One year ago, Johnny Cay was still considered the place to visit in San Andrés. This year, it's Cayo Bolívar. After hearing stories of flying fish, iguanas and pristine paradise, I was nonetheless excited to experience this amazing place.
It wasn't until we began to approach the docks that I realized we were a year too late in beating the crowds. Salesmen were quick to offer us a ticket to paradise, along with about 100 other people. The boat ride was a thrill (the woman in front of us was crying so maybe not for everyone). The water was choppy, often causing us to fly through the air before hitting the water again with a thud. The ride itself was about 45 minutes and we got to see a lot of flying fish along the way.
5 lanchas (boats) arrived to the shore at the same time, each carrying around 25 passengers. We disembarked and a guide gave us the rules of the day, after which everyone scrambled to find the best spot. I tried to ignore the fact that we weren't alone, but it was challenging. The tour price (a hefty $180,000) included a sandwich for breakfast (ham & cheese), a fish lunch (sierra) and an unlimited amound of drinks (beer, water & soda). It was quite impressive to see the guides spend their hours frying fish for everyone in a small pan.
The cay is actually a military base, and although it is registered to be 6.4km long by 3.5km wide, your day is spend mostly on a patch roughly .5km long by .25km wide. The rest is either underwater or only accessible by boat. On our way back to San Andrés, we made a short 30 minute stop at another spot along the cay. It was much more beautiful, but after being there for 15 minutes, I realized why they didn't let us spend more time there - no place to hide from the scorching sun.
So here's my take on the pros and cons of a day at Cayo Bolívar:
- crystal clear waters
- white sandy beaches
- filling lunch
- adventurous boatride (fun for me at least)
- flying fish
- lots of tourists
- biting insects
- adventurous boatride (not recommended if you scare easily or are prone to back/neck injuries)
Did I enjoy the experience? Yes. Would I pay $180,000 to visit again? Probably not.