Why San Andrés?
Because it’s easily reachable from Colombia mainland. Isla San Andrés has a long history, it used to be colonized by England, so in the island locals can speak English, with a sort of Jamaican accent. In the street or buses, they like to play kind of Reggae music, compare to the Salsa music played in Colombian mainland, I like Reggae better, I must say.
There has been a long territorial disputes of the island between Nicaragua and Colombia. In the map, it’s located only 150 km from Nicaragua. In the end, it belongs to Colombia. So from major Colombian cities: Bogota and Medellin. Colombia has one of the best low budget airlines within and outside the country. So if you ever go to Colombia, San Andrés can be your easiest and cheapest Caribbean experience.
Also because it’s not as touristy as other bigger island in the Caribbean sea, so you can still find a deserted beach easily. Price is slightly more expensive than Colombia mainland but still rather cheap and nice food.
Most of the hotels are all-in hotels in the island and they are often booked out by Colombian tourists. The family sitting next to me on the flight was super excited about the trip. I expect the island must be amazing. I love the fact that it’s so small so that I can walk along the beach from the airport to the accommodation. I walked along the waterfront promenade and suddenly feel the vibe of holiday.
San Andrés at the first sight 一见钟情呵呵。
I stayed in one of those Airbnbs close to the main street. After dropping off the luggage, I decided to take a walk downstairs. Look what I found! An old lady was selling street food. I absolutely like street food. Every time I go somewhere, the first thing I do is looking for street food. This one was great! Coconut rice, potato salad and fish with rich sauce, with a super spicy sauce. I love spicy, and this one is similar spicy level as in Bolivia, if you know that Bolivian tomato sauce.
After the food, I just wander around, some locals try to get braids done on me, I really love their braids but I think my volume is not that much like locals, so I didn’t dare to get it done, many shops were close during the siesta. Instead I got myself some nice ice cream and lay on the beach, reading and relaxing the whole afternoon. I absolutely love the sunset that, amazing colors!
In the evening, I went for some juice and cocktail, while looking at sky and counting stars with the star app on my phone. It was a great day.
The second day in San Andrés, I decided to rent a Golf Buggies. It cost around 40 dollar for a full day as I can remember. Golf Buggies is a very popular way of transport in the island, many travelers have done that. You can drive everywhere in the island, with fresh sea breeze and when you see something interesting, you can easily stop and spend some time there. I can’t think of a more relaxed and flexible way of traveling in San Andrés. There’re also convenient and cheap public buses around the island, I also used that during my trip, will mention it in the following days.
Let’s start our round-island day trip. First thing first, put on the sun cream. I’m kinda obsessed about sun creams, I wear it every day, even in Belgium. Look at the sun cream I bought in San Andrés. SPF 85?! That’s tropical level SPF, I guess.
在海岛旅行，最重要的就是防晒了，这个是老生常谈了，所有人都知道但是也有很多人玩的兴起容易忘记，所以每天都涂防晒霜的我，也必须提醒自己不要忘了。看我在岛上买到的防晒，85 SPF? 果然是热带！
Driving through the calm and peaceful seaside road, with palm trees as background. I discovered a nice beach called San Luis, it was 11 am when I arrived there and there were barely any tourists, only a local boy who was making some construction work for a little restaurant. Compared to the main beach in San Andrés town, here seems to be a better place to bath, take in the sun and to soak in the sea air. I was super excited, thinking probably the next 2-3 hours, I will stay here.
When it’s about noon, the local boy from earlier the construction work walked by and told me now the restaurant is open, I can order some food. He also told me they were still taking care of the fruits for fresh juice (which is my favorite thing in San Andres and the whole Colombia), he said”There are only some artificial juice for now”. I simply liked this way of simpleness, and I also love the setting of the restaurant. The restaurant is basically few chairs and tables on the beach. The sun shines right above the head at noon, so the boy kept moving my chair to the shade of the palm trees. I think that was funny.
Auntie of the boy is very nice, smiley and can make the amazing food even though they don’t have many choice of dishes. I ordered fish curry, it was super fresh and tasty, the curry sauce was rich. It remind me of Thai curry but a bit different, less spicy but more sweet. I suddenly realized a friend from Martinique used to tell me the food in Caribbean sea are a little bit similar as Asian food. I absolutely love it! After the meal, the boy told me now I can drink lulo juice instead of artificial ones, amazing! Lulo juice was my favorite one during my whole trip in Colombia, and it’s a super Colombian fruit.
After a satisfying meal, I just relaxed in the beach for a couple of hours, sleeping, reading, listening to podcast or music, playing with the dog, or simple doing nothing……Emptiness is not that obvious anymore in nowadays modern world, everyone is busying with the important things.
Afterward, I decided to hit the way, I passed by a drinking booth selling coconut juice and some coconut based cocktail, hahaha why not getting a Piña colada, one of my favorite cocktail. It’s especially nice with fresh young coconut juice.
