San Andres is Colombia’s famous Caribbean island, which is actually located much closer to the coast of Nicaragua than that of Colombia. Yet it is a must-visit for many people traveling to Colombia and I therefore decided to go there as well during my 5 week trip to Colombia.
I have lived in the Caribbean several times and one of my favorite things to do on these tropical islands is watch the sunset. There is just something magical about being by the beach, preferably with a good cocktail or a refreshing beer, watching the sun disappear into the ocean…
So, as soon as I got to San Andres Island I started to look for information about the best place to watch the sunset… As it turns out, clearly not everyone shares this passion of mine because there was surprisingly little information available about watching the sunset on San Andres island.
I therefore explored the island myself in search of the best spot for that perfect sunset experience. And this is the result:
The best place to watch the sunset on San Andres Island
When you visit San Andrés Island, chances are you are staying in or close to the capital city that shares the island’s name. The locals however tend to call the capital “El Centro” instead of San Andres.
El Centro is located on the north-east side of the island which therefore doesn’t offer great sunsets. If you want to watch the sunset on San Andres Island you will have to travel to the more quiet west side of the island.
The west side of San Andres Island doesn’t have a whole lot to offer when it comes to incredible beaches, luxurious resorts or cool beach bars. But, going to the west side of the island, and especially taking a local bus there, will give you a glimpse of local life on San Andres.
It took us a while to find this cool little spot, but it was well worth the search!
If you are looking for a good place to watch the sunset on San Andres Island I highly recommend going to a tiny bar called Reggae Roots.
Reggae Roots is located on a cliff on the west side of the island, right next to West View (which has very mixed reviews and closes too early most days to watch the sunset).
This simple but fun bar offers exactly that Caribbean vibe I had been missing in San Andres! With its recognizable rastafarian colors and super laid-back staff that all look like they could be in a reggae band, it’s the type of bar many of us imagine to find on a Caribbean island.
Don’t expect any luxury here but the bar does have some (simple) sun loungers right on the cliff, a diving board and access to great snorkeling. I would therefore recommend coming here early, enjoying a day or afternoon swimming and sunbathing and then sipping on a drink while watching the sunset.
How to get to this best spot to watch the sunset in San Andres
I would suggest going to Reggae Roots by bus. I actually really enjoyed my bus ride here. It’s the cheapest option, but being on a bus filled with locals also made me feel I got to see a tiny bit more of local life on the island. There aren’t many bus routes on the island so it isn’t difficult to find the one going to the west side of San Andres. But simply ask your hotel where to catch the bus from and get off at West View.
Many tourists choose to rent scooters which is also a perfect way to get to Reggae Roots and to explore the island. And some people even rent golf carts to get around the island.
Alternatively you can take a taxi to Reggae Roots but taxis are surprisingly expensive on San Andres Island, compared to taxis in the rest of Colombia.
About San Andres Island
The coral island of San Andres is a diverse ecosystem of reefs, geysers, groves, and cays. It is best known for its coral reefs and incredibly clear, blue waters.
The archipelago of San Andres was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, named “Seaflower Biosphere Reserve”. The purpose of this declaration is to ensure that the ecosystem, which is rich in biodiversity, is well preserved and conserved. Having seen how some of the locals treat the ocean did make me wonder how well this is going unfortunately.
The seahorse-shaped island of San Andrés specializes in all-inclusive budget vacations and is a favorite weekend getaway for Colombians. Mainlanders love to come to drink, tax-free shop, sunbathe and party here. So although you will find many tourists on the island, because the majority of them are Colombian it has a different feel to it than other Caribbean islands that are much more popular with North American and European tourists.
San Andrés Town, the focus of the action, isn’t the prettiest town but it does boast an attractive beach promenade and it’s from where you can take boat trips to beautiful cays or engage in other water sports.
Outside of the downtown area there is a rural feeling, with small houses close to the main circle road, small sidewalks with some areas without any sidewalks at all, and many people hanging out on the streets.
My opinion of San Andres Island
In all honesty I was disappointed by San Andres Island. I have seen many Caribbean islands and San Andres is one of my least favorites.
The fact that San Andres isn’t that overrun yet by international travelers sounded great. I expected to find a more unspoilt, authentic island with a real Caribbean vibe. And yes, authentic it probably is but with it’s pollution and a lot of traffic it definitely isn’t unspoilt. And most importantly it just misses a cool Caribbean vibe.
San Andres Island in general is a lot less built up than most Caribbean islands and doesn’t have many of the tourist facilities you might have gotten used to on other Caribbeal islands. But, the water is absolutely gorgeous! There are great snorkeling trips, boat trips to different islands and good scuba diving options. I highly recommend checking out at least some of those when you are on San Andres Island.
Most restaurants on San Andres Island aren’t anything special and it is surprisingly difficult to get good quality fresh seafood, considering you are on a Caribbean Island. If you don’t mind splurging a bit then I highly recommend going to La Regatta in El Centro. This upmarket restaurant set above the water offers both a great atmosphere and great food. Focusing mainly on sea food, La Regatta has some really creative dishes and great quality, fresh sea food.
Why visit San Andres island
If you are in Colombia for a longer period of time (as a digital nomad in Medellin?) you might want to escape the mainland for a bit and then San Andres offers a nice change. But if you are looking for a nice Caribbean Island to visit, then there are definitely better options!
For example, visit St Maarten if you are looking for a lively Caribbean island with numerous bars, restaurants and water sports. Travel to Bonaire if you are looking for great scuba diving. Or visit the British Virgin Islands if you love sailing.
But if you do find yourself on San Andres Island, do visit Reggae Roots for that perfect sunset!
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