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The Sea Turtles of Playa Piskado

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Playa Piskado’s name translates to “Fisherman’s Beach,” which is an apt description. Locals keep their tiny boats anchored just off-shore, here, and bring their daily catch to the small dock. But it’s not just fishermen that you’re likely to see at Playa Piskado; this is also a favorite haunt for Curaçao’s sea turtles.

Playa Piscado

I had been excited to see Playa Piskado’s turtles, and on arriving to the beach, ran straight into the water without bothering to ask Jürgen if he wanted to join me. I swam around for twenty minutes, but returned to our towels in failure. “No turtles here,” I huffed. “Stupid waste of time.”

Jürgen decided to give it a shot, anyway. Naturally, he came back with news that he had seen five turtles, and was just so delighted with himself. “Lying jerk.” It was a stupid accusation, of course, because Jürgen takes pictures of everything and had plenty of proof on his camera. And while showing me the snapshots, his stupid grin just got bigger and bigger.

I stomped back into the water, and this time I did see some turtles. I have no idea how I missed them the first time; it must have been bad luck, because they’re big and not at all skittish around humans. They won’t swim away from you and there’s no way you can overlook them. I floated for awhile above one turtle, watching him glide peacefully around, and felt my anger swiftly evaporating. Turtle-watching is a great sedative.

Playa Piscado

As I was coming out of the water, I saw that Jürgen had joined a crowd on the pier. A fisherman had just returned with a large tuna, and was showing it off. A group of guys took it from the boat, laid it on a small concrete table and began to cut it up, selling the fillets directly to the people who had gathered.

We loved Playa Piskado, as much for the turtles as for the exposure to local island life. There are a few palapas for shade, and the sand is nice to lay on. There aren’t a lot of services here, no lounge chairs or snack bars, but it’s an entertaining place to spend a few hours.

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January 30, 2016 at 7:41 pm Comments (0)

An Underwater Paradise at Directorsbaai

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We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the underwater world we discovered at Directorsbaai. Pristine coral just a couple feet below the surface and legions of fish oblivious to our presence… if there’s better snorkeling anywhere on Curaçao, I’d be surprised. In fact, if there’s better snorkeling anywhere in the world, let us know. So far, Directorsbaai is about the best we’ve seen.

But you have to work for it. Directorsbaai is a lonely, deserted beach on the southern end of the Caracasbaai Peninsula. If you’re at all familiar with life on Curaçao, you’ll know that “lonely and deserted” means “popular with thieves.” When talking about our plans to snorkel at Directorsbaai, we were warned repeatedly not to leave anything on the beach there, nor to leave the car untended.

“What you should do,” a friend of ours said, “is snorkel all the way from Directorsbaai to Tugboat Beach.” Sounded like a good idea, so we forced him to come along, which would allow us to take shifts. First, I dropped Jürgen and him off at Directorsbaai, waited until they were in the water, and then drove myself over to Tugboat Beach. Twenty minutes later, they were stepping out of the water with grins so large, I knew the trip had been a success. And I could hardly wait for my turn.

This short snorkeling tour starts off scary; at Directorsbaai, the drop-off into the deep ocean is close to shore, and it’s terrifying to suddenly be hovering over water so deep you can’t possibly see the bottom. Also, you have to swim around a rocky outcrop popular with fishermen before getting to the good stuff. But once you’re past that, the rest is paradise. I’ve never seen such a beautiful underwater landscape, and when the sun is shining, the scene is unbelievable.

The swim to Tugboat Beach goes faster than I had expected. At a steady pace, I could’ve done it in fifteen minutes. But there’s so much to see, you’ll want to linger. I spotted puffer fish, angel fish, trumpet fish half a meter long and a barracuda, among hundreds of other species. And the coral stays in good shape all the way to the sunken tugboat itself.

It takes a little planning and coordination, but this self-guided snorkel tour is easy enough, and so memorable that it’s worth the effort. Just remember not to leave anything unguarded at Directorsbaai… or anywhere on the island, for that matter.

Locations on our Map: Directorsbaai | Tugboat Beach

Great Selection Of Underwater Cameras

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January 28, 2016 at 10:48 pm Comment (1)

The Black Sand Beach of Santu Pretu

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If you’re looking for solitude, lace up your hiking boots and tromp through the woods to Santu Pretu, a small beach of black sand accessible from Santa Cruz. Here, you’ll find untouched nature, strange sand, and excellent snorkeling, but you probably won’t find any other people.

Santu Pretu Black Sand Beach

Santu Pretu is halfway along the path that connects Santa Cruz to the jump-off point for Curaçao’s famous Blue Room: an easily-accessible cave in the cliffs which sparkles beautifully with the Caribbean’s crystal blue color. But we’d be saving the Blue Room for another trip, because today we were content to stay on Santu Pretu.

This is a fairly remote spot; there are no services at all, and although there is a path which 4x4s could probably negotiate, the main way to arrive at Santu Pretu is on foot. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the parking lot of Santa Cruz. The sand at Santu Pretu is coarse and dark; not the soft, white sand found at other, more conventional beaches, and lends the beach a different atmosphere.

The lonely, peaceful vibe of Santu Pretu is great, but the best reason to seek it out is the snorkeling. Just off shore, there’s a fantastic reef with tons of things to see. For us, the highlight was a large coral tower, whose short orange fuzz moved with the waves in a mesmerizing way.

Besides hearing it referred to as the “black sand beach”, we didn’t know anything about Santu Pretu, so our time here was a real surprise. I would say that it was among favorite spots on Curaçao… but we have bestowed that exact same honor upon so many other places, that it’s lost its significance. Curaçao is blessed with a lot areas of extreme natural beauty, and Santu Pretu is yet another one.

Location on our Map

Underwater Cameras

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January 6, 2016 at 10:43 pm Comments (0)

Kleine Knip

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A couple kilometers south of Grote Knip, you’ll find its little brother, Kleine Knip. Grote Knip was the first beach we visited in Curaçao, and had already secured a place in our hearts. Would Kleine Knip be able to compete? In a word: yes.

Kleine Knip Curacao

“Kleine” is Dutch for “little,” but although this is the smaller of the two Knip beaches, it’s of a decent size. Even when there are a lot of people here, it’s easy to find a shady spot to sit, whether it’s under a tree or a palapa. The parking lot is right next to the beach, in the presence of a hot-dog stand which does brisk business, so it feels more secure than Grote Knip’s lot, which is more secluded.

The view, as we’re already learning to expect from our Curaçaoan beaches, is enchanting. I’ll never get used to the startling color of the Caribbean, and Kleine Knip doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling; we checked out both the southern and northern cliffs, and found each one stunning.

As proof of our affection for it, Kleine Knip is the beach on which we chose to spend Christmas Day. We had already been here and, for Christmas, we wanted to relax and enjoy ourselves somewhere we knew would be great, without having to bring the camera and take pictures. Kleine Knip was the perfect choice.

Entrance to the beach is free, and you can rent lounge chairs for a small fee. Apart from the hot-dog stand, there aren’t any other services.

Location on our Map

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January 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm Comments (0)
The Sea Turtles of Playa Piskado Playa Piskado's name translates to "Fisherman's Beach," which is an apt description. Locals keep their tiny boats anchored just off-shore, here, and bring their daily catch to the small dock. But it's not just fishermen that you're likely to see at Playa Piskado; this is also a favorite haunt for Curaçao's sea turtles.
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