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The Blue Room

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An almost entirely submerged cave found in the cliffs of the western coast, the Blue Room is one of the island’s most famous snorkeling spots, second perhaps only to the Tugboat. We visited it during our last week on Curaçao, and found it to be just as beautiful as advertised.

The Blue Room is exactly what you think it’s going to be: a cave totally bathed in a deep, blue light. There’s always room between the water’s surface and the ceiling of the cave, so you can swim into it without worries. If you go all the way to the end of the room and look back toward the entrance, the effect is stunning, especially on a sunny afternoon when the light illuminates everything to perfection.

It’s possible to hire a boat to take you to the Blue Room, but it’s just as easy to walk over along the path which starts at the Santa Cruz Beach, and this is what we did. The biggest advantage of the boat is that you’ll have someone to watch your stuff. The Blue Room is notorious for thieves, who lurk in the woods and wait for their victims to leave their belongings unattended.

Let me repeat that: the Blue Room is notorious for thieves. We’re friends with a couple who visited the Blue Room about a week before us. They knew about the danger of theft, so made sure to hide their stuff carefully before entering the water. But they were being watched, and when they came out of the water, everything was gone: wallets, clothes, car keys, shoes. It is not enough to hide your possessions, you absolutely have to leave someone as a guard. For that reason, it’s most fun to do the Blue Room if you’re in a group of at least three.

Even considering this, we cannot bring ourselves to recommend the boat trip to the Blue Room offered by “Captain Goodlife,” who operates from Santa Cruz. During our short interaction with him, he was unbelievably rude — as soon as he realized we just wanted information and weren’t planning to hire him, his friendly demeanor vanished and he refused to offer us any advice. Our unlucky friends reported a similar experience. He owns the nearest shop, and so was the first person they went to after having their things stolen. He scoffed at their situation, and said something to the effect of “serves you right” [for walking along the path, instead of booking a tour with him].

Wait a second… how did this article about an amazing natural phenomenon get hijacked by thieves and rude business owners?! Let’s get back to the good stuff. We loved the Blue Room. It’s not extra-large, and you can see the whole thing in just a few minutes, but we were so entranced by the gorgeous colors, we stayed until our skin started to wrinkle.

Getting into the water is easy enough, as you can jump from the rocks, but exiting is a little more problematic. You really have to pull yourself up onto the rocks, so you have to be in decent condition. It’s not overly hard, but just be aware that there isn’t a ladder or anything to help you leave the water.

If you enjoy snorkeling and are on Curaçao for any length of time, you owe it to yourself to check out the Blue Room. The walk to the cave takes about twenty minutes from Santa Cruz, and with proper precautions, it can be enjoyed without worry.

Location our Map
The Path to the Blue Room on Wikiloc

This Is Our Underwater Camera

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February 27, 2016 at 9:44 pm Comments (5)

Playa Cas Abou

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A large, full-service beach between Playa Porto Mari and the beaches of San Juan, Playa Cas Abou is not a recommended destination when you feel like getting away from it all. But if you want an easy day on the sand, with food and drinks readily available, you could certainly do worse.

Cas Aboa

Cas Abou is yet another of Curaçao’s unfairly beautiful beaches. This long stretch of sand, with palm trees and crystal clear waters draws equal numbers of locals and tourists. You can walk right into the sea without worrying about hurting your feet on dead coral, and the sand is soft and comfortable. All the services you might expect can be found here, including a dive shop and a massage hut located right against the water.

Perhaps the only problem with Cas Abou is that it’s too nice, and attracts too many people. We visited twice, and both times had problems finding shade; there are no umbrellas, so everyone competes for the few areas protected by palm trees. The afternoon hours can get hot, and we even saw people laying right up against the side of the massage hut, trying to get into its shadow.

But if you don’t mind the sun, no problem. This is the kind of beach you’ll be happy to spend all day at. The entrance costs a little, as do the lounge chairs, but it’s not expensive, and you’re free to bring your own drinks and snacks.

