Weather: Being a Caribbean island, San Andrés is normally hot and sunny. However, due to some unusual weather (ahem, climate change) happening in this part of the northern hemisphere recently with the incredible snow and ice in the states affecting weather down here, unfortunately, the island was incredible windy. It was still definitely hot, but not unbearable as I am sure it can be. This also meant that sunburns were almost unavoidable as you don't feel like you're burning.
Accommodation: Since what we won was only for a couple of nights, we added a couple more in another (cheaper) hotel called the Portobelo. It is spread over three sites so gets a little confusing but we were in the Junior which had a sea view and we thankfully got given a room with a balcony - very lucky. We were not so lucky with the room, however. Although it was very big with 3 beds and a fridge, it was run down and dirty. I won't go into details! It was quite pricey for the quality but I guess you pay for the location. It cost us $424.000 for 2 nights. Then we moved into the hotel where we won some nights called the Casablanca and this one was also right on the beach but was a four star hotel which was really pretty with a pool in the middle and 3 restaurants. We were given a cabin which we were surprised to see had a full flight of stairs taking you from a large living area, bedroom and bathroom to the master bedroom with a huge bed, a spare single bed and bathroom. It was really great. Since we were given $80.000 to spend at their hotels, we had breakfast there on the last day for a whopping $20.000 each, however, it was nothing special. A lot of choice but not great quality and certainly not worth the money if we had been paying ourselves. All in all though, a great hotel if you can afford it!
Food: This was our biggest annoyance on our trip. There were barely any restaurants on the island and the main beach front was full of Subway, Corral and Presto (burger places) and other 'American-style' fast food places. There was only one semi-affordable restaurant we could find outside of hotels called Margherita e Carbonara. It was quite expensive though around $25.000 per pasta dish and $30.000 for a pizza. The quality wasn't amazing though and no view. It seems that most people who go to San Andrés buy an all-inclusive deal so eat at their hotels and this has pushed local restaurants out of business. One alternative we did see were a couple of old women selling home-made food out on the pavement, presumably for cheap. This is a good option if on a budget. Apart from the Italian place, we did eat at Corral when we first arrived out of pure necessity, and it has a great terrace right on the beach, but once again it was expensive and poor. We ended up eating at the Casablanca hotel café, on the sea front, which we had first assumed was going to be far too expensive but it is a great option for tourists on more of a budget. They do pasta, pizza, sandwiches, soups etc for reasonable prices and in a nice setting. My tip though, bring your own snacks and fruit to get you by.
What to do: Unfortunately, due to the weather, Johnny Cay and the Aquarium were closed but they are apparently great day trips. So, instead, we rented a golf cart for $80.000 for the day and went around the whole island stopping off at various cliffs and beaches. The best place to stop is West View where you pay $4.000 entrance and there are some cool wooden huts selling drinks and cocktails by some cliffs that go down to the sea. Fortunately, there is a metal ladder and a diving board to get in and we saw such beautiful colourful fish and some people were even scuba diving under there. Well worth the trip! Other than that, you can see how the locals live and it really is quite impoverished. The wealth of some of the hotel resorts clearly does not spread to the rest of the island which is a shame. The houses dotted around the countryside are quirky and often very colourful and the scenery is beautiful with palm tree forests and the turquoise water.
Other: One thing I really enjoyed was listening to what language the locals were speaking. Mostly we heard them speaking Spanish but that was normally when they were talking to tourists but when there were groups of locals talking among themselves, often they spoke English. It was amazing to hear Colombians speaking English like natives, albeit with an accent not to dissimilar to the Jamaican. Another thing we noticed was that the island was full of stray dogs who were always (hopefully) asleep. We barely ever saw a dog awake or moving around so it made for a pretty creepy experience as on the beach, pavements, night or day, there were dozens of dogs lying down with their eyes closed not moving. No idea what makes them do it but it really was very strange!!
All in all it was a good trip, although if you are looking for a more cultural/foody holiday with more activities than just lying on the beach, perhaps San Andrés isn't for you. But it is a shame to come to Colombia and not see it's best sea and the Colombian's favourite holidays destination!