Located just off the coast of San Andres, Johnny Cay is a picturesque, palm tree covered little island, and one of the must see sites on a trip to San Andres. Learn about what to expect on a visit to there in this Practical Guide to Johnny Cay, San Andres, Colombia.

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Photo of Johnny Cay from a distance.
Read on to learn all about the palm tree covered island of Johnny Cay.

Guide to Johnny Cay – Contents

  • Where is Johnny Cay?
  • How to Get to Johnny Cay
  • What to Do at Johnny Cay
  • Practical Tips and Packing List

Where is Johnny Cay?

Johnny Cay, sometimes seen on maps by its Spanish name Cayo Sucre or Islote Sucre, is located about 1.5 km directly off the northeastern coast of San Andres. In fact, it makes for a great piece of scenery when enjoying the beach at Spratt Bight. Besides being one of the best beaches in San Andres, it is also one of the top things to do in San Andres.

Photo of a girl wading in the water looking out at Johnny Cay in the distance.
You can see Johnny Cay from the beaches in downtown San Andres.

How to Get to Johnny Cay

You have to take a boat to get to Johnny Cay. The boat ride takes about 10-15 minutes and is relatively easy and calm. Do note that on days with very choppy seas, boats out to the island may be canceled.

Can you Stay on Johnny Cay?

No, you cannot spend the night on Johnny Cay. If you’re looking for a good place to stay in San Andres though, I recommend the Sweet Island Apartments, a great value not far from downtown. For nicer, downtown accommodations, consider Hotel Casablanca.

Photo of Johnny Cay with a boat floating in the foreground.
You do have to take a boat to get to Johnny Cay from San Andres.

Tours to Johnny Cay

While it is presumably possible to get to Johnny Cay by private boat, you are most likely going to have to book a tour. As the most popular tour on the island, any tour agency and just about any hotel or hostel should be able to arrange this tour for you. We booked it through EcoDivers. I don’t remember exactly what we paid, but you can find ranges from 25-35,000 pesos. There is also an 8,000 peso tax. Some tours include this and some don’t, so it is worth asking.

Most tours are for a few hours and there is a morning and afternoon schedule. I felt like our morning schedule tour didn’t feel quite long enough, as we just assumed it was an all day tour. We also were on one of the last boats to leave from the marina. It may be that in non-pandemic times, more boats operate, but we felt like it was awfully whistle stop, especially since we waited for an hour at the marina for the boat.

We did see a tour agency located on the beachfront in Spratt Bight that offered an extended all day tour. The VIP tours like this one you can book online via Viator include Johnny Cay, the Aquarium, and a tour of the bay are also a good option as it covers all the main sites to see via boat in one day. You can also prebook a half day trip via Viator here.

Photo of the beach front at Johnny Cay island from San Andres.
A view of the beachfront on Isla Johnny Cay.

What to Do and See at Johnny Cay

Enjoy the Beach!

This is really the plan here. The beach front area where you arrive is fairly nice, with a fairly large beach and pretty, white sand. The water is very pretty as well. Do note that there are a fair amount of large rocks in the water and the waves can break a bit hard. Still, it’s a decent spot for swimming. The water is clear enough for snorkeling as well, although the waves make it a tad hard to see much.

To get chairs and a shade spot, you should expect to pay to rent it. We paid $35,000 pesos for an umbrella and 2 chairs, beach lounge chairs were $45,000. You might be able to negotiate this on a day that isn’t crowded (it was very crowded when we were there).

Photo of people on the beach on the island of Johnny Cay.
The beach at Johnny Cay is white sand and has pretty, turquoise, clear waters.

Drink a Coco Loco

That is an adult beverage in a coconut (literally crazy coconut). This is sort of the signature beach drink in San Andres. Here they make it strong and with rum and whiskey unlike the creamier piña coladas sans piña with only rum like you often find in Cartagena. We paid $25,000 pesos for coco locos.

Have Lunch

We didn’t have lunch here and just waited until we got back to town. You can get your standard fried fish and coconut rice plate though if you like. When I asked about the price, a standard plate cost $35,000 pesos. You can also get shrimp cocktails on the beach.

Walk Around the Island

The island isn’t very large. You can walk around it in 15-20 minutes. If you head down the main beach area and round the corner, there is a bit more beach that is mostly deserted, although there are rough waves and shallow, jagged rocks here, so you can’t swim. I spotted an iguana enjoying a discarded coco loco. Around the backside of the island, there isn’t much beach, and the walk around the other side is a rocky shore with palm trees sticking out.

Photo of an iguana eating out of a coconut on Johnny Cay in San Andres.
Even Iguanas like Coco Locos.
Photo of an iguana with its head inside a coconut on Johnny Cay Island.
Well, when there’s no straw…

The interior of the island is also pretty with a surprising amount of green grass under the palm trees. It’s definitely worth the short walk around the island to take in all the scenery. Just watch out for drunk iguanas.

Here are a few more photos from around the island:

Photo of a couple walking on the beach on Johnny Cay, San Andres.
Once you round the corner, the beach on this side of the island is practically deserted.
Photo of a palm tree extending out over the water.
There’s nothing quite as idyllic as palm trees overhanging the Caribbean!
Photo of the palm trees in the interior of Johnny Cay.
The palm trees in the interior of Johnny Cay are pretty as well!

Tips and Packing List for Johnny Cay

  • Be sure to be get to the docks early so you get one of the first boats (unlike us). If you book with an agency ahead of time, ask for the the voucher to give them so you don’t have to go and reclaim it and can just head directly to the docks.
  • When arriving and departing, you do have to climb off and on the boat with waves. While the water is shallow, this may be difficult for small children or the elderly.
  • When waves are rough or there is bad weather, boats are canceled, so I highly suggest not saving this for your last day so you can reschedule if need be.
  • I suggest taking along some water shoes for Johnny Cay. I know they look goofy and get full of sand, but they will make swimming with the rocks out in the water more comfortable as you won’t have to worry about where you step. These at least look more like tennis shoes.
  • A good dry bag is also useful for the boat ride over to make sure nothing gets wet. A good backpack works too. I love my Roam backpack (review here), perfect for a day pack for the beach and easy to pack.
  • Finally, you’ll want all your beach gear, like some stylish shades. I love my RawWood green lensed shades, perfect for the Caribbean, reggae vibes of San Andres. A good beach towel, like these retro, quick dry microfibers is also good, especially if you don’t want to pay for chairs.
It’s definitely worth enjoying the palm tree paradise of Johnny Cay while in San Andres.

Ready to Visit Johnny Cay?

If you are planning a trip to San Andres, be sure to check out my guide to Rocky Cay, an even tinier little island and nice chill spot you don’t need a tour to visit, the Aquarium, taking a golf cart circuit of the island, or just see my complete Practical Guide to San Andres. I hope this helped you plan your trip to Johnny Cay, and more importantly, if you go, that you enjoy it. Let us know what your favorite part of the island was in the comments below.

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

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