A little while a go I ignored all the naysayers who write Colombia off as dangerous and only for those who are into their hard partying and set out with some girlfriends to discover Colombia’s other side. I am so glad that I did…Colombia quickly proved itself to be one of the best countries I have ever visited. Not only was there so much to see and do (and no none of it was white and powdery…except maybe the pristine sand on the beaches) but the people were so kind, friendly and enthusiastic and not once did I feel unsafe.
We flew into Bogota for a fleeting visit before heading off to paradise. With one day and one night we barely managed to scratch the surface of what was on offer but of what we did see I can thoroughly recommend: (a) visiting the Museo del Oro which has the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work – you can lose yourself for hours looking at the incredible creations
and (c) indulging at Andres Carne de Res a restaurant which has an entire magazine’s worth of steak and cocktails as a menu and more energy and quirkiness than any other restaurant I have ever been. I defy you not to stay dancing until dawn.
Not much could have roused me from my bed after a heavy evening of steak and cocktails but the prospect of island paradise was enough. To get to Providencia isn’t the simplest of journeys, it takes two flights from Bogota (one on a very small plane) but the views on the latter confirm to you that it is going to be oh so worth it.
We stayed at the lovely Sirius Hotel and Dive Center. The hotel offers incredibly comfortable rooms in a rustic beach chic fashion – if you are willing to leave the five star luxury for a few days this hotel is definitely worth forgoing your creature comforts for (n.b. there aren’t any five star resorts on the island in any event…and I really hope it stays that way!) The staff here are so friendly and wonderful – it was my birthday the day I arrived and I was thrown an impromptu party complete with delicious red wine, a cake and a reggae happy birthday celebration…welcome to Caribbean hospitality!
Our room was large and airy with a vast view of the blue blue ocean (when we visited the island was having a freak seaweed issue so I won’t show you a daytime view but look at that sunset as viewed from our balcony….)
We whiled away an incredible five days lazing on the beach spending a rather disproportionate time at the unnamed local beach bar sinking Providencia surprises (a lethal and delicious fresh fruit and rum cocktail).
As you may know if you’re a regular escapeeatexplore-r I love to scuba dive and so I also went diving a number of times with the team from Sirius who were so well organised and knowledgable of the local waters. Safety and professionalism aside, the scuba diving in Providencia is seriously underrated – the waters are crystal clear and has some of the best reef life I have seen. Manta City and the World War II wreck at Planchon City were some of my favourite dive spots so try and fit them into your schedule if you can.
At night we made sure to sample the local cuisine…our favourite spot being Cafe Studio (on Bahia Suroeste) which served the freshest fish and sinful cappuccino pie in such a welcoming chilled out atmosphere and at great prices. One night I decided to be adventurous and try the local speciality – Wellington’s conch in creole sauce – this was so rich and tender and well worth stepping outside my comfort zone for. If you’re happy to splash out a bit more it is well worth trying Caribbean Place (in Bahia Aguadulce) one night where the famous black crab is outstanding.
And as the stars come out…it isn’t possible to spend the best part of a week in Providencia without sampling the famous Roland Root’s Bar where the rum and reggae will keep you going all night (as we can attest to!)
Having fully settled into the stress-free, chilled out rhythm of life and friendly nature of Providencia we could have happily stayed a lot longer (or possibly our whole five week trip?!) but another adventure was booked in so with heavy hearts we packed up our room at Sirius, promised ourselves we would return before mass tourism ruins this little piece of paradise and set out in search of the lost city…more on which on Friday.