According to my parents, it turns out that my first steps… that’s right my baby steps were taken on an island in Colombia. Perhaps you have heard of this island… San Andres. So this island has caused a lot of commotion. This island apparently used to belong to Nicaragua, and for years there has been constant battle over these two countries as to who it belongs. The reality is – it does not matter who it belongs to, as it is absolutely gorgeous.
San Andres is an island that is part of the Caribbean Sea, it is know as the waters of 7 colours, as when you look at the water, you are able to see different shades of clear crystal blue, aquamarine, and green. It really is a beautiful white sandy island. But not only does it have its nice beaches all around, but it also has a mountainous area, which you can also enjoy. It is very small, so you can actually travel fully through out the island.
I went to the San Andres when I was 19. It was my longest trip on my own ever. I was there for 2 months, and had the opportunity to live with some local friends. Mind you I did spend time in a hotel a few nights in an all inclusive. It was the hotel Decameron Los Delfines. It was one of the smaller hotels by Decameron on the island, but it was one of the newer ones. It certainly was great. It was a 5 star hotel when I went in 2009 but it may be a 4 star hotel now. Take a look at the hotel here. It was a perfect hotel. The restaurant was right by the beach, it had a pool, and even though it did not have direct access to the beach, the beach was just about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. It was also right off the main strip, which gave you access to restaurants and shopping. From what I hear, things have changed a bit at this beach. This island is very popular among the mainland population, specially during the “Holy Week” which happens to be the time when most people visit the island. But it is a a lot of young people looking for a good time, which means over drinking and doing a lot of things they do. But as most – do not think of how a place may become after all the “fun” that is had. Regardless, my time was amazing here. Getting to know more friends and enjoying the views throughout the island.
Food – Its an island! Therefore there is lots of seafood to have! But areas where there are lots of tourists, no matter how latino you may look or be, it will still be very expensive. What do I mean by expensive? Well essentially the same price you would pay for food in a North American country – 12-20USD. Now there are plenty of small locations where you can have an amazing meal such as – Pescado Frito, Patacones, Arroz, y Ensalada (Fried Fish, Patacones (As I will not translate, because nothing translates this delicious goodness), rice and salad) all this and a soda for about 8USD. So again, San Andres is a beautiful place, but being that it is a very touristy island and the fact that it is an island, things will be a bit more expensive than mainland Colombia.
Now when it comes to the people, well the people are just magnificent. Happy people willing to help you out no matter what you need. People who enjoy life and find happiness and whatever it is they are doing. They are also very hospitable and easy going. They mind their own business but yet are willing to help without being asked. Sure there are plenty of people who will also try to rip you off, but for the most part, everyone is extremely friendly and easy going.
A question you may be wondering is how to get around? Well there are plenty of options. One – You can rent a car and have it set up either before you come or do it right from the hotel when you arrive. They have extremely reasonable prices. That is one option. Keep in mind that back in 2009 they did not have ANY traffic lights on the island. There was an infamous place called 5 corners (cinco esquinas) being that there were 5 roads that met into one intersection. It was the most chaotic and dangerous place I have ever encountered. There were lots of daily accidents there. Lots. But if you are wanting a thrill and having the comfort of your own vehicle, go for it! Another option is the public transportation – mini buses, large buses, taxis – these are options. Taxis are very reasonable and can be a fun ride. Buses are probably your best option. They are safe, very cheap, and they will get you where you need to go. One last option… the “Mototaxi”. This option is a very interesting one. Considering that you haul a motorcycle driver and they ask you where you are going and you hop on the back (sometimes more than one person) and they will drop you off where you need to go. Well there is an experience!
In the end, San Andres was an amazing experience. Visiting its neighbouring island Providence is also quite an adventure. You can take a plane for 300USD or do what I did – take the cargo boat which will be 6 hours on open sea… yeah cargo boat… no seats, and full on feel of the waves. But hey! It was only 30USD and I got there safe and sound.
If you are visiting Colombia and would like to go to the beach, this is a place you have to go. The nice beaches, the good food and the amazing people will certainly make this an unforgettable experience for you. It was great to go back to the place … where I took my first steps. As this next step was a step towards more travelling!