Skip to Content
How to Get to Haynes Cay & El Acuario on San Andres Island

How to Get to Haynes Cay & El Acuario on San Andres Island

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Looking for an awesome island-hopping adventure to the outer cays of San Andres? I’ve got you covered.

In this quick guide, I’ll fill you in on how to get to Haynes Cay and El Acuario (also called Rose Cay). These are two small islands that you can actually walk between! I’ll give you the best options for getting here, give you some tips to enjoy an awesome day out, and include some of my photography to get you inspired.

Quick Things to Know About Haynes Cay & El Acuario

After Johnny Cay, El Acuario San Andres is the most popular day trip from town. That's because this awesome sand bar island has some of the clearest water you'll find in the area, which is exactly why it's earned its nickname, the "acuario natural de san andrés".

  • Location - Haynes Cay and El Acuario are located just 1 mile (1.6 km) from the eastern shores of San Andres Island, Colombia.
  • Getting There - Choose between a full-day "VIP" island-hopping tour or a direct boat transfer from Spratt Bight Beach.
  • Facilities - You'll find restaurants, bars, and snorkel rental equipment on both islands. Haynes Cay also has a tour shop and restrooms.
  • While El Acuario is not much more than a long strip of white sand with a few bars and small restaurants on it, Haynes Cay is dotted with palm trees and has a green grassy area with loads of wildlife.

The benefit of visiting this cay is that you get access to Haynes Cay (Cayo Haynes or Cayo Córdoba / Islote Córdoba) as well. This rocky island sits directly next to El Acuario and visitors can wade through the shallow waters between them on their visit.

El acuario sandbar on san andres island
El Acuario sandbar
Haynes cay san andres
Haynes Cay

Where is Acuario & Haynes Cay?

Acuario and Haynes Cay are located just 1 mile (1.6 km) from the eastern shores of San Andres Island (Colombia). It's situated in the crystal clear waters of the mar de 7 colores (sea of seven colors) outside Puerto de San Andrés.

However, most boat trips heading to the cay depart from Playa Spratt Bight near El Centro. Expect a roughly 10-minute boat transfer to the cay from here.

Since Acuario doesn't have any vegetation, it's difficult to spot from the mainland. However, you can easily spot the palm tree-lined shores of Haynes Cay from the coast, especially from Rocky Cay and the popular Cocoplum Beach.

Map of haynes cay on san andres island

How to Get To El Acuario & Haynes Cay From San Andres

While there are many boat tour companies departing from San Andres town, there are two main options that most travelers should consider.

Option 1: "VIP" San Andres Island Hopping Tour

If you have a full day free and want to see all the main activities, beautiful snorkeling spots, coral reefs, sandy cays, and small islands of San Andres, this trip is the most cost-effective and bang-for-buck experience you can book on the island.

This full-day boat tour starts at 8:30 am and runs for approximately 7 hours. It includes:

  • Johnny Cay
  • Aquarius (Cayo Acuario, also called Rose Cay)
  • Bahia (bay)
  • Mar de 7 Colores (Sea of 7 Colors)
  • Mangroves Tour
  • "Manta Rays" - actually not Mantas but another smaller species of ray
  • All environmental fees

Another great part about this tour is that you can book online in advance. This is very useful as you will not have to barter or risk the chance of being ripped off by tour operators. This tour offers a fixed price that is actually cheaper than I was able to find around town.

Additionally, while this is a popular tour, it doesn't depart in big groups, meaning you won't feel like a sardine as you will on the direct boat transfers.

Boats and palm trees at haynes cay

Option 2: Boat Transfer Option From Spratt Bight

If you just want to visit El Acuario and Haynes Cay, then you can also just pay for a direct boat transfer. The best business is run by "Coonative Brothers" and they have an office in the big yellow building on the shores of Spratt Bight Beach. They use quite small boats but 90%+ of the other agencies do

The trip costs 30,000 Colombian pesos for two hours, 40,000 pesos for 4 hours, or 50,000 pesos for 6 hours.

Departure times are 9:30 am, 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm.

Tip: Since there is no environmental fee like on Johnny Cay, visiting El Acuario is actually cheaper even though it is further away.

People walking from the sandbar to haynes cay

My Experience Visiting El Acuario

As soon as we arrived at El Acuario, we could understand why this is such a popular vacation spot. The water here is a fluorescent shade of light blue with visibility for days! This makes it great for swimming and snorkeling.

El acuario sandbar in san andres

The island itself is very small, less than 80 meters by 20 meters. On its shores are some reggae-themed restaurants and bars serving snacks, seafood, beers, cocktails, and coconuts.

There are also some shade umbrellas and beach chairs that visitors can hire for a fee.

Restaurants and shops on el acuario, san andres colombia

The best place for swimming at Acuario San Andres is on the northern sand strip, which reaches out a couple of hundred meters into the Caribbean Sea. Here, there are some small coral patches and you will generally find fewer people.

