Isla de Providencia Things to Do Tips by mircaskirca
Isla de Providencia Things to Do: 10 reviews and 44 photos
Located off the coast of Providencia's north-eastern end, Parque Nacional McBean Lagoon is a 2.450-acre conservation zone which was declared a national park in 1995. Tha park includes largest and best preserved mangrove of Providencia, in addition to the lagoon inside the barrier reef and two small islets - Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay) and Cayo Tres Hermanos (Three Brothers Cay). Shallow, turqoise waters, framed by the green mountains of the main island, are stunningly beautiful. Outstanding features include volcanic peak called Iroon Wood Hill. The vegetation here is dry forest with Pactá palms and several species of cactus and scrub.
The magical islet Cayo Cangrejo is a site you don't want to miss. Surrounded by crystal clear turqoise water and a beautiful underwater seascape with shallow coralline formations, it is an ideal location for snorkeling. The islet is covered mainly with coconut palms and the views from its peak are breathtaking. You can see a 360C vista of what is known as the 'Sea of the Seven Colours'. Shallow waters in the shades of turqoise and green, framed by the green mountains of the main island, are stunningly beautiful.
The park is open to the public until 5:00pm when the last boat leaves from Cayo Cangrejo. The entrance fee was 10.000 COP (January 2009).
more pics in the travelogue
Directions: north-east of Providencia
Facing Santa Isabel is a tiny volcanic island of Santa Catalina, separated from Providencia by the narrow Canal Aury. A brightly coloured pedestrian bridge known as the Lover's Bridge links the islands. From Providencia it's a pretty, scenic walk to it's neighbouring island. The island of Santa Catalina has no roads and exploring this beautiful place on foot is ideal relaxation of body and mind.
A short walk after crossing the Lover's Bridge leads to Morgan's Head (a huge rock formation which resembles a human head) and the ruins of Fort Warwick from where one can catch a good view of Providencia. Santa Catalina is also known as the 'Island of Treasure' due to the legendary hidden treasure which is said to have been placed somewhere on the island by Henry Morgan on one of his last journeys. This area also offers great snorkeling and diving.
Various tiny but beautiful soft-sand beaches can be found around the island, some of them only accessible by boat. On the southern side of the island is a small settlement with picturesque wooden houses and English-Caribbean style architecture. There you find a handful of restaurants offering fresh fish and lobster recently taken out of the sea.
Directions: north-west of Providencia
Lover's Bridge connects Providencia with the smaller neighbouring island of Santa Catalina. The picturesque bridge helps the 200 inhabitants of Santa Catalina to cross the sea to get to Santa Isabel, 'the capital' of Providencia. It was built after the pirates made an artificial channel between the two islands. Prior to its construction, people had to cross the 100-meter channel in dugout canoes.
It's supported by fixed and floating rafts. At its center, some sort of tunnel allows the passage of small boats. Decorated with bright colours that characterize these islands, this bridge has become a common place for lovers to come and watch the sunset or take a romantic stroll. Small wooden benches decorated with figures of crabs and lanterns that are lit in the evening run along the entire length of the bridge.
From Lover's Bridge you can admire the tranquil landscape on both islands and the incredible colour of the sea - ranging from a light green to a dark blue, and see the colourful boats of fishermen on the horizon.
Directions: it connects Providencia with the smaller island of Santa Catalina
Santa Isabel is a little town situated at the island's northern tip. The town has a lovely malecón with colourful parapet decorated with figures of sea horses, small wooden benches and street lights. It is connected by a raised boardwalk known as Lover's Bridge to a tiny island of Santa Catalina. Despite its gorgeous location in a picturesque bay the town doesn't see much tourism.
Santa Isabel is considered the administrative 'capital' of Providencia. Here you'll find a variety of simple shops, a few small supermarkets, bakery, post office, hospital and two banks with ATM machines. The tourist office is found in the centre of the town next to the pier. The staff is helpful and offer plenty of advice about Providencia.
Directions: at island's northern tip; facing Santa Catalina
One of the most famous attractions of Santa Catalina is Morgan's Head, a large rocky cliff which resembles a human head when seen from a special angle. The rock was carved by the sea and it's best seen from the water. It is named after the famous Welsh pirate Henry Morgan who used Providencia and Santa Catalina as a base for raiding the Spanish colonial empire many centuries ago.
