Renting a golf cart and doing a circuit of San Andres is one of the most popular ways to spend a day on the island, and a must do while visiting. There are a number of good spots to see on the island that are best visited this way. Read on to learn about my suggested route to do a golf cart tour of San Andres Island, Colombia.
Golf Cart Tour of San Andres – Contents
- Why Rent a Golf Cart to Tour San Andres
- How to Rent a Golf Cart to Tour San Andres
- Recommended Stops on a Circuit of San Andres
- Practical Tips
Why Rent a Golf Cart to Tour San Andres
San Andres Island is not very large. It is only about 26 square kilometers in area (10 square miles), and the road that runs around the edge of the island is about 30 km long (19 miles). You can easily see the main sites and beaches on the island in a day. The best way to do that is definitely by renting a golf cart and touring the island yourself.
Taxis are very expensive on San Andres, and while there are buses, you’ll spend lots of time waiting for them to pass by. There are also tours that take you to the main sites. With your own form of transportation, you can stop where you like, for as long as you like. The open air of a golf cart also lets you take in all the gorgeous scenery along the road as you go, as seen in the video below. Plus, driving around a golf cart all day is just fun and fits with laid back island life!
How to Rent a Golf Cart in San Andres
The easiest way to do this is to simply find golf carts for rental downtown on the North End. You can book via tour agencies, likely your hotel can set you up with a rental, you can look for where carts are parked, or you can just find guys offering rentals on the street that will take you to where to rent one.
We paid $120,000 pesos to rent from 8 am to 6 pm when we were last in San Andres in December 2020 and January 2021. That was for a 2 seater Mule or Mula. There are larger ones available as well seating up to 5 or even 6. You will get the best deal by arranging this on the island, but if you would like to book ahead, you can via GetYourGuide here for a 2 seater, here for a 5 seater, and here for a 6 seater.
What About a Scooter Bike?
Yes, you can also opt to rent a moped or scooter style motorbike to tour San Andres. We were quoted $70,000 pesos a day for scooter rentals. They seat up to 2. We almost did this another day since we had lots of time in San Andres since our trip to Providencia was cancelled. Again, you will get a better price on the island, but if you’d like to book ahead online, you can rent a scooter here.
Tip – Get Your Rental Early!
Seriously, get downtown and get your rental at 8, or by 9 at the latest. First, that will make sure you get the most out of the day and the price you pay. But more importantly, it will make sure you get a good cart.
During our first visit to San Andres back in 2015, we were staying out of town in San Luis and made the mistake of getting into town to rent late, and lots of places were already out. We ended up with what I’m pretty sure was the slowest golf cart on the whole island. Back then, the mulas were still pretty new, and I didn’t see any of the old school carts still around on this last visit. Still, better safe than sorry. Get downtown and get your rental early!
Circuit of San Andres – A Recommended Route
This is more or less the route we took on our most recent visit, and I think it is a good one. It will have you see the sites of the interior first before putting you back on the east side of the island where there are more places to eat and more beaches to hang out at in the afternoon.
You could easily go your own route though, and once the places to stop along the west side of the island like Piscinita are rebuilt following the damage of Hurricane Iota, there will be more places to stop and see and to eat there.
We went that route down the east coast first during our first visit, and it is perfectly fine. Still, I would recommend the route here that has you go up into the interior of the island first, then out to the west side before circling back up the east coast to bring you back into town.
Below, for each stop, I’m going to categorize it as a Must Stop or an Optional Stop. The Must Stops are the highlights, while the Optional Stops are places that if they don’t interest you that much, I’d recommend just passing them. I’ll explain how to get to each and what to expect there.
Stop 1 – Old Point Mangrove Park
If you head out of downtown from the North End along the east coast of the island, you’ll go past all the docks out of town. You’ll turn inland and then left at a traffic light in front of a gas station. This road will take you out of the more developed part of the island along the eastern coast.
*Our favorite place we stayed in San Andres was in this area, the Sweet Island Apartments, which we thought were a great value.
