Providencia  is a Caribbean island, and a part of the San Andres and Providencia Archipelago. It is politically a part of Colombia, but is geographically closer to Nicaragua. It is attached by footbridge to a smaller island, Santa Catalina.
It is a very scenic island, with lovely empty beaches, a typical Caribbean climate, laid back atmosphere and friendly people. While the island depends quite heavily on tourism, it is not at all 'touristy' and only small hotels are present. The hotels on the island resemble more "guest lodges" than 5 star hotels, and everything is very low key. The restaurants and bars are relatively basic, and Providencia does not have any clubs or discos.
Providencia is heavily protected by Colombian legislation - no non-native of the island is allowed to own property there, or operate a business. Thus, while many developers may want to "build up" Providencia, it seems unlikely that this will happen in the near future. It is quite unique in its status - an affordable Caribbean island with low-key/budget tourist infrastructure.
Satena and the charter airline Searca are the only current air operators, both run a few daily flights to Providencia from San Andrés. The flight lasts approximately 25 minutes.
There is also a catarmaran (called El Sensacion) that makes a return trip from San Andres to Providencia on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The cost is about 160,000 pesos, and the journey takes two and a half hours.
The island has one principle coastal road (which goes around the circumference of the island), and a few other smaller roads. There is no public transport to speak of, although their are (relatively expensive) taxis. Hitch-hiking is quite easy. Another option for tourists is to rent a motorbike or golf buggy. Many beaches, cafes and restaurants are within walking distance to each other. Santa Catalina does not have any roads, there is only one footpath.
Providencia's appeal lies in it's beautiful volcanic scenery, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, scuba diving and fishing.
Bahia Aguadulce is the main tourist area of Providencia, there are 5-6 small hotels, a few restaurants and a supermarket - all of which are walking distance to the beach.
Isabel Village is the main town in Providencia, it has an internet cafe, a cafe, two supermarkets and a few miscellaneous shops. There is also a footbridge to Santa Catalina.
Santa Catalina is a smaller island connected to Providencia, and is considerably less developed. It has one shop, a few beaches and a couple of restaurants. On Santa Catalina one finds Morgans Head, a large rock formation that resembles a head and is named after the pirate Henry Morgan, who used Providencia and Santa Catalina as a base for raiding the Spanish colonial empire many centuries ago. There are also the remains on an unexcavated Fort that dates from the days of piracy on the island.
Bahia Suroeste is a long beach, with two hotels, and various beachfront restaurants.
Bahia Manzanillo is a beautiful beach with the "Roland Roots Reggae Bar", occasionally featuring beach-parties and live acoustic music.
Crab Caye is a beautiful small island off the East coast of the island. The snorkelling here is excellent, and the sea an amazing shade of turquoise. Along with the other small, beautiful islands named the Three Brothers Cayes, Crab Caye forms part of the McBean Lagoon National Park.
"The Peak" is the highest point on the island - and offers beautiful panoramic views towards the distant barrier reef.
Scuba diving around Providencia is excellent - here one finds the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world.
The vast majority of the food on offer is sea-food - lobsters, squid, fish, crab, and prawns.
For a massive bowl of seafood soup visit El Nino on SouthWest beach. All the seafood is fresh and delicious
Alcoholic drinks are normally limited to beer, rum and aguardiente.
Normally there is live (acoustic) music every night in one of the beach bars on the island - word spreads of which bar it is by way of posters and word of mouth.
Many of the better hotels have their bookings arranged by Decameron, a travel agent. In addition it is possible to stay at Hotel Sirius, and Sol Caribe hotel, both of whom take independent bookings. There are a handful of other small, locally run guesthouses in addition.