“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, June 16, 2012

San Andres & Providencia Islands

Home of the Pirate Morgan and his cave of looted riches, settled by Puritans, Dutch, Spaniards, claimed by both Nicaragua and Colombia, this Caribbean paradise is Colombia's package tourist destination. Providencia, 90km north, is the better kept secret. Stupendous diving, a volcanic island of beautiful vistas and traditional Caribbean culture.

As I sit in La Rigatta cafe over the water next to the Nautico Club in 'North End' (the main town on San Andres Island) sipping on my 'Rosa de Verano' (rose wine and red vermouth!) snacking on my delicious camarones followed by fish in herbed orange sauce, I am contemplating the life of living on a yacht in the Caribbean.

The rain is coming in so the waitresses rush to pull up the glass windows against the wind-driven rain. Big black sea birds with forked tails dive into the harbor and catch dinner. The metal wrecks of abandoned ships are scattered amongst sails, catamarans, day jet boats and fishing trawlers. Two boys fish and swim off the rocks underneath my table. The waitresses are attentive, pretty and content. My name is inscribed on the tourist boat across the way, and gosh, this fish is delicious! Two phenomenal kitesurfers rip across the harbor, weaving through the boats. Noisy Colombian families settle behind me, the couple over the side has ordered lobster, as the wind whips my hair into tangles.

There is something romantic about Caribbean pirate strongholds. There is something even more romantic about setting sail and going on island to island under palm trees, swimming in deep blue water (or, as is famous in San Andres, in the sea of seven colors).

The most delicious rasin-filled coconut rice I've tasted. 
One of the kite surfers just jumped 5 meters into the air! Wow!

There are only two ways to get to Providencia: a small puddle-jumper plane, or ferry. The ferry goes Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the morning (a rougher journey as the seas are high in the mornings!). It returns same day in the afternoon around 3.30 and takes 2 and a half hours.

Providencia is a beautiful throwback of Caribbean culture. Only 5000 people live on the island and almost everything is locally run. English is still the main language spoken (and no one could really give me a definitive answer as to why it stopped being English in 1925 either). The food is delicious, the music is unique and the lifestyle is laid-back and pleasant.

Santa Catalina Island sits at the top of Providencia and is even more inaccessable: only possible by foot bridge or boat. This was the site of the pirate's fort, and has a beautiful walk around the island to Morgan's Head facing the open ocean.


Matt Kohn said...

Loved it! Providencia Island is a paradise! Need proof to see how awesome is that place? Check this video of mine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLyG2z9fJMgtNLmS1_yG3Zer0vhzx0p8UI&v=SBDKidWfaEI

-Matt Kohn

Lorri Hicks Cazenave said...

We recently traveled to Providencia and enjoyed every moment. We were especially in heaven with how it felt truly authentic, not too touristic, how you could hang with locals and understand the true culture. We've traveled a decent amount. Is there any other country/place that you would recommend especially?