top of page
  • Writer's picturetheblacksprayhood

Old Providence

Updated: Mar 4

"On the way you pass Morgan’s Meditation Rock and as you pass Morgan’s Head and look down you will spy Morgan’s cave being lashed by spray."

I Heart Providence

Heading northbound towards Jamaica from Panama, we felt we had to sojourn en route at the island of Providencia. Far off the coast of Nicaragua lies the archipelago that makes up San Andrés, Providencia and its adjoining sister island Santa Catalina. Providencia and Santa Catalina are about 50 miles northeast of San Andrés.

It was an upwind sail from Panama but nothing that a few seasickness pills couldn’t cure. Waves were 2-3 metres and a little steep so our anchor took quite a bashing. We got a soaking in the cockpit on a few occasions, so we were glad to arrive into the safe harbour of the anchorage.

Feeling a little seasick

The anchorage is nestled between Providencia and Santa Catalina which are connected by an attractive blue and yellow bridge, sweetly called Lovers’ Bridge.

The beautiful colours of the water at the anchorage

Santa Catalina has only footpaths and you can head along the cliffside Morgan’s trail and up to Morgan’s Head - a distinctive large rock. On the way you pass Morgan’s Meditation Rock and as you pass Morgan’s Head and look down you will spy Morgan’s cave being lashed by spray.

Looking out to Santa Catalina Island

So who is the famous, or should I say, infamous, Morgan? Captain Morgan was a Welsh privateer who operated across the Caribbean. Privateering was a type of licensed piracy practised with the encouragement of rulers including Queen Elizabeth I, Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in Britain’s brief interregnum and King Charles II following the Restoration. 

Following the death of her Catholic sister ‘Bloody’ Mary I, Elizabeth I rejected the marriage proposal of King Philip II of Spain, embracing her own Protestant beliefs and independence, Elizabeth was willing to risk the wrath of the then most powerful empire in the world by robbing the Spanish ships of the treasure they were looting from the Americas. Thus started the so-called Golden Age of Piracy

Morgan started as a pirate under Cromwell and continued under Charles II. Providencia was an ideal base from which to attack both Panama in the south (including Portobelo where we have just come from) and Cuba and Jamaica in the north. Morgan later settled down into a life of politics in Jamaica and owned three slave plantations.

The distinctively shaped Morgan's Rock

After the departure of the pirates, the island became the site of slavery. Islanders are of the Raizal ethnic group and are mostly of African and Northern European descent. They speak Spanish (it is now part of Colombia) and an English based creole. Unlike San Andrés, the island is undeveloped except for locally owned posadas, or guesthouses. Mainlanders or foreigners are not allowed to buy property on the island unless they marry a local (or rarely circumvent the rules by buying in the name of a local) and this is an important way in which Providencia has been able to preserve its distinct cultural heritage and its environment.

Santa Catalina seen from the walk up to 'The Peak'

Our guide up to ‘the Peak’ - the highest point on the island explained that he had recently moved back to the island after spending many years travelling the world working on cruise ships and then in San Andrés, but felt disturbed by the levels of crime in San Andrés. He has returned to his home island and now guides people up the Peak. As has always been our experience in the Caribbean, he had a wealth of knowledge about the local plants and culture and history. Unlike other places, this was not due to training, but because this knowledge had been passed down to him from the elders. He has a close friend - a 78 year old woman who has told him all about the history of the island.

Us at the top

The view from the top

Locals here zip around on scooters, there are barely any cars at all, so there is no congestion. The houses are all new - replaced after the immense destruction caused by Hurricane Iota in 2020. To our eyes the houses are attractive, wooden and brightly painted with identical white roofs - screwed on, not nailed in case of the next hurricane. This rebuilding seems to have been very rapid compared with other places that have suffered natural disasters. Some people are happy, but others lament the lack of consultation about the non traditional building techniques being used. The islanders' traditional culture is very important to them. After our hike up the Peak with its gorgeous views of all the blues of the sea around, we headed to Manchineel Beach to lie in a hammock, drink a beer and play on the swing :-)

Hurricane damage along the route to the peak. It was being repaired as we headed back down

A horse in training for races on Southwest Beach
Relaxing on the beach
Manchineel Beach has an amazing swing from a leaning coconut tree

Our next stop will be Jamaica directly northeast of here (the direction from which the prevailing winds blow) and we are planning what will be a challenging passage of several days. 

You can find our PODCAST episodes at the links below

YOUTUBE (for video version)

42 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All

3 Komentar

Yacht Zen Again
Yacht Zen Again
28 Feb

Looks lovely! The next leg will be a challenge but I’m sure you will love Jamaica. We loved Port Antonio and wished we could have had more time to cruise the south coast!

14 Mar
Membalas kepada

Yes it sure was a challenge. Details in the next post but absolutely loving Jamaica!


27 Feb

Beautiful photos. Can't wait to hear about Jamaica.

bottom of page