Common scams in San Andres & Providencia

San Andres Island has been a tourist destination for a long time, most people will treat visitors fairly with genuine open transparent hearts, nonetheless there's always the douche-bags that decided to take advantage of the people that visit us. To  help you be more street savvy on your visit to the island, we have decided to put together a list of common scams reported by our guests. It is by no means definitive, if after your trip you have any scams that you would like to report, please send them and we will post them here if we see fits.

As in most destinations there are certain scams particular to the place you visit here are the ones from the islands

Time Share Free Tours

These tours are offered by the hotels trying to get you to buy a timeshare, they promised that if you endure the pain of listening to them shoving down your throat the benefits of spending a zillion pesos in a crappy pyramid scheme they will give you a free tour. If you do endure the pain of listening to them make sure they hand you the voucher for the tour and don't let me brush you off that you can pick it up later, because that will never happen.

Upselling in Acuario and Johnny Cay tour

Reports on this one started on 2019. Captains of the boats that cover the tours between Acuario and Johnny Cay will try to upsell you different routes and charge you $5.000 for it, for instance they will take you to the mangroves or the sunken boat and start collecting the money in the middle of the ocean. If you didn't agree in advance before getting in the boat do not pay anything even if other people are paying and report it to the person who sold you the tour.

If things get ackward just say, "nobody told me I had to pay extra and I don't have any money".

Pay Now, will Pick you Later.

We have heard of this one happening mostly when people rent a private boat instead of taking the regular tour, remember to pay at the end if you decide to go for a private tour to Johnny Cay and/or the Acuario.

Buying Tours from the Street

One would think that common sense would apply here, but unfortunately people tend to make their decisions solely based on money and buy the tours on the street from dodgy unlicensed vendor who will give you a fake voucher that won't be valid the day of your tour.

Taxi/mototaxi Rides

Always ask the price for a taxi/mototaxi before you hop in, keep in mind that the airport rate is different from the normal rate, here's a little chart of a range of legal prices, I will not update this list, so prices might change slightly.

Route Taxi Mototaxi
Airport-hostel (before 11.59 PM) 14.500 Not Recommended
Hostel-Airport (before 11.59 PM) 15.000  2.000
hostel downtown 8.000  2.000
Hostel-Rocky Cay Beach 15.000  4.000
Hostel-San Luis beach  20.000  6.000
Hostel-Cove area  25.000  8.000

Kayak renting in Providencia

This one is a funny one and very easy to fall for it. In this scam the unsuspecting tourist would ask the apparent owner of the kayaks to rent them they would agree on a price and pay. Victims would go in ther kayaking adventure, only to find out when they come back that the rightful owner of the kayaks is supper pissed off waiting to charge you the full price and yell at you!.

As a word of advice always ask for a receipt or some sort of proof of payment on all purchases.

Motorcycle Rentals

Although this is not very common, make sure you check the scooter you rent before you commit to it, check for scratches and dents and if you can take a picture of the bike at the rental place, this will minimize to zero the possibility of them charging you for stuff that wasn't your fault. Also check the breaks, light, indicator lights on the bike, if only the front brake works ask for another bike, the road around San Luis is extremely slippery, and breaking with the front wheel is a guarantee that you will slip specially on rainy days.

Parking lots around the beaches

You do not have to pay for parking on the street, anyone asking you for money is trying to scam you unless is private property.

Rental of snorkeling gear in Rocky Cay

In this scam the unsuspecting victim will rent a brand new bad quality snorkel from the guys hanging out in Rocky Cay these snorkel mask will for sure break while using it making you having to pay for a overpriced new one , if this happens to you tell the guy that you would buy him a new one yourself.

This is a classic one that has happened to many people staying at our hostel.

Note: If you are going to rent snorkels first check they are good quality by tapping the googles, if they are tempered glass there's a high change that they are good quality and won't break, on the other hand if they feel plastiquy and the lens looks foggy I'd pass on renting or buying that kind of mask.

Entry fee at the pond

You do not need to pay to get into the pond, there's a guy at the entrance demanding payment to enter, this might get a little out of hand depending which guy is. There's generally a police officer there. As of 2019 there are self proclaimed guides that would take you around the pond and explain a few things, they charge $5.000 COP per person.

Police Bribes

This one makes our blood boil, because for a few rotten apples visitor's perception of all the police force takes a toll. We advice you to never pay a bride even if you are at fault as this might land you in further problems.

In this scam the people driving a golf cart or a scooter will get pull over by police and be told that they were endangering the lives of other by X or Y reason, they will "call" on their cellphones and make you wait until you get annoyed and tell you they'll give you a "fine", when they say "fine" ask them how much it is and that you want a receipt and a photo of them where you can see their batch number they will most likely refuse. Then ask them to radio their supervisor so you can clear things out.

