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The Travel Insighter San Andres Island, Colombia FAQBook (2024)

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4 weeks ago

This post is part of Travel Insighter’s FAQBook series, providing up to date answers to the most frequently asked travel questions for destinations across the globe. We regularly update our destination FAQBooks with the latest questions and answers to ensure that you are fully prepared for your travels and to help you get the most out of your experience.

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Context

Where is San Andres Island, Colombia?

San Andres Island is in the Caribbean Sea about 750 km north of the Colombian mainland. In fact, San Andres Island is closer to Nicaragua (only 380 km) than Colombia itself!

Before You Go

How do I get to San Andres Island, Colombia?

Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (Airport Code: ADZ) is serviced by regular daily flights from Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena and Cali and a handful of flights a week from Panama City.

Travel tip: Flight prices to San Andres Island fluctuate massively so you need to book your flight as far in advance as possible.

Are there any fees or taxes to visit San Andres Island?

Yes. Tourists are required to pay an entry tax of 112,500 COP (US$27) when visiting San Andres Island.

You will need to pay the entry tax before boarding your flight to San Andres. This can be done at the departure gate at whichever airport you are flying into San Andres from. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see anyone arranging this, this process is usually handled by airline staff. The whole process is often chaotic and you will need to line up before boarding begins to pay the fee and obtain the receipt slip.

Unlike Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, the tax is a one-off amount, no matter how long you are staying in San Andres. Don’t worry about having enough COP on hand; you can pay the entry tax with card.

Once purchased, you will be given a receipt slip, which you are required to fill out yourself. Upon arrival in San Andres, you will line up (similar to an international arrival) and have your receipt slip processed.

You will need your entry tax receipt to depart from San Andres, so make sure to keep it somewhere safe.

When is the best time of year to visit San Andres Island?

The Caribbean hurricane season runs from January through to June, which technically makes half the year ‘low season’ for visiting. In saying that, I’ve spent time in San Andrés and the Caribbean more broadly during this period and you can often get very lucky with the weather.

The domestic tourism high season runs during both the August summer break and through the December Christmas break. If you are visiting during this period, you’ll want to pre-book accommodation as far in advance as possible.

beach chairs at johnny cay beach colombia

Planning your stay

How long should I spend on San Andres Island?

In my opinion, an ideal itinerary for San Andres Island would be around 3-4 nights. This allows for enough time to see the major sites and enjoy some downtime on the beach.

Of course, you can obviously spend longer and enjoy lazy days on some of the best beaches in the world. But San Andres Town can be a small place.

Where should I stay on San Andres Island?

The main village is San Andres Town, just five minutes from the international airport. If you want to be in the heart of the action (and Colombian domestic tourism market), I’d stay here.

If you are looking for a budget option, I recommend Dreamer Beach Club. This is an extremely good value for money budget hotel/hostel with a pool in the heart of town. If budget is less of a concern, check out Hotel Casablanca or Sea Avenue. These hotels offer a solid 4-star offering right by the beach.

On the ground

Is San Andres Island expensive?

By Colombian standards, yes. Overall, prices on San Andres Island are around 10 – 20% higher than you would expect on the Colombian mainland.

However, San Andres is also a duty free shopping zone which means bargain hunters for clothes and electronics can often grab a good deal here. But for most travelers, the prices which matter (restaurants, hotels, activities) are often higher than in the mainland.

How do I get around San Andres Island?

The first thing you will notice on San Andres Island is the abundance of buggies.

There are pros and cons to hiring a buggy for your trip to San Andres Island. The major pro is that you have your own set of wheels. This means you will not be reliant on organized island tours to get around. In general, if you are traveling with a group of two or more, I recommend renting a buggy (even just for a day or two). If you are traveling during peak season or over a weekend, make sure to pre-book your buggy.

However, it’s worth mentioning that many of the popular day tours involve leaving San Andres Island to Johnny Cay or offshore dive sites.  

Taxis are also available on the island with set prices for hops around the island. These are generally higher than you would expect in mainland Colombia. For example, at the time of writing, the short ten-minute ride from San Andres Town to the airport costs 23,000 COP (US$6).

Can I visit Providencia Island?

Yes. Neighboring Providencia Island is only accessible from San Andres by plane. There are usually at least two daily flights on regional airline Satena from San Andres to the even more remote, and less-visited, Providencia Island.

Where is the best beach on San Andres Island?

In my opinion, the best beach in the area is just off shore at Johnny Cay. To visit you’ll need to arrange a day tour. My tip would be to find a company with regular shuttles back and forth so you can craft your own, perfect amount of time in paradise.

On San Andres itself, most visitors spend the afternoons at the town beach which is surprisingly clean. Otherwise, Playa San Luis is only a short 20-minute drive from town. Here, you’ll find long stretches of empty white sand.

Is San Andres Island worth visiting?

Unquestionably, yes!

Sitting in the heart of the Caribbean, San Andrés is Colombia’s ultimate Caribbean getaway. This small island – along with neighboring Providencia – are Colombian domestic hotspots and are slowly emerging on the radar of adventurous foreign tourists.

With duty free shopping, a safe environment, the unique history and culture of the Raizal people, and miles of white sand beaches, you’ll soon understand why San Andres is one of our favorite places to visit in Colombia.

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