Would you also like to spend a day on Klein Curacao? Follow along and we will tell you all about Klein Curacao and why you need to visit.
One of our favourite places to take our family and friends to, is Klein Curacao, a tiny little (0.66 square miles) uninhabited island about 15 miles south-east of Curacao.
Klein Curacao is a gorgeous place with a long sandy beach, shipwrecks, ruins, some beach huts, lots of rocks and coral, and of course turtles.
KLEIN CURACAO'S HISTORY
Before you go to Klein Curacao, it's nice to know something about the history of this little island.
Like Curacao's history, Klein Curacao's history doesn't start nice either. We don't know much about Klein Curacao up till the West Indische Company (Dutch West Indian Company, WIC) started using it in the 17th century to quarantine sick slaves before they were allowed on Curacao. The remains of the old quarantine building can still be found on the north-west side of the island. Slaves, and other passengers who did not survive the voyage or died in quarantine, were buried at Klein Curacao. We have never tried to find them or seen them, but there seem to be several old graves in the southern part of the island.
When you visit Klein Curacao, you'll see that the island is really flat. This has not always been the case. Klein Curacao used to have several hills. The hills on Klein Curacao were the result of thousands of years of bird droppings called guano, also known as "white gold".
In 1871 the English mining engineer John Godden stranded by accident on the island and discovered the phosphate deposits. From that time on the tiny island became a strip mine until 1913 when most of the phosphate had been stripped away and all the hills were gone.
Klein Curacao became 10 feet lower on average, and in the process of mining phosphate to fertilize fields in faraway places, the island had rendered its own landscape infertile.
You probably can imagine that the low island hardly could be seen in the dark. Strong currents and trade winds didn't help and as a result, many ships crashed on the island. The Dutch navy had to assist many times to rescue the shipwrecked people from the island. The ships itself never could be saved.
In 1838 a large gas lantern was installed on Klein Curacao, and in 1850 the islands first lighthouse, called the Prins Hendrik Toren, was finished. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was totally destroyed during a hurricane in 1877, but because the lighthouse was very important for the shipping and phosphate trade, a new lighthouse was built in the middle of the island in the same year.
Photo by: Shiagi (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ultimatelady/2464806927)
The lighthouse must have saved many ships from running into the island. Despite modern navigation equipment, Klein Curacao is still a dangerous obstacle in the Caribbean Sea. Over the years, many sailboats stranded and sank around the island. In 1988 the small Venezuelan oil tanker Bianca Maria stranded on the islands cliffs during a storm. The stern of the wreck is still there, other parts such as the bow broke away due to the strong waves.
Photo by: Tom Roeleveld (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomroeleveld/21663807095)
Klein Curacao was not only of interest to Dutch farmers and English Engineers. Have you heard the story about the Germans on Klein Curacao? Apparently the Germans wanted to extend their presence in the Caribbean at the end of the 19th century and decided to build a naval shipyard on Klein Curacao. Tropical storms quickly ended the German adventure on the island, by washing away the foundations of the shipyard.
FUN THINGS TO DO
Wherever you go on the tiny island, make sure you use plenty of SPF 50+ sunscreen and keep re-applying it, wear a hat or a cap, and take water with you, as the Caribbean sun gets super hot on Klein Curacao!
We prefer to explore the abandoned lighthouse and shipwreck as soon as we arrive. It only is a 15 minutes walk and it is best to do this before the sun is high in the sky and it becomes too hot.
The lighthouse is a beautiful spot to take pictures at and the shipwreck is cool too! Wear shoes to walk from the beach to the lighthouse and shipwreck.
Are you a beachcomber like us? We love to walk the shore of the north-west side of the island to collect seashells. Make sure that you walk far enough, we usually start finding seashells at the point where everyone else turns around.
For further details on where to find seashells on Klein Curacao, and on which seashells you are allowed to take with you and which ones not, check our blog post "Seashells in Curacao".
The highlights of Klein Curacao are of course its idyllic white sandy beach, the beauty of the turquoise sea, and the underwater world.
Snorkelling is very easy in the calm waters. You will find coral not far from the shore, so you don’t have to swim deep to see fish and coral. It is very easy to spot turtles and you can swim very close to them. They usually hang out at the south-east shore.
Times flies when snorkelling, so wear a UV shirt or a t-shirt with your bathing suit to avoid sunburn!
HOW TO GET THERE
Depending on which tour operator you use, the boat ride to Klein Curacao takes up to 2 hours.
It's a choppy ride to Klein Curacao at all times of the year, so if you're prone to seasickness either take some motion sickness tablets (Dramamine) or use the following trick. Sit on the side of the boat and keep looking at the shore as long as you can. When you can't see land anymore, just focus on the horizon. It sounds boring, I know, but it definitely helps you from getting seasick.
We have used Mermaid Boat Trips and Bounty Adventures. Both have their pros and cons.
Both operators provide snorkelling masks, flippers are not provided. This is okay in shallow water, but if you like to go deeper bring your own as the current gets a bit stronger.
Mermaid Boat Trips uses a bigger boat than most other operators, a kind of a fishing style boat. It is the only operator which has proper shade, loungers, and toilets on the island.
Breakfast and lunch are included and eaten at the beach hut, rather than on board a boat, and it’s very good. Meat and cheese rolls, raisin bread. Lunch is BBQd meat and a varied selection of salad, fresh watermelon and pineapple. Free soft drinks all day, and buying alcohol on the island is reasonably priced. Lunch leftovers can be eaten on the boat on the way back, and tea and coffee are available when you board first thing in the morning.
Bounty Adventures has a large catamaran. You can lounge on the catamaran net at the front. They usually alternate between sailing and using the motor depending on the wind. The Bounty boat is more awesome & fun; our kids definitely like it a lot better than the Mermaid.
There are some huts on the island which are for general use (not owned by Bounty). We've always used them for shade.
Breakfast, lunch, and drinks are offered on the boat. Lunch is delicious, it consists of chicken, ribs, pork chops, rice. a couple salads and a peanut sauce that is out of this world!
On the ride back there is an open bar with rum punch, beer, and wine. The ride back is nowhere near as choppy because they use the sail.
In case you hate boats there is an alternative, you can book Blue Skies Helicopter Tours. This is of course much more expensive than a boat, but you will get to see a lot of Curacao and Klein Curacao that you can only see by air.
Blue Skies offers 2-way helicopter tours, but you can also return to Curacao by private boat charter. They even offer a 1 or 2 nights stay on the island.
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