An uninhabited tropical island
An uninhabited tropical island
Klein Curacao, read all about this small, uninhabited, bounty island 10km southeast of Curacao and the trips to Klein Curacao.
The tropical island has a surface area of only 1.7km2. The length of Klein Curacao is 1.9km and the width is 1.1km.
When you look at the flag of Curacao there are always two white stars on it, one large and one somewhat smaller. The big star represents Curacao and the smaller star represents Klein Curacao.
Features of Klein Curacao
The most striking features of Klein Curacao and what the island offers is the beautiful pearly white beach, azure blue sea, a beautiful underwater world, a spectacular reef under the crystal clear water, of course lots of peace and fabulous views.
And not to be missed, the two absolute eye-catchers of the island of course, a must see, the iconic lighthouse, the Prince Hendrick Tower (still working, but now solar-powered) and the beached large oil tanker, the Maria Bianca Guidesman, now the famous rusty shipwreck.
Finally, of course, Klein Curacao is known for the large sea turtles and dolphins that like to hang out around the little island.
Since 1990, the island has been used only for organized day trips. From various locations such as Jan Thiel beach, Caracas Bay and Santa Barbara, you can join a Klein Curacao trip all inclusive.
Features of Klein Curacao
Apart from tourism, Klein Curacao also serves as a breeding ground for various animals such as the American Dwarf Tern, Hawksbill Turtle, Soup Turtle and Striped Anolis.
However, Klein Curacao used to have an entirely different function. The small island was used by the West India Company to quarantine sick slaves. The deceased slaves were buried on the island.
Not long after, English mining engineer John Godden discovered phosphate on the island which was mined in the following years.
The Prins Hendrik Lighthouse
One of the most striking and also immediately unique features of Klein Curacao is the iconic pink lighthouse in the middle of the island. There was first a lighthouse built on Klein Curacao in 1849 and this lighthouse was called the Prins Hendrik Lighthouse. Unfortunately, this lighthouse was destroyed during a hurricane in 1877. However, it was important for shipping that there would be a good lighthouse on Klein Curacao, so in 1877 they rebuilt the lighthouse right away. Then, in 1913, the lighthouse was rebuilt into the lighthouse that can still be seen today.
The lighthouse is 20 meters high and still has an active status. In fact, Klein Curacao is a rather flat island, making it easy for ships to overlook it. This is how the shipwrecks that remain on the island today ended up there. That is why it is important to have a lighthouse that works well. In 2018, they made another modification to the lighthouse. In fact, the lighthouse now has an LED system that runs on solar power! The lighthouse lamp flashes twice every 15 seconds and its range is 15 nautical miles. This is about 27,780 meters!
What makes the lighthouse so unique?
The reason this lighthouse is unique is first of all its distinctive appearance. Usually lighthouses are white or white with red stripes, for example. The lighthouse on Klein Curacao, however, has a pink appearance. Although the lighthouse itself has a sand color, the outbuildings around it are pink.
This makes the lighthouse look beautiful and unique. Be careful, however, when visiting the lighthouse on Klein Curacao. The floors on the second floor are not solid throughout. However, a complete renovation of the building began in 2017. During phase 1, the roof was renewed and new tiles were also installed. The goal is for the lighthouse to be restored to its full glory.
The island has an eventful past and one reason for this is because Klein Curacao is on a busy shipping route to and from the ABC islands. Because Klein Curacao is a rather flat island, it is also very easy to overlook. As a result, a number of ships have run aground on Klein Curacao in recent years.
The causes of stranding
There is a fairly strong current from the southwest and the wind is generally from the northeast. This can make it difficult for ships as they pass along the east coast of the island. Both north to south and vice versa.
Northeast winds combined with strong currents caused several ships to run aground on the island. As a result, the shipwreck can still be seen on Klein Curacao today.
Which ships ran ashore?
Since the discovery of Klein Curacao, several ships have run aground. The most famous ship of these is an oil tanker called the Maria Bianca Guidesman. This ship ran aground here in the 1980s. The wreck can still be seen on Klein Curacao. It has already decayed considerably, leaving less and less of it.
Of course, this is mainly due to the elements such as wind, rain and sand. Another well-known ship that ran aground on Klein Curacao is the Magdalena. This is a German freighter which was stranded in 1934. However, you can’t see this ship on Klein Curacao anymore. A lot of people spent weeks trying to get the ship unstuck again. In the end, rescue services managed to release it again. They did this by excavating the ship as much as possible. This required a lot of manpower and several tugs.
