When we’re near land, Brian and I like hiking. We exercise, commune with nature and wildlife, and see the local views. After too much down time, we’re grateful to be healthy enough to hike and explore the island of Curaçao. Here are some tips and recommendations for hiking in Curaçao.
Any time you hike, be prepared. Pack essentials like water, snacks, and bug spray. Wear good walking shoes (waterproof), a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen or clothes with SPF protection. Before hiking in Curaçao, read the following tips.
Know Before You Go: Hiking in Curaçao
Curaçao is a tropical island with varied terrain. We’ve hiked through caves, salt ponds, coral and limestone, and mud. In the rainy season, many of the trails we tried were flooded. Sometimes we could walk around the edges, but usually it was knee deep in water and/or mud, which made for some adventurous hikes! I recommend wearing waterproof sandals or hiking shoes.
Take care when hiking in Curaçao, as often there are obstacles in the paths. We have encountered thorns and cacti blocking our way, including underfoot. Both of us have jabbed our legs, hands and feet and it’s not fun. With all the thorns growing on this island, Curaçao could have an endless supply of Castles!
Caribbean islands do not have the luxury of space for landfills, and in Curaçao, that leads to trash in a lot of places. You can try to bring a bag and pick it up, which we’ve done in some islands, but usually there is too much trash here to bring out ourselves. You’d need a big group of people and a truck to make a difference, sadly.
Some hikes are not among my favorites simply because of the garbage all along the way. It’s depressing, smelly and generally unpleasant to walk in nature and see trash.
Fortunately, trash is not everywhere and there are a lot of beautiful hikes in Curaçao.
Expect to see a lot of lizards and other wildlife when hiking in Curaçao. Lizards are everywhere, mostly the tiny ones who run across the paths when they hear you coming. They’re cute, and often colorful.
In addition to the reptiles, we also see lots of birds, including parrots, which come in pairs. We also see goats, cows, dogs, a rabbit, mice and flamingos. Looking for animals is one of the best parts of hiking! As a general rule, leave them alone, don’t get too close, and only take photos.
Where to Go Hiking in Curaçao
Curaçao is a big island with a lot of hiking trails! While I don’t claim to have done them all, here are some of my favorite hikes. For the non-hikers who still want to visit these scenic spots, many are accessible by car, or have a mix of driving and walking. I’ll let you know when driving is an option.
Christoffel National Park
You can drive some of the trails in the national park, but we chose to hike when we visited Christoffel, in the northeast of Curaçao.
Christoffel Park is the island’s biggest national park. One of the few places where you have to pay to hike, the $15USD fee is worth it for the huge array of trails. The park even has some pet donkeys and a museum near the entrance.
One hike is to the beach and the caves. The beach is pretty but buggy so you probably won’t stay long. You also don’t have to hike it – many of the places in the park, aside from the mountain, can be reached by car.
The other hike in the park, and the most popular one, is Christoffel Mountain. There’s something to be said for climbing the tallest mountain on the island. Hikers know what I mean!
If you want to hike the peak, arrive at the park early because you have to start this hike before 10am so as to avoid the extreme afternoon heat. Considering the park is at least 90 minutes away from our anchorage, this was one of our earlier mornings in Curaçao! Fortunately our good friends from S/V Starlight joined us on this and other hikes.
Christoffel Mountain is one of the toughest hikes on the island because of the elevation and rocky terrain, but it’s mostly well marked. The trail is under 3K, and it starts from a separate parking lot in the park. We chose to hike from the main parking lot, which added another 1.5K total. While this sounds short, it is uphill and involves some climbing.
The 360 views from Curaçao’s highest point are a reward for the tough climb.
We went on a Saturday, and the trail was busy. We passed people on our way up and down, and saw plenty of folks resting at the top. The mountain hike took about 3 hours, including our lunch break at the top where we fed some cute but camera-shy mice.
Watamula Blow Holes
Watamula Blow Holes is a rugged coastal spot where the waves break hard against coral cliffs, forming several blow holes on shore. Watch your step and bring your camera because there are lots of cool geographic formations at this spot!
The blow holes are fun to watch, but don’t miss the cool bubbles in the water along the way!
The hike to the blowholes is not difficult as it’s mostly on a lightly travelled road. It’s more difficult if you do a loop, hiking along rocks and precarious cliffs along the shore, but it’s much prettier. You can also drive most of the way on the lightly travelled road, providing you have a sturdy car.
One of the best things about this hike is you can end it at a beautiful lodge with a cold beer. Just outside the lodge is a safe parking lot where we left the car.
The drinks aren’t cheap, but the atmosphere is worth it. We got lucky and had the whole place to ourselves at the end of our hike.
Saliña Sint Michel
Possibly the easiest of my favorite hikes in Curaçao, this loop hike starts near the shore and includes a peak, salt pans, and birds, and finishes at a beach bar.
Located just west of downtown Willemstad, this is a 5K hike with a lot to see. By car, you can visit the beach, the cute town at Sint Michel, and drive along the road to see the flamingoes. For the rest, you must hike!
Brian initially found this hike through geocaching, and we found a couple of fun caches here with lovely views. Watch out for cactus though! This hike takes you around and across the salt pans. It’s a relatively easy hike, mostly on well marked trails, except for a couple of boulders you climb and a rickety bridge at the end.
The peak is actually a detour from the loop, but offers great views of the ocean, ponds, and the surrounding towns, including Willemstad.
My favorite part of the hike was the flamingos. We got fairly close to them to get some good photos, but they fly away when people are near, so have your camera ready! We learned most of the flamingos fly to Bonaire during the day and return before dark, so this is a good place to visit at sundown.
The second best part of the hike was the beach bar, which is newly opened and in a great spot. Plus, cold beer at the end of a hike is a welcome reward! Maybe you should go later in the day and you can drive away with the flamingos at sunset. After a hike, replenishment is important, so read what to eat and drink in Curaçao.
Turtuga Trail, Ascension/Turtle Hike
Turtuga trail is accessible by car and is an easy hike. It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area, especially if you’re a turtle fan, as Ascension Bay is a turtle nesting ground. Turtuga means turtle.
You have a couple of options when you get near Ascension. You can park out by the main road and hike to the bay, or you can drive the dirt road to a parking lot near the water. The first one offers a 5-ish mile loop, and the second is walking along a path on the cliffs overlooking Ascension Bay. Either way, you have to walk the cliffs to try to spot turtles. The waves crash hard in this cove but turtles love it here! Spend enough time looking and you’ll see some turtles swimming under the waves.
Santa Cruz Bay
From Santa Cruz Bay, take a hike to the Blue Room Cave and back. The trail starts with steps from Captain Goodlife’s place up the hill and is marked with signs.
This is an easy to moderate hike with options: an unpaved road or scrambling along cliffs by the shore. We did a little of both.
Along the coast there are some pretty views and beaches. On the road there’s another geocache. It’s a very narrow “road” and I don’t think cars use it, but ATVs may.
From the ocean path, you can walk down to a black sand beach, catch views of the gorgeous Caribbean water, and go for a swim in the blue cave. Bring your mask and snorkel for that part!
Many More Hikes in Curaçao
These are not all the hikes we’ve done in Curaçao, they are just my favorites. We use Wikiloc and Geocaching to find hikes wherever we go as these are easy to use apps with lots of well-marked trails. Share your favorite hikes and any tips or recommendations in the comments!