / Flickr
Johnny Cay, San Andres, Colombia | © Joao Carlos Medau / Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/medau/8304072347/
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The Top 10 Things to See and Do in San Andrés Island, Colombia

Picture of Chris Bell
Updated: 23 March 2018
The lovely little Caribbean island of San Andrés is an extremely popular holiday destination with Colombians, and plenty of foreigners make the trip as well, drawn by San Andrés’ irresistible combination of paradise beaches, island culture, and amazing food. So here are the top 10 things to see and do in San Andrés Island.

Johnny Cay

A protected little coral islet just offshore from San Andrés town, Johnny Cay is surrounded by perhaps the prettiest beach on San Andrés, as well as some spectacular views over the sparkling blue waters and San Andrés itself. Sunbathing at Johnny Cay and taking a dip in that beautiful sea is an unmissable part of any visit to San Andrés.

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One of the island’s many stunning beaches | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Visit the Botanical Gardens

A more leftfield activity choice on a visit to San Andrés (most people don’t visit a Caribbean island famous for beaches to visit a botanical garden), this pretty little garden is the ideal way to escape the crowds and enjoy a walk on the shady forest trails crisscrossing the small location. There’s also a cracking observation tower offering gorgeous views over the east coast of San Andrés.

San Luis

Located on the east coast of the island, San Luis is a small settlement located alongside some of the nicest beaches on the island. It’s also home to some of San Andrés’ best hotels and restaurants and makes for a more peaceful option than San Andrés town when you’re looking for somewhere to stay or have dinner.

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It is, it really is! | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Eat your fill of fresh seafood

If you’re a fan of seafood, then you have come to the right place. San Andrés, being a Caribbean island, is a paradise for fresh fish and seafood, and whether you choose to eat at a small beachside restaurant, or a more upmarket spot like El Paraiso, Gourmet Shop Assho, or La Regatta, you won’t be disappointed.

Haynes Cay

Another gorgeous little offshore islet, this time off the east coast of the island, Haynes Cay isn’t the place to visit if you’re a beach-lover, but the snorkelling here is some of the best in San Andrés, and it’s a very popular day-trip from the mainland. It can also be combined with a day of snorkelling and swimming at the neighbouring Haynes Cay.

La Loma

San Andrés isn’t just beaches and sea, there’s also the inland of the island to explore: La Loma – or ‘The Hill’ – is a small town in the middle of the island, and has retained much of the typical ‘raizal’ culture that has been lost in much of the rest of the island. The old Baptist Church which was established in 1847 is one of the highlights.

Cayo El Acuario

This little sandbank in the sea is located right alongside Haynes Cay, and is extremely popular as a day-trip – often combined with its neighbouring cay – for snorkelling. Rays, colourful fish, and even turtles are regularly spotted in the calm, clear waters of El Acuario. There are few small restaurants and bars perched on the little islet alongside the Acuario, so you don’t have to worry about where to grab a bite to eat and a cocktail.

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Spotting a sea turtle while snorkelling | © Ratha Grimes / Flickr

Rent a golf buggy or bike

The best way to explore San Andrés – as with its neighbouring island, Providencia – is to rent out a golf buggy and take the ring-road around the entire island, stopping on the way at beaches and other sights. Healthier types can choose to rent a bike instead, which also allows you to explore more inland (the buggies struggle with the steep hills).

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You’ll discover many hidden beaches and coves on a golf buggy tour of the island | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Get soaked at El Hoyo

El Hoyo Soplador is also known as the Geyser. It’s a hole on a rocky stretch of shoreline which, thanks to the pressure of the waves building up beneath it, periodically erupts in a giant spout of sea water, soaking all those surrounding it. It’s a popular tourist attraction, and many visitors stop off here as part of their self-guided buggy tour of the island.

Shop for duty-free goods

San Andrés is especially beloved in Colombia as a duty-free destination. With no taxes on such items as alcohol and clothes, it’s a great place to stock up during your time in Colombia. So if you’re going to be staying longer in Colombia, grab some cheap (and delicious) rum during your time on San Andrés Island.