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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

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Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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January 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

The Badlands of Curaçao

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The inland region between Vaersenbaai and Grote Berg is known as Malpais, which can be translated as “The Badlands.” Despite the rather uninviting name, we embarked on a hike through this undeveloped, uninhabited terrain, following the Biná and Jamanika trails, and ending with a swim at the secluded Boka Unico.

Malpais Hike Curacao
Lago Dispersa

Our adventure in the Badlands started easily enough, with a leisurely stroll through a forest populated by twisting trees, following a trail that leads to Lago Dispersa. As its name suggests, this lake tends to disappear in summer, but we were visiting in the rainy season, so there was plenty of water. Pretty, untouched and isolated, this was the kind of nature we love to discover on hikes.

Malpais Hike Curacao
A clingy new pal

However, now we entered into the sort of nature we could do without. We found the Jamanika Trail, which leads up a large hill of the same name to the north of the lake. As we ascended, the pretty trees were replaced by giant cacti, the shade-giving leaves by flesh-gouging thorns, and the shade itself by scorching sun. The path was relatively obvious, but often blocked by a fallen cactus or overgrown brush… we always found a way around, but not without some anguish. Twice, I felt something pinching me, only to discover a prickly pear cactus pod fixed securely to my skin — once on my calf, once on my forearm.

Malpais Hike Curacao

It wasn’t easy, but we made it to the top of the Jamanika Hill and were rewarded with views over the landscape. We could see the lake from which we’d just come, and behind it the somewhat less-charming Malpais Landfill. Otherwise, the rest of the view was one of wild nature. Curaçao isn’t a big island, so it’s surprising to see that such a large swath of it hasn’t yet been developed.

The way back down was easier; the westernmost of the Jamanika Trail’s two halves is far less troublesome, with less cacti and a wider path. If we were to do it again, we would both come up and go down this side of the hill.

Malpais Hike Curacao
Boka Unico

Our day ended at the Boka Unico. After leaving the Badlands, we found a trail to this little-visited spot on the other side of the road. Only accessible by foot, Boka Unico is not a sandy beach where you could spend all day luxuriating in the sun, but a small, rocky cove. Good enough for us! We stripped down and hopped in the water for some snorkeling. It was a refreshing way to end a long day of rough Curaçaoan nature.

Locations on our Map: Lago Dispersa | Boka Unico
Our Route on WikilocA long part of this route was wiped when my phone lost GPS, and appears as a straight line on this map. Luckily, the trail at this point is easy to follow.

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Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
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Malpais Hike Curacao
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Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
Malpais Hike Curacao
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January 17, 2016 at 11:23 pm Comments (0)
Turtle Spotting at Ascencion 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.
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