We had a great trip to the uninhabited island of Lesser Curaçao, a real deserted island with white sand.
Hello my Dears! By the will of fate I was brought to the other side of the world, I now live on the fringe of the Caribbean Sea, on the island of Curacao, and therefore I want to write about the attractions of this small, warm island. I will start with an excursion to a small island not far from the island itself. Today we will go with you to the satellite of Curaçao, or as the locals say, the sister of Curaçao, called Klein Curaçao. We live on a yacht and went to this island on our own boat, for the weekend.
Klein Curaçao is 11 km. from the big island, it only takes 2 hours to get there by big boat or catamaran. The area of the island is only 1.7 square kilometers, its length is two and a half kilometers and width is only 700 meters. The highest point is six meters, so the island does not cover the leeward side and there are always strong winds.
The island is uninhabited, but it was not always so, people lived here. At the end of the 19th century, there were a lot of birds, but then came the man, launched here the mountain goats, which devoured all the vegetation and began to extract phosphates, which depleted the island. Now they are trying to bring the island back to life, hopefully soon from a desert it will become an oasis of life. You can only get to the island by water. From the pier of the Fishermen’s Pier go ship and catamaran. The catamaran leaves daily at 8 am and returns from Little Curacao at 5 pm. The second ship is large and sails Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. It departs at 6:45 and returns from the small island at 16:00. Below is a photo of the catamaran and the “Mermaid”.
Southeasterly winds prevail in this part of the Caribbean, so the walk to the island will not be enjoyable for everyone. Waves in the Caribbean Sea are big, with winds in the upper 20’s. Sickness is guaranteed, so stock up on pills. But I assure you, the island is worth a little rocking. Fishing boats and yachts go the same way. Keep in mind, the island is a sanctuary. Only locals are allowed to moor there, so if you’re traveling by charter or your own yacht, be sure to keep that in mind. We stood for two days, a helicopter flew over us twice, but no one ever came to check on us. Usually one day trip to Klein Curacao is optimal, it is not convenient to spend the night here, the wind and the ocean ripples in no time rock the boat in a way that seems to be about to rip the anchor. There is no place to anchor here either, all over corals, buoys are made especially for tourist ships. The only guest buoy was occupied by a wooden schooner, we had to dive and tie ourselves to the coral. But we came for the weekend, and now I will tell you how it was. It took us about 4 hours to get to the island on our sailboat, the headwind and big waves made me and my daughter very sick, we longed for a dip in the turquoise water and to come ashore. After taking another 30 minutes to anchor we finally headed ashore in a small inflatable boat. Our daddy took two tanks of oxygen with him and went to admire the local beauty, and there is a lot to see here. Near the shore here it’s easy to see large sea turtles and huge stingrays, untouched corals and underwater caves. My daughter and I were snorkeling near the shore, there were fewer beautiful fish near the shore, and my daughter really likes to chase the fish underwater, which she did. While we were swimming and playing, our daddy came back with the loot, he shot some wingsnails.
It is forbidden to hunt fish on the Antilles small islands, the exception is the predatory and poisonous winged fish, it is so voracious and fecund that it threatens the population of many coral fish, and it can be shot in any quantity. Poisonous in her only fins are similar to wings, if you prick will be an abscess and swollen half of the body, so the first thing is still in the water, cut off all the fins. But it’s very tasty, the meat is so tender that it’s in your mouth. After 17 hours the island was empty, the tourists dispersed, and we were left on a deserted island, just the three of us, alone with the old lighthouse. There was a lot of firewood on the northern part of the island, it was carried away by the sea. We made a fire, cleaned the fish, fried them on the fire and baked potatoes, potatoes baked in coals is the most delicious in the world. Dinner under the stars on a desert island, it’s possible only if you come here yourself. Sleeping in a rocking boat was not comfortable, side rocking, the wave is not clear. In the morning, while it was not hot and there were no tourists, we went to look around the island. The entire tour will take you one hour. But the walk is undoubtedly interesting. The island is coral, dead coral. Imagine, you walk on dry coral. There is almost nothing growing, small bushes and a few coconut palms. The only animals are lizards.
Here you are wading through these bizarre corals and reach the other side of the island, where the waves crash noisily on the coral shore, and on the shore of what the sea brings here, mostly plastic bottles and slippers))).
But there are some big discards, two shipwrecks. One yacht and a Venezuelan tanker, which sank back in 1960 and almost destroyed, stands in the sea a huge rusty mountain of scrap metal.
