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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
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
Salt Flat Curacao Hike
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January 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm Comments (0)

The Salt Flats of Jan Thiel

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The plantations of colonial-era Curaçao had it rough, because the island’s arid ground makes it difficult to grow produce or raise livestock. How exactly were the unlucky Dutch landowners going to earn the fabulous fortunes for which they’d come to the New World? Many turned their eyes to something which Curaçao has in abundance: seawater. Or rather, the salt inside of the seawater.

Curaçao’s saliñas, or salt flats, are long since obsolete, but they’ve not disappeared entirely. We went on a short hike to see the saliñas of the former Jan Thiel plantation, near the popular tourist beach of the same name.

Our walk began near the Jan Thiel Landhuis, where we found a path that winds through a forest before reaching the salt flats and the large inland lagoon to which they’re attached. A number of interconnected trails snake through the dark woods, which were a little menacing, with huge termite mounds hanging from the twisted trees. This walk was fun, and even if we hadn’t found the salt flats, we would have been satisfied with the day’s excursion. Soon, however, the saliñas came into view, colorful and wide open, and the day got even better.

The saliñas are wide expanses of land which have been totally flattened. Ocean water was allowed into the flats and then trapped, so that it would evaporate under the heat of the sun, and leave behind its salt. Today, the saliñas are still covered in hard, crystallized salt of a pinkish hue. Totally unscientific guesswork here, but I’m assuming the pink comes from the same organisms which give flamingos their color. We did spot a few flamingos in the nearby water.

Trails lead all the way around the lagoon, though we were content to circle just the salt flats. They reminded us giant ice skating rinks… stepping out onto the glistening salt, I half-expected to slip and fall. I picked up a big chunk which had broken off, and briefly considered licking it, but this salt isn’t for consumption. In other words, don’t plan on showing up with a chisel and bucket.

As long as we were in the area, we also decided to check out Jan Thiel Beach, but I’m not going to waste a lot of space describing it. Suffice it to say that this is not the type of beach which appeals to us. Completely artificial, with multiple over-priced bars and restaurants, “deluxe” lounge chairs and beach beds, and a ban on bringing your own food and drink. And where’s the beach?! You can’t possibly mean that tiny strip of sand. The snorkeling here is supposed to be good, but we never bothered to verify that.

Locations on our Map: Salt Flats | Jan Thiel Beach
Our route on Wikiloc

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January 6, 2016 at 8:50 pm Comments (0)
A Hike Around the Salias of St. Michiel 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.
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