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.
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!
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!
Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy
These pictures are gorgeous. I know so little about the Caribbean but the more I see, the more I want to go. Looks like there is definitely a lot more to offer.
I was really surprised about Curaçao and now can’t wait to explore some more Caribbean Islands!
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!
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! 🙂
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 …
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!
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!
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.
So glad to see there is more to Curacao than a pretty beach. I love your pictures of the waves crashing,
Elena (http://gonewiththebackpack.blogspot.com/ )
It is nice to see that Curacao has much more to offer than white sand beaches, hotel resorts and diving! Great way to explore the island!
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.
What a dramatic landscape, the photos look incredible (particularly the waves). there appears to be lots of things to keep you busy.
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!
I really enjoyed the contrast between the two parks. That nice view from the Columbus peak was unexpected.
How beautiful! Looks like you did loads and saw lots of beautiful sites – I love that little lizard!
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.
I think I would have liked to stay staring at those waves too! Those national parks really do look amazing.
Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut)
Shete Boka looks so rugged; hardly Caribbean at all. Cute iguana in Christoffelpark. 🙂
Mindi @ 2foodtrippers
I don’t know much about Curaçao except of the blue cocktails. I now see that it’s a beautiful part of the world.
Raphael Alexander Zoren
Everything is always better with Iguanas 😀
Those parks look amazing! (And love the pic of the Iguana, that’s quite a big guy!)
Never had a chance to go to Curacao but it looks great!