By the way, there are paths for walking. We walked a little bit on the other side, not along the path, but along the corals, so first we had a shipwreck and waves on our way, and then a century-old lighthouse. Hurricanes on Curacao are extremely rare, which is why boaters love this island, but one of the hurricanes destroyed the former lighthouse, a hundred years ago. The lighthouse is dilapidated and the view from it is gorgeous, but we didn’t dare climb the rotted planks and wandered around.
Farther down the road there is a beach for tourists, we did not go there, because we rested with campers. But there were a few kilometers of white sandy beaches with pearly sand and clear turquoise water. There are sun beds, umbrellas, bar. In general, you will not be lost. The island even has a cell phone connection, which is nice. And we returned to our wild, secluded beach, also with white sand.
Let our daddy dive and take pictures of sea creatures.
And we built sand castles, looking for beautiful shells and corals, and here they are visible to the abundance.
And I counted the birds, there are many birds, most of the names I do not know, and the black pelican and failed to photograph, but was able to treat him a little glider. He saw that I was cleaning the fish and flew closer, I threw him the fish and he quickly grabbed it with his huge beak.
The return trip will give you more pleasure, the wave and the wind will hitch and you’ll fly gently through the wave, remembering the quiet island.
They say on the way you can meet dolphins, on this route never met, but there are a lot of winged fish. This is the first review of Curacao, more to come.
Carnival, Curaçao. Photo by Jarmila Evertz.
A tiny island that you can’t see on every map. The local culture was formed under the influence of African, Spanish, Dutch, and the influence of the Caribbean can be seen very well. Curaçao is the jewel in the crown of the Caribbean islands of the Netherlands Antilles.
It is worth a visit to the island for lovers of comfortable rest. Not high popularity, combined with a high level of service, allows the environment to maintain a good level. The high standard of living and the resulting low crime rate make the resort safe for tourists.
Heart of Love Punda, Hankelskade, Curacao. Photo by Larry Syverson.
If you have a multiple Schengen visa, which will not expire before the end of your stay on the island, then no additional steps are required. At the border crossing the mark is put, and from this point begins a thirty-day legal stay at the resort. Others will have to go to a Dutch consulate or the VFS for a Caribbean visa of short duration.
Opuntia flower, Curacao. Photo by Natalia Moron.
The list of documents, to obtain permission to enter, is quite extensive:
- A passport that is valid for more than three months, counting from the end of the visa,
- a completed questionnaire,
- proof of legality of stay in the country of application,
- photographs that match the visa application requirements,
- copy of civil passport,
- proof of flight and hotel reservation,
- bank statement or other proof of availability of funds sufficient for living on the island, usually the amount is about $200 per day,
- medical insurance, with the amount of coverage of more than 15 thousand dollars,
- For minors, you will need a birth certificate and documents of both parents,
The package must be completed with copies of all documents. The consular fee is 35 euros for a regular visa, and 75 euros for the express version. Also, in the case of using the services of the service center, you will need to pay a fee of 1,900 rubles. It is worth bearing in mind that the list of required documents may change over time and depend on the situation, it is better to clarify all data directly in the contact center of the Netherlands.
It is also necessary to take into account the restrictions on importation. Each adult can legally bring into the country a liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars. Amounts in excess of 10 thousand must be declared separately. It is also worth taking care about the availability of documents confirming the legality of ownership in the case of crossing the border with expensive jewelry. Another prohibition is the importation of leather goods made in Haiti.
How to get to Curaçao
Unfortunately there is no direct flight connection between Russia and Curacao. You will need to find options for connecting flights through other countries. The easiest way is Amsterdam airport. KLM has a large number of flights to the islands, so finding flights with minimal waiting time won’t be too difficult. However, a cheaper option is offered by AirBerlin, from Dusseldorf airport, but take into account the departure time, the number of flights is limited. There are also flights from Miami, Venezuela, Valencia and Caracas.
A KLM Boing 747-406M. Photo by Gideon van Dijk.
Another option to get to Curacao would be a ferry or cruise ship. Companies offer many tours of varying lengths from the U.S., Puerto Rico or Barbados. So a seven-day cruise from Miami will cost just over $500.
Four sides of the world
Christoffelpark National Park, Curaçao. Photo by JvL.