Keep in mind that in Colombia only transit police can give you vehicle related fines, for a normal police to threaten to give you a fine is illegal and is obviously super illegal for them to ask for money.

Unlike other countries in South America in most cases police officers are helpful and polite

Lockers in the Acuario Cay

On 2 separate occasions, guest from our hostel have gotten things stolen from the lockers at the Acuario cay, we suggest you only take things to this tour that you don't mind losing.

Money Exchange in the Street

This is very rare as most of the people that exchange dollars/euros on he street are well known in the local community, however there was one instance where guest from another hostel got a bunch of fake Colombian pesos, keep in mind that Colombian money is very confusing even for us as for the last couple of year the government decided to change the bills, but you still find different bills for the same amounts. Read our article Understanding Colombian Money

We suggest that to avoid any nuisances.you exchange at the Bancolombia bank (only USD and bring your passport and Tourist Card), the Currency Exchange at the airport (USD, EUR, BRL, ARS) or with us at the hostel (EUR, USD, CAD, GBR).

101 things to do in San Andrès

It took us a while, but i think we finally managed to finish a 101 things to do list in San Andres.

Keep in mind that they are not organized in any particular order and some of them cost money.

  1. Go Snorkeling.
  2. Visit the Big Pond and pet an Cayman.
  3. Listen to Gospel music.
  4. Jump at Morgan’s Jump.
  5. Go beaching to any beach.
  6. Go window shopping.
  7. Visit the Rocky Cay beach.
  8. Jump from the rocky cay boat (not recommended)
  9. Take a free hotel tour.
  10. Make a local friend.
  11. Go to Johnny Cay.
  12. Go to Cayo Bolivar (Restricted as of 2016).
  13. Go to the Acuario Cay.
  14. Go to Haynes Cay.
  15. Eat at Bibi's Place in Haynes Cay
  16. Eat at the Fishermen's Place.
  17. Snorkel in the Acuario Cay.
  18. Go To la Piscinita (closed on sundays)
  19. Go to West View.
  20. Go to Reggae Roots
  21. Get certified as a Scuba Diver
  22. Go Scuba Diving if you are already certified.
  23. Drink a Cocoloco.
  24. Party at Banzai Cocktail bar on Gringo Wednesday.
  25. Rent a motorcycle and loop the island.

 

  1. Rent a Golf cart or a Mule(Not the animal).
  2. Take kite-surf lessons.
  3. Try exotic fruit juices at The Sandwich Place AKA Aristi.
  4. Bike around the island. Is only 36Km.
  5. Have takeaway ceviche and eat it at the beach.
  6. Eat Rondon.
  7. Have drinks at Kella's Bar. (oldest Rastafarian bar in the island)
  8. Get your hair braided on the beach.
  9. Eat/hang out at Punta Sur Restaurant.
  10. Eat at la Regatta Restaurant (reservation needed).
  11. Eat at any of the restaurants on the San Luis Beach (Paraiso Restaurant or Donde Francesca)
  12. Eat at Captain Mandy (If possible get the Star Octopus).
  13. Eat a Menu del dia at El Parqueadero restaurant. (This is a hostel guests' favourite)
  14. Eat at The Grog in the Rocky Cay beach.
  15. Kayak on Old Point Mangroove Regional park on trasnparent kayaks (Reservation needed).
  16. Walk on Old Point Mangroove Regional park boardwalk.
  17. Go clubbing to Cocoloco disco. (Fridays are best)
  18. Go clubbing to Extasis disco. (Saturdays are best)
  19. Eat crab soup (seasonal product).
  20. Eat a whole fried fish.
  21. Eat conch shell (seasonal product).
  22. Buy beers at Mickey Mouse and drink them on the beach.
  23. Go surfing.
  24. Walk the boardwalk from one end to the other.
  25. Ride the public bus.

 

