From rough & rocky to radiant & relaxing
Take in the intensity of the ocean. Just past the entrance to National Park Christoffel, lies the entrance to National Park Shete Boka. It is a place that is not only awe-inspiring because of its grandeur, but also one that seems to transport you back in time as you walk over its limestone cliffs.
This spectacular area is made up of seven main bokas, or inlets. To enter the park, you must pay a small fee, which helps maintain the park and protect the animals that take refuge in it, such as the popular iguanas you may see basting in the sun and along the northwestern tip of the island are sea turtle nesting grounds.
Upon entering the park and parking your car the first boka that you see is called Boka Tabla. It is the most visited, of all the bokas. The Boka Pistol Trail, located within offers hikers a chance to see the island’s rocky northern coast complete with limestone cliffs, native wildlife, and waves crashing into the cliffs so hard that they reverberate with a sound similar to the shot of a canon. The robust waters of the northern coast have been pounding this coast for countless years. A look out platform has been fashioned at the edge of the bluffs so that visitors can take in the intensity of the ocean. But use caution when you are on it: if you notice the waves reaching over the lookout point, respectfully stand back. As you admire the rhythmic crashing of the waves, direct your eyes in all directions so you can see how the same fierce waves have produced different results in the surrounding coastline.
Once you have gotten over the initial awe this place causes, begin walking towards the lower part of Boka Tabla. A path will lead you to a cavern. Though the outside temperature maybe quite high, once you begin the short decent into the cavern, refreshing air welcomes you. With more time to spend at the park, there are great hiking trails you can follow. The landscape you will encounter depends on the time of the year, the summer months displaying the arid terrain characteristic of Curaçao.
As you walk along the coast over lava-covered limestone bluffs, you may feel transported back in time. Nestled within the dark, highly porous lava stones are pieces of fossilized coral thrown over by the waves. You may also spot fossilized animal bones. Although the park is one of Curaçao’s largest and most important tourist attractions, it plays a much more profound role in the island’s natural equilibrium.
According to CARMABI, (Caribbean Research & Management of Biodiversity) an important natural treasure in this 400-hectare protected area and undisturbed marine ecosystems along the coast, is the nesting beaches of green sea turtles, loggerhead, and hawksbill. The park, under the supervision of Mr. John de Freitas, has made the monitoring of the turtles one of its priorities. From April to November female turtles mated at sea, swim to shore, dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs to incubate for about 50-60 days. Once they hatch they return to sea, quite a phenomenon for the traveler to witness.
The park has several hiking trails, the most popular of which lie in the vicinity of Boka Tabla. If you can afford the time, choose the right path for you and take a hike!
Curaçao is internationally well-known for its clear blue sea and white sand. Visitors have an extensive choice of no fewer than 35 beaches to discover!
Some beautiful beaches in Curaçao link an adventurous past to the present, testifying that beaches were not used for leisure purposes. Around 1824 many of these areas were used as ports, around which fortifications were built for protection against assaults by foreign adversaries. Until today, some of these fortifications can be seen, a few still in their original state, whereas of others only bits and pieces of a heroic past remains. These remainders of 17th century fortifications can be seen at Daaibooi and Playa Forti. Daaibooi is a wide sandy beach, highly appreciated by both locals and tourists. On one side of the beach there are rocks and small fishing boats and on the other side you may find visitors barbecuing or relaxing under the new palm leaf covered huts. This certainly is a fun beach that can get very crowded in the weekends. Playa Forti, unlike most beaches on Curaçao, has brown sand mixed with small and medium size smooth pebbles. Very little shade can be found is on this beach but the best things in life are truly free, because irreplaceable is the genuine feeling of peace that overcomes you after observing humble fishermen bringing in their catch of the day in the late afternoon, after spending a whole day on the sea, working to provide for their family.
The Seaquarium Beach has a great atmosphere and alluring charm on one single strip at the southern part of the island. You can find a number of possibilities for water sports, eating, refreshments and shopping. On the newest BLVD boardwalk, there are plenty of boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs set on two levels to satisfy every taste.
Jan Thiel Beach, located a little further south, offers great facilities as well. A few years ago this beach was transformed in a real Oriental gem with cement quays near the large open bay. Just a little further into the deep blue sea many types of fishes can be admired, which makes Jan Thiel a paradise for snorkelers. A small entrance fee is levied for this beach, in order to maintain the facilities and services. It is no wonder many tourists have found their way to these Caribbean pearls.
Cas Abao Beach located at the Northwest coast of Curaçao combines a natural setting with pristine sandy white beach, crystal clear waters, waving palm trees and gazebos for shade. This beach is right on top of the islands list of most popular beaches to visit. It is an ideal beach for families and water sport lovers. You can spend the entire day frolicking on this beach enjoying a snack or lunch at their “laid-back feet in the sand” restaurant that includes bar service, or treat yourself to a massage while listening to the sound of nature all around you. www.casabaobeach.com
The visitors who would rather take pleasure in hanging around the locals or simply want to experience the unique feeling of being on a private beach, need to travel towards Westpunt. The ride to this part of Curaçao in itself is marvelous. As you drive west of the island, you gradually leave the inhabited world and merge right into the impressive wilderness typified by green, cactus and rocky hills. In between that exciting nature, paths will lead you to find stunning beaches, each with its own distinctive charm. Curaçao has a variety of intimate bays, typically the romantic and rocky ones with the clear turquoise water or the high hills surrounding the beaches making you feel very well sheltered.
One beach that certainly resembles these characteristics is Playa Kenepa. Playa Kenepa has nice soft white sand and is partly shaded by manchineel trees, which forms a perfect cover for the many locals who put up camp in the untouched nature next to the beach during weekends and holidays.
Another beach where local people love to spend their days is Boca Sta. Cruz. This beach looks quite different from the other ones. It has an exceptionally wide sandy strip with towering palm trees. The dense inland lagoons are well suited to observe birds and nature.
Playa Kenepa and Sta. Cruz are just a few of the many public bays located all along the sheltered south. They may have a limited number of facilities, yet they are always open, are easy to find and levy no entrance free.
At the more remote beaches, such as Playa Jeremy and Santu Pretu, the nature is intact, which means that no facilities are available. Depending on the vegetation, little shade can be found. But one thing is certain: you will appreciate the quiet crystal-clear water beach and magnificent landscapes. The best way to discover these beaches is to drive along the coast, using a map to pick the name of the smaller beaches you want to visit. However, you will depend on your adventure streak to go on a discovery journey, since most of these beaches are accessible only through bumpy dirt roads, with few or no signs at all showing the way.
In conclusion it is safe to say that the dynamic mechanism of nature, intervention of man and history has greatly contributed to the development of the sea, bays and beaches on Curaçao, providing for many distinctive experiences for visitors with all types of interests. Multifaceted as they are, the Curaçao water and shores offer great diversity: something unquestionably unique in the Caribbean area.