Animals on Klein Curacao
The perfect place to encounter sea turtles in their natural habitat is Klein Curacao. The two species of sea turtles you can encounter while snorkeling or diving are the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. There are a number of differences between these animals. The easiest is that the Soup Turtle is considerably larger than the Hawksbill Turtle; they can grow up to one and a half meters in size. The other differences are a bit more subtle. The Hawksbill Turtle has a rounded beak with a serrated edge and one pair of scales between the eyes as opposed to the beak-like beak and two pairs of scales in the Hawksbill Turtle.
The Hawksbill Turtle
While snorkeling or diving around Klein Curacao, you can admire sea turtles, and one of the species of turtles you may encounter is the Hawksbill Turtle. The hawksbill turtle is a medium-sized species with a shell length of about 90 centimeters. These turtles are mostly found near rocky coasts and shallow waters, making them completely in their element in the sea around Klein Curacao. The hawksbill sea turtle never actually comes ashore, only to lay eggs. Therefore, you will also only be able to see hawksbill turtles when they are laying eggs or when you go snorkeling or diving in the sea. The food of these turtles consists mainly of sponges and other marine plants and animals. This they can find mainly in coral reefs and here, fortunately, Klein Curacao has plenty of them!
The soup turtle
Another sea turtle you may encounter on Klein Curacao is the Soup Turtle. This is the largest turtle of the various sea turtles with a shell length of over a meter. Their diet consists primarily of animal matter, but seagrass and algae may also be eaten by the adults. This makes Klein Curacao the perfect habitat for these turtles! In fact, there are more than enough animals swimming in the sea around Klein Curacao and sea plants are more than enough to be found in the island’s beautiful coral reefs! When the green turtles deposit eggs, they crawl ashore at night for this purpose, so you will rarely see them on the land of Klein Curacao. In the sea, however, you can spot them while snorkeling or diving!
Dolphins are enormously curious animals, which is also one of the reasons they are so often seen around Klein Curacao. Dolphins especially find the waves made by the boats that daily go to Klein Curacao irresistible; they can’t resist coming to take a look. They can swim out in front of the bow wave for up to half an hour and make high jumps out of the water, rotating up to seven times around their own body axis. The dolphins seen by far the most are the Bottlenose dolphin (Whitenose dolphin) and the Longnose dolphin (Spinner dolphin).
The Bottlenose dolphin, also called Whitenose dolphin, is one of the most common dolphins in the world. It is a gray dolphin with an ever-friendly snout. Generally, these dolphins live in groups of 5 to as many as 20 animals. The Bottlenose dolphin has developed a large arsenal of sounds with which they can communicate underwater. When you yourself are underwater in the vicinity of these dolphins, this is also very clearly audible. To us, these sounds sound like high-pitched squeaks and clicks.
Often regarded as one of the most intelligent dolphins, the Bottlenose dolphin is the one most commonly seen as a trained, domesticated dolphin in shows.
The Longnose dolphin is also called Spinner dolphin. Compared to other dolphins, it is a very slender and muscular dolphin, with, as its name suggests, a long snout. The body of the Longnose is somewhat shaped like a torpedo and the tail fin is a bit longer and more pointed than in most other dolphins.
The Longnose dolphin also lives in groups. These groups are often considerably larger than at the Bottlenose dolphin. The numbers generally range between 10 and 100 animals. They generally live off the coast of Curacao and Klein Curacao where they seek the shallower waters during the day to rest from hunting small fish and squid.
The Striped Anolis
The Striped Anolis is a species you do see a lot on the land of Klein Curacao. This tree lizard is fairly large and can sometimes have a head length of up to 8.5 centimeters! Including the tail, these animals can have a body length of 28.5 centimeters. The Striped Anolis is a lizard found only on the islands of Aruba, Curacao, Suriname and Klein Curacao. In the latter two, however, humans introduced the animal to the habitat. So when you take a walk on Klein Curacao, be sure to keep a close eye out for these little animals if you can see them bolt away!