Despite the lack of territorial division of the island, given its size, still conventionally Curaçao can be divided into four parts. This is possible because of the strikingly different topography and the diversity of flora and fauna. It is customary to divide by the sides of the world, although geographically this is not strictly true:
- The north side is rich in volcanic rock,
- west is famous for the park “Kristoffel” and beautiful beaches,
- to the south are the ports and harbors and the capital city of Willemstad,
- and the east is dominated by deserts, and the number of people is the lowest on the entire island.
Curaçao’s must-see man-made places
Curaçao has many beautiful natural and man-made sites. Many unforgettable villages with their own character. But perhaps the capital city is a good place to start.
Willemstad, Curacao. The author of the photo is Terry Ott.
Once you enter its streets, you feel as if you are in Amsterdam. The smooth rows of houses with carved roofs, built in the 18th and 19th centuries along the waterfront, make a lasting impression. And the night lighting transforms the streets beyond recognition. At the same time amazes the state of the buildings, there are no chips or cracks and many buildings are under the protection of UNESCO. Apart from the capital, there are no other major settlements on the island.
Lighthouse, Little Curaçao, Curaçao. Photo by Heli Hietala.
Klein Little Curacao means “Little Curacao”. The island is located 24 kilometers from Curacao and covers an area of just over one and a half square kilometers. The only landmark of the island is the lighthouse, which has long been abandoned. However, a solid covering of white sand, will make a special impression. You can reach the island by passenger boats, or charter a yacht or catamaran. Sailing time usually takes about two hours. Therefore, it is worth taking care about nutrition, you can take it with you or order it from the company of the carrier.
Queen Juliana Bridge, Willemstad, Curacao. Photo by Alex Passmore.
The center of Willemstad is famous for its bridges. It is impossible to walk past them.
The Queen Emma Bridge is a swinging pedestrian area. The crossing connects Punda and Otrobanda. The bridges are drawn at a frequency of up to several times an hour, using a pontoon mechanism operated by an operator from a special booth located on the bridge. You can learn about the raising of the bridge by the blue flag. At such moments a boat transports tourists to the other side.
The Queen Juliana Bridge is the highest bridge in the Caribbean and one of the highest in the world. The height of the spans allows a large kind of ships to pass under it. Unfortunately it is not possible to walk across it, movement on the bridge is permitted only by car.
Leonard Smith Bridge – made with counterweights in the form of scales. From the side of the bridge looks like a doll’s bridge. It owes its name to the American consul who oversaw the construction of the Queen Emma Bridge.
The Queen Wilhelmina Bridge was originally a bascule bridge, but was later rebuilt as a normal pedestrian bridge. However, the drawbridge has not yet been dismantled and is an interesting sight.
The Jan Kok Solonchak
The salt marsh is named after the first planter of the island who built his estate in the 17th century. However, because of the master’s cruelty, the slaves revolted. Later, a monument of resistance to slave labor was erected on the site. But the salt marsh should also be visited because of the flocks of flamingos that nestle in the coastal waters.
Fort Amsterdam, Willemstad, Curacao. The authors of the photo are Anna and David.
Unfortunately, a large number of forts have been destroyed or reconstructed for stores, hotels and restaurants. But the ones that have survived are definitely worth a visit.
Fort Amsterdam was built at a strategic point on the island in St. Anne’s Bay. The fort is the largest available on the island, and is located in the government quarter.
Surrounded by giant cacti, Fort Bickenburg offers visitors unforgettable views of the cliffs and the sea. The fort was built to guard the approaches to the bay. Now the fort is not guarded, which gives you the opportunity to explore it from all sides and climb inside by visiting the surviving tower.
The forts of Reef and Nassau deserve special mention. Stores and restaurant patios have been set up in the place of the ruins. This is one example of using ruined sites for business. By equipping viewing platforms, adding illumination, the owners of the institution were able to create a cozy, attractive place for tourists. Restaurants in these places are of medium price, a dinner for two will cost about $80-100.
Floating market of the capital
It is more of a tourist attraction than a place of real shopping. It is where Venezuelans come to bring fruit that does not grow on the island. However, you can buy a similar assortment of the same quality in nearby supermarkets at more reasonable prices. But the gifts of the sea are definitely worthy of attention. From six in the morning, fishermen begin a lively trade of local delicacies. At the same time, their prices are quite democratic.
Synagogue, Mikkwe Yisrael Emanuel, Curacao. Photo by Rick Schindler.
