- For other places with the same name, see Providencia (disambiguation).
Providencia is a Caribbean island, and a part of the San Andres and Providencia Archipelago. It is politically a part of Colombia, but is geographically closer to Nicaragua. It is attached by footbridge to a smaller island, Santa Catalina.
It is a very scenic island, with lovely empty beaches, a typical Caribbean climate, laid back atmosphere and friendly people. While the island depends quite heavily on tourism, it is not at all 'touristy' and only small hotels are present. The hotels on the island resemble more "guest lodges" than 5 star hotels, and everything is very low key. The restaurants and bars are relatively basic, and Providencia does not have any clubs or discos.
Providencia is heavily protected by Colombian legislation - no non-native of the island is allowed to own property there, or operate a business. Thus, while many developers may want to "build up" Providencia, it seems unlikely that this will happen in the near future. It is quite unique in its status as an undeveloped and unexploited Caribbean island.
Satena and the charter airline Searca are the only current air operators, both run a couple of daily flights to Providencia from San Andrés. The flight lasts approximately 20 minutes and cost COP 130000 one way (July 2014). The maximum baggage allowance is 10kg per Person, each kg more will cost COP 5000. The flights are carried out with Let L-410 propeller aircraft which carry up to 16 passengers.
There is also a catamaran (named El Sensation) that makes a return trip from San Andres to Providencia on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The cost is about 210,000 pesos, and the journey takes two and a half hours.
The island has one principle coastal road (which goes around the circumference of the island), and a few other smaller roads. There is no public transport to speak of, although there are collectivos (around COP 2000 for a ride of any length) which run every hours or so as well as (relatively expensive) taxis. Hitch-hiking is quite easy. Another option for tourists is to rent a motorbike (COP 70000 per 24hrs) or motor-golf buggies ("Mule", COP 130000 per 8hrs). Posada del Mar in Aguadulce has two relatively good mountain bikes for rent (COP 30000 per 8hrs). Providencia is a small island - it takes just 40 minutes to drive in a loop around the whole island in a golf buggy. Santa Catalina does not have any roads, there is only one footpath.
See & Do
Providencia's appeal lies in it's beautiful unspoilt volcanic scenery, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing.
Bahia Aguadulce is the main tourist area of Providencia, there are 5-6 small hotels, a few restaurants and a supermarket - all of which are walking distance to the beach.
Isabel Village is the main town in Providencia, it has an internet cafe, a cafe, a few supermarkets and a few miscellaneous shops. There is also a footbridge to Santa Catalina.
Santa Catalina is a smaller island connected to Providencia, and is considerably less developed. It has one shop, a few beautiful beaches and a couple of restaurants. On Santa Catalina one finds Morgans Head, a large rock formation that resembles a head and is named after the pirate Henry Morgan, who used Providencia and Santa Catalina as a base for raiding the Spanish colonial empire many centuries ago. There are also the remains of an unexcavated Fort that dates from the days of piracy on the island.
Bahia Suroeste has a long calm beach with a handful of simple restaurants and bars.
Bahia Manzanillo is a beautiful beach with the "Roland Roots Reggae Bar", featuring beach-parties and live acoustic music on the weekends.
Crab Caye is a beautiful small island off the East coast of the island. The snorkelling here is excellent, and the sea an amazing shade of turquoise. Along with the other small, beautiful islands named the Three Brothers Cayes, Crab Caye forms part of the McBean Lagoon National Park.
"The Peak" is the highest point on the island - and offers beautiful panoramic views towards the distant barrier reef, which runs along the East coast of the island. Excursions can be arranged by most hotels.
Scuba diving around Providencia is excellent - here one finds the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world.
15km to the North of Providencia, at the top of the barrier reef, lies the remote little island called Low Caye, which can be visited on fishing trips. Even further North and East lie other even more remote islands such as Roncador, and idyllic atolls such as Serrana and Serranilla. Such remote islands aren't marked on most maps and are almost never visited by tourists.
One gets a better grasp of the island by seeing it from the sea. As such, boat tours are highly recommended.
Bush Rum is the local type of Colombian Aguardiente (firewater), a distilled spirit.
The vast majority of the food on offer is sea-food - lobsters, squid, fish, crab, and prawns.
Try their corn flavour ice cream, made locally
For a massive bowl of seafood soup visit El Nino on SouthWest beach. All the seafood is fresh and delicious.
Alcoholic drinks are normally limited to beer, rum and aguardiente.
Normally there is live (acoustic) music every night in one of the beach bars on the island - word spreads of which bar it is by way of posters and word of mouth.
Many of the hotels have their bookings arranged by the all inclusive hotel chain Decameron. In addition it is possible to stay at the luxury hotel Deep Blue , Pirata Morgan Hotel, Hotel Sirius, and Sol Caribe hotel, all of whom take independent bookings. There are a handful of other small, locally run guesthouses in addition, called "Posadas Nativas" or Native Inns, run by the local Raizal people. These are bed and breakfast style including a homemade traditional island breakfast, and hosts speak English and Creole, which is great for international speakers who speak English and not Spanish.