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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!