How to get to San Andres, Colombians’ favourite vacation island

How to get to san andres colombia

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Looking at this little Colombian island on the map, it’s easy to see why people might struggle to work out how to get to San Andrés. Colombia doesn’t exactly shout about this place on an international stage, so info can sometimes be a little limited.

I feel lucky to have touched down on the island during 3 separate trips, and you already know how much I love sharing my tips & knowledge with other travellers 😉

If you need to know more about the island after you work out how to get to San Andres, I have lots of info for you in other posts:


Firstly… where should you fly from to get to San Andres?

Despite being closest to Nicaragua, the island is only accessible by plane from Panama City (Thursdays and Sundays only), or the Colombian mainland, with regular direct flights leaving from Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sun), Medellín and Cartagena to San Andres. There used to be a direct flight from San Jose in Costa Rica, but that seems to have now stopped.

Flying from Cartagena to San Andres is a very popular route with tourists, because it offers the perfect stepping stone into the climate, but the easiest is actually Bogotá, as there are many more departures to the island a day (vs just one from Cartagena to San Andres!).

Airlines include Latam and Avianca, but I’ll always recommend using a trusty comparison site like Kiwi or Skyscanner to see all the options laid out and get the best flight times and prices.

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Can you sail to San Andres, Colombia?

Unless you want to be part of a larger commercial Caribbean cruise, or have the money/remarkably strong friendships with rich people to charter a private boat (sigh), there isn’t currently a route to get to San Andrés by sea.

These waters are still occupied by narco-traffickers, which means pirates are hot on their trail, so honestly it’s an all-round better choice to get to San Andres via plane.

Important FAQs on how to get to San Andres

1. Where to get a San Andrés tourist card

All non-nationals must purchase a San Andres tourist card before flying to the island. The San Andres tourist card costs 124,000 COP/$31/£25 per person (as of 2024), and must be paid in cash. You can’t board without it, and you’ll need a pen to fill it out before landing on San Andres Island, where you’ll present it to Security.

San Andres tourist card fee tax airport visa

You buy this card at the airport on the day of your flight, but airlines approach the process differently in different airports. 

For example, if flying from Cartagena with LatAm, they will request that you buy the tourist card from the dedicated desk (next to the check-in desk anyway) before you try and check in. If you get to the front of the check-in queue without the San Andres tourist card, they will have no qualms in sending you away to have to queue again.

When flying with LatAm from Medellín, however, you need to first check-in, and then go to the separate LatAm office in the middle of the airport to pay for the card there. Confusing, huh?
how to get to san andres colombia flying tourist card

2. What to do with the San Andrés tourist card!


You don’t just need your card to enter the island though, you also need to present it when leaving, so do not – DO NOT – lose your San Andres tourist card! This flimsy bit of paper must stay with you until you reach the mainland again.

You require the same card for both San Andres and Providencia, you don’t have to pay anything else once on the islands.

3. How to get to San Andrés’ main town from the airport

You can actually walk to the main town from San Andres airport; it’s only about 10-15 minutes away, but that’s not always pleasant with big backpacks in the 30-degree heat. Luckily, when you first arrive at San Andres Airport, taxis will be very easy to find out the front (lol, you’ll be ambushed by drivers), although you can expect your ride to be a close-to-vintage car rather than a yellow cab.

Getting to the main town centre of San Andres from the airport should cost no more than 15k COP, don’t accept anything more. It should be 20k to get to the town of San Luis, and 25k to go round to the South of the island. If you have idle time until check-in or a connection to Isla de Providencia to wait out, you can actually walk to the beach from San Andres Airport.

Turn left at the weird pirate ship outside the airport, go straight over the crossroads and walk one more block, et voila! Complete paradise. There’s also a cracking beach club style restaurant run by Decameron hotels set just off the beach.

best restaurants in San Andres Island Colombia

4. When to get to San Andres Airport for the journey back

The airport is small, but at peak times the queues get pretty gnarly, so if you’re a kindred soul who usually waits right until the last minute we recommend that you get there a little earlier than normal.

If shit hits the fan with many flights leaving at once, decent airlines like Avianca will start pulling people on the latest flight out of the queue to check-in as a priority, but you may then still be faced with queues at the one security scanner per side and then again at the queue to scan your San Andres tourist cards.

Early is best, just bring a long book for the Departures lounge!

Things to do on san andres island | airport san andres colombia


Short and sweet, but hopefully that answers all your questions and alleviates any worries around how to get to San Andres, Colombia! You will LOVE IT, so don’t forget to also check out the other posts I have to help you make the most of your trip to this stunning Colombian-Caribbean island:


colombia travel destination guides blog



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Last Updated on 11 February 2024 by Cuppa to Copa Travels

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