The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Providencia, Colombia

Providencia, Colombia | Chris Bell / © Culture Trip
Providencia, Colombia | Chris Bell / © Culture Trip
The Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia is unique to the country: closer to Nicaragua than Colombia, the island was once a British colony and boasts a completely unique Creole culture. It is also refreshingly tourist-free, and a visit there is like stepping back in time. Here are 10 amazing things to do on a visit to Providencia.

Relax on a beach

Providencia boasts some of Colombia’s most beautiful beaches: Playa Manzanillo, South West Bay, Maracaibo Bay and many more – all of the beaches on the island qualify as paradise! With perfect white sands and fringed by palm trees, Providencia’s beaches are as quintessentially Caribbean as any in Colombia.

Providencia = paradise! © Cultura de Red/Flickr

Explore the island by golf buggy

The best way to visit all of those paradise beaches is to hire a golf buggy and ride around the island’s ring road, stopping along the way to swim, sunbathe and eat. Rental of a golf buggy costs around US$40 for 24 hours, so it’s as cheap a tour as you are ever likely to take! Just don’t have too many piña coladas.

Visit Crab Caye

This tiny little island just offshore from the mainland is a popular destination for tourists in Providencia, and with good reason. It’s a tiny little paradise with just a simple jetty and a basic restaurant. All there is to do is swim and snorkel in the sparkling blue waters, and hike to the highest point on the island for a breathtaking panorama.

The tiny offshore island of Cayo Cangrejo near Providencia © Chris Bell

Hike to El Pico

The highest point on the whole island, El Pico might not seem like much of a hike, but it’s steep and the heat makes the climb a lot harder. Having said that, it’s absolutely worth the effort: the views are astounding, taking in practically the entire island, while the hike itself will take you through rainforest and past waterfalls.

Go diving or snorkelling

With some of the most well-preserved reefs in all of Colombia, Providencia is truly a diver’s paradise. Underwater aficionados flock to the island for its amazing visibility, unique species and multiple dive sites. Even if you don’t fancy going full scuba, you can still head out on a boat tour to good snorkelling sites and see sharks, turtles and barracudas.

Isla de Providencia © Katja Hasselkus / Flickr

Kayak in McBean Lagoon National Park

The crystal-clear waters and mangroves of McBean Lagoon are some of the most stunning aquatic ecosystems in Colombia and are home to many important and endangered species. If you rent a kayak and head out there to explore you can hope to encounter sea turtles, rays, magnificent frigatebirds and much more.

Watch the locals race their horses

The most unique spectacle in Providencia happens every Saturday at South West Bay, when locals gather to race their horses along the beach and through the surf. It is a spectacular sight to witness, as the horse’s hooves pound the white sand, sending seawater spraying in all directions.

Explore the fort on Santa Catalina Island

The old colonial fort on Santa Catalina Island (a smaller island adjoining Providencia via a long bridge) is barely standing, but still boasts a number of old cannons, pointing out to sea to repel invaders. It’s a little slice of forgotten history – Providencia was one of Britain’s lesser-known colonies – and the views from the cannons are spectacular as well.

Cannons on Santa Catalina Island Chris Bell / © Culture Trip

Eat the best seafood imaginable!

Being a Caribbean island, Providencia hardly lacks for fresh seafood, and one of the best things to do when you visit is to make the most of all of those amazing fish and shellfish dishes. Restaurants like Deep Blue, Don Olivo and El Divino Nino are the best spots to enjoy fresh seafood, all of them with sea views and a cooling breeze.

Have some drinks at Roland’s Roots Bar

There’s no better way to end a day in Providencia than heading out for some drinks at Roland’s Roots Bar, arguably the best beach bar in Colombia, if not the Caribbean. With a reggae soundtrack booming out, amazing (and strong) coco loco cocktails and fresh seafood, Roland’s place is the spot for some after-hours fun on Providencia.