San Andrés and Providencia
While San Andrés has been known as a bathing island, diving resort and shopping paradise for wealthy Colombians and increasingly Brazilians for decades, Providencia is still regarded as a real insider tip.
If you are looking for Colombia’s Caribbean island couple San Andrés and Providencia on the map, you have to look far north. About 200 km off the Nicaraguan coast, the two unequal sisters are located in the Caribbean Sea.
Puritans once founded a colony on the island of only 17 km² before Old Providence became the retreat of the infamous pirate Henry Morgan towards the end of the 17th century.
Providencia offers today’s visitors a Caribbean feeling from the time before mass tourism.
The more than five thousand mostly English or Kriol speaking inhabitants are spread over small villages and settlements scattered along the coastal road.
Big hotels are completely missing, instead there are some small bungalow complexes.
The best beaches are in the south and southwest. They are largely undeveloped and unspoilt. Small restaurants offer Creole cuisine as well as fresh seafood and fish.
If you are looking for a distinctive nightlife, you are in the wrong place.
The offshore reef and Old Providence McBean Lagoon are protected and provide excellent diving and snorkeling areas.
Even hikers don’t miss out on Providencia. The green, hilly landscape has its highest peak in the 363 meters high Peak, whose ascent is rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view over the island and the turquoise blue sea.
Another nice walk in the north leads over the bridge of the lovers (Puente de los Enamorados) to the small island Santa Catalina and to Morgan’s Head, from where you also have a beautiful view.
If Providencia is too quiet and contemplative for you, or if you are afraid of travelling to Providencia in small propeller engines, San Andrés is the place for you.
Although its main beach in the north of the island is covered with ugly hotels and apartment houses, the white sandy sand in front of turquoise blue water is a feast for the eyes.
The beach of San Luis, located at the east coast of the island, is much calmer and there is also a quite comfortable hotel.