American Pygmy Tern
The American Little Tern is a small bird of only 21 cm. Originally, the bird’s range was on both the Gulf and East Coast and the Baja California coast. In addition, it was also found along the rivers of the Mississippi Basin. Meanwhile, however, the American Little Tern can also be admired in abundance on Klein Curacao. The American Little Tern is an endangered species thanks to humans. In fact, they normally breed on the beach, but human activities disrupt this process for them. This is one of the reasons why Klein Curacao is so suitable for these birds. It is an uninhabited island where it is never really crowded with tourists. This makes it a perfect habitat for the American Little Tern.
One of the most beautiful features of the Caribbean is the crystal clear waters by which it is surrounded. Not to mention, of course, the beautiful and diverse life underneath. So it should come as no surprise that snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on Klein Curacao. The west coast of Klein Curacao has perhaps the longest and most beautiful beach in the world and is in the lee of the current. This means that the water here is even clearer than in other places in the Caribbean, the underwater life even more exuberant and the corals even more beautiful. And compared to it’s big brother Curacao, the corals on Klein Curacao are still virtually untouched due to the very few divers and snorkelers and because there is no pollution at all around the island here.
What can you expect from snorkeling on Klein Curacao?
Actually, it doesn’t really matter where around the island you enter the water, it is beautiful everywhere. However, as described earlier, we recommend snorkeling only along the west coast of Klein Curacao due to the currents. As you walk into the surf here you will notice that it gradually gets deeper and deeper. In most places, this rises to about six or seven feet. Then the reef goes down steeply to as much as 100 meters deep. This is what we call the drop-off and where all the scuba divers can be found. Between the surf and the drop-off there are already a lot of rocks with beautiful corals with a huge diversity of fish around them. This ranges from the usual schools that always hang out in shallower water, the common solitary Parrotfish, to huge lobsters that hide in the shade behind or under a rock during the day and even a large number of turtles that like to hang out here. In fact, Klein Curacao is a popular nesting ground for these sea turtles.
A trip to Klein Curacao
For over 35 years, Klein Curacao trips have been organized. The first two trips are also immediately the oldest and most complete trips. We are talking about the Serendipity and the Mermaid. On these trips, you may use the private beach house, with loungers, parasols, toilets and freshwater showers.
If you choose a Klein Curacao trip on one of the IRIE Times catamarans or the Blue Finn catamarans you will be dropped off on the island with no facilities. The ultimate Robinson feeling!
What is included in the excursion?
All excursions to Klein Curacao are all inclusive, there is an open bar throughout the day, at noon you get a BBQ lunch and on the way back to Curacao there is always happy hour. Usually you will then be offered a tasty cocktail.
The open bar always includes soft drinks, and some trips also include alcoholic drinks.
Departure points of the excursions
Each excursion has a different embarkation point. For example, you can travel from Jan Thiel beach, Santa Barbara beach or the Caracasbaai / Spanish Water to Klein Curacao. The crossing takes about one to one and a half hours.
Dolphin and sea turtle spotting
Along the way, there is always a very good chance of encountering a pod of wild dolphins. We will then follow them for a bit or stop the boat to fully enjoy this magical spectacle.
During the day, you can go snorkeling by yourself and also join a snorkeling safari. There is a very good chance of encountering sea turtles. Around Klein Curacao, you can always find sea turtles hiding very close to the surf.
A boat trip to Klein Curacao on a catamaran
Visiting an uninhabited island is a very special experience in itself. But now suppose it is possible to make that experience even more special. A boat trip to Klein Curacao on a catamaran.
A catamaran is a type of boat characterized by the two parallel hulls. This ensures that a catamaran is a lot more stable than a regular vessel and has lower drag, allowing a catamaran to reach higher speeds.
At the front of the catamaran are two large nets that you can lie on and see what is going on in the water directly below you. In fact, it is quite common to encounter wild dolphins along the way. But beware, in the nets, you are a lot more likely to get wet.
How exactly does this boat ride take place?
We do daily day trips to Klein Curacao with four catamarans from Jan Thiel beach or from the Spanish Water. On the way out, we are sailing against the current so the entire trip will involve the use of the engines. On the way back, depending on weather conditions, we will sail back to Curacao.
A day trip to Klein Curacao on a catamaran will certainly add an extra dimension to your visit to an uninhabited island.
