San Andres is a Colombian island located off the east coast of Nicaragua. A popular vacation destination for Colombians, but foreign tourists also enjoy coming here. After almost 8 years of living in Colombia, I finally got on a plane to discover San Andres for myself. Seven days and two different hotels later, I’ve now formed my own picture of the island, and I’m going to tell you about it in several blogs (including this mini guide), giving many tips for enjoying San Andres in the best way possible. Starting with the most fun activity: rent a buggy in San Andres and drive yourself around the island. Will you join us?
How do you discover the Colombian island of San Andres?
San Andres, of course, is primarily a beach destination for a relaxing beach vacation at a beautiful blue sea. However, it is also incredibly fun to get to know the island better. There is 1 main road that leads along the coast all over the island. You can also head inland up the hill. We did not do this.
Staying only in the town on the beach will give you a very different view of the island than if you go outside this area as well. Because exactly everything outside the main city is much more beautiful. So it is really advisable to do this.
Because San Andres is very touristy, there are many options for touring the island. Consider the cab, a tour on a tourist bus, a buggy or a scooter.
The most popular ways are to rent a buggy or a scooter.
Renting a scooter or buggy?
However, I would advise against renting a scooter. There are very many fatal accidents on the road in San Andres and especially by scooter. Not only do people drive like crazy, many get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol. In addition, San Andres’ roads are known to be slippery due to the sand and salt on the road. Many tourists do not know this and slip on the scooter with terrible consequences.
So my advice is to rent a buggy instead.
Renting a buggy in San Andres Colombia
Renting a buggy in San Andres is not that difficult; they are plentiful. Especially in the center of the island, you can rent a buggy more or less on every street corner. However, the quality of the buggies varies quite a bit. For example, there are large sturdy buggies with seat belts and some kind of frame for protection in case of an accident. But there are also small simple buggies without seat belts and that frame. You have buggies with space for suitcases, without space, for 2 people or for 4 people.
You rent a buggy for the whole day and have to return it at 6PM. In high season (June to August), the buggies are mostly gone by 9AM, so be quick.
How much does it cost to rent a buggy?
There are no standard prices for this. This varies by where you rent, by person and by buggy. In addition, there is a good chance that as a foreigner you will pay more than Colombians. Since there are no fixed prices, you can therefore haggle when renting a buggy.
Inquiring with several providers, we found one for 150,000 pesos for the whole day. With another provider, this cost 250,000 pesos.
So it may be worthwhile to ask at several providers and choose the cheapest one.
We had to pay a deposit of 100,000 pesos, which was neatly returned to us upon return. We also refueled for 20,000 pesos.
- renting a buggy you pay cash, so bring plenty of cash;
- if you don’t have a driver’s license don’t get behind the wheel. There is a lot of police along the road checking tourists for a valid driver’s license. We were warned about this in advance and we too were stopped for inspection.
Road trip San Andres Colombia
There is only one main road in San Andres; it couldn’t be easier. It is best to start on the west coast and return via the east side. This way you are constantly riding on the waterfront and can easily stop along the way.
The west coast of San Andres
The west coast of San Andres is definitely the most beautiful side of the island. Driving here is like a dream. Along beautiful rocky shores, white beaches, stunning views and blue waters that almost make your eyes hurt. It was so beautiful that we even drove around the island twice.
Along the way, you can stop at many places, there are plenty of restaurants to get something to eat and drink, or simply relax on one of the black rocks.
On this side of the island you will not find beaches for swimming, for that you have to be in the center. You do have La Piscinita, a beautiful place for swimming and snorkeling near higher black rocks. We only saw this from a distance and did not enter. However, it may be worthwhile as it is a beautiful area. At the time we were there, it was extremely crowded so we skipped it.
The east coast of the island
The east coast of San Andres is beautiful on the south side, but as soon as you drive into the village of San Luis you reenter urban areas. And that means the end of the peace and beautiful views. If you want to go to a different beach than the downtown beaches, this is the place to be. Just before San Luis you will find beaches where you can swim, as well as north of the village. There you will find Rocky Cay Bay with beaches and places to snorkel. You can also go to the island of Rocky Cay with the area next to it called Acuario. Here you can snorkel well. We did this with a catamaran.
How long does a round trip San Andres take?
San Andres is very small and in about 2 hours you drive around the entire island. Even with a few stops. Of course if you have an extensive lunch along the way, lay on the beach somewhere for an hour and go snorkeling at La Piscinita, it will take you all day.
We mostly made many short stops, then had lunch in downtown San Andres and then went all the way around the island again. The west coast is so fantastically beautiful that it is absolutely no punishment to drive by there twice and just enjoy the beautiful views.
Where to stay in San Andres?
Read all about where to stay in San Andres, including extensive reviews on the hotels below.
Villa San Miguel
In busy downtown San Andres, but quiet location. Has studios with a kitchen, plenty of space and a hot shower. The patio with chairs and tables is great for sitting and the jacuzzi is recommended in the heat. From here you do everything downtown within walking distance.
By The Sea Guest House
Outside the center on the west coast of the island, a 20-minute walk from downtown and the beaches. Very quiet location with beautiful views over the sea and the spectacular sunset. Very large rooms, a balcony and terrace to sit, delicious breakfast included and a hot shower. Here I could have easily stayed another week.
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