San Andres Island Stories and Tips

The Islands of San Andres and Providencia

San Andres is a tiny island that has only ten square miles, and a population of 67,000 inhabitants. It is a free port, where you can buy practically anything, and this explains the delays in most flights, because Colombians come here to buy all sorts of things, including household appliances. As average, flights leave 2 to 4 hours late, so keep this in mind when planning connections with international flights. At least, that was my experience with SAM. Maybe Avianca is more reliable. The island is some 4 miles long and does not have many beaches, but those it does have are really beautiful. The beach in front of the Hotel Tiuna where I stayed, was probably 1500 feet long, but had white sand and beautiful turquoise and emerald green water. I really enjoyed the stay. Although the free-shops at San Andrés are well assorted, you will find better prices at Curazao and St. Maarten. This is because a sales tax (or something similar) is applied on the "duty-free" purchases.

When I visited the island the first time, over 25 years ago, the island had only some 6,000 inhabitants. Half the population spoke English and the Colombian population obviously spoke Spanish. I imagine that now Spanish is the language most spoken, but you will still find many English speaking inhabitants in the island. I would definitely recommend the hotel Tiuna, a nice 4 star hotel on the beach. It also has a good swimming pool, although not as large as other swimming pools in the Caribbean. If you want to see what the hotel is like, check this page: www.tiuna.com. Most 3 star hotels in San Andres are costing some 100 to 150 dollars per night. This is the address and phone number of the Hotel Tiuna. Avenida Colombia No. 4-31, phone +57 8 512-3235, Fax +57 8 512-3478. At the time I was there a hotel room was costing less than 50 dollars. I understand these rates have increased to nearly double that price. In any case, there are many cheaper alternatives on the island. Although the island belongs to Colombia, it is only 75 miles away from Nicaragua, while it is some 430 miles North of Colombia. Reggae and Calypso are the most popular music on the island. You will find many Dutch and English-style constructions in the island. A motorboat trip to Johnny and Haynes (also called the "Aquarium" due to the large number of color fish that swim around you, is really worthwhile. I did not visit the island of Providencia, but you can see it from San Andres. The flight takes 25 minutes. Both islands have beautiful emerald green and blue waters in the sea, very fine white sand beaches. What more could you ask for?

Keep in mind that a 14 day stay at San Andres (if you want to relax) only costs double the price of a two-night stay. I was amazed to see this (granted, there is not much to do there except enjoy the sea), but check the prices in force today stated in Colombian pesos at this site, and include the round trip by plane from continental Colombia. www.turiscolombia.andes.com/planes_san_andres. (If the Apache server tells you it cannot find the page, click first on http://www.turiscolombia.andes.com/ and then click on San Andres. One US dollar is worth today 2308 Colombian pesos. This means that you can stay two weeks at the Tiuna Hotel, including airfare from Colombia, for some 700 Dollars, while a two-day stay would cost nearly half that price. San Andres is by far the safest place in all Colombia. You can only come in by plane or ship, and this increases safety drastically. Enjoy your stay.

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