Providencia: Island Treasure of Colombia

The Basics
Getting to Providencia from San Andres takes a couple hours, depending on which route you go. The options are flying or taking a boat. We decided on trying both, for the experiences and the comparison.

On the way there, we flew via Satena airlines. Booking required using a Colombian debit card, but I believe you can call and book on the phone as well. Flights were about 210,000 COP one way. After walking to the airport in San Andres, checking in, and going through security, we hopped on a tiny 12-seater plane for a flight that lasted–get this–15 minutes! It seemed like a long process for such a short flight. However, I loved getting my first view of the island from the sky. Providencia is surrounded by reefs and a rainbow of turquoise waters.

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On the way back to San Andres, we took the boat ride. Tickets were not far off from flight prices at 170,000 COP each. We bought tickets a couple days in advance at the office near the ferry terminal. Our experience on the boat was fine. Not exciting or terrible; it was fine. We’ve read reviews and heard from friends that weather can severely impact the quality of the boat ride. Luckily we had no issues as the boat took us from island to island in our 2.5 hours.

We stayed in the town called Bottom House at a beautiful and peaceful open-air style loft, on the southern side of the island. I would have preferred a spot closer in walking distance to the beach. Fresh Water Bay has some budget hotels on the beach that looked nice, equipped with AC and patios.

Transportation around the island is extremely limited. ‘Taxis’ include a few guys who own vehicles who will charge 20,000 COP to take you any distance. The rest of the islanders get by using motos. This trip was extremely enjoyable having a moto rented for the four days we spent there. It takes about 40 minutes to drive around the entire island (1 highway circles the outside near the coast). We paid $60,000 per day, which sounded like an average to low price in comparison to others. You can grab a rental in town, or talk with your hotel owner for recommendations.

Get Your Adventure On
Cayo Cangrejo/Crab Cay: A 5-minute boat ride from the coastal town Maracaibo sits an island that is also its own National Park. This was my favorite experience of our trip, as the snorkeling was incredible, the views at the top were breath-taking, and we had the freedom to swim anywhere around the island. I would recommend negotiating prices for a ride over from the hotel Deep Blue. We paid 80,000 COP which seemed way too high in retrospect (although Lucio was awesome and picked us up whenever we wanted). There is also an option to kayak over. Note that because it’s a National Park, there is an entrance fee of 14,500 COP for foreigners (8,500 for Colombians or gringas with a foreign ID card who can sweet talk the ticket guys).

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Boat ride from Deep Blue to Cayo Cangrejo

Hike el Pico: We love hiking and this trail was another big highlight. Although locals will tell you a guide is required, we made it to the trail on our own and all the way to the top of the highest peak on the island. 360 degree views of the coast were simply stunning. Some of the hike is covered, while other parts are open. We brought sunscreen, food, and plenty of water. The hike was about 1.5 hours to the top, moving at a steady pace. If you get lucky, you might have a local dog tag along with you as we did (all the way to the top!).

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Our tour guide for the hike to El Pico

Explore Santa Catalina: From the town center, we walked across a bridge to the small island Santa Catalina. There is a path to the left that led us up and over a hill to a quiet cove. We spent some time here snorkeling, and noticed a group on a boat tour headed towards some caves. This was a great spot to relax, snorkel, and picnic.

Eats and Drinks
Deep Blue: This hotel has a restaurant on the coast with docks full of lounge chairs and sofa seating. Anywhere you sit affords a view of the water with Cayo Cangrejo in the center. My favorite dish in Providencia was fresh fish topped with local crab, and a side of coconut rice. This is just the place to order it!

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Sea Start Gourmet: This hot spot is just across the bridge from town, on Santa Catalina island. Hands down best meal I had on our trip! Quality dishes made with love.

What Next?
We usually book budget hostels for our trips. If we were to visit Providencia again, I would splurge to stay at Deep Blue to spend our days lounging on the dock and kayaking to Crab Cay.

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