Location on our Map

We Used This Camera For the Underwater Photos

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February 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm Comments (0)

Intrepid Explorers Discover Playa Hunku

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We carefully made our way along an overgrown path, which, according to my calculations, had last been used by the Arwak Indians sometime in the late 1400s. Our mission was to find the legendary Playa Hunku, a place rumored about in whispered conversations across the island, but which no living man or woman had yet laid eyes upon. Our expedition was fraught with danger (cacti! mosquitoes!) but after a wearying trek of twenty entire minutes, we saw it: the fabled beach of Playa Hunku. And it was ours… all ours!!

Playa Hunky Curacao

The best part about this story is, I’m only exaggerating a little bit. Playa Hunku really is a hidden gem on Curaçao. Despite being so close to the popular resort of Playa Porto Mari, relatively few people know about it. We’ve even met locals who weren’t aware of its existence.

I hasten to point out that Playa Hunku is on private land. The road which leads there is closed, with signs indicating that trespassing is forbidden, and this might explain why the beach is almost always empty. But we checked with a few quasi-legitimate sources, all of whom assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem to walk over to the beach via the short path from Porto Mari. The owners don’t really care if the occasional tourist finds their way here, but they don’t want to open the road and have it become popular on a larger scale.

The path to Playa Hunku begins at the back of Porto Mari’s parking lot, with a brisk ascent up the Seru Mateo. From the top of this hill, you can look back for a nice view over the Playa Porto Mari… and it looks so beautiful, you’ll be tempted to run back down the hill and jump into the water. But press on, audacious adventurer! After a short hike of about twenty minutes, you’ll reach the other side of the hill, and be rewarded with your first glimpse of Playa Hunku. Note that the descent to the beach is steep and requires some caution.

The beach is a dream; a beautiful patch of sand, larger than we expected, with excellent snorkeling. While I was out by myself, a massive fish swam next to me, easily six feet long. I only spotted it from the corner of my eye, and wasn’t able to identify it before it swam swiftly away. In moments like this, logic flies out the window… I know there are no shark attacks on Curaçao. I know that. But I also know there’s always a first time. So I went into panic mode, swimming as swiftly as possible to shore. Later, Jürgen dared to go in after me, and got a better look at the same fish… it was a tuna.

We had an incredible time at Playa Hunku, and are loathe to write about it, since the magic of the place lies in its mystery and seclusion. But you’re reading this, which means you’re cool, so we’re letting you in on the tip. If you do go, please keep in mind that you’re a guest on private land. Don’t show up with a huge party, and (although it hardly needs said) make sure to clean up after yourself.

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Location on our Map
Our Route on Wikiloc

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February 5, 2016 at 11:04 pm Comments (2)

Playa Jeremi

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Crystal blue waters, soft white sand, a laid-back atmosphere in a gorgeous natural environment… you know, it feels like I’ve been using this description a lot, doesn’t it? It’s getting boring. Come on, Curaçao! Why don’t you surprise us with an ugly beach?! Actually, on second thought, scratch that. Just keep the beauty coming and we’ll try not to complain. Next up: Playa Jeremi.

Playa Jeremi Curacao

Playa Jeremi is a medium-sized beach, just north past Lagun, perfect for when you want to be mostly left alone. There are a few palapas and a couple picnic tables. No lounge chairs, no beach bars. It’s moderately popular; rarely empty but almost never crowded. There are cliffs on either side of the blue water (which local kids often jump from), and the beach itself is both simple and beautiful.

Playa Jeremi Curacao

What else can I say? The snorkeling here is not magnificent — but that hardly even qualifies as a negative. After all, Playa Jeremi feels more like a place for hanging out with your friends and relaxing, and not so much for activities. Bring your own cooler with refreshments and snacks, and come for sunset; Jeremi is perfectly situated, facing west.

By the end of our time here, we’re going to be able to match each of Curaçao’s beaches to our current mood. Mambo for when we want to party, Santa Pretu for when we’re introspective, Knip when we want to have fun… and maybe Jeremi for when we want to do nothing but chill and simply enjoy being alive.

