A few weeks ago, I decided to write my first “souvenir story” on my time in Paris and I’m really happy with the response - you guys seemed to really like it! So I figured I’d keep them coming, and dedicate my next one to one of my new favorite destinations, Dutch Caribbean paradise, Curacao.
I found this souvenir as I was wandering around (just like I did in Paris), which makes all the more precious to me. This is a pretty little hunk of dead brain coral that I found on our excursion to Klein Curacao, a small deserted island somewhere in between Curacao and Bonaire, it’s neighboring Dutch island to the east.
Visiting Curacao is probably one of my happiest and most vivid trips in recent memory, and that could be for a bunch of reasons. Our excursion to the deserted island was on our second to last day of our trip, and we had just spent the previous few days snorkeling, getting sunburnt, ATVing through the incredible landscape, and overall having the time of our lives. It was a great chance for my three good friends and I to catch up, whether it was over (multiple) rum punches and sing alongs on our balcony at night or as we tossed around the GoPro in the tropical lagoon just steps from our door.
By Day 4, I was near sun poisoned (peep the rash guard in all of my photos from that day), but unwilling to call it quits. It started with a turbulent early morning catamaran ride from the harbor on the main island, through the gorgeous Caribbean Sea to our destination. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen water quite as blue and vibrant as it was in the shallows as we swam up to shore from the boat at Klein Curacao.
We had a few hours to explore the island, have lunch and drinks on the boat, and snorkel to our heart’s content before leaving later that afternoon. First we decided to claim our spot on the beach under some shade (thankfully for our very burnt bodies, we found some), then walk out to the lighthouse.
Pro tip: DON’T BE A MORON LIKE ME AND GO BAREFOOT.
Sure, our walk began on the gentle white sand beaches on the west side of the island, but it quickly turned into what the majority of the island is covered in - crushed shells and lava rocks. And while I was at the mercy of a few succulent plants to cushion the pain, I would 1000% recommend bringing at least a pair of flops. Obviously.
I’ve always loved exploring abandoned, old, decaying places - whether they’re spooky hospital buildings from this century or old castles and ruins from hundreds or thousands of years ago. Built in 1850 and long since abandoned, the lighthouse on Klein Curacao sits in the middle of the island, pummeled day in and day out with salty, humid air, making it pretty unstable despite being restored several times since. Its weathered pink walls and crumbling exterior are proof that it’s lost in time, a ghostly relic as old as the island itself.
While I did see a few daring visitors walk a literal plank across to reach the staircase of the main tower, I made the excuse to my friends (and myself) that I’d definitely need shoes to try that. Maybe next time?
From there we trekked across more lava rocks toward a giant shipwreck up against the eastern shore of the island. I actually never learned what it was called while I was there, but it’s a super interesting find. The Maria Bianca Guidesman, an oil tanker, ran aground sometime in the 60’s and has been coming apart in pieces against the rough surf ever since. There are a few other boats, debris and, sadly, garbage washed up around that area, which was fun to explore but probably not the safest.
Snorkeling on Klein Curacao was by far the best I’ve ever experienced. I’ve gone in Mexico and Turks and Caicos, and neither compare to the vast amount of wildlife in the areas we snorkeled in Klein Curacao. The most amazing part was getting to see and swim with a full grown green sea turtle right on the reef near the boat! We tried to frantically get some photos of him as he swam by, but it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.
They’re so peaceful, moving more like eagles through the water than anything else. Sea turtles have been a part of our lives and culture for thousands of years, many of the native peoples recognizing them as a symbol of wisdom, longevity, and the signal of a long and rewarding journey. And I can definitely understand why - up close, you can’t help but sense that they just know something we don’t know. They’re mysterious and beautiful, and their elusiveness makes them all the more special to see in their natural habitat.
Traveling to Curacao was a wonderfully spontaneous and unique adventure for my friends and me. Right now, their growing tourism is allowing for more affordable accommodations and more frequent deals on flights from the US (we happened to snap up a $300 rt deal from JFK!) so I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to get down there as soon as you can. Here’s a little round-up of where I stayed, comparable prices, and some recommendations to give you an idea of what to expect.