Introducing San Andrés & Providencia
Geographically near Nicaragua, historically tied to England and politically part of Colombia, the islands of San Andrés and Providencia may at first glance seem a little schizophrenic. But after experiencing its isolated beaches, pristine coral reefs and unique island flavor, there is no doubting the reasons to visit the far-flung archipelago.
The lure of sun and sand (and duty-free imports) has been attracting tourists and mainland Colombians for several decades, and the principal town on San Andrés has grown into a bustling center of shopping malls and holiday resorts. The crowds, however, are not difficult to escape, and you could easily take up a Robinson Crusoe lifestyle on any number of isolated beaches.
In 2000 the archipelago was declared the Unesco Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. The reserve includes the islands proper and a vast surrounding marine area of 300, 000 sq km, which is equal to about 10% of the Caribbean Sea. The objective is to encourage the conservation and environmental protection of an ecosystem of enormous biological diversity, and to foster sustainable development of the archipelago.
The islands, especially Providencia, provide a good opportunity to experience the unique Caribbean ambience. The turquoise sea, extensive coral reefs and rich underwater life are a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. The easygoing pace, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, developed tourist facilities and general safety are other factors that make the islands an attractive destination.
Last updated: Oct 20, 2009
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