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Trip notes / Feedback

Montreal, Canada
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474 posts
126 reviews
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Trip notes / Feedback

Just returned from San Andres Island. We stayed there for a week (Feb 10-17) I thought I would put this together for fellow travelers, hopefully this will be helpful to some:

HOTELS: Stayed at Decameron Aquarium. We liked it there but there is no beach. The rooms are in towers in over the water bungalows. All buildings are linked with boardwalks which was really nice. There is a constant breeze as the buildings are on the water which makes the weather very comfortable, even when it gets very hot. The snorkeling is awesome right at the hotel pier. We visited the Decameron El Isleno, brand new hotel on the best beach on the island. The beach however is public, lots of people but very nice beach. We visited the Decameron San Luis which has a small rocky beach across the road. The beach looked awful, full of rocks and very very small. The hotel looked OK but not a place where I would like to stay. The Decameron Los Delfines is very small and has no beach. We didn’t get to see the Maryland (right next to the airport) nor the Marazul. When you stay at one Decameron, you can eat at all others except the El Isleno. A great advantage that I have never seen elsewhere.

JOHNNY CAY: Well worth the visit. Beautiful pristine aquamarine water, great beach. Very busy & noisy but a must see. At the back of the island, there are several paths where you can explore and find iguanas and blue lizards. You can hire someone right off the beach in front of the pedestrian walkway to take you on a boat ride there and it is cheaper than booking through the hotel. You negotiate the price.

ROCKY CAY: The private beach club for Decameron hotels. Worth the visit, nice beach, you can walk across to a smaller cay. You need to book a day in advance, there is an all inclusive bar & restaurant at your disposition.

ILSE SNORKEL TOURS: an absolute MUST !! We did the snorkel tour with the manta rays & snorkeling to coral reef just off Acuario. Well worth the money. You can book through the hotels but you should book directly with her as the hotels take a big cut. She has been doing this for years and is very reliable. She and her son Vladimir run the tours and can be reached at 316-248-5870 or at ilsedearmas@hotmail.com

CENTRO/DOWNTOWN: We always felt very safe everywhere we went, day or night. There is a big police presence everywhere. The shopping is OK, the alcohol is really cheap.

GOLF CART RENTALS: We had originally planned to rent a golf cart as suggested by so many on the forums. After seeing how they drive, there was no chance we were going to risk our lives…..Also, be aware that if your golf cart breaks down or you get parts stolen (it does happen often we were told) you are responsible and must assume 100% of the replacement costs. Our Transat rep on site told us she didn’t recommend it as she has had many travelers experience this kind of problem. We booked the island tour instead and got to see the island this way.

The island is beautiful, the weather can’t be beat and the ocean absolutely spectacular. We really enjoyed our stay on the island and I would return to San Andres without hesitation.

Canada
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38 posts
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1. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

Thank you for your Feedback efforts, they are appreciated ...... we have been going there for 10 years and leave in a few days for another month down there and I would agree with your assessment and might add, the Maryland is quite small, has a small pool but does have a small private sandy beach, at least it looks private because all I have seen on it is hotel guests. The rooms are very small and you are right under the flight path of the airport runway....but we do have friends that love it !!

There is no doubt that the Marazul is a great resort, nice pool, and pier bar but the beach is man-made and not many venture into the water from it. The rooms are nice, medium size but one has to take cabs or public transport everywhere. The restaurants are standard fare but we always try for the ala cart restaurant a couple of times while we are there.

GOLFCARTS...I have never heard of any incidents that your Transat Rep refered to. I would imagine I have rented them about 6 times in 10 years and even had a blow-out near San Luis and the rental company sent a guy out, he changed the tire while we sat at a cafe and had a drink !!! The only caution I have for folks that want to rent is DO NOT hang anything over the edge of the cart. Motor scooters have been known to go by quickly and 'remove' anything hanging over the edge. That warning applies to any country, not just SAI and I am not inferring that crime or thieves are running rampant in SAI, but as usual one has to be careful every where they venture in the world.

PS..there was an excellent Transat Rep at the Aquarium about 2 years ago but she has been replaced and the newbie is ................?

Thanks for your time.

Edited: 20 February 2014, 21:47
Montreal, Canada
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474 posts
126 reviews
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2. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

Hi onlybubbles,

Thanks for your feedback as well. Had we known this info about golf carts i don't think it would have changed our minds since they scared us with their driving skills and we are from Montreal LOL!!! Glad you didn't experience this. Which hotel do you normally stay at ? We visited the new El Isleno and I would try staying there if i return as it is brand new and much more luxurious.

The Transat rep is Karine, she was very nice and had good info for us first timers, she should still be there when you arrive at the welcome meeting.

Canada
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3. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

We stay at the Aquarium, same tower, same room..... for the past decade. We went to the Aquarium the first time we visited San Andres because we both scuba dive and that can be done right from the resort. Met some excellent staff and naturally we toured all the resorts and feel, based on our needs, we picked the right one and have never changed our mind about which resort we like.

We have done extensive touring of the Caribbean, most of the islands for diving but we fell in love with SAI , not only for the diving but because of the people on the island. Meet some local people and you will find that they are a generous and loving people who will go out of their way to assist you, no matter what the problem. Certainly, like any island/city there are a few that don't fit that category but for the most part....great people. You have to admit there is not a lot to do on the island but the weather is great, the city is great and the people are great. When we go back, it's like we are with our 'adopted' family once again.

