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The Beaches of San Juan

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Four beaches can be accessed from a single entry point near the northern town of Soto. At the former Landhuis of San Juan, you’ll be asked to pay a small entry fee before continuing along a set of dirt paths that lead to the sea. It’s up to you which path you take.

Each of San Juan’s four beaches are beautiful, and you might find yourself tempted to spend time at all of them. Working from north to south, the first you come across is Playa Chiki. The track which leads down to the beach is extremely rough, so we parked at the top of the hill and walked down, certain that our rental car wouldn’t be able to return back up this steep, uneven path of loose gravel.

The beach was gorgeous, and as small as we had reason to suspect (“chiki” is Papiamento for “small”). There were a few people here, including an enterprising couple who’d set up a hammock between two trees. Although we were sorely tempted to get into the water, we returned to the car and continued on our journey… this was going to be a long day, and we didn’t want to lose too much time at the first beach.

Playa Manzaliña was next. This is probably the most well-known of San Juan’s beaches, and for good reason: it’s large, quiet and stunning. Here, we were unable to resist the water’s siren call, and spent a long time swimming, snorkeling and laying out.

While in the water, we were able to see over to the next beach, Playa Shon Mosa, and could have easily swum over. This one is smaller than Manzaliña, but with finer sand and fewer visitors. But after lazing about Manzaliña for a couple hours, the day was getting late, so we decided to skip Shon Mosa and continue to beach number four.

Playa Largu, or “Long Beach,” is the southernmost of San Juan’s beaches, and also the one at which you’re least likely to spend the day. Not that it isn’t nice; it is. But the beach is made up mostly of dead coral, and there is precious little shade to be found. That said, there is at least one good reason to check out Playa Largu: the snorkeling is fantastic, with huge forests of Elkhorn Coral just off the coast, excellent visibility and hundreds of fish to be found.

Locations on our Map: Landhuis San Juan | Playa Chiki | Playa Manzaliña | Playa Shon Mosa | Playa Largu

Our Underwater Camera We Used For This Video

Snorkeling at Playa Largu
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February 23, 2016 at 8:46 pm Comments (0)

The Ghostly Remains of the Aruba Air Wreck

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Laying along the side of the Koraalspechtweg road, near the Jan Thiel Salt Flats, is the rotting carcass of an abandoned airplane. We had driven by it a number of times, always imagining how much fun it would be to explore the wreckage. And then we realized, there was nothing preventing us from doing exactly that.

Abandoned Aruba Airlines

I’m not sure how the body of this plane ended up along the side of a busy road, although there are some hints to be discovered. It’s fairly clear that this wasn’t a crash site; the plane looks as though it had its wings removed, and that it was placed here on purpose. And painted on the hull is the word “restaurant,” providing a pretty good hint about why the plane was relocated here.

Abandoned Aruba Airlines

Sadly, the proprietor’s visionary entrepreneurial plans never saw the light of day. He seems to have stopped after having stripped the plane almost completely, leaving only some gear in the cockpit. There are no longer any seats, oxygen masks, nor in-flight entertainment consoles.

Exploring this plane requires careful attention to both the ground, where the floors have rotted away, and the ceiling, where there are several small bee hives. After a few minutes, I was eager to get out. Still, it’s a fun little curiosity, as creepy as it is photogenic. And if you like bizarre ruins, you might want to make a short stop and check it out.

Location on our Map

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Abandoned Aruba Airlines
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February 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm Comment (1)

Santa Martha and the Abandoned Sunset Waters Resort

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Just past the Landhuis Santa Martha, near the town of Soto, is a hilly, forested patch of Curaçao which hasn’t yet been developed. More accurately, I should say that it’s no longer developed. We followed the road until reaching its end at Sunset Waters, a former resort which has been abandoned for years.

Sunset Waters Resort Curacao

I have no idea why Sunset Waters wasn’t able to succeed. It certainly can’t be blamed on its beach; this stretch of coastline in northwestern Curaçao is gorgeous. After parking the car, we set out to explore the ruins. The foundation of the old resort is still in decent shape; it was only abandoned in 2009, but the place has been gutted and everything of value removed.

After exploring the resort, we drove down to the beach and parked a few meters from the shore. There’s a small bay here, and the clarity of the water is unreal. It’s shocking that another beach club or restaurant hasn’t yet moved in yet to take advantage of this place. We saw a group of scuba divers getting in the water, as well as a local couple and their dog relaxing on lounge chairs, but otherwise this beach has been seemingly forgotten by Curaçao.

Sunset Waters Resort Curacao

Next, we drove south along the coast and discovered a row of upscale, private villas, each one with a heavy gate and “Protected By” security stickers, owned apparently by rich people who really want to get away from it all. It’s a long drive to the next supermarket from here, but I suppose these homeowners can afford for their groceries to be delivered. By helicopter.

We took our time on the drive back to Soto, stopping at a lookout point for a great view over the Santa Martha Bay. The nature here is pristine, the woods thick and the shoreline mostly untouched. And across the bay to the north, we saw nothing but rolling hills and a single plantation house in the distance. We’d be returning soon to the area, for a lengthy hike to Boka Pos Spanjo and Boka Hulu.

Sunset Waters Resort Curacao

If you’ve had your fill of overdeveloped resorts and crowded beaches, this section of Curaçao south of the Santa Martha Bay might make a nice excursion. But stay safe; anywhere in Curaçao where there aren’t a lot of other people, it pays to be vigilant, and this is certainly one such place.

Locations on our Map: Landhuis Groot Santa Martha | Sunset Waters Abandoned Resort

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Sunset Waters Resort Curacao
Sunset Waters Resort Curacao
Sunset Waters Resort Curacao
Sunset Waters Resort Curacao
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Sunset Waters Resort Curacao
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February 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm Comments (0)
The Beaches of San Juan Four beaches can be accessed from a single entry point near the northern town of Soto. At the former Landhuis of San Juan, you'll be asked to pay a small entry fee before continuing along a set of dirt paths that lead to the sea. It's up to you which path you take.
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