Located off the coast of Providencia's north-eastern end, Parque Nacional McBean Lagoon is a 2.450-acre conservation zone which was declared a national park in 1995. Tha park includes largest and best preserved mangrove of Providencia, in addition to the lagoon inside the barrier reef and two small islets - Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay) and Cayo Tres...more
Facing Santa Isabel is a tiny volcanic island of Santa Catalina, separated from Providencia by the narrow Canal Aury. A brightly coloured pedestrian bridge known as the Lover's Bridge links the islands. From Providencia it's a pretty, scenic walk to it's neighbouring island. The island of Santa Catalina has no roads and exploring this beautiful...more
Lover's Bridge connects Providencia with the smaller neighbouring island of Santa Catalina. The picturesque bridge helps the 200 inhabitants of Santa Catalina to cross the sea to get to Santa Isabel, 'the capital' of Providencia. It was built after the pirates made an artificial channel between the two islands. Prior to its construction, people had...more
Santa Isabel is a little town situated at the island's northern tip. The town has a lovely malecón with colourful parapet decorated with figures of sea horses, small wooden benches and street lights. It is connected by a raised boardwalk known as Lover's Bridge to a tiny island of Santa Catalina. Despite its gorgeous location in a picturesque bay...more
One of the most famous attractions of Santa Catalina is Morgan's Head, a large rocky cliff which resembles a human head when seen from a special angle. The rock was carved by the sea and it's best seen from the water. It is named after the famous Welsh pirate Henry Morgan who used Providencia and Santa Catalina as a base for raiding the Spanish...more
A great way to see the island is taking a boat tour around the island's 20 km of coast. Boat normally leaves from Aguadulce and also load people on Suroeste. You can appreciate spectacular views of mountainous landscape. The trip allows you to take in various sights and visit some of the most popular attractions, including Morgan's Head (a rock...more
From Aguadulce it's a 20-minute walk to Bahía Suroeste (South West Bay) with Providencia's longest beach. It is more deserted and much more beautiful, and the water is exceptionally calm. There are a couple of small hotels and posadas and various beachfront restaurant serving some of the island's best seafood. If you walk a little further along...more
Along the main road where you turn to the side road leading down to Manzanillo Beach, is Manzanillo village. There you find a supermarket but most of the houses are off the main road. The day before I left Providencia I had to confirm reservation of my hotel in Cartagena. Since there was no official public place to make a phone call and I did not...more
Bahía Aguadulce (Freshwater Bay) is the main tourist area of Providencia with the greatest concentration of places to stay and restaurants. Here you find car and motorbike rental, snorkeling and scuba tour companies, and the boat trips leave from Aguadulce as well. There are about 6 small hotels and several posadas. Underneath the hotel El Pirata...more
I was so excited about Providencia, so after my arrival to Aguadulce I did not loose time and started to explore the island as soon as I left my luggage in the posada. I decided to take a walk to Bahía Sureste, the first bay after Aguadulce. You follow the main (and the only) road to the south and then turn right to the beach. It's a 15-minute...more
Roland Roots Bar is a very atmospheric open-air hangout set on the most beautiful beach in Providencia. Shaded and sheltered homemade tables and chairs clustered in palm grove with views of Providencia's incredible Manzanillo Beach make it a place to come at lunch and stay all day until dinner. Reggae beats play continually at a pleasant volume and...more
Providencia is not famous for its nightlife but there are a few places where you can have a beer or enjoy your favourite coconut/rum cocktail (coco loco - crazy coconut :) or piña colada) in the rhythm of reggae music. Rolands Bar on Manzanillo Beach (run by a friendly local Rasta named Roland) is a reggae paradise and a place to go. Sometimes a live band plays in the evening and usually a central campfire is on at night burning old palm wood in order to keep mosquitoes at bay. I spent most of the evenings here, including the New Year's Eve. Quite enjoyed the atmosphere and met some really interesting locals.
