Hidden between the coast of Nicaragua and Jamaica is a very well kept secret of the Caribbean, San Andres Island.
First colonized by the English and then later becoming part of Colombia, the island is a relaxed and laidback tropical paradise a short trip from Miami or South America where both spanish and english are spoken.
I stayed at the Hotel Casa Blanca, or the White House Hotel, and was extremely impressed by the service, the staff and the place. And especially the food!
First of all, the rooms are huge and spotless. We had one of the larger family apartments, with a well equipped double room upstairs and another downstairs with two singles or a double if required. There was a kitchen (not that we needed it), loungeroom and an incredibly big bathroom for the master bedroom as well as another downstairs. The air conditioning worked wonders, but with the lovely sea breeze on the island it wasn´t really necessary.
The room was kept immaculate with the constant attention of the staff who were very friendly, spoke spanish and english and kept us well fed and happy.
The food was so good we hardly had time to go the beach between meals. Buffets for breakfast had everything from tropical fruit to a lady cooking eggs as you liked them on a cooker out in the patio. We usually had the buffet again for lunch, featuring local fish and seafood dishes and some surprises as well. The hotel also has a cafe serving stuff for the kids and snacks, pizzas and other things. Another thing you rarely find in Colombia or the Caribbean is quality asian food, but the Casa Blanca has an onsite Thai restaurant. The red curry was as good or better as I´ve tasted in Thailand and my girlfriend´s seafood coconut rice wrapped in plantain was equally delicious.
And being in the Caribbean, you have got to try the main restaurant for its seafood. Outstanding! The atlantic prawns were delicious and the seafood soup, served in a giant conch shell, was heavenly. Although I couldn´t finish it, my girlfriend who had been watching me eat with a blissful smile on my face, took the shell off me and devoured the rest, understanding the reason for the smile.
While the pool isn´t huge, the beach is 10 metres from the door of the hotel and is clear, calm and long. San Andres is famous for having seven shades of blue to their ocean, and enjoying a strong and well priced cocktail on the deck i could make out at least four.
Things to do? San Andres is a diver´s paradise, and also one of the cheapest places in the world to do it. There is an old shipwreck to visit, tiny little islands off the coast where you can go in a small boat for the day and drink ´Coco Loco´ (a local drink mixed in a coconut shell) or snorkel around thousands of tropical fish. it´s also a duty free haven, with super cheap alcohol and brand name clothes at bargain prices.
A worker told me that a lot of ex Colombian presidents and movie stars and models have stayed at the hotel and I can see why. It´s not pretentious, very relaxed, really friendly staff and great service. It gives you that feeling that everything in the world is perfect, time has stood still and all you have to do is order another drink and enjoy the sunshine. Having stayed in similar beachside hotels all over the world, this one gets a big thumbs up from me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- National Tourism Registration No. 3436. The Casablanca Hotel of the Island of San Andres, Colombia, is pleased to announce the opening of its new swimming pool. Hotel Casablanca, your right choice in the Island of San Andres. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Casablanca Hotel San Andres Island