You will pass the Old Point Mangrove Park, aka, Parque Nacional Manglares de Old Point on your left. Inside, you’ll find a long boardwalk that takes you to several points on the water amongst the mangrove forest.
We actually didn’t stop here on our circuit in the golf cart but came back another day. We were not that impressed to be honest. We did see some birds, and the boardwalk through the swamp is kind of neat, but the lookout points aren’t that impressive. If you do want to see this though, I ‘d recommend stopping here when you come to it. It is just a short ways out of town.
Stop 2 – La Loma and First Baptist Church – Must Stop
Whether you stop at the mangroves or not, after you go by them, you’ll come shortly to a road on the right that heads into the interior of the island. This is Orange Hill Road, and I am almost positive there is a brown sign that says La Loma and/or Iglesia Bautista here. Either way, take that right.
You will start heading up into the central highland area of the island. Eventually, you’ll come to another road at the top of the hill and want to turn left. There should be signs for where to go to reach the church. You should be able to see it as well.
The church is the first Baptist church in all of Latin America and dates to 1844 when a white abolitionist began preaching under a tamarind tree that is still on the property today. The current church was built in 1896, first being built in Alabama and then being shipped and reassembled on the island.
There is a small donation to tour the church. I didn’t write this down but I believe it was $5,000 or $10,000 a person. They show you a short video explaining the history of the church, and you can see some artifacts from its history on display in the side house.
However, the highlight here is the view from the church steeple. You’ll be able to go inside the church itself, which is kind of neat. There is a tight, circular stairwell and then a steep stair up to the very top. It is the highest point on the island.
The view is really spectacular! You can see the beaches down below along the coast and all the pretty green on the island, and the pretty hues of blue in the water around it. It is quite windy and it’s a small space, but there plenty of boards surrounding it. The view really is worth it, and this is a definite must stop.
Stop 3 – Big Pond aka La Laguna – Optional Stop (but recommended)
If you head south from the church, you’ll eventually see a sign for Big Pond, and you will want to turn right (this should be the second right). It is a narrow little road, and you’ll eventually come to a little clearing with a pond on the right hand side of the road. If you stop here, it costs $5,000 pesos for a short explanation from a local guide.
This large pond is the only major source of freshwater on the island, and was originally an important place for bathing and washing by the local residents before running water came to the island. A while back, the Colombian navy captured a ship illegally trafficking caimans for their skins off the island. Not knowing what to do with them, they put them in the pond.
There are now around 50-60 of them and they are semi-domesticated. The guides will call them or get some bait and they will come up on shore and even let you pet them. Susana was not the least bit interested and stayed far away but I did go up and touch one. It’s, well, interesting.
This was a quick stop coming down the hill from La Loma and it appears to be run by the locals and the explanation of the pond gives some insight into the history of the island even if you aren’t very interested in petting the caimans. Entry and the short explanation from the guide cost us 5,000 pesos a person. I would definitely recommend including it as a stop, but if the caimans scare you or it doesn’t sound that interesting, then you can choose to skip it.
*Note that if you do decide to skip this, you can take the first right after the church along Cove Road to get to the next stop or get down to the western coast of the island.
Stop 4 – Morgan’s Cave – Optional Stop
If you continue along the road where Big Pond is located, you’ll come out to Cove Road where you’ll want to turn left. You’ll then want to take the next right, and you should see a sign for the Cueva de Morgan. (even if you don’t stop here or didn’t stop at Big Pond, you’ll want to make this turn to get out to the coast).
Not long after turning, you’ll likely see other carts parked outside of the entrance to Morgan’s Cave. San Andres was a frequent hideout for pirates back in the colonial era. Most notably, Henry Morgan is thought to have buried treasure on the island. The cave here is reportedly where Morgan would stash treasure before returning for it later.
