"Unknown Paradise in Colombia" Intendenciade San Andrés y Providencia by jorgejuansanchez
Intendenciade San Andrés y Providencia Travel Guide: 176 reviews and 575 photos
You need to pay a tax in the same airport when you enter in these protected islands, independently of the time that you plan to stay there. I remember that I paid 19.000 pesos, or 7 US dollars, in February 2005, and filled up an immigration form. I was requested to show a return ticket to mainland Colombia. The round trip ticket by plane from Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla or Cartagena costs around 500.000 pesos. Sometimes the price is even cheaper if you buy special packets, and they include several nights in a hotel. I just walked during 5 minutes from the airport to the downtown. I looked for a hotel near the beach, all there were very cheap, around 8 US dollars a night for a single room, left my bag in one of them, had a shower and went out to discover the island. San Andres is very dense. There live about 85.000 persons in 27 square kilometres. Until some years ago the population was principally black, but today most inhabitants are from Colombia mainland. Many of the black population are Rastafarian. Providencia Island is not far from San Andres, but I felt so well in San Andres during the week that I spent there, making so many local friends, that I did not want to move. In Providencia live around 5000 people and 80 % of them are black who speak a Caribbean English, hard to understand when they talk fast among themselves. Nicaragua has territorial pretensions over San Andres and Providencia Islands owing to its proximity to that country. The island is served by many airplanes from Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and most Colombian cities (I flew there from charming Cartagena). San Andres has not yet been much exploited by the organized tourism; practically all the visitors are from Colombia or Spanish speaking countries. I saw a group from Quebec and another one from Italy. I did not meet any individual traveller. After Corn Islands, in Nicaragua, San Andres is my second favourite island in the Caribbean Sea.
There is an excursion by an open bus that surrounds the island in about three hours that you should not miss. It costs in pesos the equivalence of 5 or 6 US Dollars and is worth, better than hitch hiking. They stop in several lovely beaches, in the villages where live the black inhabitants brought there in the past by the English as slaves to exploit the sugar cane plantations; in a cave called Cueva de Morgan where according to a legend this pirate occulted a treasure from a Spanish galleon; in the blow holes; you taste local liquors, etc. There are many sea activities in San Andres: surfing, parachutes, snorkelling, etc.
VIEW SIDE HILL, in La Loma, is a hotel and restaurant at the same time from which roof you can drink a beer and enjoy the superb panorama view of the island. Just in front of this restaurant/hotel there is the first protestant church (Baptist) erected in the Island, in 1844. You can walk there from San Andres downtown; it will take you one and a half hour, more or less.
I advise you to go for lunch (unfortunately it is closed in the evenings for supper) to my favourite restaurant in San Andres: COOPERATIVA DE PESCADORES DEL CENTRO, by the beach, at a walking distance from the town, just next door to the airport. Ask for the local dish, called RONDON, prepared by the fishermen, almost all black people. It consists in several delicious fresh fish caught during the previous night and sea escargots with coconut milk. The rum El Llanero is considered one of the best in Colombia.
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