Another cool spot to hang out is Richards Place found in Bahía Sureste (run by another friendly Rasta, named Richard). Hi makes best mojitos and piña coladas on the island. While you'll need your own transportation to visit Rolands you can walk to Richards Place (it's a 15-minute walk from Aguadulce).
On the weekend evenings many of the locals hang out around the bar in front of Lover's Bridge in Santa Isabel. Occasionally there is live music in Pizzas Place in Aguadulce. The best thing to do is just ask the local people what's going on.
I arranged with my taxi driver Wilmar to pick me up at at 06:00am to drive me to the airport. To my pleasant surprised he arrived even 15 minutes earlier and was patiently waiting for me in his car. After a week I returned to San Andrés and then took another flight to Cartagena. I knew I would only have little time between the flights so I arranged...more
The chiva (old artisan modified bus) is an easy way to navigate the island but not all the places can be reach by it. You can rent a car and drive around the island's 20km circuit of roads. Ask for car rental at the airport or in Aguadulce, the centre of island's tourist industry. A great way to explore off the beaten track is hiring a motorbike or...more
There is no direct flight from Colombian mainland to Providencia. You have to get to San Andrés first. Two airlines have flights from Cali to San Andrés, Copa and Avianca. Most of the flights have a connection in Bogotá, and there is usually one direct flight daily with Copa (operated by AeroRepublica). I booked the direct flight. It was a night...more
Rondón (meaning 'run down') is a rich fish and conch casserole with yucca, yam, green plantains and dumplings, slowly cooked in coconut milk. It's most delicious dish, very popular in the Caribbean. The recipe varies depending on what ingredients you happen to 'run down', it means, whatever the fisherman brings that day. Half the fun is gathering...more
Providencia has its own gastronomy related to its natural resources and seafood appears almost in all meals. Native cuisine represents an important part of the island's culture and Providencia dishes have a strong Afro-Caribbean flavour which is result of the process of racial and cultural mixing that has going on for centuries. Island dishes are...more
Traditional music and dance of Providencia is the result of an eclectic mixture of influences, including European, polka, mazurka and waltz, combined with strong Afro-Caribbean influence, now mixed with calypso, socca and reggae music. Locals think of themselves as fully Caribbean and playing reggae is a way of keeping a living relationship with...more
With the world's third largest barrier reef (at about 255 square kilometres) Providencia is Colombia's top diving destination. This area is relatively unknown, yet offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean, with an immense amount of underwater biodiversity, warm tropical waters and excellent underwater visibility for almost all the year. The waters around Providencia have been designated a protected area by UNESCO and are now known as the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. There are more than 30 dive sites and over 20 snorkeling sites, and none of which are spoiled by overcrowding.
There is a great diversity of different dive sites - cliffs, caves, blue holes and many sunken pirate ships. Providencia is suitable fol all divers, whether novice or experienced. The local diving operators are professional and equipment is of a high standard. Apart from the sites around the offshore belt near the islets of Cayo Tres Hermanos and Cayo Cangrejo, most of Providencia's finest dive spots are located on the island's western side. Almost all of them are easily accessible by boat, no more than half an hour away, several even only 5 to 10 minutes away. Divers are likely to spot turtles, lobsters, rays, barracuda and red snappers.
Snorkeling can be done on just about any part of the island where you can access the water. The snorkel areas are comprised mainly of rocky cliffs where you can find crevices and caves full of fish and coral formations. Some of the better spots to snorkel are Santa Catalina and Morgan's Head, Mc Bean Reserve, Cayo Tres Hermanos and Cayo Cangrejo.
Snorkeling and scuba tour companies primarily operate out of Aguadulce, with a choice of half and full-day tours.
Equipment: In case you don't bring your own snorkeling gear you can always rent some. Usually it is necessary to wear water shoes because at some places there are lots of rocks and coral formations. You can rent them as well.
Crystal clear waters make underwater photography popular so bring at least a disposable waterproof camera to capture Providencia's stunning seabed views.