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A Birthday Celebration at Playa Forti

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This year, we celebrated Jürgen’s birthday at Playa Forti. I wouldn’t be so crass as to reveal how old he was turning, but please let me reiterate that this birthday celebration was at Playa Forti. It was a wonderful spot to spend the morning, swim, snorkel… and to mourn the loss of fleeting youth.

Playa Forti

Almost immediately, Playa Forti worked its way into the top echelon of our favorite beaches on Curaçao. It has everything: beautiful rocky surroundings, glorious solitude, calm water, soft sand and excellent snorkeling. While in the water, we saw sea turtles, puffer fish and huge schools hiding in rocks along the shore. Forti is right next to Playa Piskado, and the snorkeling is similar. You can easily swim between the two.

But even more than the swimming, we loved the beach itself. You park at the top of a cliff which overlooks the scene, and then walk down a set of stairs to the sand. The beach is large and continues past an outcrop of the cliff which meets the water. We set up our towels on the other side of this rocky formation… there was a single palapa, which we claimed, and no other people. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I don’t think we’re ever going to make a final decision as to our favorite beach on Curaçao, but Playa Forti would definitely be in the running. It doesn’t seem to be as popular as the Knip beaches, or nearby Playa Kalki; I’m not sure why. If you’re looking for an enjoyable, uncrowded day at the beach, definitely check out Playa Forti. Even if it’s not your birthday.

Location on our Map

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Playa Forti
Playa Forti
Playa Forti
Playa Forti

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February 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm Comments (3)

Turtle Spotting at Ascencion

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After parking our car at Landhuis Ascencion, we embarked on a hike which would bring us through some wildly diverse nature, including forests, cactus fields, and towering granite outcrops. But the highlight came at Boka Ascencion, where we stood atop a small cliff and watched turtles swimming in the sea below us.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our five-kilometer trail got started to the north of the Landhuis, taking us into a dense field of cacti. As we approached the island’s east coast, the prickly plants began to thin out, replaced by curious plants which look like bushes crawling along the ground. These are trees which have adapted to Curaçao’s blustery climate by growing almost horizontally, in the direction of the heavy trade winds.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Up to this point, the hike had been alright; easy, but unspectacular. But from here on out, we encountered one highlight after the other. The first was Boka Ascencion, which is known as a place to spot sea turtles. We only needed a couple minutes before seeing the first come to the surface and dive back down. Churning and with a powerful undertow, this isn’t water you could swim in, but the turtles had no problem with it.

We walked along the boka until reaching the coast, where we watched the waves for about 45 seconds. We would have stayed longer, but had severely misjudged the power and reach of the waves, and were taken off-guard by a massive splash that soaked us completely. Jürgen was able to shield his camera from the worst of it, but we were otherwise drenched.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our hike now turned to the hills, and we picked our way between a set of enormous rocks. This was an exciting and unexpectedly beautiful part of the trail, and it deposited us at the mouth of Boka Ascencion. After passing by the inlet, we continued south into a forest of tall trees. With the sunlight filtering through the branches, it was lovely. Considering the landscapes we had been negotiating just minutes before, shrubby then watery then mountainous, simply being in this forest was surreal.

We arrived back at the Landhuis Ascension about two hours after we had departed, and found a local arts festival underway. There was a band playing, and people were dressed nicely, so we figured we should take our smelly, sweaty bodies elsewhere. But then we saw the beer being served and decided to stay, after all.

If you want to see the turtles, but not embark on a hike, an easier option is to go straight to Playa Charomba, on the southern side of Boka Ascencion. There’s a parking lot directly off the main road, just before the Landhuis, and the beach only takes a few minutes to reach.

Locations on our Map: Landhuis Ascension | Playa Charomba
Our Route on Wikiloc

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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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January 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

The Curaçao Ostrich Farm

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Established in 1995, the Curaçao Ostrich Farm offers guests the opportunity to meet and eat the world’s largest birds. We joined a tour of the farm, which taught us a lot about the ungainly beasts and allowed us to get up close to them. Perhaps a little too close.

Ostrich Farm Curacao

I’m going to preface our account of the Curaçao Ostrich Farm with a statement which shouldn’t be the slightest bit controversial: ostriches are horrifying. They’re freakishly ugly, alien birds which just get stranger the longer you look at them. Their dumb, staring eyes are scary enough, and it just becomes worse as you consider their towering size, speed and strength, their ability to shatter bone with a single kick, and their nasty disposition. And have you ever seen one poop? There’s a word for it, and that word is “disgusting.”

Shudder. The Curaçao Ostrich Farm is home to over 200 ostriches, and we met quite a few of them during our 45-minute tour of the premises. We started at the oldest birds, who have been at the farm since its inception. Our guide told us that, in captivity, they can live to be over 100. But most of the ostriches being raised here won’t make it nearly that long; they’re being bred for slaughter, and young ostrich meat is the best ostrich meat.

