When you think of the Caribbean, what places do you immediately think of? Definitely the Bahamas, Aruba maybe, but I’m sure many of you have never even heard of one of the last untouched islands in the region. Located about 700 kilometers off the coast of Nicaragua lies San Andres and Providencia. The two islands are actually apart of Colombia, but both have a long history of being colonized by different European countries such as the Netherlands and the UK. While San Andres is worth visiting for a day or two, I recommend blocking off at least a week and making the 3 hour boat trip or 1 hour plane ride to Providencia (for those that get seasick, take the plane. The boat ride from San Andres to Providencia is one of the bumpiest I’ve ever been on). You’ll thank me once you get there. Here are 5 reasons why you need to visit Providencia Island this year:
There’s a reason every major hotel chain is trying to come to the island and get prime real estate on Providencia’s pristine beaches. If you are looking for empty, tropical beaches with white sand, you’ve come to the right place because Providencia has many. I suggest renting a scooter and visiting a different one each day. Each beach has its own feel. Manzanillo Beach is the perfect place to hang out and grab a drink as it is home to Roland’s Roots Reggae Bar. Roland’s serves food and drinks during the day and at night, hosts beach parties with live music. Almond Bay is the exact opposite. It is a secluded beach on the island’s west coast. It’s hard to find, but well worth the visit. It has a small snack bar, but not much else. It truly is a slice of paradise. Whether you are in a party mood or want chill vibes, Providencia has a beach that’s right for you.
If you don’t like seafood, skip over this section because this is the part where I tell you all about the fresh, mouth-watering fish that Providencia has to offer. It’s really no surprise that Providencia has incredible seafood, but the way they cook it with Creole-inspired spices is what really makes the dishes stand out. There are a few seafood restaurants that are worth visiting but Café Studio was my hands down favorite. Located in the southwestern corner of the island, Café Studio is easy to miss if you don’t know where it is. It’s inconveniently situated right after a big bend in the road, but the outside seating, reggae music, refreshing drinks, and the freshest seafood I’ve ever tasted made it more than worthwhile the multiple visits I spent there. My favorite dish that I had was their everything plate. It’s a simple dish. They stuff the plate with rice, shrimp, plantains, haddock, a crab cake concoction, and some sort of fried fish ball. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I highly recommend trying the everything plate. You’ll find yourself coming back for more. As an added bonus, I hear their pies are delicious so, if you have a sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied, then Café Studio is the place you need to go.
Providencia is about 10 years behind when it comes to WIFI and wireless internet connection so don’t come to the island if you need to get work done. There are only a few places on the island where you can get a somewhat decent internet connection. You can easily find them because you can spot tourists and locals alike crowded around different town squares, looking at their phones. I loved the fact that it was remote and, to be honest, it made the visit that much better. I found it to be old school. If you are meeting someone, you have to tell them a time and place in advance. This makes Providencia the perfect place to get away from all of the daily stress and relax. It’s also a great place to come and do a detox from your phone if you’ve found yourself spending too much time on your phone in your hostel at night. It was refreshing to see kids being kids, playing in the street, and not texting or scrolling through Instagram. I hope Providencia never loses this.
4. Friendly Locals
Speaking of locals, Providencia’s inhabitants are extremely kind and love to share their island with others. Surprisingly, many prefer to speak English and are always interested in why you decided to visit their little slice of paradise. My best experience was when I was on Manzanillo Beach. I was enjoying the day with a friend when a group of local boys invited us to play rugby with them. We’d never played rugby before so they explained the rules to us and we ended up playing several games with them for hours. After playing well past sunset, they invited us to a birthday party where we got to try local dishes and meet even more locals. They were all fascinated by how we ended up visiting Providencia and we chatted late into the night over beers. They were some of the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere in the world and you can feel they genuinely want you to enjoy your time on Providencia. The friendly locals alone are enough of a reason to visit.
5. Crab Cay
While not technically part of Providencia Island, Crab Cay is a short boat or kayak trip away. The island itself lies about a kilometer offshore from the eastern side of Providencia. I recommend renting kayaks and paddling for about 30 minutes each way to reach Crab Cay. The island is a protected natural park and has endangered coral reefs surrounding it. Once on the island, you can go snorkeling with sea turtles and other colorful, rare fish in some of the bluest water you’ll ever see. The turtles are not scared of humans and you can swim right next to them. It’s an incredible experience! Afterward, hike up to the top of the hill for an amazing view of Providencia. Be sure to go to Crab Cay early at 9 AM when it opens because the island fills up quickly. There’s nothing better than having an island to yourself. So, go visit Providencia Island!
To get a deeper understanding before you visit Providencia Island, we highly recommend watching the following clip that showcases what the island life is all about:
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