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Snorkelling in turquoise blue water among turtles and dolphins. Looking for shells in the surf. Relaxing in a hammock under a palm tree. Diving among colourful coral reefs and underwater caves. Eating fresh fish with your feet in the sand. Strolling along a tropical beach on an uninhabited island. Does this sound like a dream come true? On Klein Curaçao, everybody can play Robinson Crusoe.
A flat sandbank with a rickety lighthouse, a few fishermen’s shacks, a rusty shipwreck and a simple beach stand with some sun beds and palapa parasols: at first glance it seems that’s all there is to Klein Curaçao. However, the tiny island a very popular day trip destination. Visitors will even put up with the bumpy 2-hour boat ride to come here. Why? ‘Klein’, as locals refer to the island, features one of the most stunning beaches in the Caribbean. It is without a doubt home to the most beautiful diving and snorkelling sites in the entire ABC-archipelago.
Klein Curaçao was not always uninhabited. This small 2-km2 island was once home to fishermen and goats used to graze on the grassy meadow. It was also a popular nesting place for birds. Phosphate mining depleted the soil; nowadays only low shrubs and palm trees grow here.
The island’s main attractions are very easy to find: in the centre of the island stands a century-old lighthouse. Climb the wooden steps of the spiral staircase to the top. 20 metres above the ground, you will have a fabulous view of the mini island. The construction is quite ramshackle so climb at your own risk. There are also some slave graves that date back to the days of the Dutch West India Company.
Just off the windward coast is different kind of graveyard: this is the final resting place of the rusty Venezuelan oil tanker Maria Bianca Guidesman which sank in the 1960s. Since then Mother Nature has been slowly reclaiming the boat: today only the stern with the bridge still stands in the surf.
A tour around the island takes an hour; after that there is plenty of time to relax on the longest sandy beach in the country.
“The oil tanker is gradually being reclaimed by nature: only the stern remains standing”
Klein Curaçao’s real attraction is not found on the land but in the sea. On your way to the island you may already spot some flying fish and pods of dolphins. But once you get into the water you will discover the real treasures that hide beneath the surface. The calm and crystal clear water along the beach on the leeward side is teeming with sea turtles and manta rays cruise by like spaceships. A few fin strokes away lies a pristine reef with brain coral, branched antler coral, swaying sea anemones and bright yellow sponges. There are lots of colourful fish, ranging from two-coloured fairy bass to porcupine fish, cheerful spotted Harlequin filefish and Four-eyed Butterflyfish. A small boat transports divers to the best spots.