The entry fee was $20,000 pesos. When you go in, there is a mini tour with several stops. At the first, you learn a bit about the different uses of coconuts on the island. Then you go through a small cave before a short explanation of pirate history. There is a sort of mini museum with some neat pirate artifacts, including lots of old pistols and glass bottles. There’s a small local art gallery and a replica of a pirate boat.
Finally, you can see the cave itself and even go down in the entrance, although much of the cave is full of water. Honestly, it was kind of neat, but I actually think the entry fee is a bit much for what you see here. There isn’t any actual treasure or artifacts owned by Morgan himself here or even exhibits on his life. So, I am qualifying this as an optional stop, and honestly, I’d probably recommend passing on it. If you are particularly into pirates or have kids though, you might still want to stop.
Stop 5 – Casa Museo Isleño – Optional Stop
If you head out from Morgan’s Cave, you’ll soon come to the main road on the western coast of the island. The next stop I’m suggesting here is the Casa Museo Isleño, a historic home turned museum, where you can learn more about the history and culture of the island. If you want to visit it, you’ll need to turn right and head north up the coast. If you don’t you’ll want to turn left.
If you do stop here, you’ll head up the coast for a bit before seeing a parking lot on the right. There is an entrance fee of $10,000 pesos, and it includes a guided tour of the house and grounds. The house is over 120 years old and was originally owned by a wealthy English family. There are some neat artifacts, like a sewing machine and old radio on display. The guide explains more about the history of the island, and there is a mini-dance lesson at the end.
It’s interesting, and the house’s architecture is neat, but much like Big Pond, those who aren’t really interested can skip it if it doesn’t get your attention.
Stop 6 – I Love SAI Sign – Must Stop
If you did go to the Casa Museo, you’ll want to turn left and backtrack down the western coast when you come out. If you opted not to, you’ll want to head left from Morgan’s Cave as noted above. You’ll eventually pass by the I Love SAI letters overlooking the Caribbean.
This is a must stop photo op. When we were there last, there was a guy selling beers and waters, and he took great photos for us. He got into it too and took lots of angle and had us posing. We bought a couple beers and waters in exchange for his handy photography work, but you could also opt to give him a small tip. Unfortunately, Iota had torn up much of the vegetation on this side of the island, but it’s still pretty.
Regardless, it’s a good photo. This stretch of highway is also a good one to take a shot on the road itself, which is a popular Instagram shot. There’s not much traffic, but still watch out. The highway and surrounding palm trees do make for a pretty neat photo.
Stop 7 – La Piscinita – Must Stop When It Reopens
La Pisinita is a little natural swimming pool carved into the rocky coast, almost like a tiny bay. When we first visited back in 2015, there was a restaurant and wooden walkways here. However, Hurricane Iota in late 2020 washed it all away. There wasn’t anything there in December of 2020, but hopefully, it will all eventually be rebuilt. It’s a good little swimming hole, and on our first visit you could see lots of little fish swimming around you. So, assuming it does eventually return to its former glory, I’m listing it here as a must stop.
Stop 8 – Hoyo Soplador – Must Stop
If you continue along the road, you’ll start to round the southern tip of the island. There, you’ll find the Hoyo Soplador. It is a blowhole where waves that wash under the rocks force a geyser of water up through a hole in the rocks. It’s one of the top attractions on the island, and standing over the hole and being spayed is hilarious.
It’s definitely a must stop, and entrance is free, although it is expected that you buy something like a beer or coco loco. They guy accompanying you will also take your photo, which you will want!
You can read more about the Hoyo Soplador at this complete guide.
Stop 9 – San Luis Beach – Must Stop
From the Hoyo Soplador, you’ll head back up the eastern coast of the island. There used to be a cool restaurant just past it named Punta Sur, but unfortunately, Iota had also destroyed it.
Along the east coast, you’ll get some neat views of the ocean, and pass by a few little beaches. Eventually, you’ll come to the longer stretch of beach known as San Luis. Here, the waves are a bit higher and the crowd tends to be more local than touristy. It’s not quite as nice as some of the other beaches on the island, but it isn’t bad either. Still, it’s worth stopping to at least walk along the beach a bit.
