The resort islands of San Andrés and Providencia lie 645 km (400 mi) northwest of the Caribbean coast—closer to Nicaragua than to Colombia. Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on the islands during his fourth voyage to the New World. They were later settled by English pilgrims (who landed in their vessel, the Seaflower, at about the same time their counterparts came ashore at Plymouth Rock), and then by Jamaican cotton growers. Today the islands' roughly 60,000 residents speak an English patois and Spanish. Frequent air service and San Andrés's duty-free status mean that both islands receive a steady stream of visitors, mostly well-to-do Colombians who dive and snorkel when they aren't sunbathing and shopping.
There is no passenger boat service from the Colombian mainland or between the islands, and no rental cars are available on either island.