Merely minutes after wrapping up our wedding celebration night which lasted until about four in the morning, Jessie and I found ourselves on an airplane from Armenia, Colombia to San Andrés Island to begin our honeymoon! Frankly we were exhausted and quite delirious off just an hour of sleep, but nevertheless a Look Up Travels island extravaganza was about to be in full effect! Jessie had been to the island once before, as it is a typical getaway destination in Colombia seeing that it’s only an hour flight from the mainland. We had even played with the idea of having our wedding ceremony on the island – looking back we certainly made the right choice with a four day vacation for just the two of us.
San Andrés is a fairly small island in the Caribbean Sea with an area of only ten square miles, inhabited by approximately 75,000 local islanders and mainland Colombians. We observed that the majority were islanders with ancestry from Africa who entirely embraced the living-by-the-sea lifestyle. On the trip over to Johnny Cay, there was a local aboard who quite casually sat on the front edge of the motorboat with total calm as the waves below us rocked the vessel to and fro. This peaceful, consensual connection with the ocean is an advantage most mainland cultures can’t boast. Intimidation, fear and lack of experience stands in the way of us entirely embracing and respecting the magnificence of the sea.
We had a blast on our morning excursion to the cays, where we got to explore the popular island Johnny Cay which is home to treasured coconut groves, pale sandy beaches, and plenty of roaming iguanas and crabs! Among the pleasures of this day trip were freshly chopped down coconut piña coladas, mojarra frita (fried fish) and coconut rice lunch, and some Caribbean sea snorkeling.
Mulita Rental, Island House Museum, Aquanautas
Considering its size, most of San Andrés can be covered in one day – and one awesome way of doing so is by circling the island on a Kawasaki mulita, or mule! A mulita is something between a golf cart and an ATV four-wheeler that cruises around 15 to 25 mph. The route is quite simple, you just take the main highway along the island coast and most of the stops don’t require much detouring. We were able to pull over and park at vista points without any issues.
One of our stops was the Island House museum, a low key tourist attraction that offers a brief walk through of an original island home that has been preserved to offer visitors a glimpse into the historical traditions of the San Andrés islander lifestyle. The guide showed us the layout of the homes, how meals were prepared, such as sopa de cangrejo (black crab soup), and the cultural dance moves of the islanders.
Next was a major highlight of our trip – Aquanautas! Have you ever known what it feels like to be an astronaut under water? Let me tell you, it’s a happy but heavy and humbling experience! About eighteen feet below the surface, you’re weighed down by both your helmet and the water pressure. With only hand signals as your communication tool, the guide leads you on a path along the ocean floor.
About three minutes into our stroll, both Jessie and I noticed the oxygen supply to our helmets stopped hissing and everything went quiet. As we tried to get the attention of our guide, he was swimming away to retrieve some sea urchins for us to hold. Slightly panicking, I reached out to try to touch his fin, and once I was able to I signaled to him that that the oxygen had stopped. He then supplied us with oxygen by putting the mouthpiece from his diving tank into our helmets while he communicated with his partner up top who quickly switched the tanks which solved the problem. Besides that little blip, it was a really unique and fun experience – we recommend trying it but definitely confirm with the guides that the oxygen tanks are full!