Rating the paradise beaches of Providencia Island, Colombia
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**2020-21 emergency situation**
In November 2020, Isla de Providencia was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Iota. While thankfully all but 2 of the islanders survived, what’s been left of the island’s infrastructure is heart-breaking. Barely a single building has a roof. Crab Cay Boutique Lodge needs to be completely rebuilt. If you can, please donate to this registered Colombian charity that is collecting for an emergency relief fund to provide essentials like water, electricity and food. Thank you x
What can we say about Isla de Providencia? It is an absolutely incredible island that completely warrants the cost and hassle of travelling the 80 miles there from San Andres island. We stayed for 4 nights here at Crab Cay Boutique Lodge, and of all the things to do on Providencia, our top recommendation would be to hire a moped or a golf buggy to beach hop around the island. With its small size, you can easily whip around it all in a day. The beaches of Providencia are located on the west side of the island – the east is rocky instead of sandy.
They vary in size, appearance and level of facilities on offer (bars, restaurants etc.). For that, we bring you our definitive list of the beaches of Providencia, offering insight and ratings on various categories to help you decide where to park yourself up for the day – somewhere in pure paradise, with great restaurants and bars or completely solo. Fortunately, on the beaches of Providencia, it is quite easy to combine at least a couple of those things.
Our beaches of Providencia rating system explained
To give you a better idea of what the beaches are like (along with some great photos) we’ve created a comprehensive rating system with a number of categories to judge each beach on.
Secludedness: whilst not strictly a real word, this metric is about the feel of isolation and detachment from the world. It also goes some way to indicating how busy these beaches tend to be.
Cleanliness: in general, the beaches of Providencia are extremely clean with very little by means of general rubbish lying around. Do keep in mind that if there has been a recent storm, the cleanliness of these sands may be compromised – but in those cases we found that the beaches there tend to be littered only with leaves and wood, not so much plastic.
Facilities: availability of good restaurants, kiosks for snacks and/or bars, taking into account both the quality and the quantity of options on offer.
Paradise Rating: an expertly calculated coefficient encompassing all that is paradise/a completely subjective viewpoint of ours as to how close these beaches get to our idea of paradise. Note: this may not reflect everyone’s view of paradise! So, let’s get started. For the sake of impartiality, the list of the beaches of Providencia is in no particular order.
Situated on the Northwest of the island, Almond Bay is a small but picturesque beach that feels well and truly detached from any sort of civilisation. It is a 10 minute or so walk down a steep hill from the main road, meaning this stunning beach has a nice quiet feel to it. Just one little kiosk to buy beers/soft drinks or snacks is available – so it probably isn’t a beach to spend the whole day, but worth popping down with a strong likelihood of having the place to yourselves (especially on a weekday).
Ratings (out of 5) for Almond Bay:
Facilities (bars/restaurants/kiosks): 2.5
Paradise Rating: 3.5
The beach at Southwest Bay can be found, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the Southwest of the island of Providencia. It stretches seemingly for miles, with turquoise waters on one side and dense palm trees on the other. This is one of your safest bets to find a restaurant on the beaches of Providencia, with two of the best restaurants on the island being located here – El Niño Divion and Restaurante Arturo (with the latter being our favourite).
Strolling down the beach, you will also come to a couple of really cool beach bars; Tom’s Corner is a particularly cool to watch place the sun go down. For food & drinks, Southwest Bay is hands down the best of the beaches of Providencia, in our humble opinion. It is also beautifully clean, with soft, white sand and inviting water, giving it a really nice feel to it. One thing to bear in mind is that a number of the snorkelling tour groups are brought here to eat so it can tend to get busy around lunch time.
Ratings for Southwest Bay:
Secludedness: 3-4 (depending on which end of the beach you are)
Facilities (bars/restaurants/kiosks): 5
Paradise Rating: 4.5
One of the most attractive on the eyes, Freshwater Bay is just a few minutes north of Southwest Bay if you have a golf-buggy or moped. This is one of the least secluded due to the fact the main road is practically alongside the beach and a number of cabanas and other accommodation options sit nearby. While not packed with people, this means that you will rarely have it to yourself.
However, it is incredibly clean, with lush hills and rocky terrain to the side of the beach giving it a really tropical feel. The water here (as with most of the Caribbean) is incredible and walking through the scattered palm trees to enter the beach lives up to pretty much anyone’s expectations of paradise. There’s a few options to eat and drink as well, although we didn’t try anywhere here.
Ratings for Freshwater Bay:
Facilities (bars/restaurants/kiosks): 3
Paradise Rating: 4
Before even travelling to Isla de Providencia, we had our hearts set on visiting the beach at Manzanillo Bay. As well as being incredibly Caribbean-feeling with a stunning appearance and plenty of liveliness (especially at the weekends), it is home to the world-famous (okay maybe slightly exaggerating, island-famous at least) Roland Roots Reggae Bar.
This is one of the top things to do in Providencia and the parties there get pretty epic. Music, open fire on the beach, hammocks, rope swings and great (strong!) cocktails, Roland’s is a must-visit on the island. The beach itself is great, and has a few options to eat and drink, is very popular with both locals and visitors so it has a nice mix.
Okay, whilst not strictly a beach, more of a jetty built around the rocks, it would be impossible to not mention Crab Cay in a blog post about Isla de Providencia. It is truly one of the most incredible places we’ve ever been, with turquoise water that you wouldn’t believe is even possible. To get there, you have to get a boat or kayak, giving it a more exclusive feel.
From 11am-1pm it is quite busy with the snorkelling tours, however, afterwards it quietens down a lot. Note that on Sundays, it is only open to locals in the afternoon. Options for food and drink do exist, more often earlier than later in the day (especially for food) but even when they are closed, one of the guys working there can always sort you out with a beer or two!
The small entrance fee you pay (18K Colombian Pesos / £4.50) helps keep it spotless. It has no sandy beach option, but a nice decking/pier to laze around on between dips in the crystal clear, turtle-infested sea.
You can quite easily swim and snorkel around the island (snorkel gear is available to hire for 20K COP either on the Cay or from Leidy, one of the boat operators that leaves from Deep Blue’s restaurant). It is highly recommended and well worth the roughly $15-20 to get over to, access and enjoy the little island.
Ratings for Cayo Cangrejo:
Facilities (bars/restaurants/kiosks): 3.5
Paradise Rating: 5
So, there you have it. Whether paradise to you means a great beach bar to knock back beers and cocktails as the sun goes down, pure isolation with only the sound of wind brushing through the palm trees or simply white sand and inviting seas, Providencia has you covered on all fronts.
We hope you’ve found this useful in selecting your route to beach-hop around this truly amazing slice of paradise. The beaches of Providencia are certainly going to be etched in our minds for the rest of our lives!