A complete travel guide covering how to get to Johnny Cay on San Andres Island, Colombia, and what to expect when you arrive.
San Andres is up there with one of the most amazing tropical islands in the Caribbean. Whether you’re visiting from the coast of Nicaragua or jumping on a quick flight from Colombian cities like Cartagena, then you’ll want to make sure to add Johnny Cay Island to your list of things to do!
This beautiful sandy cay (pronounced in the Caribbean as “key”) is just a quick boat ride away from the northern end of San Andres. Here, you’ll discover white-sand beaches dropping into crystal clear water and dense palm trees growing out from its center, almost like rasta dreads!
Trust me, you’ll want to make a visit to Johnny Cay (also named Islote Sucre). And, to help you out, I’ve written this comprehensive guide on how to do just that.
- About Johnny Cay Island in San Andres
- Where is Johnny Cay?
- How to Get To Johnny Cay From San Andres
- What to Expect at Johnny Cay Island
- Where to Stay on San Andres Island, Colombia
- Tips for Visiting Johnny Cay
- More Colombia Travel Guides & Blogs
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
About Johnny Cay Island in San Andres
After exploring the Colombian island of San Andres and all its beautiful reefs and cays including the popular Haynes Cay and Rose Cay (El Acuario), I'm being honest when I tell you that Johnny Cay is the most beautiful.
That's because this tiny palm-tree-specked oasis truly is the picture-perfect Caribbean island! Its white-sand shores and translucent turquoise waters make it one of the most beautiful beaches on San Andres. In fact, its Spanish name, Cayo Sucre, comes from its incredibly white sand (which looks almost like refined sugar).
Also, since the main beach faces the west, it's protected from the strong seasonal easterly winds that can whip up during the high season. As a result, this beach is one of the best on the island for swimming!
Here's the Best Johnny Cay Boat Tour
Want to visit Johnny Cay? Book this VIP boat tour, visiting Johnny Cay as well as;
- Mangrove Tour
- Mar de 7 Colores
- Manta Rays
Where is Johnny Cay?
If you haven't yet made it to San Andres, it's important to know that this island is located just off the coast of Nicaragua but is part of Colombian territory (although it is 715 kilometers or 445 miles from the Colombian Mainland).
Isla Johnny Cay is located approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) off the northern coast of San Andres. As a result, visitors will need to take a bot tour to get to this famous cay. This departs just off one of the main beaches near San Andres Town called Playa Spratt Bight.
This beautiful coral reef island is located within the San Andrés Ecological Park with its own designation of "Johnny Cay Regional Park". As a result, you need to pay a 15,000 Colombian Peso entrance fee (which should be included in your boat price).
How to Get To Johnny Cay From San Andres
If you're interested in getting to Johnny Cay from San Andres, you have two main options. The first is to book a full-day boat tour that includes Johnny Cay, Aquarius, Bahia, Mangroves, and Manta Rays. The second option is to get return boat transport from Spratt Bight.
I've done both of these options and I highly recommend the first since it offers a lot more value.
Below I will go into a bit more detail.
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 off San Andres, this trip is the most cost-effective and bang-for-buck experience you can book on the island.
This full-day 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 Manta's 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 as this tour offers a fixed price that is actually cheaper than I was able to find around town.
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.
Book: VIP Boat tour (all the highlights)
Option 2: Boat Transfer Option
The first time I visited Johnny Cay, I booked the boat "tour" as below. It took a while to find the best price since many of the tour operators (especially around the La Regatta Restaurant) were charging ridiculous prices.
However, I found that the best price was offered by the guys at Coonative Tours. You'll find their large yellow building in the middle of Spratt Bight beach. This is a popular way to visit Johnny Cay island, which means you'll be crammed onto a speed boat with up to 30 other tourists.
The cost is 50,000 COP for a return transfer. However, you'll only get a few hours on the island.
In all honesty, this option is okay if you just want to visit Johnny Cay in the morning or afternoon. However, if you're looking for a full-day experience with more highlights, then the "VIP" tour offers way more value.
Tip: You can park your golf cart or scooter on the road near Spratt Bight.
What to Expect at Johnny Cay Island
As you approach this small Caribbean Island, you'll already notice the water turn from an already beautiful deep blue to an almost translucent turquoise. The sun bounces off the shallow coral reefs below to form a beautiful tropical scene that's hard to put into words.
As we hopped off the boat, we were greeted by a very friendly rasta man who owns a small bar on the island. He sells beers and cocktails like coco loco and piña colada, as well as a fresh tropical lunch (usually Pescado frito).
Boats typically land on the western side of the islet, where you'll find the best sandy beaches. Here, you'll also find white tent shades and a few plastic chairs with umbrellas to escape the sun.
However, the best shade comes from the natural coconut palm forest on the island's interior. This is a scenic, grassed area just beyond the thin line of restaurants and bars. There are also loads of iguanas in this area!
Of course, the highlight of this popular island cay is its incredibly clear water. On both occasions, we spent hours swimming and snorkeling around the edge of the islet.
Facilities on Johnny Cay
Below are the facilities you'll find on this small Caribbean Island.
- Restaurants / bars
- Chairs with shade umbrellas
- Outdoor freshwater shower
Where to Stay on San Andres Island, Colombia
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.
- Big V Raizal - an awesome homestay-style hostel run by an incredibly friendly native Raizal family. I stayed here and couldn't recommend this one enough! Great prices, fun people, amazing breakfast, and all-around chill vibes.
- 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. 1km from Parceras Beach.
- Villa San Miguel - awesome apartments conveniently located in central near the airport and just a 2-minute walk from Spratt Bight Beach.
Tips for Visiting Johnny Cay
Honestly, if you're making a trip out to San Andres, you simply have to visit Johnny Cay. However, it's good to know that this is a very popular vacation spot.
So, to make your experience more enjoyable, below are a few tips.
- Try to avoid visiting Johnny Cay on weekends and public holidays if possible.
- The high season on San Andres Island is July and April (especially holy week)
- Try to time a trip with good weather conditions - if there is an easterly wind blowing, Johnny Cay is actually a great beach for swimming since the palm trees shelter its western banks resulting in calm waters
- 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.
- Unfortunately, you cannot fly a drone here as Johnny Cay falls within the San Andres no-fly zone (due to the nearby airport)
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