Why Curacao is an ideal destination for ecotourists

When it comes to ecotourism, the Caribbean is full of iconic destinations, from the lush El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico to the verdant hills of Dominica. For seasoned outdoor adventurers, however, an island tends to fly under the radar. Just off the coast of Venezuela, Curaçao is home to pristine beaches, picturesque national parks and native flora and fauna.

While some of the Caribbean’s top ecotourism destinations are lauded for their lush jungles and humid climate, Curaçao rarely rains, even during its three-month rainy season. However, despite the dry climate, the island is still rich in native wildlife.

Curaçao has no shortage of places to explore, but perhaps the crown jewel can be found in its northern region: Christopher National Park. Although only 4 square miles in size, it is the largest park on the island and one of the best destinations for hiking and viewing flora and fauna in Curacao.

park with scenery
For ambitious adventurers, the Christopher Mountain Trail within the national park offers stunning views of the island. The hike takes about three hours and ends on Christofelberg, the island’s highest mountain at 1,220 feet. Due to the sweltering heat in Curacao, hikers must be on this trail by 10am. Those looking to explore in the afternoon should head to the Plantation Boka Grandi Trail, which offers views of the park’s salt marshes, redwood trees and Curacao’s historic Savonet estate.

Whichever trail you ultimately choose, be sure to keep an eye out for native wildlife, from colorful hummingbirds to the elusive white-tailed deer, Curacao’s largest native animal.

On the north side of the reserve, Shete Boka National Park is a must after a day exploring the trails. Established in 1994 to protect the nesting areas of endangered sea turtles, this coastal reserve is known for its jagged coral colonies lining its shores, each serving as a dramatic photo backdrop as waves crash against the rocks .

Visitors will find many fossil animals as they wander into the park’s underground caves. If you visit between May and December, you may see turtles returning to the reserve’s shoreline to lay their eggs.

where to see turtles
Another great place to see endangered sea turtles is Playa Piskado, also known as Playa Grandi. For decades, this vibrant waterfront spot has been a foothold for the local fishing community, with traders gutting their catch and throwing the guts into the water. This long-standing practice tells the turtles that there is always a feast at Piscado Beach. Snorkelers can see turtles dining with a variety of native reef fish.

Just north of Playa Piscado, peaceful Playa Carqui boasts soft sand, rugged rock faces and an abundance of native birds. Cas Abao and Kleine Knip offer more beach havens. If you’ve got an appetite, be sure to take a dip around Playa Lagun before heading to Bahia Beach Bar, which offers stunning al fresco dining with hearty local fare and cold beers.

While there are plenty of hotels to choose from on the island, the mangrove beach Corendon Curaçao is especially suitable for those looking to explore the island’s ecotourism highlights. This sprawling all-inclusive resort is just steps from Curacao Reeve Mangrove Park, a small forest reserve with elevated boardwalks, towering lookouts and many native species, from shorebirds to hermit crabs to the upside-down jellyfish. The resort’s concierge can arrange guided tours and excursions to the most remote parts of the island.

Curacao may not have the lush tropical topography of most other Caribbean islands, but its arid, cactus-growing landscape makes Curacao even more unique, making it an ideal destination for ecotourism enthusiasts.