Selfie in clear water at the aquariu san andres,

Furthermore, just to the north is a popular spot where locals feed the "manta rays". In truth, these are not mantas, but a large species of saltwater stingrays. This usually happens daily at around 1 PM.

To the south of this beautiful sandy island is a long roped buoy line leading over to Haynes Cay. You'll often see people crossing between the islands all day since the water depth is only around 1 to 1.2 meters. We crossed a few times during our visits and felt comfortable carrying our bags above our heads without getting anything wet.

Crossing the sandbar from acuario to haynes cay san andres
Walking across the shallow crossing to the other side
Girl swimming in calm blue water

Want Affordable Travel Insurance for San Andrés?

Safeguard yourself from unforeseen travel mishaps like accidents, cancellations, delays, and loss of your personal items. HeyMondo offers peace of mind travel insurance for Colombia at super affordable rates and has an excellent, easy-to-use app to manage claims.

Tip: We Seek Travel readers get 5% OFF

My Experience at Haynes Cay

If you visit El Acuario, then of course you have to cross over to Haynes Cay as well. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that this rocky island is not more famous than its bare, sandy neighbor.

Unlike Acuario, Haynes Cay has a lot of rich, green vegetation. There are plenty of restaurants and bars here also, with a large, grassy area shaded by tropical coconut palms.

Haynes cay lighthouse

In the island's interior, we could walk through a forested track where you will find loads of blue lizards and large iguanas. If you're looking for a place to swim at Haynes Cay, the northern beach is much better, since the other side of the island is rocky.

Haynes cay island
Iguana in colombia
Rasta bar on san andres
Palm tree walking track in colombia


Below is a list of facilities that you can expect to find on El Acuario.

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Umbrella shades
  • Beach chairs
  • Snorkel rental equipment
Snorkel and swimming rental shop on san andres island

And, on Haynes Cay.

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Tour shop (for snorkeling tours)
  • Snorkel gear for rent or to buy
  • Toilet
Girl snorkeling at el acuario, san andres island

Where to Stay on San Andres Island

San Andres is quite a small island but there are loads of accommodation options available. The best regions are downtown (El Centro), San Luis, or one of the many resorts along the east and west coasts.

Below are my top three recommendations for all budgets. However, don't miss this up-to-date guide to where to stay on San Andres Island, Colombia for more picks and a rundown of the best neighborhoods to book.

In di house of reggae boutique outdoor pool at night, san andres

1. In Di House of Reggae Boutique

Reggae-styled hotel with a large outdoor pool and seating area. An on-site restaurant and colorful rooms with sea views. 1 km from Parceras Beach.

Aquamare hotel aerial view with a rooftop pool and views over the ocean, san andres

2. Aquamare Hotel Luxury

Located only 200 m from Spratt Bight Beach, this 4-star hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar. Perfect for families or couples looking for a relaxing stay.

Villa outside in san andres island

3. Villa San Miguel Villa

Awesome apartments conveniently located in central near the airport and just a 2-minute walk from Spratt Bight Beach.

Travel Tips For a Great Boat Trip

Before you head out on your boat trip to El Ecuario and Haynes Cay, here are some final travel tips.

  • El Acuario is very busy, but Haynes Cay usually has fewer people
  • Acuario is a better cay for swimming since its shores are sandy
  • Try to avoid visiting Acuario on weekends and public holidays if possible.
  • The high season on San Andres Island is July and April (especially holy week), which is opposite to other Caribbean island peak seasons like Antigua or Jamaica.
  • Try to time a trip with good weather conditions - although you can expect calm waters most of the time, these two islands provide very little shelter from strong winds and seas
  • The rainy seasons on San Andres run from September to December and then again from May to June. However, you can expect rain for just an hour or two a day.
  • Bring sunscreen (the best is Blue Lizard), water (to avoid plastic bottles), a hat, and reef shoes (it is a little rocky to cross over to Haynes Cay).
Parasailing over blue water in san andres, colombia
Sign at haynes cay
Girl snorkeling in clear water
Palm tree walking track
Parasailing over blue water near el acuario on san andres island, colombia

I hope you've enjoyed this boat trip guide to visiting Haynes Cay and El Acuario from San Andres Island.

Looking for more inspiration for things to do on the islands? Check out some of my other guides below!

  • Medellín Travel Guide: Discover fun activities and top highlights in Medellín
  • San Andrés Island: Guide to Colombia's best Caribbean Island
  • Minca Travel Guide: Discover incredible hikes, beautiful fincas, epic jungle waterfalls, and all-around relaxing vibes.
  • Things to do in Guatapé: Travel to Colombia's most scenic Antioquian town, known for its vibrant streets, traditional street art, and the famous Piedra del Peñol.
Girl and sunset at coffee plantation in minca

Colombia Accommodation Guides

Find the best places, areas, and accommodation picks across Colombia.

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.


Monday 15th of August 2022

Great post! I'm headed there very soon. My question is, is there a dry spot to place your bag while swimming El Acuario?

Olly Gaspar

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Sure there is, the sandy cay has a bar and some beach chairs with umbrellas to store your bags.