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A far-flung tropical paradise that's unspoilt by the ravages of mass tourism, Isle de Providencia is a place of golden sand beaches, glittering turquoise blue waters, groovy music and bad wifi. Lying between Costa Rica and Jamaica, it is an island far removed from the modern world and makes for an ideal tropical retreat. With the world's third largest reef, it is the perfect place to go scubadiving and her beautiful beaches lie in the shade of coconut and palm trees. Idyllic and laid-back, our collection of the best places to stay in Providencia will leave you breathless.
Until 1641, Old Providencia - as the locals call it - was an English colony, and as such the vast majority of her inhabitants are the descendents of slaves brought here by the British: their names attest to this cruel colonial past, with many Brown's and Bush's walking the streets. They speak a curious form of English creole much like their neighbour San Andres and the towns, villages and roadsigns have British words and names. During the Golden Age of Piracy, it was a great site for smugglers and hideouts: it is said that the ruined castle Fort Warwick was once the basecamp of the pirate Henry Morgan during his raids on the Spanish Empire, supposedly hiding a great deal of his treasures on the island itself.
With no connection to the mainland, bad wifi and barely over 100 vehicles, Providencia has its feet dug firmly and proudly into the traditions of their past and locals look on in horror as their neighbour San Andres becomes a tourist honeytrap. Indeed, you can spend a whole day on the island without meeting a single fellow-traveller. As you lazily walk the beaches and streets of the island beneath the cooling shade of palm trees, reggae plays in the backdrop (there are a great many Bob Marley fans here) from clubs like Rolands, which have been going for thirty years and counting. The real charm lies in her scubadiving potential: with many shades of blue glistening in the waters, the world's third-largest reef (32km) straddles the coastline and a great many scubadiving companies abound.
What not to miss
- Crab Cay - A fantastic beach on the North of the island. A great place for snorkelling and a good opportunity to spot a turtle!
- Manzanillo Beach - with weatherbeaten beach bars, coral sands and coconut palms, it makes for a delightful lounge in the sunshine.
- Rolands - the foremost bar and club on the island, ran by the same local man for thirty years. It is an unforgettable experience, full of dancing, reggae and good times.
- Morgan's Head - Take a hike through the forest from the statue of the Virgin Mary to this beautiful and secluded spot for a great view of the sea and a terrific place to swim. Requires approximately thirty minutes walking.
- Fort Warwick - where the pirate Henry Morgan supposedly hid after raiding the Spanish Empire, it is a 17th century ruined castle and fascinating to explore.
- The Peak Forestry Reserve - Hike with a guide through stunning natural trails in the island's central forest. The way up will take around an hour and a half and although guides are non-essential, they are recommended.
- Felipe Diving Center - Beginner or life-long diver, get your scuba kit on in this heavenly setting and explore the wonders that lie below while you swim in the world's third-largest coral reef!
Whether its scubadiving in coral reefs, snorkelling with turtles, lounging in a hammock at a beach bar or exploring the ruined hideouts of pirates, Providencia is a truly hidden gem totally unspoilt by tourism and an unforgettable experience: the best places to stay in Providencia will transport you to a slower and happier world.
The best places to stay in Providencia
Deep Blue is only half a mile from Cayo Cangrejo but you probably won’t ever want to leave! The hotel has it all, king sized beds looking out onto the sea, private terraces with most rooms overlooking the water, contemporary architecture and an infinity pool to top it off. Deep Blue is particularly popular for couples.
For an apartment or villa
- Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and properties in the area.
- Weather wise you can’t really go wrong on Providencia Island. It’s warm and sunny year round, however, the rainy ‘season’ is the month of October when you might get the odd downpour.
- Getting there is hard, ensuring that it remains untouched by tourism! Fly to Bogota and from there either fly or catch the ferry to San Andres. From there you can take a rickety 20-seater plane to Providencia or a rough three hour ride on a catamaran. Either way, getting there is half the adventure.
Best Hotels in Providencia
Deep Blue 12 rooms from £162Providencia
Deep Blue enjoys a waterfront location on Providencia Island. Its rooms are modern and chic with king sized beds whilst most have private balconies with sea views. Relax on the terrace and soak up the sun or go for a refreshing dip in their infinity pool. A truly excellent stay in a lovely spot!Active Holiday - Head out to sea scuba diving, snorkelling and canoeing or hike around the island insteadTotal relaxation - Quiet accomodation with gorgeous sea views, beautiful weather and days at the beachFishing - If you fancy a relaxing time in the sun then you can head to a number of places around the island off for a spot of fishingKayaking - With kayaks available for free and given the hotel's location there's really no excuse not to get out on the water