At the base of the cliff is an underwater cave, home to large barracudas. Many travellers seeking for adventure jump from the rock straight into the depths. This is also one of Providencia's best spots for snorkeling.
arrival to Cayo Cangrejo
A great way to see the island is taking a boat tour around the island's 20 km of coast. Boat normally leaves from Aguadulce and also load people on Suroeste. You can appreciate spectacular views of mountainous landscape. The trip allows you to take in various sights and visit some of the most popular attractions, including Morgan's Head (a rock formation on Santa Catalina), Lover's Bridge (the bridge that connects Santa Catalina with Providencia), Santa Catalina and Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay), an ideal place to snorkel and to enjoy the sea breeze.
We stopped on Manzanillo Beach and then there was another short stop on Suroeste. I did not return to Aguadulce but stayed on Manzanillo. I was invited to have lunch with some local people I met. They made rondon, a typical and my favourite dish of the islands.
The boat tour was 30.000 COP per person (January 2009). A great day trip!
That's the standard tour everyone takes, but you can also arrange a private tour. It will cost much more but that way you can see a lot more places and will have all these beautiful sites to yourself, rather than having to share them with others from the boat.
From Aguadulce it's a 20-minute walk to Bahía Suroeste (South West Bay) with Providencia's longest beach. It is more deserted and much more beautiful, and the water is exceptionally calm. There are a couple of small hotels and posadas and various beachfront restaurant serving some of the island's best seafood. If you walk a little further along this beautiful beach there's very little other than coconut palms, white sand and a calm turquoise sea. On Saturdays, don't miss local horseback riding competitions which are a great spectacles.
Bahía Suroeste is a great place to have lunch on the beach. Don't miss El Divino Niño's mixed plate, an enormous dish that contains lobster, crab, conch and fish at a very reasonable price. On the main road outside of Bahía Suroeste is Café Studio, one of the island's best restaurants. It's owned by a friendly Canadian woman and famous for excellent seafood meals.
Directions: south-western side of the island; a 20-minute walk from Aguadulce
pretty little cemetery
Along the main road where you turn to the side road leading down to Manzanillo Beach, is Manzanillo village. There you find a supermarket but most of the houses are off the main road. The day before I left Providencia I had to confirm reservation of my hotel in Cartagena. Since there was no official public place to make a phone call and I did not want to ask my friends (who already did so much for me) I went with a neighbour girl to the village. She knew the women who was supposed to offer phone calls from her mobile.
I quite enjoyed our stroll through the village observing brightly painted traditional wooden houses amongst palm trees and life of the local people. Along the road there are a lot of tropical trees. I especially liked the cotton trees. We also passed by the local cemetary, a peaceful and tranquil place, which has walls with simple tombs.
more pics in the travelogue
Directions: on south-east of the island
Bahía Aguadulce (Freshwater Bay) is the main tourist area of Providencia with the greatest concentration of places to stay and restaurants. Here you find car and motorbike rental, snorkeling and scuba tour companies, and the boat trips leave from Aguadulce as well. There are about 6 small hotels and several posadas. Underneath the hotel El Pirata Morgan you'll find a small supermarket and there are a few cheap eateries on this road. A fried fish meal is generally about 12.000 to 15.000 COP. For more supplies you need to go to Santa Isabel, the main town in the island.
Worth a visit is a shop/café called Arts & Crafts, run by a French guy who moved to Providencia. This is a good place for espresso and its famous popsicles made from local fruits. He also sells tamarind wine and some very nice arts and crafts.
This 20-house hamlet offers peace, quiet and little else. Occasionally there is live music in Pizza's Place but you must be really lucky. The beach here is lovely but exploring further around the coast you find beaches that are much more beautiful and suitable for passing the day. Actually, I never stayed in Aguadulce.
Directions: western side of the island
Manzanillo Beach is what you dream of when thinking about Caribbean holidays. It is named after the manzanillo trees found on its edges and it is largest, most attractive and least developed beach of Providencia. About 300 metres long, this bay is on south-east coast of the island and a little off the beaten track. To get to Manzanillo you'll need your own transportation or take a moto taxi. Once I walked from Aguadulce and it took me about an hour to get there.
Manzanillo is a a very beautiful beach with fine white sand, palm trees hanging over the water, the sea is beautifully turquoise and the beach has just one building of any real size - Roland Roots Bar. It is a typically Caribbean chill out hangout run by the most friendly local Rasta Roland. Seafood and cocktails are served on rowboats converted into tables and you can relax in boat-net hammocks hanging on a rope. In the evenings there are beach parties with live reggae music making this one of the few nightspots on the island.
Once you go to Manzanillo beach you'll never want to go to another beach again :)))
more pics in the travelogues
Directions: on south-east of the island; a 20-minute walk from the main road
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