放松了一阵以后，我觉得继续上路，途中看到一个买饮料的小屋台，买一些椰子汁和以椰汁为主的鸡尾酒，我买了一支Piña colada，最喜欢的鸡尾酒之一，新鲜的Piña colada永远是最棒的！
I was driving through the mirador on the south most, some couples who went there also with the Golf Cart, were taking selfie and playing with the wind. Then I drove through a wonderful natural swimming pool, thinking tomorrow I will definitely need to come here to swim and snorkel with tropical fishes. Super decision made, I drove back, returned the cart, finishing the second day in this amazing island, already falling in love with it!
When I drove the Golf Cart passing by the great natural swimming pool, they called it La Piscinita in Spanish. I decided to come on my third day here in San Andrés, . I always liked to swim in deep water, more than by beach. This spot seemed amazing for bathing. But this time, instead of hiring a Golf Cart, I decided to take a local bus to get there. As you can see, San Andrés is basically a sea-horse shaped coral island, the airport and the biggest town, San Andrés, are situated in the North, the beach I went earlier San Luis and the pool are situated in the South (see as the two stars in the map). The road in the island can’t be simpler, main road is the bund line around the island and there are also a few connecting the houses in the inland.
I’m that sort of person who always loves to take local public transport, train, bus or whatever. One reason is that I studied transport for my bachelor, which somehow made me a big fan of train ride. Every country I go, I try my best to take a train,
In India, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco, Bolivia, etc (weird, isn’t it?) But with my growing travelling experiences, I think the more important reason for choosing public transport becomes that I find it a great way to get to know the local people, I heard local folklore music in the bus and I feel the most warm-hearted people in the bus/train.
This time in San Andrés, I again used my very limited Spanish to get some help from locals. They told me where the bus stop is and the direction. The bus looks lovely and the bus ride was fantastic. It stops a few times along the bund line and the driver played the whole time Reggae music. I love it!
The bus stops quite close to the pool, I decided to take a small walk in one of the inland small road on the way to La Piscina. The road was beautiful with some scattered little houses. Local people enjoy their relaxed life, sitting there saying hello to me. It was about 32-35 degrees, I can’t wait to go swimming in the pool with fishes.
Yes, we are here now! I paid a small fee to get inside. There was no ATM, luckily I had just enough money. I really felt surrounded by nature with marvelous fish swimming next to you. It was challenging but exciting jump from 3 meters high into deep blue waters. It’s unbelievable how many different kinds of fishes I can see while swimming with them. It was totally wonderful.
After a few hours swimming and talking to the fishermen there, I went to a restaurant nearby and had a big bottle of Colombian beer with paella. I don’t know if you ever tried Colombian beer but I love it! They make paella in a slightly different way compared to the Spanish way, it has less strong flavor, I think in San Andrés people like to eat a bit light taste but I like it too.
I was enjoying my food and beer, while looking at the beautiful sea, this lovely Caribbean coral island has so many different shades of blue, from royal blue, to sky blue, to turquoise. I felt I was indulged into a heaven of blue and couldn’t get enough of this!
San Andrés town is quite small and walkable. Main street is a sea promenade along which there are a few souvenir shops, restaurants and sport shops, like you can imagine, similar as many coast cities, the price in San Andrés is rather reasonable. That’s also the reason I love it, as one Steemer who replied in my last post, it reminds him of the trip in Thailand. It did also remind somewhere in a Thai smaller island, such as Koh Phangan. I walked a bit away from the seaside, the view became suddenly more livable. I saw some small squares where local were playing, funny statues with which I took a few pictures, a little bar where local boys were watching football, a big supermarket where I found an interesting frozen Margarita cocktail, you can simply freeze it for a few hour then it tastes like a frozen margarita. I was so excited to give it a try because it’s my favorite cocktail.
Funny statue in the street 有意思的街头艺术
I notice this interesting street art in the square. Even though now it’s not that easy to find locals cooking and eating together in the island like the old days any more, but in many small places in Colombia, they still do. I traveled to a small village coincidentally also called San Andrés (de Pisimbalá) of 1000 in Southern Colombia, and enjoyed eating and cooking all together with them everyday. I bet people still missing those best old times.
Later I packed my luggage to get ready, just a 30L backpack. I always travel super light. I want write a post about how you can pack light. It will benefit very most during a round trip or long journey.
I mentioned in first day when arriving, one thing I love San Andrés a lot is that the airport is so close by, with a small pleasant walk down the waterfront promenade and after crossing a lovely little park, the airport is right there. Walking to there seemed a hassle free and more relaxed way. I lovely the little green park right next to the airport. I still had quite some time so I just sat in the park, drinking my ready-frozen cocktail. What a great way to kill time.
On the plane, I met the Colombian family again, they sat again next to me. Full loaded with vitamin Sea, we were talking and laughing, sharing the snacks we had, while enjoying the magnificent view of this lovely little carol island. From the plane, I can clearly see the seven (or more) shades of blue. It made my San Andrés trip complete.
Thanks for travelling with me.