Although today Providencia Island is a sleepy tropical paradise, it has enjoyed a rich history as a Caribbean base and hideout. It was first settled by Europeans in 1629 by an English Puritan Society, and then later taken over by the Spanish in 1641. The infamous pirate Henry Morgan reportedly used Providencia Island as a base of operations for his raid campaigns against the Spanish Empire, and rumor has it that much of the riches he plundered still remain buried somewhere on the island. Today, life is much quieter on the island, and the locals aim to keep it that way. Although a handful of hotels and other tourist amenities are scattered around the island, Providencia is yet to be cut up by many of the larger resort corporations which dominate many other Caribbean locales. Therefore, anyone travelling through the area who seeks out unspoiled beaches, friendly locals, and beautiful scenery should definitely pay Providencia Island a visit.
There are many activities available to both the adventurous and the relaxed island hopping traveler. Scuba divers come from all over the world to explore the barrier reef. The reef, itself a smaller version of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Meso-American Reef in Belize, offers some of the most beautiful diving scenery in the area. Visitors can swim with a variety of marine animals, including angel fish and sharks, either solo or accompanied by PADI certified divemasters on guided tours. Additionally, there are a variety of activities on land. Local agencies rent out golf buggies or mopeds to explore the beautiful hills, and area fishermen are often eager to be a guide for the day and take passengers on a tour of some of the island’s most secluded coves. On Saturdays, the locals can additionally be seen racing their horses down the beach, which indeed is quite a spectacle. Many adventurers also enjoy the moderately challenging hike up to El Pico, the highest point on the island at about 1,000 feet, where the view is reported to be incomparable.
Some of the best attractions of Providencia Island are:
- Black Land Crab migration- After mating, mass migrations of these small crustaceans take flight from their terrestrial burrows in such numbers as to completely flood roads and homes. The sight of millions of crabs scuttling in unison for the sea is truly a marvel of the animal kingdom, and it occurs regularly each mating season on Providencia Island.
- Fishing- The waters immediately adjacent to Providencia Island are some of the best in the world, and are yet to be overfished like other popular locations. The fishing has something to offer any angler, from bonefish fishing, to deep-sea varieties, to kingfish and dorado.
- The Cuisine- There is no shortage of fresh seafood on the island, and the local restaurants take full advantage of the rich marine fare to deliver both authentic Caribbean cooking, and adventurous new tastes.