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A Trip to Klein Curaçao

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Klein Curaçao, a small, uninhabited island found a few miles southeast of Curaçao, has become a popular destination for day trips, thanks to its pristine beach, excellent snorkeling, and atmosphere of forsaken solitude. We booked an excursion which brought us to the island on a catamaran, and spent the day checking it out.

Klein Curacao

There are a number of operators which offer trips to Klein Curaçao, but we decided to book with Bounty Adventures, on the recommendation of a friend. And it turns out that the word “Adventure” in the company’s name is no joke.

The 90-minute boat ride to Klein Curaçao was among the roughest I’ve ever endured. Over and over again, we slammed headlong into huge waves, sending the bow of the ship meters into the air, and then crashing back down onto the water. Within minutes, everyone on-board was soaked to the bone, and many weren’t able to tolerate it. If you suffer from seasickness, or even suspect that you might, this might not be the right excursion for you. Seriously. There were a lot of people racing to the railings to empty their stomachs, and not all of them made it in time.

Everyone on the ship was overjoyed when we finally reached our destination. Immediately, Jürgen and I set out to explore, wanting to get away from the ship as swiftly as possible. Klein Curaçao is less than one square mile in size, so walking to the opposite shore required just a few minutes. On the way, we passed by an old lighthouse. Since the island is so small, its lighthouse was placed right in the middle, visible to ships on either side. We climbed up inside the tower, and although the top floor was locked off, were able to enjoy some nice views.

Klein Curacao

We continued east until arriving at the shipwreck of the Maria Bianca Guidesman oil tanker, which is totally rusted and slowly breaking apart under the pressure of the waves. This tanker ran ashore in the 1960s, and about half of its hull is still standing, with the wreckage of the other half strewn across the shore. We saw another, more modern wreck a few meters up the coast. There are apparently a few other boats which underestimated Klein Curaçao, but we didn’t take the time to search these out, as we were eager to return to the beach and get into the water.

The snorkeling is supposed to be great on Klein Curaçao, but maybe we didn’t find the best spot. We didn’t see much living coral or interesting sea life, and I was just about to label it “disappointing,” until we started spotting turtles. Klein Curaçao is mostly undisturbed by humanity and our destructive tendencies, and has long been an important breeding zone for sea turtles.

We never found much coral, but there was a short period during which we saw tons of fish. After our buffet lunch on the ship, the captain and his crew tossed the remaining food into the ocean. What ensued was a massive feeding frenzy underneath the ship. We jumped into the water with masks, and had front row seats for the crazy free-for-all.

Once we had finished swimming, eaten lunch, and cooked our bodies in the sun, it was time to head back to Curaçao. Given the rough outward journey, I was worried, but the return was a totally different experience. This time, we were moving in the direction of the waves. The captain even turned off the motor and foisted the sails, and we cruised back in style, stretched out on the catamaran’s tarp, with glasses of white wine in our hands.

Klein Curaçao is hard to recommend as an excursion for everyone. I’m not exaggerating the hellishness of the morning’s boat ride; it really is hard-core and the crew confirmed that this is always the case. After vomiting, the guy next to us had said, “Why am I on a boat to go to a beach, when I already flew to an island with so many beaches?” And it was hard to disagree with this logic. The beach at Klein Curaçao is great, but Curaçao has a lot of others which are even better. Although we had fun, and I’m glad we did it once, I’m not sure we’d want to repeat this particular adventure.

Location of Klein Curaçao on our Map

This is our underwater camera!

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February 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm Comments (0)

A Birthday Celebration at Playa Forti

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This year, we celebrated Jürgen’s birthday at Playa Forti. I wouldn’t be so crass as to reveal how old he was turning, but please let me reiterate that this birthday celebration was at Playa Forti. It was a wonderful spot to spend the morning, swim, snorkel… and to mourn the loss of fleeting youth.

Playa Forti

Almost immediately, Playa Forti worked its way into the top echelon of our favorite beaches on Curaçao. It has everything: beautiful rocky surroundings, glorious solitude, calm water, soft sand and excellent snorkeling. While in the water, we saw sea turtles, puffer fish and huge schools hiding in rocks along the shore. Forti is right next to Playa Piskado, and the snorkeling is similar. You can easily swim between the two.

But even more than the swimming, we loved the beach itself. You park at the top of a cliff which overlooks the scene, and then walk down a set of stairs to the sand. The beach is large and continues past an outcrop of the cliff which meets the water. We set up our towels on the other side of this rocky formation… there was a single palapa, which we claimed, and no other people. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I don’t think we’re ever going to make a final decision as to our favorite beach on Curaçao, but Playa Forti would definitely be in the running. It doesn’t seem to be as popular as the Knip beaches, or nearby Playa Kalki; I’m not sure why. If you’re looking for an enjoyable, uncrowded day at the beach, definitely check out Playa Forti. Even if it’s not your birthday.

Location on our Map

Buy Your Underwater Camera Online

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February 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm Comments (3)

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.

Location on our Map

Selection Of Different Snorkel Sets

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

Turtle Spotting at Ascencion

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After parking our car at Landhuis Ascencion, we embarked on a hike which would bring us through some wildly diverse nature, including forests, cactus fields, and towering granite outcrops. But the highlight came at Boka Ascencion, where we stood atop a small cliff and watched turtles swimming in the sea below us.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our five-kilometer trail got started to the north of the Landhuis, taking us into a dense field of cacti. As we approached the island’s east coast, the prickly plants began to thin out, replaced by curious plants which look like bushes crawling along the ground. These are trees which have adapted to Curaçao’s blustery climate by growing almost horizontally, in the direction of the heavy trade winds.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Up to this point, the hike had been alright; easy, but unspectacular. But from here on out, we encountered one highlight after the other. The first was Boka Ascencion, which is known as a place to spot sea turtles. We only needed a couple minutes before seeing the first come to the surface and dive back down. Churning and with a powerful undertow, this isn’t water you could swim in, but the turtles had no problem with it.

We walked along the boka until reaching the coast, where we watched the waves for about 45 seconds. We would have stayed longer, but had severely misjudged the power and reach of the waves, and were taken off-guard by a massive splash that soaked us completely. Jürgen was able to shield his camera from the worst of it, but we were otherwise drenched.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our hike now turned to the hills, and we picked our way between a set of enormous rocks. This was an exciting and unexpectedly beautiful part of the trail, and it deposited us at the mouth of Boka Ascencion. After passing by the inlet, we continued south into a forest of tall trees. With the sunlight filtering through the branches, it was lovely. Considering the landscapes we had been negotiating just minutes before, shrubby then watery then mountainous, simply being in this forest was surreal.

We arrived back at the Landhuis Ascension about two hours after we had departed, and found a local arts festival underway. There was a band playing, and people were dressed nicely, so we figured we should take our smelly, sweaty bodies elsewhere. But then we saw the beer being served and decided to stay, after all.

If you want to see the turtles, but not embark on a hike, an easier option is to go straight to Playa Charomba, on the southern side of Boka Ascencion. There’s a parking lot directly off the main road, just before the Landhuis, and the beach only takes a few minutes to reach.

Locations on our Map: Landhuis Ascension | Playa Charomba
Our Route on Wikiloc

Buy Your Hiking Gear Before Arriving In Curacao

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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January 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)
A Trip to Klein Curaao Klein Curaçao, a small, uninhabited island found a few miles southeast of Curaçao, has become a popular destination for day trips, thanks to its pristine beach, excellent snorkeling, and atmosphere of forsaken solitude. We booked an excursion which brought us to the island on a catamaran, and spent the day checking it out.
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