Klein Curaçao, conservation and tourism
The islet is very fragile, something we have to be very careful about. In the past there has been predation on Klein Curacao especially through phosphate mining. This has had a great impact. International organizations have also commented on the unique qualities of Klein Curacao with regard to biodiversity. The inestimable value of preserving this biodiversity and thus maintaining untouched coral and fish populations.
Klein Curacao, a Ramsar area
Meanwhile, Klein Curacao has been designated a Ramsar area. This is an international agreement on wetlands and their conservation. So Curacao must now take responsibility to preserve it as a nature reserve. This entails not building more on Klein Curacao, but looking at creative and sustainable ways to promote tourism to the island.
What to look out for on Klein Curacao
So tourists are certainly allowed to go to Klein Curacao, but because of course, they must follow the rules. Swimming, snorkeling and diving are allowed. However, tourists are expected not to touch the animals and corals. Also, the stretches of beach should be avoided where the turtles lay their eggs and no trash should be left on the island.
Conservation of Klein Curacao’s biodiversity is very important. Should you decide to visit the island we would like to ask you to treat it with care and respect.
Although the islet is not that big nor has it been on the map for very long, it has a very interesting history.
The discovery of Klein Curacao
The exact moment Klein Curacao was discovered is unfortunately unknown. However, we do know from when the island was put on the map. This was in 1871 by an English mining engineer named John Godden. However, he did not just put Klein Curacao on the map; he had a reason for doing so. In fact, he thought the island was important enough to put on the map primarily because of the phosphate found on the island. This was a highly sought after product and so there was a lot of profit to be made here on Klein Curacao. In Europe, it was used in fertilizers and animal feed, among other things.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the West India Company did a lot of trading overseas. In the process, they also transported slaves. However, sometimes it happened that slaves were sick and then they didn’t want more slaves to get sick. Thus, Klein Curacao came in handy for them. Before coming to Curacao itself, the sick slaves were taken to Klein Curacao so that they could be quarantined here. They also used Klein Curacao as a place to bury the slaves, if there were sick slaves who did not survive.
The weather on Klein Curacao
The weather and climate on Klein Curacao are about the same as on Curacao. Thus, Klein Curacao has suffered relatively few hurricanes, although a violent hurricane did pass over the island in 1877. This hurricane destroyed the island’s first lighthouse. After this, a new lighthouse was built and it can still be visited today. Also, northeast winds and strong currents have always occurred around the island. This has caused several ships to run aground on the island. These shipwrecks can still be seen today on Klein Curacao. For example, there is a French sailing yacht named Tchao, which ran ashore on April 1, 2007.
Although it is not known exactly when Klein Curacao was discovered, it was charted by English mining engineer John Godden in 1871. Of course, this was not without reason, as he discovered that a certain substance could be quite profitable on Curacao. Below I explain more about phosphate mining on Klein Curacao.
Phosphate mining on Klein Curacao
When John Godden arrived on Klein Curacao, he found out that there was a lot of phosphate to be gained here, and this could bring a lot of profit. This phosphate was left behind by birds. In fact, there were many birds on Klein Curacao that used this little island as a nesting place. So in this process, they also always left a lot of phosphate behind. This fabric was highly sought after in Europe at the time and was therefore widely traded. People used it as an additive in both fertilizers and animal feed.
After John Godden put Klein Curacao on the map, people continued to get phosphate from here for quite a while. During the 15 years that John Godden traded phosphate from Klein Curacao, more than 90 tons of phosphate was extracted and then exported to England. When permission for the 15 years of phosphate mining had expired for John Godden, others took over. In total, phosphate was eventually mined on the island from 1871 to 1914.
The effects of phosphate mining
The phosphate traders obviously made a lot of profit from all the phosphate they traded during those years. However, there are consequences associated with phosphate mining and its export from Klein Curacao. In fact, first Klein Curacao was an island with plants and lots of life. Thanks to phosphate mining, however, the landscape has changed dramatically. In fact, in order to extract phosphate, the island’s soil had to be excavated. As a result, much vegetation disappeared and the island eventually became barren and bare. Seabirds also lived here for thousands of years, until the island thus lost all its vegetation. As a result, the island is now uninhabited. Finally, before phosphate mining, the small island had some hills, but phosphate mining has also made these disappear and the island is now 3 meters lower, whereas before it was quite flat. Fortunately, however, people are working to change the island again. In fact, a Carmabi reforestation project is underway, so Klein Curacao will hopefully become a lot greener again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you sail to Klein Curacao?
