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Providencia Island, Colombia – A Fascinating Mix of the Beautiful and Bizarre

With a pop. of only 5,000, Providencia Island remains an unspoiled and odd paradise. | Photo by Chiaramar

Providencia Island is a gorgeous island located midway between Costa Rica and Jamaica. It was founded in 1629 as an English Puritan colony, and has a very colorful history of pirates, slave traders, and colonists. To this day it remains a fascinating destination full of beautiful beaches, excellent scuba-diving opportunities, and quirky cultural oddities left over from the island’s unusual history.

One of the most often repeated stories surrounding the island is that famous pirate Henry Morgan left a lot of his buried treasure stashes on the island. While it is documented that he regularly used Providecia Island as a base from which to raid the Spanish empire, no treasure has been found to this day.

Another strange cultural aspect of the island is that there is actually a unique sign language that has developed called the Providence Island Sign Language. Because there was a lot of inbreeding in the island’s history, there is a proportionately high number of deaf people, which has resulted in the evolution of this unique language.

One last notable oddity of the island is the military-protected migration patterns of the black land crab. As detailed by BBC writer Will Grant’s story, the Colombian military actually shuts down roads and sets up checkpoints from which to protect the crabs during their migration period.