Just 150km east of Nicaragua and some 800km northwest of mainland Colombia, the seahorse-shaped island of San Andrés is best known as Colombia's favorite weekend getaway, where mainlanders love to come to drink, tax-free shop, sunbathe and party. San Andrés Town, the focus of the action, won't be splashed across postcards any time soon, though it does boast an attractive beach promenade and has in recent years begun to address what might be charitably termed its beauty gap.

Indeed, San Andrés is best appreciated outside the downtown hubbub. Whether you take a boat trip to one of the idyllic offshore cays, check out the excellent scuba-diving and snorkeling opportunities or head down the scenic 30km road encircling the rest of the island, this quirky place – where Anglo-Caribbean Raizal culture grinds up against the far more recently imported Colombian one – often manages to charm visitors in the end.