Depending on the type of boat, it takes about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to sail from Curacao to Klein Curacao. Our catamaran makes the crossing in about 1.5 hours. The luxury yacht sails from Curacao to Klein Curacao in about 1 hour.
Why go to little Curacao?
The answer to this is actually quite easy. Spending a day on an uninhabited island is a unique experience in itself. But because this day is combined with seeing some impressive sights, swimming with sea turtles, dolphin spotting, a wonderful crossing on a beautiful boat and the whole day of delicious food and drinks makes a day trip to Klein Curacao by far on the first place of things you must have seen or done during your vacation on Curacao. This trip was named the most beautiful trip in the Caribbean by Lonely Planet in 2021.
What does a trip to Klein Curacao cost?
When you book a boat trip with us online you are always guaranteed the lowest price. Prices range from €99 to €130 per person. This depends entirely on the type of boat and the facilities offered during the day.
When am I eligible for a full refund on a trip?
Not satisfied after your tour? We offer a full refund! To be eligible for this refund, your request must meet our refund requirements.
What to see on Klein Curacao?
On Klein Curacao, you can see several things. Surely the most famous sights are the iconic lighthouse and the imposing shipwreck.
In a close second place is the beautiful stretched beach. The sand is even whiter than in Curacao and the views breathtaking. The beach was named the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean in 2019.
And finally, the crystal-clear waters with the pristine reefs, the exuberant and colorful underwater life and, of course, the large sea turtles that are always hiding close to the burn.
Is there shade on Klein Curacao?
There is definitely shade on Klein Curacao. There are several large palapas on the island and to the south are a few wooden enclosures where you can sit out of the sun.
There are also two private beach houses on the island with sun beds and umbrellas. However, you may use this only when you go with the Mermaid or the Serendipity.
Do you have coverage on Klein Curacao?
There are no transmission towers on Klein Curacao and the transmission towers on Curacao do not reach far enough. Therefore, there is no coverage on Klein Curacao. Also, there is no WiFi.
Which boat to Klein Curacao?
There are several boats that go to Klein Curacao. A few boats vorate daily, but most boats several times a week. Therefore, look carefully at the availability of the various boats.
With us it is possible to choose between a speedboat, the Bobcat, about four catamarans at the Blue Finn and IRIE times trip, a luxury motorboat, the Mermaid and the luxury yacht the Serendipity.
Are you sure you will see sea turtles and dolphins on a trip to Klein Curacao?
We cannot guarantee this, as they are wild animals in their natural habitat. So we have no influence on this. We can promise you, however, that the chances of seeing these animals are very high.
Is it possible to rent a boat privately?
Yes, all boats listed on our website can be rented privately. This is possible from €1800 for the whole day including captain with crew, open bar (all day) and a BBQ lunch. The daily rate depends on the boat chosen and the facilities desired. We will be happy to advise you on all options and associated costs.
How do you get to the island of Klein Curacao?
A trip to Klein Curacao is only possible by boat in the form of an organized trip. There are no ferry services to Klein Curacao.
Where is Klein Curacao located?
Klein Curacao is an uninhabited island and is located about 10 kilometers south east of Curacao.
How big is Klein Curacao?
The island has an area of 1.7 square kilometers. It is possible to walk around the entire island in about two hours.
Where do the boats leave from for a Klein Curacao tour?
Tours to Klein Curacao depart from the ports of Jan Thiel, Santa Barbara or Caracas Bay. There is ample parking at all ports in case you come with your own transportation. When you book a tour to Klein Curacao all the details and during are in the confirmation.
Is there electricity on Klein Curacao?
No, there are no power supplies on Klein Curacao.
Can you call or use the Internet on Klein Curacao?
No, there are no transmission towers that reach to Klein Curacao, nor are there any transmission towers or WiFi on Klein Curacao.
Do you need to bring your own towels?
Yes, you must bring your own towels.
Is there a restaurant or bar on Klein Curacao?
No, there are no restaurants or bars on Klein Curacao.
Can you only do a day trip to Klein Curacao or are there shorter trips?
There are only day trips to Klein Curacao. Usually the boats set sail between 07:00 and 08:30 depending on the day trip you have chosen. Between 16:00 and 17:00 the boats will be back in the port of Curacao.
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