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This Stunning Lesser-Known Island Is Latin America’s Best Kept Secret

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Doesn't it feel like the world is getting smaller and smaller? Like finding off-path destinations is a daunting task?

Uncovering hidden gems is becoming more difficult for travelers as we live in the day and age of information overload.

There are some, however, that slip through the cracks.

Whether you're in search of some last-minute winter sun in a paradisal location or planning out your adventures throughout the year, Latin America's best-kept secret will check off all the boxes.

aerial view of san andres colombia

On the downside, there are no direct flights from the U.S., but easy connections make the journey worthwhile.

It's time to give credit where credit is due and put the gorgeous island of San Andres, Colombia on the map this year.

One Of Colombia's Safest Destinations

San Andres is a bit confusing to the eye at first glance.

Closer to mainland Nicaragua than Colombia, this South American island can easily be labeled Central America, but it is indeed a Colombian paradise in the Caribbean Sea.

El Acuario - San Andres Island, Colombia

Given Colombia's iffy reputation right now across the country between U.S. travel security warnings and our own on-the-ground reporting, San Andres makes for one of the safest escapes in the nation.

Petty crime can happen anywhere, and there are reports of sketchy San Andres streets after a night of bar-hopping, but nowhere near the frequent occurrences that are often reported in the likes of Medellin, Bogota, and Cali.

The phrase ‘No Dar Papaya' commonly used by locals is good to know anywhere in the country, which essentially means don't give a reason to be sought out by criminals.

Aerial view of a touristic village in San Andres isla, Colombia

This idyllic vacation spot won't have your head on a swivel wondering who is behind you; you can experience a blissful vacation in one of the most underrated beach destinations in Latin America.

World Class All-Inclusive Resorts

Mexico and other popular Caribbean getaways are not the only options for lavish all-inclusive stays. Plus, doesn't vacationing on an island make the trip all the more alluring?

Here in San Andres, vacationers have at least 10 resorts to choose from for all-inclusive waterfront accommodations.

Colorful shack on a beach surrounded by palm trees in San Andres y Providencia, Colombia

Many luxury hotels are packed in to the scenic northeastern tip of this small island near the cruise port.

Although, travelers can opt for more secluded stays wrapped around the stunning coastline from north to south.

TripAdvisor lists the top 5 all-inclusive San Andres resorts as follows:

  • 1) Hotel Arena Blanco by Dorado (#1 for ‘Best Value')
  • 2) Decameron Aquarium
  • 3) Decameron Marizul
  • 4) Decameron Isleno
  • 5) Decameron Maryland

Prices vary but are not outlandish compared to mega-popular vacation hotspots.

Picture-Perfect Beaches

Visiting an island paradise wouldn't feel right without planning some much-needed beach days. While some resorts overlook the eye-popping blue waters, seeking out beaches away from resorts may be the best way to go.

Playa San Luis is set away from busy bars and high-end resorts with sprawling white sand, coral reefs and colorful traditional homes dotted along the scenic coast.

Further south is Playa Charquitos perfect for a relaxing day with less crowds and coconut stands to immerse yourself into island life living.

San Andres islands, Archipielago de San Andres, Providencia y Santa Catalina, Colombia

But perhaps the best of all is Johnny Cay – a tiny blip on the map just north of San Andres. Easily reached by boat, this tiny island lined with calm blue waters, white sand, palm trees, fresh made-to-order seafood and live reggae performances is the pinnacle of an island escape.

Multiple resorts and tour operators offer a plethora of water activities, including the unique ‘Walking Under The Sea Experience' taking you to the seafloor for 25 minutes of aquatic wildlife viewing.

If that's too off-the-wall, snorkeling, kayaking and private boat or jet ski rentals may be more up your alley.

Best Ways To Reach San Andres

Americans will have to factor in at least one air connection unless arriving by cruise, which are limited in their own right.

The good news is travelers can connect from popular Latin America hubs without adding significant time to your travels.

But, make sure to grab a window seat to witness the Sea of Seven Colors before landing – a variety of colorful ocean hues attributed to the coral reefs in the region.

Island surrounded by crystal blue water in San Andres, Colombia

The easiest flight connections will be through Panama City, Bogota or Medellin, while budget airline Wingo also connects through Cartagena and Barranquilla.

Major airlines servicing San Andres:

  • Copa Airlines
  • LATAM Colombia
  • Avianca

As an added bonus, the airport of San Andres is so conveniently located you can walk to your resort or grab a bite to eat and avoid transportation costs.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Sunday 10th of March 2024

If you like Cancun, then San Andres is for you. It is packed with tourists. It isn't a "hidden gem" by any means - many Columbians, Nicaraguans, and people from other countries go there.