The City of the Seven Color Sea

6 min read

San Andrés is a little slice of paradise in the Caribbean owned by Colombia. The perfect place to celebrate all the new gray hairs that came with turning 36 years old.

The view of Johnny Cay from Playa Spratt Bight beach in San Andrés, Colombia.The view of Johnny Cay from Playa Spratt Bight beach in San Andrés, Colombia.


Colombia is an absolutely gorgeous country that has so much diversity across it’s landscapes, climate, people, culture it is crazy! I was not even aware Colombia had islands until I met my wife and she told me about San Andrés. Even more funny was the fact I just figured it was not far from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Hell I didn’t even know there was a Pacific Coast for Colombia because in my US educated brain Venezuela & Colombia were swapped on the map. A quick look at Google Maps and you will see San Andrés is not exactly “close” to Colombia.

My first visits to San Andrés

This would be my third time visiting the island so let me recap some of the past experiences before getting to our most recent adventures.

My wife and I initially visited San Andrés in March/April of 2022. It was my first taste of somethings from back home in the States in over two years. San Andrés gets a lot of imports from the USA and luckily for myself and the Colombians that means Duty Free! Back when I still drank alcohol I would load up on top shelf whiskeys that one could not find on the mainland or were significantly more expensive due to import taxes. By far my favorite thing to get my hands on though are the Mounds and Almond Joys that you cannot find in mainland Colombia (although let me tell you the latter candies don’t hold a candle to the local SuperCoco)! My wife had mentioned before how when she visited the island for the first time their were many issues with her lodging and finding food for all the days she was there. I did not want to burden us with thinking about those things while on vacation so I booked us a stay at the Decameron Maryland. It was a very impressive all-inclusive with it’s own private beach, albeit small and very rocky.

Our second time around visiting the island was last year for my 35th birthday. I had always wanted to celebrate getting older with a drink in my hand and my ass on a beach. This time around we opted to try another all-inclusive on the island and staid at the GHL Relax Hotel Sunrise. This place was really bougie and we had a great time there. My wife arranged for us to go parasailing around the island on my birthday. She knows my lover for adventure and adrenaline. My only regret was not having a way to take some beautiful ariel shots of the island and sea below us. We also rented a gator and drove around the island to some of the smaller beaches and enjoyed taking in sights from the opposite side of the island.

Visiting Johnny Cay

This time around my wife was adamant that we pay a visit to the smaller island just off the coast of San Andrés called Johnny Cay. Honestly there is not much to do on the island but it is very beautiful. We had to take a boat and let me tell you something I was a “dry-land” or “weekend warrior” sailor in my time in the Navy. I never set foot on a ship, my ship was the sandbox of Afghanistan. Real talk I’ll go back to Afghanistan before you put my ass on a ship! This little fishing boat with a speed boat engine attached only affirmed my utter fear of the “Deep Blue Sea”. The guide told us:

We can’t stop in open water so if anything falls out of the boat it’s gone.

I took him at face value that he meant people too. The waves and current out past the reef were intense to say the least. I was very very happy to get back on to dry land once we arrived at Johnny Cay. Once we arrived we were given the talk from the locals about the cost of things and what to do and not do. There is only one side of the island that is safe to go into the water due to rocks and the current. It was definitely a different experience getting in the water here rather than Playa Spratt Bight. I am not a terrible swimmer by any means but damn…if you are not don’t get in! We had lunch and I enjoyed my first coconut fresh from the tree. Before leaving my wife and I did a little photo shoot and took a nap under the palm trees. All in all it was a great day.

A view of the sea from Johnny Cay.A view of the sea from Johnny Cay.

Getting older under the sea

Originally my wife had planned on me scuba diving for my 36th birthday. She knows that I like to do dangerous and/or dumb shit to feel alive…thanks Afghanistan! I had never gone scuba diving and it is something I have wanted to do. It didn’t feel right to me that I would go under the sea and in search of Nemo and Dory while she waited for me above.

My wife mentioned perhaps we could do Aqua Nautas as it was something she had done years ago when visiting San Andrés for the first time. The helmet is about 35kg (70lbs) and is fed with oxygen. We went to a depth of six meters or roughly 18 feet. The pressure differential was a lot more substantial than I assumed it would be. My ears were popping and I was getting a headache before we even reached the sea floor. I would like to say I took in all the beautiful fish around me, but this land lover was definitely losing his shit! All in all though it was a unique experience and I am happy to have shared it with my wife.

Hanging out with the some tropical fish under water.Hanging out with the some tropical fish under water.

Wrap Up

I cannot recommend people visiting San Andrés enough. It’s not a very well known destination to outsiders, but it is a very enjoyable and relaxing place to vacation too in the future. This last visit we found some very great deals around the holidays for the Decameron Isleño. This, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of bougie and well worth the stay for anyone choosing to visit San Andrés. The final thing I did before we left was catch a sunrise. I have seen quite a few sunsets while we have been there, but when on vacation I seldom get out of bed at the normal hour of 0400. It was a remarkable thing watching God paint in another glorious day. Ten out of ten would recommend!

A view of the palms on Johnny Cay against the blue sky.A view of the palms on Johnny Cay against the blue sky.
A final sunrise before heading back to the mainland.A final sunrise before heading back to the mainland.
~ Cody 🚀

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Cody Brunner

Cody is a Christian, USN Veteran, Jayhawk, and an American expat living outside of Bogotá, Colombia where he works as a Senior Frontend Developer for Bitcoin IRA.