San Andrés is the largest and principal island of the Colombian department of San Andrés y Providencia which consists of two island groups about 480 miles northwest of Colombia and 140 miles from the coast of Nicaragua. The archipelago has been claimed by Nicaragua, England and is now under the control of Colombia. San Andrés is the main island of the San Andrés group and the principal town is San Andrés in the north of the island. This is where most people spend their time on the island when they are not diving and the hub of commerce for the island.
The town itself is actually pretty nice with a lot of Caribbean charm. I kept thinking that if you were dropped off there without knowing where you were, you would have no idea you were in Colombia. The town of San Andrés had a lot of fun and colorful restaurants which was the first thing we did when we got there. The cabbie took us to an authentic island restaurant called Miss Celia O’Neill Taste Restaurant with quick and kind service. I highly recommend the stewed pork and coconut rice and you might even see a blue lizard or two running around.
After lunch we headed down the peatonal (a walking only shopping street) toward the main beach in town to decide if we were going to head out to Johnny Cay or stay on the beach on San Andrés. I asked one of the kids with the boats which beach was better and he emphatically said Johnny Cay so that was all the convincing that we needed and we were off.
The very small island of Johnny Cay looks strikingly similar to something you would see in the South Pacific in Fiji or in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. I’m referring to the way the small island was set up with a bunch of trees in the middle almost in a perfect little circle surrounded by pristine beach and crystal clear warm water. It was awesome pulling up to the island after a mile ride out to it and the island itself was fantastic.
You could literally walk around the island in 15 minutes and there was some excellent reefs off the eastern coast. The island was packed with Colombians because it was a holiday weekend but that didn’t take away from the fun and the certainly not the scenery. The inner area of the island was like a palm tree city with little bars and grills set up cooking fresh fish and serving whatever you could drink out of a coconut. Our drink of choice was a pina colada of course and if you wanted more alcohol in your drink the waiter guy carried an extra bottle of whiskey and brandy in his apron thing for some topping off. It was pretty funny. I didn’t know they put brandy and whiskey in pina coladas but hey-if you’re drinking out of a coconut; does it really matter?
After a relaxing day on Johnny Cay we headed back to San Andrés for some walking around and just taking in the island after an awesome day. I won’t even get into the flight cancellation situation that occurred and threw a big wrench into things because it actually ended up working out better in the end anyway. I do wish to thank Yvette at Avianca Airlines for helping us out with a prompt rebooking after I busted ahead of everyone else who was on the cancelled flight-the other passengers loved it; let me tell you. Although we didn’t get to go to Medellin as originally planned-it was still awesome and San Andrés was a huge hit. If you are in Colombia, it is worth the time and the money to get there. It’s not a cheap flight from either Cartagena or Bogota but you won’t regret it. My only regret is that we only had one day there…but something tells me there might be a return visit.