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Hiking Around the Caracasbaai Peninsula

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We had heard about a hike around the small Caracasbaai Peninsula, leading from Tugboat Beach up to the top of the Kabrietenberg, and then back around the southern side of the peninsula. It would lead past mangrove forests and coral wastelands to Directorsbaai, before passing an abandoned mansion and returning to the starting point. Sounded perfect, and we couldn’t resist checking it out.

Caracas Bay Hike

The trail gets the hard stuff out of the way, first. After leaving Tugboat Beach, you climb the Kabrietenberg. From the beach, this steep hill appears intimidating, but we arrived at the summit in no time, more easily than expected. From here, there’s an unbeatable view over Spanish Waters, the bay where Curaçao’s wealthier inhabitants seem to keep their boats.

Caracas Bay Hike

After walking back down the hill, we continued around the peninsula in a clockwise direction. From the easternmost point, we were directly across from the Santa Barbara Resort. A native Curaçaoan would later tell us that, in his childhood, Barbara had been his favorite beach on the island. But that was before developers bought up the land for a luxury resort and golf course, and decided to protect their beach from the ocean by building an artificial barrier between the two.

We continued on our route, passing by mangrove forests and walking atop shifting mounds of dead coral, before reaching Directorsbaai, where we had already discovered some incredible snorkeling.

Caracas Bay Hike

As our trail turned back to the north, we came upon an empty 19th-century mansion at the top of a hill. This is known as the Quarantine House. Whatever diseases once lived inside its walls must have long since disappeared, so we felt alright about stepping inside to explore. But we were cautious, as the floors looked like they might give out any minute.

This hike was four and a half kilometers in total, and entertaining from start to finish. And since it ends at Tugboat Beach, you can reward yourself with a beer and a refreshing swim in the sea. At least, that’s what we did!

Locations on our Map: Tugboat Beach | Kabrietenberg Summit | Directorsbaai | Quarantine House
Our Route on Wikiloc

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Caracas Bay Hike
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February 4, 2016 at 7:37 pm Comments (0)

The Cliffs at Hanchi Spelonk

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Every once in awhile, Jürgen and I will cross our fingers and embark upon an excursion which we know nothing about. Our trip to Hanchi Spelonk was one such adventure. There’s almost nothing on the internet nor in guidebooks about this little park, but we supposed it was worth a shot… if for no other reason than the excuse to say “Hanchi Spelonk” repeatedly throughout the day. Hanchi Spelonk!

Hanchi Spelonk Hike

We found the entrance to Hanchi Spelonk in the neighborhood of Souax, close to the Hato Airport. After parking our car in front of a tidy-looking house, we were greeted by the curious eyes of a small girl staring at us from behind the fence. Always mindful of Curaçao’s crime rate, we had been a little worried about leaving the car, but the girl seemed as good a guard as we were likely to encounter. Who would rob a car in front of a child?

The entrance to the park didn’t make us feel a lot safer. At the end of a desolate lot, there’s a chain link fence three meters high, plastered with warnings about entering. At your own risk. Danger lurks. Turn away while you can. Get your dumb tourist butt out of here. But the door was open, so we stepped through.

Hanchi Spelonk Hike

This was a desperately quiet park, and I had the feeling that we were the first people who had visited in a long time. Except, of course, for the rapists and muggers who were surely hiding behind every tree. But as we continued along the path, we eventually calmed down, and had soon arrived at Hanchi Spelonk, a set of limestone cliffs which time has worn into strange shapes. Hanchi Spelonk!

By now, we felt safe enough. As Jürgen pointed out, “If we were gonna get raped, it would have already happened.” We explored the cliffs, climbed around on top of the rocks, and followed signs leading to Mirador Berde, from where we gained a view over the airport and the entire park.

And then we heard voices. Instant panic. As silently as possible, we sneaked down from the Mirador, and approached the sound, using the cover of trees whenever possible. There was definitely a man speaking in Papiamento, yes, definitely a mugger. Soon enough, we spotted them: an older couple setting up a picnic in the park.

Sigh… in our defense, there’s a lot of crime in Curaçao and it pays to be safe. But this time, our extreme caution made us feel foolish. Luckily, we were able to back away without them discovering us lurking behind the trees, having unintentionally become the very creeps we were so afraid of.

Hanchi Spelonk is a gorgeous area, and it seems incredible that not more people know about it. It’s not anywhere near as popular as, for example, Hofi Pastor. You could enter from the scary chain-link fence in Souax, like we did, but I’d recommend coming in from the north, where you’ll be closer to the cliffs. If you’re looking for “off-the-beaten-path” Curaçao, you could hardly do better than Hanchi Spelonk. Hanchi Spelonk!

Locations on our map: Souax Entrance | Hato Entrance
Our route on Wikiloc

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February 3, 2016 at 10:19 pm Comments (0)

A Hike Around the Saliñas of St. Michiel

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Leaving from Boka Sami, there’s a circular hike leading around the lagoon and salt flats of St. Michiel, and up to the top of Michielsberg. It’s an easy walk, about five kilometers long, and shows off some of Curaçao’s diverse nature.

Salt Flat Curacao Hike

For the most part, the path hems close to the Saliñas of St. Michiel. This calm lagoon is no longer used to manufacture salt, but the rectangular lines of the former beds are still visible. Today, the flats are only used by flamingos, a large group of which can regularly be seen foraging for food. The trail brought us to within about twenty meters of the birds; a respectable distance, but too close for their comfort. As we approached, they paused their feeding, squawking and flapping until we moved on.

Salt Flat Curacao Hike

The flamingos were neat, but the best part of the hike was the climb up the hill known as Michielsberg. It’s not especially steep, but the trail is shielded from the wind blowing in from the east, so can be difficult on a hot day. However, the view from the top is worth it, allowing you to see the stunning diversity of Curaçao’s landscapes.

After making a complete circle around the lagoon, we returned to Boka Sami. A couple weeks before, this had been the departure point for a different hike, along the cliffs to Varesenbaai. Both hikes are short and simple, and you could easily combine the two.

Locations on our Map: Boka Sami | Summit of Michielsberg
Our Route on Wikiloc

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Salt Flat Curacao Hike
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January 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm Comments (0)
Hiking Around the Caracasbaai Peninsula We had heard about a hike around the small Caracasbaai Peninsula, leading from Tugboat Beach up to the top of the Kabrietenberg, and then back around the southern side of the peninsula. It would lead past mangrove forests and coral wastelands to Directorsbaai, before passing an abandoned mansion and returning to the starting point. Sounded perfect, and we couldn't resist checking it out.
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