San Andrés entices

By: Lenniz Urbina
Translated By: Solkes
Photos: Lenniz Urbina

When a country like Colombia is recognized around the world by a number of negative factors such as drugs, internal armed conflict or social inequality, it is inevitable to refute that image and change it for what Colombia really is: it's people, it's landscapes, it's magical places, it is increasingly inevitable not to show this to the world.

Thanks to all backpackers who visit leave with arguments based upon the beauty of the Colombian natural resources. Resources that they lfell in love with and seduced with their paradisiacal landscapes, as does San Andrés, the island that refutes the reputation of Colombia with everything in it.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.

From its fauna and flora to the most memorable of its streets and history, San Andrés is home to countless characters that today have been constituted through the details of their gestures and behaviors. Some of them have been catapulted to stardom with their reggae style melodies mixed with Caribbean tones.

These singers and artists are recognized both nationally and internationally. Literary writers, who have spawned their island roots and personality, the magic found on their island, their cultural identity and the taste of the colors of their sea, make it a place for inspiration and literary magic, as well as the urban art that rests in its streets.

This island is also known as "the seven colored sea", can be seen from the clouds that stumble with the aircraft when you land. From this privileged point, it is possible to appreciate all the magic of the place that without timidity is allowed to see through the width and length of the horizon.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.
This island majestically showcases why it is an idyllic place, making it difficult for us to believe that it is a national territory of easy access with open doors to all that arrive and want to explore each one of its corners. From the near keys that cover the outline of the island, to the mountains that still virgin are full of jungle magic.

Those who are born and raised on the island are often called a native in San Andrés Islands. The Sanandresan individual is usually tall, with a personality characterized by his simplicity and charisma. The natives in San Andrés are guides to all tourists, a friend which is always ready to provide the best service, at sea, on the beach or at home.

The natives have a very particular tradition, and is to adapt their homes to become so called inns. They provide the services of any recognized hotel, with meals, tour guides, rental of maritime tools and above all cordiality of service.

When you are in San Andrés, the atmosphere immediately changes. It is inevitable to feel the beed to dance to the rhythm of the waves and of the natives with its peculiar Creole language. Language that crosses words of English and Spanish, that gives a picaresque touch to the landscape that is allowed to contemplate on each side to which it is looked at.

It's streets, it's folklor, it's colors and flavors are what makes the San Andrés archipelago receive at least one million visitors per year. Tourism on the island has been increasing due to the low costs of air tickets, and that there are more and more national and international airlines that include this route.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.

In order to make your stay in San Andrés unforgettable, you have to become a native. You have to step into its culture of reggae music, its Caribbean language and the natural corners of the island, such as "la piscinita", place named for the shape of the space between the edge of the land and the sea, in addition to its calm waters that resemble a natural pool.

"La piscinita" is located to the west of the island, without beach, or white sand. Just a natural seaside resort with gentle waves, depth of more than eight meters where you can perform activities such as snorkeling and diving, in addition to your handmade trampoline from where they push the most daring to dive to the depths of their reef.

The best plans to make on the island are lowest cost. An example is exploring natural sites that are not privatized and have their free entrance. These plans can be made with a bike ride, motorcycle or golf cart, which are to the tourist's order for rent in any corner of the city center.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.

Touring the island completely and stopping in the most representative places can be done in one day, since the island has about 27 square kilometers in extension. it is possible to walk to the seashore where the road lends itself as an accomplice to contemplate the horizon of its seven maritime colors as it crosses the island from north to south.

Places that strengthen the history of the island, places that hide evidence of when the island was used as a pirate refuge, military base or part of the European conquest, when at that time French and Dutch characters began discovering the island, leaving a mixed culture.

One of the places that leads to believe that the island was one of the favorite havens to hide pirate treasures is the so called Morgan Cave. This place has been cared for and protected by the natives of the island who have made a kind of museum with all the things found of the pirate and his henchmen when they visited the island.

