Beyond the untamed landscapes and Spanish Colonial heritage of Colombia's mainland, coral islands beckon. For visitors looking beyond the country's highlights, these gems offer a one-of-a-kind experience, especially for beachgoers, restless travelers, and scuba divers who yearn for off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Providencia is world-renowned for diving, and most sites are within a 10-minute ride from Southwest Bay. The highlight is El Planchón, which features an old German shipwreck. You can also explore Parque Nacional Natural Old Providence & McBean Lagoon, a protected area of mangroves and turquoise lagoons abounding with marine life. This national park is noteworthy because it protects a portion of the third-largest barrier reef in the world. If you have the interest, you can rent a canoe in the hamlet of Maracaibo, located on the northeast side of the island, and paddle around McBean, too.
Read the ultimate guide for island hopping to learn more about exploring San Andres and other Colombian islands.
Intineraries with Explore Providencia
These twin islands off the coast of Nicaragua actually belong to Colombia, making it a multi-cultural beach trip like no other. Start in San Andrés, the more developed of the two isles, where you'll have time to experience Raizal culture before heading to Providencia for three days of hiking, diving, and slow island life. Finish back in San Andrés for one more Caribbean sunset and a reggae show.