Ostrich Farm Curacao

We saw some emus, the smaller Australian cousin of the ostrich, and then arrived at the pens holding the youngsters. In the first couple years of an ostrich’s life, it’s impossible to tell whether one is male or female; only later, when the feathers begin to change color, will you know. The males are black-and-white, the females more brown.

The “highlight” of our tour was the chance to feed the ostriches. One-by-one, we were asked to hold a big bowl of food, and back up toward the fence. With their freakishly long necks, the ostriches would reach over us and attack the bowl like the awful, mindless beasts they are. It’s fun! We also enjoy covering our faces in cheese and laying down in the alley. Feeding time, rats!

Ostrich Farm Curacao

I’m joking, of course, the feeding is actually pretty fun. And later, you can have revenge. A restaurant at the farm allows you the chance to sample ostrich. Their meat is red, like beef, and has a strong taste; we weren’t big fans of our ostrich burgers, but it was something new to try. “And at the very least,” I thought while munching, “this ostrich’s pooping days are over.”

A visit to the Curaçao Ostrich Farm is a different kind of experience, and perfect for kids. The tour was a little heartless; you could tell the guide had his schtick down by rote, and it’s clearly a place designed for big cruise-ship groups. But overall, it was what we expected… informative, strange, and fun. And it helped me meet my lifetime ostrich quota; I never have to see or taste another one of those things again.

Location on our Map
Curaçao Ostrich Farm – Website

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Ostrich Farm Curacao
Ostrich Farm Curacao
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January 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm Comments (0)

A Prickly Hike Around Rif Sint Marie

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Armed with only a vague notion of the hike we were supposed to be embarking upon, we set off into the cactus fields and brambles near Playa Port Mari. Online, it had been described as a “History Trail,” and the printout we grabbed at the dive shop called it a “Bird Trail.” But we shortly discovered there wasn’t much of a “trail” of any sort. Let’s just say, a machete would have come in handy.

Porto Mari Hike

We had been lounging on a lot of beaches, and felt compelled to do something more active. Since this was called the “History Trail,” it was especially appealing; we could take care of both exercise and culture in one easy excursion… and then head back to the beach.

However, this hike wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped. There are no markers of any sort, and we got off on the wrong foot immediately, walking straight past the trailhead. We eventually found the path near the ruins of the old Rif Sint Marie landhuis. This plantation had been in the salt business, but its house burnt to the ground long ago. What’s left is already starting to be reclaimed by nature.

Porto Mari Hike
This thorny branch has good taste! It swiped Jürgen’s hat as we walked by.

We continued to the east, scraping past thorny bushes and stepping nimbly around cacti that had fallen into the path, until reaching a small pond. With our focus fully upon dodging thorns, we had approached the pond without talking, and managed to surprise two wild boar who were bathing. Fish, yes; turtles, perhaps; but I hadn’t expected to encounter wild boar while in Curaçao. They sprinted off quickly as we came into view, so we didn’t get a picture.

Porto Mari Hike

Our trail now led around to a tall, wobbly bird-watching tower. We didn’t have binoculars for bird-spotting, but did see a few parakeets flapping around. And from above, we were better able to appreciate the density of the brush we had just fought through.

Porto Mari Hike

This area is criss-crossed with various trails, and none of them are marked. So while heading back to the south, we ended up on the wrong path. The mistake was annoying, but it did allow us to stumble upon a pack of Crested Caracaras chilling in a tree. Most of them flew away as we approached, but one stayed behind, possibly to monitor our intentions, possibly just lazy.

Overall, this was a decent hike, although beset with frustrations when the path wasn’t clear or when it was blocked with thorny shrubs. I can’t imagine there’s any way you’d come out of it without at least a few decent scratches, so it’s hard to recommend, especially with the abundance of much better hikes on the island. But still, it was fun to see a different side of Curaçao… and we enjoyed our subsequent trip to the beach even more than usual, because we really felt as though we had earned it.

Trail Map on WikiLoc.com (You should be able to spot where we went off-trail!)

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Porto Mari Hike
Porto Mari Hike
Porto Mari Hike
Porto Mari Hike
Porto Mari Hike
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Porto Mari Hike
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December 30, 2015 at 2:21 pm Comments (0)
A Birthday Celebration at Playa Forti This year, we celebrated Jürgen's birthday at Playa Forti. I wouldn't be so crass as to reveal how old he was turning, but please let me reiterate that this birthday celebration was at Playa Forti. It was a wonderful spot to spend the morning, swim, snorkel... and to mourn the loss of fleeting youth.
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