Morgan's cave is made up of objects from the pirate Morgan. The clothes, shoes, and hats that he used as captain of the pirate ship and then left forgotten on the island, as well as his treasures, which have been reproduced in miniature replicas and a flashy ship located in the center of the cave, the ship used as an attraction to feel the pirate presence.

Knowing this part of Colombia implies that you must be aware, that you are going to change, you will see life from another perspective. If you are Colombian you will be thankfull for the fact that this is part of your homeland, if you are a foreigner you will not miss the opportunity to see yourself as an islander.

Following the route to the south of the island, you come to a popular place because of its particular attraction: El hoyo soplador (the blowing hole). As it's name indicates it is a hole that is located between the road and the seashore, about 10 meters on the corals that hit the sea waves and is characterized by simulating a source of water and air, a phenomenon attributed to the constant shock of the waves with the tunnels below this surface.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.

Around the blower hole you can find various kiosks or refreshing places that were created for tourists. There you can enjoy different craft drinks such as cocoloco. This drink is made from different liqueurs mixed in a cocktail presented in an empty coconut hull, a cigarette and a mini umbrella.

Continuing with the tour and back towards the central area of ​​the island, near the financial center, local and shopping center is the promenade of Spratt Bight. This busy area has a wide pedestrian walk where you can take a night walk with its beach to one side and clubs, restaurants and music on the other side.

Spratt Bight, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, with crystalline water and turquoise color essential for sunbathing and cooling off with water sports such as jet skiing or walks on the white sand has an area of ​​approximately 450 square meters, which helps to call it the most visited beach in the archipelago.

The aquarium is one of the most visited places on the island. A mandatory stop for those who visit the island. The aquarium is an islet near the cays that are two kilometers from the central beaches of San Andrés. Named the aquarium because of the constant frequency of coral fish that diffuse to shallow depths of the surface.

Aquarium fish come close to the seashore when tourists attract them with food mainly small pieces of bread, which the natives give as an idea to attract them so that they can be photographed or appreciate the different species that are there where it is enough to submerge a little head in the water to be able to observe them in their natural habit.

Johnny Cay, named after one of the largest cays located near the Aquarium, has a particularity in the type of visitors or better in the type of residents who inhabit it, contrasting its colors with the jungle greens. The iguanas of Johnny Cay are extravagant as much as the sunset on the seven colors of the sanandresano sea.

In the western part of the cay is a white sand beach, between a gentle wave and a line of coconut palms, ideal to take a towel, a chair and dazzle of the tranquility of the wind and the sound of the sea, resembling a viewpoint unequaled where you can see in all splendor the north and south of the Caribbean island.

The fauna and flora every day are more threatened due to the constant natural phenomena like rains and extreme drought that cause irreparable losses, as well as the excessive use of the human being with its natural resources, that is why they have been developed in the island, environmental rescue groups that have been involved in major environmental achievements.

The care and preservation of the species that live there and the protection of beaches and Sanandresana forest have been attributed to the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the archipelago of San Andrés, who hire groups capable of integrating rescue strategies of natural species like the swanka turtle.

This species of no more than 15 centimeters in length, cataloged as insignia of the archipelago of San Andrés and Santa Catalina is in the way of extinction, for that reason the importance of contributing day by day with its preservation. Support for cleaning campaigns on the beaches and in the mangroves when they are visited is indispensable and can be seen in the most frequented places of tourists with notices and posters.

Photo: Lenniz Urbina
© all rights reserved.

San Andres, has become one of the most representative and beautiful places in Colombia to counter the image of the country before the world, to demonstrate that not only are negative aspects that characterize our country but we have a wide range of natural beauty to discover and explore in our seas and mountains. If this type of Colombian terrestrial paradise were more prominent in the world, and all factors opposed to its real image were mentioned, Colombia would surely have a reputation worthy of any country full of natural destinations to enjoy and appreciate its resources where nature is the maximum exponent of the infrastructure and architecture that can be appreciated.



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