  1. Ride a Mototaxi.
  2. Visit The Blow Hole. (We don't recommend this place very much)
  3. Hitchhike with a local.
  4. Walk/swim to Rocky Cay.
  5. Snorkel around the big abandoned boat in Rocky cay.
  6. Watch the sunrise on the Coral Palace right in front of the city hall (East side of the island).
  7. Watch the sunset while having a beer at Reggae Roots or Big mama bars (West side of the island and make sure you take bug repellent).
  8. Have cold coconut water at Bengué's bar.
  9. Snorkel to the sunken boat AKA Blue Diamond on the west side (right in front of Playa Tranquilo Bed and Breakfast).
  10. Take a photo with Poseidon (at West View).
  11. Go parasailing (expensive).
  12. Eat crab patties.
  13. Try Journey Cake (Local type of bread).
  14. Eat Ice cream at Miss Vivid (only open on Sundays and holidays).
  15. Go up to the terrace of the Blue Tone hotel (You have to sneak in).
  16. Go to the Baptist church's (highest point in the island).
  17. Have a milkshake at Kikiriki.
  18. Visit the botanical garden.
  19. Do the flyboard (expensive)
  20. Snorkel at the sunken statues at Big Mama Bar
  21. Drink a cocktail at Big Mama's bar
  22. Go to Chamey's Nautica and Paddle board
  23. People watch at the boardwalk
  24. Visit the old folks home at la loma and bring them eggs for good luck.
  25. Do the Swingboard thing

 

  1. Go to the Lord Pierre Hotel bar.
  2. Go to the cinema (2 movie theatres).
  3. Go to the horse races (seasonal).
  4. Eat green mango with lime, salt and pepper.
  5. Eat a burguer at Beer Station.
  6. Go to El Nativo (Only opens on Sunday when there's a long weekend)
  7. Go to a boat party on white watta.
  8. Go fishing off the shore or deep sea fishing.
  9. Watch a Softball game in San Luis.
  10. Go to a Basketball match in San Luis.
  11. Go to eat at Mr Carrington (Slow food).
  12. Eat Bread Fruit, unfortunately is seasonal.
  13. Go to Ibiza (bar in the middle of the ocean, sounds better than what it is)
  14. Take a Spanish class with Jose (Jose is a good friend of ours who is a teacher).
  15. Visit the Library and enjoy the view.
  16. Eat icre cream at Popsy
  17. Have an Iced coffee at the Juan Valdez by the beach.
  18. Go to Playa Charquitos (pudddle beach)
  19. Eat a popsicle at El Dorado Hotel I suggest Lemon Pie
  20. Eat Boli  (Boli is something children eat when they finish school, I suggest coconut or Tamarind boli)



Surfing in San Andres

Finding a nice spot for surfing might become difficult at times, especially if you are looking for a rather peaceful place or want to hone your surfing skills. San Andrés Island just waiting for you!. This place has six local surfers, which means that waves are never crowded.

The island offers a variety of locations where you can practice surfing. You can enjoy our beautiful and crystal clear waters of El Paraiso if you are a beginner. With a huge beach on this spot, you get a sandy bottom with short waves. It is perfect for learning the basics of surfing in a safe location where you can feel comfortable. This beach is great for longboarding and has many different peaks to choose from. At the Blue Almond Hostel we have 2 surfboards that guest use and this is generally the beach we send them to if they are begginers. 
 

Another surf spot is Yellow Moon, this pleace offers a great training for intermediate surfers. You will be surfing under a coral reef bottom keep in mind that you will encounter some sharp rocks on the shore and on the bottom, so one must be careful about this. This is reef that breaks to the left and right not too organized but the close out is nice for a drop and maybe if you feel comfortable you can try getting some air.

Jacobo Beach is a the only wave close to downtown, is a rather rocky location with a short left wave. Easiest way to get into the water is to walk on a man made barrier and jump as far as you can from it.

  If you are advanced surfer or are intermediate, you should go to Punta Sur. This beach has very sharp rocks and sea urchins, therefore it is only recommended for experienced surfers. Punta Sur is one of Colombian finest waves is a Left wave break along a coral reef pretty consistent and the ride can it is about 50 to 200 meters.  Wave is powerful and swimming from shore it is a bit far you have to be ready to face strong currents and about 300 meters to get to the lineup. 

It is truly a great experience in a nice and peaceful environment. You should come over to enjoy the best surfing experience, regardless of any level you are in. Coming over to San Andrés for an exciting surfing experience, is one decision you will be more than glad you made.

Best options to score good waves are: December to February, May, and June to August, you might want to check for the wind even thought most spots can handle some wind anything above 20 knots’ is just crazy. With waters at a year-round at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), beautiful coral bottoms, crystalline waters that you can enter without mask, and the occasional company of dolphins.

What Makes a Hostel Gay Friendly?

A gay-friendly hostel is not an establishment that serves exclusively to the needs of a gay customer. By its own terminology it’s a hostel that accepts the LGBT community openly and gives the same treatment than they would do to any other paying customer.

Some people criticize the need to use this type of terms stating that in this day and age it shouldn’t be necessary, but as long as the world doesn’t become a gay-friendly place completelythere will be the need to label the openness of the hostel towards gay customers.

