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The national parks of Curaçao

Curaçao is a small island located in the southern Caribbean Sea. For us, the Dutch, this is a very important vacation destination and whoever thinks of Curaçao, will think of sun, sand and beaches. However, the island has a lot more to offer than just this and during a trip hosted by Curaçao Tourism Board, I was introduced to the unknown side of the island. Today I will tell you about the rough north coast en its national parks: Shete Boka and Christoffelpark, also known as the best National Parks of Curaçao.
 
Also read: The 15 Best Things to do in Curaçao
 

Shete Boka National Park

Shete Boka literally means “Seven Inlets” en has a surface of about 200 hectares. The inlets are located on the rough northern coastline of Curaçao and are formed by an eternal game between water and wind. Officially, the park has not 7 but 10 inlets and all of them offer a different kind of natural attraction to its visitors.
 
shete boka entry
 
The first inlet we visit is the natural bridge at Boka Wandomi. From the parking lot it’s about a 5 minute walk through a limestone field towards the sea. The natural bridge was formed centuries ago and is one of the best known attractions of Shete Boka. Waves fiercely crash into the rocks and this impressive landscape invites you to see all the other inlets, too.
 
natural bridge wave cover
 
The second inlet we visit is called Boka Tabla, where a deep cave is located. From the parking lot it’s about at 5 minute walk on a rocky trail. Via a natural stairs we eventually reach the cave where we find a sign indicating we should not enter because of the extremely rough sea that day. We had already noticed that the sea was pretty rough, each time a devastating wave comes into the bay I’m deeply impressed by this engaging happening.
 
cavecover
The Boka Tabla hiking trails then leads us to the other side of the inlet where the waves are even more extreme. They explode on the rocks with an immense power and if it were up to me, I’d have loved to spend the rest of the day here, staring at these forces of nature with my mouth wide open.

waves crashing 2waves crashing 1
 
Unfortunately, we have to continue our journey … the next park is waiting for our visit!
 
In case you have the whole day to spend here, it’s very much worth taking a look at the other boka’s. You may do this by jeep over an unpaved road from Boka Tabla. There are also two longer trails in the park, the Boka Pistol Trail and the Boka Wandomi Trail, which connects the natural bridge with Boka Tabla.
 
Shete Boka is open year round between 09.00 – 17.00 hrs. Visitors pay an admission fee of 5 ANG.
 
boka tabla hiking trail
 

Christoffelpark

The Christoffelpark is the most famous national park of Curaçao. This 2.000 hectares park is located in the far north and is also the largest park on the island. Christoffelpark is well known for its abundant mix of plants and wildlife and each year attracts a lot of visitors. The park includes a mining complex and three former plantations.
 
lizzard
 
On our way over the the north of the island, the guide receives a message: the Christoffelpark will close at 15:00 hrs that afternoon because Brazil is playing for the World Cup. At first I’m thinking “huh, how’s that possible”, but shortly after I realize this is part of the charm of Curaçao. Where else in the world would something like this be possible? Not in The Netherlands at least, that’s for sure! Luckily the park ranger will open the gates for us so that we can explore the park with our own van.
 
Inside the park is the 372 meter high Christoffelberg, Curaçao’s highest mountain. It’s named after the explorer Christoffel Columbus and is climbed by many. From the westcoast of the island we already had a panoramic view of the Christoffelberg, which at first made me think it’s not a mountain but a volcano because of its significant cone-shaped peak.
 
Christoffelberg viewpoint christoffelberg view
 
By then we have arrived close to the mountain and from here, it still looks like a volcano. However, when we get closer shortly after, it slowly gets in the shape of a table mountain. We make a short stop at the start of the hiking trail to the top and my feet become itchy, I would have loved to take the hike up. However, you may only start the trail when it’s before 11.00 am because of the heat. This adventure will have to wait for another trip.
 
christoffelberg pointchristoffelberg side
 
We get a quick impression of the park and even though they are tied to each other, the Christoffelpark is completely different than Shete Boka. Here we walked right through a moon-like landscape and within half an hour we arrive at a impenetrable green forest. We hope to see the white tailed deer here but this seems like a difficult task, especially because the dense vegetation leaves little space for wildlife spotting.
 
christoffelberg from van
Our stay at Christoffelpark was too brief to tell you everything about it, however there are plenty of things to do. You can access the park with you own car and there are no less than 8 hiking trails, from easy to difficult. You can also go on a safari in a pickup car or cycle around on a mountain bike. Ofcourse it’s also possible to go around with a park ranger, which will make the wildlife spotting significantly easier.
 
The Christoffelpark is open from Monday thru Saturday between 07.20 – 16.00 hrs and on Sunday from 06.00 – 15.00 hrs. Visitors pay an admission fee of 17,50 ANG.
 
As you can see, at Curaçao it’s not just about sand and beaches. During the upcoming months I will continue to share the stories about my visit to this friendly island. So keep an eye out on we12travel!
 
Want to read more? You may also enjoy these posts:
The 14 best beaches in Curaçao
Highlights of Yellowstone National Park
Adventure and adrenaline at Caracasbaai
 
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Thanks for sharing!
 

23 Comments

  • Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    Looks incredible! Somehow, as you mentioned, whenever you say ‘Curaçao’ I think of beaches and blue cocktails. It’s great to see there’s a lot more to see and do. The first park was reminiscent of places like Scotland and Ireland, and the mountain in second one looked totally like a volcano!

  • Alli

    Fabulous images of the crashing waves! I’d love to experience discovering these trails and wandering around there all day. I can just hear the sound of the waves crashing!

  • Calli

    These parks are absolutely beautiful! It’s hard to imagine many visitors to Curacao manage to pull themselves away from the beach to explore any of the local parks but they are definitely missing out! 🙂

    • anto

      Yeah totally true, I think most people will eventually make it for a day trip to the north of the island, however I could have stayed there endlessly …

  • Tracie Howe

    I have only spent a short time in the main port of Curacao. I wish I had time to explore its parks, as I had no idea that the landscape could look this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Claudia

    Your pictures are really impressive! Somehow, I thought of Curacao as of a mini Las Vegas kind of place – I have a friend from there and that is how she describes it most of the time. This is way beyond my expectations. Definitely worth a visit!

  • Dave Cole

    The shades of blue of the waves crashing into the inlets are quite beautiful. I was pretty struck by the difference in landscapes of the two parks. Both look great for a visit whenever I make it to this island.

  • Karen Warren

    I love the way that Caribbean islands all seem to be different from one another. I knew nothing about Caracao (apart from the fact that it is a drink!) but it seems to pack a lot of variety in a small space.

  • col

    What a dramatic landscape, the photos look incredible (particularly the waves). there appears to be lots of things to keep you busy.

  • Chris Boothman

    Curaçao really does look like a stunning place to explore with so much natural beauty and excursions worth taking. If you are an outdoorsy person, then Curaçao really looks like the place for you! The gorgeous pictures of the coastline actually remind me of the rugged landscape in Cornwall, England. I know that Curaçao is far from the British style landscape that I associate with usually, but this part of the world really intrigues me with so many things worth experiencing.

    Thanks for sharing such amazing pictures and your experience on Curaçao!

  • Christina

    I was thinking the whole time about turquoise water and sandy beaches and the drink when I read Curacao. 😉 The trails and national parks are beautiful and I would like to visit them too.

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