Location on our Map

List Of Underwater Cameras

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February 2, 2016 at 10:55 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 Sunken Tugboat

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Just off the coast of the Caracasbaai Peninsula, a small tugboat rests in its watery grave, slowly becoming a part of the sea’s coral landscape. This is one of Curaçao’s most popular snorkeling sites, and for good reason; with the sunlight illuminating its shape and schools of fish darting through its windows and doors, the tugboat is an enchanting discovery.

The tugboat is totally submerged and can’t be seen from land, so we had doubts about being able to find it once in the water. But we didn’t need to worry. The beach where it’s located is named “Tugboat Beach,” and a set of huge pylons mark the site. Besides, the wreck is right off-shore, so if you swim up the coast you can’t miss it. And if you’re still concerned, just look to where all the other snorkelers are hovering — the tugboat generally draws a crowd.

I got into the water and began swimming in the right direction, searching left and right for the boat. Suddenly, there it was: a sight that nearly took my breath away (dangerous, since my face was underwater). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this was the inspiration for the millions of miniature tugboats found in aquariums around the world, because it looked just like one.

The coral has already made a good start in covering the ship’s sides, and dozens of colorful fish were swimming through it. It’s just a few meters deep, so you can just rest comfortably on the surface and appreciate the scene. I stayed until a group of “cool dudes” arrived on jet skis and started behaving like idiots, diving in and stomping all over the coral-covered boat. Why do you need to stand on the tugboat, cool dude? Does crushing a fragile underwater environment make you cooler?

As a tip, try and show up early in the morning, when there will be fewer people. The peaceful scene of nature slowly correcting one of humanity’s mistakes is one best experienced in relative solitude.

Location on our Map

Save Money And Buy Your Snorkeling Gear Before You Come To Curacao

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January 25, 2016 at 11:42 pm Comment (1)

A Short Cliff Hike to Kokomo Beach

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After visiting Boka Sami and the dilapidated Fort St. Michiel, we found a trail which leads up the hill and along the cliffs to Vaersenbaai, which is home to Kokomo Beach. A short, mildly strenuous walk through the woods, followed by incredible views from high above the Caribbean, and then cooling off in clear blue waters? Sigh, if only all our hikes were like this!

Kokomo Beach

The trail begins at Boka Sami, after crossing a bridge over the inlet which feeds St. Michiel’s Bay. There is another hike which leads around this lagoon, where you can almost always see flamingos, but that’s for another day; today we’d be going up into the hills.

The great majority of the trail is uphill, through a dense forest. The path is well-worn, so there’s no need to worry about getting lost, but it feels almost forgotten. The only other living being we saw on the trail was a white-tailed deer, far up ahead of us; it spotted us immediately and darted off into the woods, before we could get a picture.

Soon enough, the trail reached the coast, giving us a view from the clifftops over the Caribbean’s crystalline waters. We walked along the rocks, discovering the paltry remains of Fort Vaersenbaai, which once protected the bay, and rested at a picnic table which has been set up for people to enjoy the panorama.

Kokomo Beach

We now descended to the beach, where we spent the rest of the day swimming, snorkeling, laying out and eating. Kokomo Beach’s restaurant is a great lunch spot. On the advice of Anton from Scubaçao, we ordered the nachos. It was a huge plate, and for a very reasonable price. As we were eating, a pair of fearless iguanas inched along the railing, ever closer to our table, before finally walking straight onto it. Who knew iguanas craved nachos?

We had left our car at Boka Sami, so after lazing about and stuffing ourselves, we had to hike back on the same path we’d come by. No problem; it’s just a couple kilometers long, and was a nice Verdauungsspaziergang (a fun German word we don’t have in English, but something like “digestion walk”). Overall, this had been an easy, trouble-free excursion, perfect for those who like to combine beach days with just a little exercise and nature.