A note for any divers contemplating visiting SAI. The diving is not as good as it once was because of two main reasons......the water temp has gone up 1 degree and an influx of Lion-fish has really disturbed the sea life. The lion-fish has no predators and is wreaking havoc with all sea life in many areas of the Caribbean ...not a good thing. We still dive there, from the Aquarium with "Nelson" who owns and operates "Divers Team" at the Aquarium and in all honesty we have never done diving with such an exceptional crew...... anywhere in the Caribbean.

I can understand your reluctance to use a golf cart but bear in mind that 'tourism' is SAI's main industry and although the driving looks hectic it is certainly manageable and I would even say that once out of the city it is actually easier than driving anywhere in the city of Montreal :) :) Local drivers may get annoyed at a golf cart driver or two but generally speaking they understand that your $$$ is helping their economy and are glad to have you on the island.

Take care and ...enjoy !!

Montreal, Canada
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474 posts
126 reviews
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4. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

I agree with your assessment of the island & the people. I have traveled in the Caribbean as well and I must say that I would return to SAI in a heartbeat. The weather is pretty much guaranteed, the ocean is spectacular and there is a nice feel to it. We absolutely loved the snorkeling at the Aquarium, didn't even have to go on a excursion ! We tried the introduction to scuba diving and I enjoyed it, perhaps I will return to dive one day....Enjoy your vacation ! And thanks for your feedback as well :)

North Bay, Canada
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5. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

We really loved SAI and would return in a heartbeat but travelling to Montreal is just out of the question. The travel time & highway just doesn't warrant us from returning. I'm so happy to hear that Nelson is still running the dive shop...is Claudia still there also (bookings). We loved the towers and also had the same room for a few years..have they updated any of the rooms? They were somewhat outdated & really need refurbishing and the balcony was getting some rot. It's our hope to return someday when we have the extra travel time but until then, we love reading what others have to post and the updates that are included. We rented a golf cart with no incidents thankfully. I wonder why El Isleno is not included in the stay at one, play at all ?

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

"We booked the island tour instead and got to see the island this way."= was it expensive $$$, how long it took, what did you say?. Looks interesting indeed. I don't want to rent motor vehicule even a golf cart because of bad experiences in Mexico. Prefer the city tour option.

Thanks,

Robert, Montréal, Québec, CANADA

Montreal, Canada
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474 posts
126 reviews
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7. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

Hi Robert,

The island tour was $44 US (we booked with our hotel) and it was a good 3-4 hours. This includes the entrance fee to Captain Morgan's cave, cold beverages while on the "bus" (beer, rhum & coke & soft drinks) and a small snack (crab cake). They take you to the oldest Baptist church on the island which is also the highest elevation point so you get to see the beautiful ocean views from higher up. You tour around the island, go to Captain Morgan's cave, West View for snorkeling (not a lot of time to do so) & the blowhole. I personally was a bit disappointed as I expected more but the positive is that we got to see parts of the island that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. We also took the tour in half English / half Spanish but it was more like 80% Spanish which perhaps is why we were a bit disappointed. There was also a French tour (if you speak French) but the day & time didn't suit our plans. We should have gone on the French one, we would have gotten a lot more information on it than we did with the English.

We preferred doing it this way after hearing about the golf carts issues. We understood that it's not everyone that has those issues but we didn't want to risk it and have our vacation ruined because of something like this.

Hope this helps!

Montreal, Canada
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1,564 posts
78 reviews
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8. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

Thanks Twilight2Twilight it's going to be my choice of tour IF the 2015 February Prices drops !!!!! Very

expensive prices right now for the winter vacations period...Nealrly 3000$ for a 2 weeks stay at the new DeCamaron Resort..Hope the prices goes down ...:-))

Robert, Montréal,Québec, CANADA

Canada
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9. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

Just got back and had a tour of the Isleno....Very nice but here are some "cons" ..

1. Very little shade around the pool because all the vegetation is new

2. Rooms are nice and modern but just normal, (medium) size

3. Shallow pool with chaise loungers in it is OK but no shade and of course no tables for your book, sun tan oil, a drink etc

4. Have to rent a "tent" (daily),if you plan to sit on the beach all day

Con's reported to us by people who stayed 2 weeks and were on the same plane as us coming home..

1. Out of 14 days they had hot water in their room for 2

2. They found the restaurant staff rather abrupt and service was poor

3. Sand fleas on the beach

4. A pain having to leave the Isleno to go to an a la carte restaurant/none in the hotel

5. Lobby area is extremely large and they felt the money could be better spent on customer amenities.

As stated, we had the tour and aesthetically it was quite impressive but as an All Inclusive resort we would not be the least bit interested, given the higher price and, at this time, all the 'con' issues.

Montreal, Canada
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78 reviews
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10. Re: Trip notes / Feedback

You are right, for the price I will have to think for another resort option. Their are other De Camaron resorts but which one to choose ? The Aquarium has no beach: so out of the question. The most important thing is to have a beah in front of the hotel and a nice beach too... DeCamaron San Luis looks a bit old...

Have to redo my homework because no way am going to pay 2700$ for a 2 weeks stay at this new hotel. Prices for this hotel wre much cheaper in February 2014....

Robert, Montréal, Québec, CANADA

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