Klein Curacao (meaning, Little Curacao) is a small, uninhabited island located about fifteen miles from Willemstad off the southeast tip of the main island. Numerous dive and boat operators around Willemstad offer a boat trip to Klein Curacao as a day trip. Cruises to this idyllic island near Curacao take about one to two hours in each direction, depending on the vessel being used and point of embarkation. These boats are modern vessels such as motorized catamarans (the fastest), which generally hold between 10 and 30 passengers. Other large excursion boats can hold 60 to 80 passengers and take longer to make the trip.
Klein Curacao is also a regular stop for local fishermen, and they have built a number of fishing shacks where they will sometimes stay for several days. A couple of the companies that offer a boat trip to Klein Curacao have built thatched pavilions to provide a shady picnic spot for their clients, and there are toilet facilities. Other than this, the only structure on the island is an abandoned nineteenth-century lighthouse.
If you don’t want an organized boat trip to Klein Curacao with other tourists, you can just wander down to the Willemstad harbor and negotiate with a fisherman for a lift. You might even be able to hitch a ride from the fishermen that regularly put in on the sands of Westpunt Beach (next to Playa Kalki Beach on the northwestern coast of the main island), as Westpunt Beach is another one of the regular stops for the local fishing boats. You can get in a day of Klein Curacao snorkeling and arrange for the fisherman to return in the afternoon to bring you back. If you choose this more informal excursion, you will need to bring all your own snorkeling gear, food, water, and lots of sunscreen as there is no shade to speak of on the little deserted island. The larger excursion boats provide a breakfast snack, picnic lunch, and most will have snorkeling gear available for their passengers to use.
Klein Curacao is only about 1.5 miles long and about a third of a mile wide, and possesses the longest, most deserted, and most pristine of the beaches in all of Curacao. Other than the other visitors who have come for the day, you will be completely removed from civilization, exploring the ruins of the scenic lighthouse built in 1850 and the carcass of the wrecked freighter Maria Bianca Guidesman. The sand on the long beach is powdery fine and provides a bright carpet of white against the turquoise waters and bright blue skies.
Other than the fishing and scuba diving, which is excellent, it is Klein Curacao snorkeling that draws the most visitors. Visibility off the shallow beach is normally more than 100 feet, and the waters here are known for sea turtles and dolphins that frequent them. Coral reefs and formations provide both Klein Curacao snorkeling and diving. There are four main dive sites, including the sheltered northwest side of the island off the main beach, which is excellent for novices. The water is quite shallow for nearly 100 yards offshore, and you will see young sea turtle, sponges, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and numerous tropical fish. The other three dive spots are suitable for more advanced divers. The northern point offers underwater caves and large schools of groupers, wrasses, and parrot fish. The southern point will reveal green moray eels, pods of dolphins, and manta rays. The eastern side of Klein Curacao can be extremely rough, and is only accessible to divers during the best weather. Here you can see submerged shipwrecks, coral-encrusted cannons, and even sharks.
Top image: Wouter Kiel (flickr)