What You Have to Know about Providencia, the Last Unknown Caribbean Island

What You Have to Know about Providencia, the Last Unknown Caribbean Island
Courtesy of Culture Trip 

A stunningly wild and unapologetic island in Colombia, Rich Report explores the island's amazing natural wonders and delicious seafood.

It's hard to find a Caribbean island these days that isn't overrun with tourists. With the proliferation of large hotel chains and overcrowded beaches, many places have lost their charm and authenticity, where locals are outnumbered by tourists and small, family-run restaurants have disappeared. One Caribbean island, however, has escaped overtourism, remaining unspoiled and unquestionably authentic.

In Providencia, an eight-square-mile island off Colombia's northern coast, a flashback to the Caribbean of yore can be seen: a tiny island undeveloped and governed by locals. In addition to Spanish, English and Creole English are also spoken on this island, which is part of Colombian territory. Providencia's warm inclusiveness makes you feel like a kid again: Locals are eager to share stories about pirates and treasure with visitors. 

A baseball game, cockfight, or night at Roland Roots Reggae bar and restaurant are just a few evening activities that spread during the day. Additionally, hike the island's tallest peak, swim and dive in the Sea of Seven Colors, enjoy the local cuisine, and cruise the island in golf carts to discover its natural wonders. In Providencia, you'll find everything you've been missing about the raw Caribbean.

Water glistens in the crisp blue sky. Courtesy of Culture Trip 

It takes a lot of effort to get there, which is probably why Providencia has maintained its mystery over the years. Since there are no direct flights to Providencia from the mainland, travelers are instead visiting San Andres, which offers daily transport by way of a puddle jumper plane to the island's hedonistic side. Although there is always a search for the next bohemian beach town, Providencia appears to be a promising option.

The best places to stay

Courtesy of Trip.com

Overlooking the water, Monasterio del Viento is situated directly across from the tiny island of Crab Cay. There are four suites at the place, a small freshwater infinity pool, and several lounge areas indoors and outside. Shades of turquoise, cerulean, and green decorate this rustic-bohemian property, accented with mosaics painted by local artist Luz Carmiña Cruz. 

When guests are not taking in the sea breeze in a hammock, relaxing in the tiki bar, or swimming in the ocean for an afternoon swim, they can enjoy an in-house chef's customized breakfast or dinner. Comfort blends seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Caribbean in this hotel that prides itself on being a home away from home.

Courtesy of Trip.com

The most refined hotel on the island is Deep Blue, which is located next to Monasterio del Viento. Every room features a private balcony and a breathtaking view of the sea, blending the island's beachy charm with a rustic and bohemian design.

The best places to eat

Providencia is a dream come true for seafood lovers. In addition to providing some of the best eats on the island, the restaurants at Deep Blue and Monasterio del Viento provide seaside dining that is second to none. To taste king crab, head over to Santa Catalina (a neighboring island connected by bridge) where Don Olivo has lived for over 30 years and runs a restaurant from his house. 

As the couple shares stories of their time on the island, you may be able to hear some of their memories. In Café Studio, another popular restaurant on the island run by a husband-and-wife team, you must try the Wellington conch.

El Divino Niño. Courtesy of Trip Advisor 

El Divino Nino is the restaurant that serves the seafood platter for lunch, paired with a large fresh-squeezed juice, at South West Bay, the island's most famous beach. There are also Tom's Corner and La Sirenita on the beach that are worth visiting. There is no better beach bar than Roland Roots Reggae Bar and Restaurant on Manzanillo beach, where atmosphere rules rather than food. 

Roland's is a Jamaican restaurant where reggae music is playing loudly while local kids swing from rope swings and plunge into the pool. There is live music and local scene here in the evenings, which is just as good as the daytime.

A Love Bridge connects Santa Catalina Island to the mainland. Courtesy of BBC 

What to Do

Due to the limited number of cars on the island and one road, renting a golf cart should be the first thing you do. Get to know the tiny island by riding around, passing scenic spots, beaches, and restaurants; be sure to park your cart at the Lovers' Bridge to cross over to Santa Catalina. There is no doubt that the island's initial draw is its raw, natural beauty, which can be explored through activities like hiking Lazy Hill or El Pico, the island's highest mountain.

Providencia's Crab Cay is a tiny island. Courtesy of Roads & Rivers 

A diver's paradise, Providencia's barrier reef is the world's third largest coral reef, making it one of Colombia's best diving spots. You can also find unspoiled beaches with no people if that's what you're looking for! That's what Providencia has to offer. Manzanillo, the island's most popular beach, is a bit rougher and has fewer beachside restaurants than South West Bay.

There are horse races on South West Bay. Courtesy of Island Adventures Providencia 

In addition to the larger, busier beaches, there are also smaller, quieter beaches like Almond Bay, Bahia Agua Dulce, and Fort Bay, which can be reached by car or boat. A boat trip is essential, since it gives you a view of the island from afar and lets you see the colors of the sea. If you want to snorkel, make sure you stop by Crab Cay, Tres Hermanos Keys, and Morgan's Head on Santa Catalina. 

Watch the highly anticipated horse races on the beach at South West Bay if you're lucky enough to be in Providencia on a Saturday. The horses are on island time as well, so don't be discouraged if you see only one horse show up for the race.

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