Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

Old Providence Island (OPI) aka Isla Providencia
Scout - 1/09/2013 9:03 AM
Category: Travel
Replies: 4

I’m going back to OPI for ten days in late February - anyone interested in an exceptional adventure?
LatitudeAdjustment - 1/10/2013 7:46 AM
I assume you are talking about Columbia, you should add it to "Dive Sites" and add a link so people will know what you are talking about. I was researching a trip to Columbia a few years ago when I was dating a woman from there and good info is scarce to useless,

Since you are going back then you have more info to share :)
Scout - 1/10/2013 8:53 AM
You’re right - good info is very hard to find. The best place to start is - in fact, that’s about as far as you need to go.

OPI is a highly protected island - pretty much all development is controlled by a branch of the United Nations, and the government of Colombia is very serious about preserving the island and its coral reef. As a result, OPI is very quiet with very few tourists.

A few years ago, writers from the sport diving magazines went there on a promotional junket; their writeups are very positive and posted on their websites. A few books have been written about OPI: "Crab Antics," "Oscar," and "Adventures in Marine Biology" are the easiest to find. Treasure hunter Sir Bob Marx visited in the ’70s and wrote up his trip in "Argosy" magazine. President Roosevelt stopped by in the 40s, and a flora/fauna writeup sometimes shows up on eBay." "Seaward’s Narrative" by Jane Porter is a fictionalized account of an Englishman who washed up on OPI in 1733.

The island was an English puritan settlement in the early 1600s, but they were kicked out by the Spanish. The pirate Henry Morgan used OPI as the staging site for his raid on Panama - part of his fort is still visible.

Take my word for it - OPI should be on your bucket list.
LatitudeAdjustment - 1/15/2013 9:57 AM
Never mind, the island isn’t listed but the dive sites are, here’s one
Scout - 3/10/2013 9:09 AM
OK - just got back from 8 days on OPI. Everything was great, except for a three-day windstorm which made diving the west side of the island impractical.

Here are some things you need to know:
  • You have to buy a tourist card ($39 I think)
  • Flights from Panama to San Andres are booked up far in advance - try Bogota
  • The catamaran service from San Andres to OPI has been temporarily suspended
  • Baggage from San Andres to OPI is limited to 10 kilos (more about this below)
  • Motorbike rental is 500K to 700K per day
  • Get your Colombian Pesos at the ATM in town
  • Internet Wi-Fi service is terrible - there are two Internet cafes in and near town at 2500P per hour (about $1.50)
  • If you ask nicely, Felipe will charge 60K per dive instead of 100K
Renting scuba gear is no problem, and it’s pretty cheap. If you want to bring your own, you’re going to hit the 10 kilo weight limit pretty fast. My gear bag weighed 15 kilos, but Satena (the flight service) didn’t charge me anything extra, possibly because I told them that it was all scuba gear. Somewhere, I read that sporting gear is exempt from the weight limit. I couldn’t get an answer from Satena about this, but if it is, in fact, true, then you should be able to bring all your gear without being gouged for excess baggage charges. You can book your Satena hop online at

There are three dive operators on OPI:
  • Felipe’s is my favorite because I like him and his brothers
  • Sonny’s is popular and a few doors north of Felipe
  • Sirius is attached to the hotel of the same name in Southwest Bay
I’ll go back again in 2014, probably in May. If you’re interested in joining a group, let me know and I’ll see what kind of package I can put together.

Dive Safe!