©DC_Colombia/Getty Images

San Andrés & Providencia

The archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia is geographically located near Nicaragua, historically tied to the British Empire through colonisation and politically part of Colombia. Here you'll find isolated beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and an alluring island flavor, and, with just a little digging, the 300-year-old English-Creole-speaking Raizal culture.

San Andrés, the largest island in the archipelago and its commercial and administrative hub, attracts many Colombian tourists seeking duty-free shopping sprees. The crowds, however, are not difficult to escape.

Providencia offers the same turquoise sea and extensive coral reefs but is much less commercialized. Its colonial history is evident in hamlets of colorful wooden homes peppered about the island.

Both islands offer a total change of pace to the mainland and are well worth the effort of a visit.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout San Andrés & Providencia.