Jews have lived on the island for three centuries now, and the pioneers have been rooted in the sons of Israel. During this time, a strong community has developed. A distinctive feature of the synagogue is the sand-filled floor. It symbolizes the desert through which Moses led his people. However, this tradition is not a tribute to the ancestors, but an essential necessity of the Middle Ages, the Inquisition of whose time, persecuted the Jews mercilessly. The synagogue not only fulfills its religious function but also combines it with a museum of Jewish culture.
Because of its geographic location and the presence of volcanoes, Curaçao has become a truly diverse natural pearl. Some places only require a few hours to visit, others would take more than a week to explore.
Cheté Boca National Park, Curaçao. Photo by Chad Sobotka.
A national park located in the northeastern part of the island. This place has gained its popularity because of its bays. You can go down to the caves Boka Tabla, but you should pay attention to the forbidding signs, some grottos are dangerous. From the observation deck of Boka Wandomi there is a stunning view of the seascapes. The holes in the rock at Boka Pistol resemble water pistols, through which during the surf fly powerful jets of spray.
In the spring, you can find sea turtles in the bays, although they don’t appear there as often as you’d like. The park route can be traveled on foot or by car. For tourists the second option is preferable, the length of the park is very high.
Kristoffelpark, Curacao. Photo by Pauli Leppanen.
Next door to Cheto Boca is the largest national park in Curaçao, Christoffelpark. This place is famous for a variety of hiking trails of varying difficulty levels. In this case, all the difficult places are passed with a companion. According to the guides, the park can meet a large number of rare plants, birds and animals, including white-tailed deer. But the problem is that you can meet, and you can not, and here, as they say, “as luck would have it”. It is necessary to be prepared for visit of the park as for any other campaign. It is worth to take a snack and, of course, water.
Hato Caves, Curacao. Photo by Leah Danielle Williams.
A special kind of caves in the north of Curacao. The grottoes are located in the coral limestone. They are famous primarily because of the Indian rock art. There is also a rare population of bats, which can enthrall cave lovers.
Beach, Curaçao. Photo by Gunter Handschel.
On the coast of Curacao a large number of lagoons are nestled. Many of them have become modern beaches known around the world. Among them there are free and those on which the rest costs a certain amount of money.
Free beaches are wild beaches. Following from this, it is necessary to take into account that there may be trash on them. However, it is a natural garbage, not like the beaches of Russian resorts. There may come across fragments of shells, skeletons of sea creatures, seaweed. On free beaches rest mostly locals. Going to such a place is worth taking care of food and drink, trade in such places is not conducted. It is also worth considering the lack of sun beds and other attributes of a comfortable beach.
The cost of visiting paid beaches, on average, is six dollars, and is a subscription for the day. The price includes a deck chair or sun lounger and a wooden umbrella from the sun. However, there are not many places of recreation that are paid, and only tourists are accommodated on them. They are all equipped with convenient parking lots, which makes it much easier to visit.
Most of the beaches are located near the national park “Kristoffelpark. The coast of Curacao is particularly clean coastal waters. Perhaps it is thanks to them that the local liquor, known around the world, began to be tinted in bright blue.
Weather on the Island
Perhaps its popularity the resort gained through the weather. The average annual temperature here is +27 degrees. Moreover, during the whole year it practically does not change. During the tropical rainy season, it may rain here for a short time, but it is just a short time, not the downpours of the Amazon tropics. Also during the “winter” period there is some increase in wind, which may cause discomfort to those who love the calm. The temperature of the sea here rises to 29 degrees, which makes the beach vacation especially pleasant.
Features of the population
Due to the historical past of the Dutch colony, the language of the islanders is Dutch, but with a local dialect. However, due to the original belonging to Spain, many people also speak the language of that country. Do not worry about this, the bulk of the population knows basic English, which is not difficult to explain in everyday matters. The Venezuelan salespeople only speak Spanish. However, their natural acumen can help them grasp and understand the essence of the conversation through facial expressions and gestures.
There is virtually no crime on Curacao, except perhaps petty hooliganism and fraud. However, in Russia, the latter is commonly referred to as cheating. One would expect this from the Venezuelan traders. They can even cheat and jack up the price several times. However, nothing unusual for the resort region.
And perhaps the last question is the currency. You can exchange euros and dollars only in banks. However, all outlets also accept the aforementioned money without any problems. In stores and restaurants, aimed at serving tourists, you can see price tags with all three values. No problems and if you want to pay with a bank card or traveler’s check, their reception is widespread.
Divi Divi Tree, Curacao. Photo by Randy Peters.