You can choose to stop here and take a dip, or grab some lunch at one of the spots along the beach. If you continue a bit more to the north, you will go past the Kingston Jerk Spot, which serves up decent Jamaican Jerk style chicken. I’ve been obsessed with this since we did our honeymoon in Jamaica, so we ate here. You will also go by Restaurante Lydia, which serves up traditional island food. We stopped here another day for lunch and it was really good. Do expect a crowd though!
Stop 10 – Botanical Gardens – Optional Stop
If you continue north out of San Luis, you can turn left just past where the road goes back out to the coast to reach the San Andres Botanical Gardens.
There was a $7,000 peso entry fee here, and it had just reopened when we visited in December 2020. A lot of the paths hadn’t been cleaned up yet, so we didn’t see the whole park. At the start of the trail, you’ll find a zig zag trail showing different types of trees before arriving to a 5 story observation tower. At the top there is a neat view, comparable to what you get at the First Baptist Church. Then there is another paved path with different kiosks along the way with exhibits on the importance of different plants or fruits. These were all closed when we went.
We did see some lizards, crabs, iguanas, and butterflies, but overall were not blown away. Maybe once it has been reopened a bit more, it will be better, but I wouldn’t qualify it as a must see.
Stop 11 – Rocky Cay Beach – Must Stop (last stop)
Rocky Cay is a tiny little island about 150 yards off the coast. There is a nice little beach here, and if you haven’t had lunch yet, you can get it at the little restaurant or from vendors on the beach. It’s a good chill out spot, and I recommend spending whatever time you have left before taking the cart back to turn in here.
To get out to Rocky Cay itself, you can pay a boat to take you across and come back and get you when you want. On the little island, there is a little beach bar that has great piña coladas, and there is good snorkeling off the island as well as a neat looking wrecked ship.
Finally, while its final descent is blocked by trees, you can see the start of sunset here, which is pretty. You can read more about Rocky Cay in this complete guide.
Once it gets to be about 5:30-5:45, you’ll need to head back into town to turn in your cart, wrapping up your golf cart circuit of San Andres Island.
Circuit of San Andres Island – Ending Thoughts
The truth is it might be hard to hit every single one of these spots in a day, although it is doable. We, for example, did the Botanical Gardens and the Mangroves at Old Point on a different day. However, we didn’t spend all that much time at either, and we also spent several hours having a late lunch and hanging out at Rocky Cay, so I think all 11 stops are definitely doable if you want to do them all. If you do decide to skip a couple places, it will also mean you can spend more time at San Luis, Rocky Cay, or once it reopens, La Piscinita too.
Given how pricey taxis are, it is recommendable to include the places above you want to do on your tour of the island via cart. You can always do the bus back to Rocky Cay to spend more time, but some of the other spots, like Big Pond or the Casa Museo Isleño are a bit harder to do by bus.
Golf Cart Tour of San Andres – Practical Tips
- Again, I can’t stress enough to get an early start! You’ll have more time and you’ll make sure you get the pick of the carts.
- There isn’t a ton of traffic once you get outside of the downtown area on the North End with the exception of San Luis.
- Regardless, you will want to watch out for motorcycles and cars passing you. That’s really only problematic in traffic coming into downtown, but motorcycles will pass you on both sides, whether a lane exists or not, so try to keep an eye out.
- Most of the places listed here only accept cash, and I’m not sure if there are any ATMs outside of downtown, so make sure you have plenty of cash on you when you set out.
- We were expected to return the cart with a full tank of gas. Kind of lame in my opinion, but it didn’t cost very much.
Ready to do your own golf cart tour of San Andres?
There you have it, a complete recommended route to touring San Andres with a golf cart rental. I hope it helped you plan what stops you will see on your tour, and more importantly, that you enjoy every one of them. Let me know which of the stops was your favorite or if you have an alternative route in the comments below.
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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