Locations on our Map: Boka Sami | Vaersenbaai
Our Route on Wikiloc

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January 15, 2016 at 8:11 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

Buy Your Snorkel Gear Online

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January 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm Comments (0)

Laid-Back Daaibooi Beach

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Once you drive past Sint Willibrodrus, you’ll arrive at Daaibooi Beach. Although it’s privately-owned, Daaibooi has remained free to the public, and boasts a natural, uncommercial vibe. The moment we sat down on the sand, we realized that we had fallen in love with yet another beach on Curaçao.

Daaibooi Beach Curacao

One end of Daaibooi is still reserved for the fishermen of Sint Willibrodrus; it’s nice to see that not everything on Curaçao has been given over to tourism. We stationed ourselves under a Manchineel tree, and wondered about the all the warning signs. Later, we would do some research. Manchineel trees produce fruits which look like tiny apples, but are poisonous enough to kill. And the tree’s sap is poisonous, as well. In case of rain, it’s better to seek alternative shelter; water dripping from this tree can cause blisters.

We spent a couple hours relaxing and snorkeling on Daaibooi; the visibility in the water was fantastic, and the coral was in great condition. We went around the point of southern cliff, where the underwater world really came to life. Giant elkhorn coral, angel fish, parrot fish, brain coral, trumpet fish, and hundreds of other things I didn’t yet know the names of.

There’s also a small restaurant on Daaibooi Beach, which is well-known for its french fries. They’re good, the beer is good, the beach is good, the snorkeling’s good. In fact, I can’t think of anything to complain about. Except perhaps for those death trees.

Location on our Map

Buy your Snorkel Gear online

Daaibooi Beach Curacao
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December 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm Comments (0)

Playa Kalki

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Curaçao is split roughly into two sections: Banda Ariba is the lower, southeastern side of the island, where Willemstad is. And Banda Abou is the more remote, northwestern end. Most of the people live in Banda Ariba, but Curaçao’s most popular natural beaches are found in Banda Abou. One of these is Playa Kalki.

Kalki Beach

After having visited the hostile, lava-stone landscape of Watamula, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at nearby Playa Kalki, which proved to be decidedly more comfortable terrain.

A set of steps leads down from the parking lot to the beach. Kalki is famed as one of Curaçao’s best diving sites, with otherworldly coral formations that have led it to be called “Alice in Wonderland.” The beach is smaller than nearby Grote Knip and more developed, due largely to the presence of the Kula Hulanda Resort on the cliffs above.

The first time we went snorkeling at Playa Kalki, we left disappointed, having seen nothing particularly stunning. But we simply swam in the wrong direction. On our second trip to Kalki, we went to the right, underneath the rope and alongside the cliffs, and found an unforgettable underwater seascape. Hundreds of fish and huge coral formations which might have been born in Lewis Carrol’s imagination — now we understood why it’s called Alice in Wonderland!

After swimming, you might want to stay on Playa Kalki all day long… although that will depend upon the people around you. This beach is small, and can get very crowded, thanks to the adjacent lodge. Our first time there, a group of American girls stationed themselves next to us, and started blasting Adele out of their portable speaker. “I literally love this song to death. Oh my god, those two guys are totally staring at us. They think we’re, like, so hot.” No, girls, we don’t think you’re hot. This is a look of annoyance. We want to strangle you, and not in a sexy way.

But we shouldn’t knock Playa Kalki for the presence of obnoxious tourists; that can happen anywhere. Overall, the beach is lovely, and the snorkeling is some of the best on the island. There are plenty of chairs and shade, a dive shop. There’s also a restaurant, although we recommend packing your own lunch, as both the food and the service are substandard.

Location on our Map

Buy Your Snorkel Gear Here

Kalki Beach
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December 27, 2015 at 7:27 pm Comments (3)

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The Blue Room An almost entirely submerged cave found in the cliffs of the western coast, the Blue Room is one of the island's most famous snorkeling spots, second perhaps only to the Tugboat. We visited it during our last week on Curaçao, and found it to be just as beautiful as advertised.
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