Isla de Providencia

Travel Guide South America Colombia Isla de Providencia

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Introduction

Isla de Providencia is a mountainous Caribbean island part of the Colombian department of Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina and the municipality of Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands, lying midway between Costa Rica and Jamaica. Providencia's maximum elevation is 360 metres above sea level. The smaller Santa Catalina Island is connected by a 100 metre footbridge to its larger sister Providencia Island.

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Geography

The 995-hectare national park Old Providence McBean Lagoon is located on the island's northeast side, between Maracaibo and Rocky Point. This National Park consists of coral reefs, small Cayes, mangroves, lagoons and tropical dry forest. The National Park has a tiny visitor centre on Crab Caye, from where there are spectacular views towards the barrier reef and the multi-colored turquoise waters that surround the caye.

A local population of Black Land Crabs is noteworthy for its breeding migration, which occurs every April/May. These crabs live in the hills of the island and descend (en masse) to the sea once a year to lay their eggs.

Providencia is the centre point of the UNESCO Marine Protected Area the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, which forms 10% of the entire Caribbean Sea. This ecologically important reserve contains some of the world's greatest marine biodiversity, and incorporates the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, in addition to the remote uninhabited cayes at Roncador Bank, Serrana Bank, as well as distant reefs that include Quita Sueño Bank, Rosalind Bank and Alice Shoal.

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Sights and Activities

Providencia's appeal lies in its 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.

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Getting There

By air, your only choice is between the airline Satena and the charter airline Searca. Both run a couple of daily flights to Providencia from San Andrés. The flight lasts approximately 20 minutes. The baggage allowance per person is 10 kg hold luggage + 5 kg hand luggage), each kg more will cost 1% of the day's passenger price. The flights are carried out with Let L-410 propeller aircraft which carry up to 16 passengers.

By sea, there is the catamaran El Sensation which shuttles between San Andres and Providencia. The journey takes three to four hours.

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Getting Around

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 2,000 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 70,000 per 24 hours) or motor-golf buggies ("Mule", COP 130,000 per 8 hours). Posada del Mar in Aguadulce has two relatively good mountain bikes for rent (COP 30,000 per 8 hours). 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.

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Eat

The vast majority of the food on offer is seafood: 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.

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Drink

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.

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Sleep

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.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 12:12 on Jul 20, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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