It is also important to take in consideration the actions that the company performs internally in order to secure the advancement of the LGBT community by participating in campaigns and events that support the cause; and also through the equal treatment of their employees, which is why many are sure to include LGBT-related topics during the training their personnel has to go through, making sure they not only know how to deal with gay coworkers but also in case a close friend or relative comes out of the closet, and by granting equal rights to their LGBT staff and their significant others.

It is also imperative that the hostel advertise this as an open topic and has clear rules and set protocols about discrimination done by either staff or other guests.

Rooms and Services

The hostel is a 20-minute walk from the main beach at San Andres Island, we offer budget accommodation with free WiFi and common facilities. our lounge features a Play Station 4 a 32 inch TV and an exchange library.

Diving and snorkeling activities can be booked on site. Bikes, golf cars and scooters can also be rented to explore the island. Additionally, we offer free surf boards and dive tanks for scuba certified guests that bring their own diving equipment.

Our rooms are all in different sizes, big enough to fit all the commodities you would need, there is a large communal kitchen with all facilities, appliances, crockery and cutlery available.

Our common area is a great place to chill out and meet fellow travelers with TV, Play Station 4, board games and a Bluetooth speaker, perfect for a lazy day after a scuba diving immersion, a surf trip or a night out. Our common areas are also the perfect spots to pre-drink and start out the night the right way.

We work very hard to have a very respectful and peaceful vibe without the crazy drunken atmosphere offered at other hostels in the island. Our goal is to make you feel like you own a home in the Caribbean and provide you with great social atmosphere, as well as giving you the opportunity to have a good sleep after a busy day of sightseeing the island, we have a strict quiet time of 11.59 PM, but we apply the 80-20 rule, which means that if 80% of the people staying at the hostel want to stay up partying then we move the quiet time accordingly.

What we have to offer:

  • FREE Internet from 2 different providers, so if ones goes down, we got redundancy!. 
  • FREE luggage storage if you are going to Providencia.
  • FREE lockers with electricity outlets inside (bring your own lock).
  • FREE Scuba diving tanks for certified divers. (On request and limits apply)
  • FREE surfboards (6,4 and 6,8).
  • FREE coffee all day long.
  • FREE popcorn every night.
  • Family run hostel by locals with lots of insight information about the island.
  • 24 hour vending machine with cheap beer, SIM cards, sodas and snacks.
  • You can bring your own alcohol as long as you share it with others.
  • All in one Computer in living room running Linux with net access, webcam and DVD burning capabilities.
  • No curfew. (you get two keys front door and your room).
  • Video Surveillance.
  • No outside visitors.
  • Bathroom ratio is 1:4 (that means one full bathroom per every 4 persons)
  • We supply all bed linens, pillows and towels and change them on request for reservations over 3 days.
  • Rental of diving quality snorkel masks for only $15.000 for the Whole day! (+$5000 deposit that you get back)
  • Bike rental. Only $35.000 COP the whole day!
  • Boarding pass printing for only $2000.
  • 2 Mixed dorms (10 and 6 people).
  • No bunk-beds in the 10 people dorm.
  • 3 bunk beds in the 6 bed dorm.
  • The possibility of late checkout (On request and only if reservations permit).

What we DON'T offer

  • Breakfast.
  • Hot showers.
  • Air Conditioning on private rooms.
  • 24 hour reception.
  • Check ins past midnight

Location:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a map is worth a million!

A few higlights for our location:

  • 22.5 seconds away from a convenience store.
  • 5 Minutes walk away from a medium size supermarket.
  • 5 minutes walk to Subway (the sandwich thing)
  • 1 Minute away from a paid gym and 5 mins away from a outdoor free gym.
  • 10 minute walk to downtown.
  • 21 minute walk to the main beach.
  • 1 minute walk to the San Luis bus route
  • 5 minute walk to the Loma Bus route which takes you to the West side of the island.
  • 6 minute taxi ride from the airport.

Facilities

  • 2 Small outdoor terraced Area with chairs ans tables.
  • Fully equipped kitchen.(no Microwave, sorry).
  • Book exchange library.
  • Living room with 32 inch LCD TV with a whopping 4 channels, Play Station 4 and Netflix!.
  • indoor dining area.

After you book with us.

  • You will receive a welcome email, in it there'll be a link to a Whatsapp group we created for guest to help coordinate events and activities.
  • Send us your arrival time or flight number, that way we can match you with people arriving on the same flights and you can share a taxi.
  • You will receive a self check in email, we suggest you fill all the information that way when you arrive to the hostel you check-in time will be faster.

Subcategories

  • Booking engine

Important Information

  • Looking far into the future? Most of our guests are spontaneous travelers, so we only open up availability 1-2 months prior to arrival date.
  • We don't take 1 night bookings (they are not profitable for us) and we ONLY take online reservations.

bitcoin