A Must Do, Aquarium Cay
Not to be confused with the Decameron Aquarium, The Aquarium Cay is a little Island off San Andres that attrackts a huge variaty of fish. This is the easiest snorkeling and fish watching I've ever done. Even if you don't snorkel, hell, even if you don't swim, you can wade out into the water, use swimming goggles and see an amazing variaty of fish. This one is worth scrolling through all 5 of my pictures.
San Andres Colombia
"The Decameron Aquarium Hotel"
The rooms were a little small but very nice and very clean. The bedspread and paint were a little faded but they were fine for us. The balconies are huge and we liked that because we were in the building furthest out in to the water. The view was unbelievable! The colours in the water cannot be described and, unfortunately, cannot be photographed with a regular camera. If you have trouble climbing stairs, the 3rd (top) floor may not be for you. I had just had surgery before the trip and was a little slow up and down the stairs but it's not that far a climb and a little patience form my husband went a long way!! The balconies for the first floor rooms are only a few feet above the water and I would think that would also be quite nice! The grounds are really lovely and well kept.
The food was actually some of the best I have experienced at an all-inclusive. There is an excellent variety of restaurants (4) that serve dinner, 2 that serve lunch, and either 1 or 2 that serve breakfast. Just typing this and remembering it is making my mouth water! The food was very good! There is an Italian restaurant, a steakhouse, a seafood restaurant and a buffet. We liked the buffet the least but it was still pretty good! The wine was usually good although the buffet restaurant seemed to serve a sweeter wine with dinner than I would like but, as I said, we didn't frequent that one anyway. The only "complaint" I would have about the dining is that they don?t seem to support the 2-3 hour dinners that my husband and I like on vacation. That was not a big deal as there are a couple of bars to go to for an after dinner drink at a more leisurely pace. It wasn't like they were rushing us, or anything, but it seemed to be a faster paced experience than we are used to. It could be a cultural thing as most of the people at the resort are from the Colombian mainland and all seemed to leave long before us when finishing their meal.
There was entertainment, but I'm sorry I can?t comment because we didn't catch it, even once. The disco was quite the happening spot but the music was mostly "techno" which usually gives me more of a headache than an urge to dance!
the brochures say that you can use the facilities at any of the Decamerons, which gives you a choice of many other bars, restaurants and nightclubs. We never did get to do this as we just didn't find we had the time at first, and then we talked to other people at the Aquarium who said the Aquarium was the best of all the resorts anyway.
When we felt like having a night out, we usually walked to the "downtown area" which is within walking distance of the Aquarium, or about a $4 cab ride. There are lots of different types of bars, nightclubs, etc. to please any tastes. We usually went to one of a couple of little native bars that had outdoor patios where you could have a conversation as well as a dance floor inside with either reggae or Latin. Much quieter than the disco at the resort!! These places are also a good mix of tourists and locals.
We hired a guide with a mini-van to take us on an island tour. We paid an extra $5 US per person and had the guide and the van to ourselves. We went at our own pace. We say Morgan's Cave, the Big Pond with the alligators, the blow-hole, the Baptist Church, and all the other things you read about on the internet. Only two things worth doing - the blow-hole, and Westview, a swimming area very popular with the locals, and it's easy to see why. The is a cliff with a rope to swing into the water and a ladder to climb down. It was so beautiful there. And, while we didn't swim, we sat here watching the kids and taking in the view for a while. If there is anywhere (other than the balcony of our room) that showed off the varied colours of blue in the ocean around San Andres, this was the spot.
And, my favourite subject, SHOPPING! On our first trip into town it was early in the week and we were not comfortable yet with how safe this place is. We stuck to the main streets and all we saw was the same old "duty-free" stuff like Hilfiger and Calvin Klein T-shirts, perfume, and lots of dust collectors at a price equal to or more than what we would pay in Toronto. We were quite disappointed. After we realized how safe even the downtown was, we took another shopping trip. This time we went down all the little side streets and into some back alleys. It was excellent. The cost of things is about one-fifth to one-third the cost of similar items in Canada. You will cry when you see some of the wooden furniture and realize there is no way to get it on the plane!! Anyway, needless to say, we ended up spending some money. If you like jewelry, it will be worth it to buy emeralds. I was not hopeful, as all I ever saw on the forums was people saying they purchased a piece for $1000 that was appraised at $4000. This was way out of my league. However, I found a pair of earrings at the store on the resort for $60US. I brought them home and had them appraised at $300CDN. You can get jewelry in almost any price range.
"Beaches and Snorkelling"
There is an outdoor, covered bar on the pier at the Aquarium that has a small calypso band every night. They start just before the first dinner seating and finish just after the last seating. It is all outdoors but has very comfortable chairs and tables with a nice breeze of the ocean.
The snorkelling is the best I have ever seen. A day-trip out to Johnny Cay and the Natural Aquarium is a great way to spend a day. Even if you don't want to snorkel, you can watch the fish from the boat or when wading or when sitting on the beach. That's how clear the water was!
There is only a very small beach at the resort that pretty much no one uses, at the very end of the resort. Although we are beach people, we didn't mind this. We spent most of our days sunning on the pier. You can swim and snorkelling right there and it is very nice. We actually ended up enjoying it much more than we expected to. The nicest beach is a public beach within walking distance of the Aquarium and across the street from the Decameron San Luis. It was almost empty every time we saw it. There are lots of day-trips to Johnny Cay, which has an absolutely gorgeous beach. You have to rent lounges with pads but I think the cost is about $5 per day. While at Johnny Cay, we hired a gentleman to take us snorkelling around the small island. We walked from the beach where the boat left us and go into the water on the opposite side. For almost an hour we snorkelled with our guide back to the beach where we had rented chairs. Unbelievable! Fabulous snorkelling! The gentleman we rented the chairs from "watched" our bag for us (our money came with us in airtight containers) and had drinks waiting for us when we emerged from the water! All at a cost of course, but still reasonable.
Four trips later and this island still has the best snorkelling we have encountered.