Dreaming of diving in to discover the underwater wonders of the Caribbean Sea? Then we recommend you plan a visit to the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina, located just off the island of San Andrés.
The moment your eyes catch sight of the view from the plane, you'll get an idea of just how amazing the marine life here is. Commonly known as the "Sea of Seven Colors", it's the beautiful coral reefs that create this stunning effect.
A dream come true for divers and nature enthusiasts, who flock to this destination to explore the depths and fascinating underwater life of the Caribbean Sea first-hand.
But this experience can be even more pleasurable for you if you choose the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina, affectionately known as 'the hidden gem of the western Caribbean', not just because they are quieter than the island of San Andrés, but also because they boast the third-largest coral reef in the world, which is why the main activity of these unique islands is, of course, scuba diving.
This area also boasts crystal-clear waters, warm temperatures year-round and a low current, making them an ideal location for learning to scuba dive.
With such abundant and colorful underwater life, this is the best site for snorkeling and scuba diving in all of Colombia. In fact, the majority of the waters around Providencia have been declared protected sites by UNESCO.
How can you get to Providencia and Santa Catalina? First, you need to get to San Andrés, and from there, you'll have two options: the first is to charter a flight with the company Satena -this will take approximately 20 minutes to arrive in Providencia; the second is to take the catamaran, which takes approximately three hours from San Andrés to Providencia.
Once you get there, you can get to Santa Catalina by crossing the Puente de los Enamorados ("lovers' bridge") on foot; a 150-meter floating structure which, legend has it, guarantees eternal love to all couples who cross it together.
And so begins the adventure. You'll find numerous local businesses in both Providencia and Santa Catalina with snorkeling and scuba diving options for everyone from beginners to expert divers.
Whichever you choose, diving in Providencia and Santa Catalina will get you into direct contact with the colorful coral reefs and different species of fish, as well as manta rays, giant sea turtles, crabs and even sharks. What's more, one of the site's most famous activities is diving with reef sharks.
But that's not all. The experience is further heightened by the many pirate shipwrecks that occurred in these waters years ago, making the underwater experience even more special and exotic.
The islands also offer many great attractions on land too, such as Cayo Cangrejo. Surrounded by sandbanks, "Crab Cay" is a 500-square-meter cay which, more than just crabs, boasts crystal-clear waters and one of the most spectacular views of the island.
The cay consists of a large rock towering 30 meters above sea level, an utterly privileged vantage point of the barrier reef. It forms part of the McBean Lagoon National Park and there is an admission fee of approximately 5 dollars.
Lastly, volcanic landscapes and exuberant forests create a unique setting, which is enhanced by the friendliness of the islanders, who are happy to cater for your needs at the quaint and cozy local hotels. For all this and much more, scuba diving in Providencia and Santa Catalina is an experience you really don't want to miss.