Today we are making a little road trip, driving from the Lodges to Westpunt and back.
Jan Kok Lodges is located centrally, in the middle of the island. When you drive East, you will go to Willemstad and further on to (more touristc) Jan Thiel. When you drive to the less crowded and less tourist West, you will experience a very different landscape. With different vegetation, mostly more greener and there are also more hills compared to the East. Also here, from Jan Kok Lodges to Westpoint, you will find beautiful beaches. Departing from the Lodges, we will take the main road, the road to Westpunt (which says it all 😊) and returning to the Lodges, we will take the coast-road, so you actually will not cross the same road twice.
Our first stop is at the Weg naar Westpunt at the Kunuku House or Kas di pal’I maishi. A small historical museum with objects and lots of info on the rural population of Curacao. If you want you can attend workshops and participate in a tour – for this, however, check their facebook page before your visit.
After this educational break we continue and drive further to Westpunt. On the way, we enjoy the colorful houses and pass Landhuis Dokterstuin and Landhuis Ascension, which we will visit some other time. At Westpunt we stop at Playa Kalki for lunch. We park along the road (no need to park at nearby hotel Kura Hulanda, where you will be charged a parking fee) and take the steps down to the beach. You enter a shady wooden terrace with a diving school at your left and a cute little informal restaurant at your right. Sitting here in the shadow, overlooking the blue sea, enjoying a cool drink and some food….we doubt whether there are any better places to be at. The reef in front of Playa Kalki is known as Alice in Wonderland and is a gorgeous shore dive. But for now we resist diving in and continue our trip.
We make a short stop at Playa Kenepa Chiki, or Kleine Knip, a sweet white sandy bay between rocks, popular for long BBQ afternoons. Next to Kleine Knip is Grote Knip, or Playa Kenepa Grandi, a beautiful lagun between high rocks. You will definitely be amazed by the blue color of the sea. There are plenty of sunbeds available and there is a simple bar where you can get drinks, smoothy’s and something to eat. Here we stay a little longer, the snorkeling is always great! There is a big change you will meet some sea turtles and manta rays here.
Then it is time to drive back to the Lodges, but not before we make a stop at San Juan, a wonderful spot if you want to get off the beaten path. You enter the estate via a gate near the main road. Following is a dirt road, which eventually ends right before the ruins of landhouse San Juan. You will be greeted by a representative of the family that owns the estate and he will collect 10 Nafl entrance fee. Beyond the landhouse is a dirt road leading to 4 beautiful beaches. Note that the dirt roads in dry season can be a challenge. During wet season you need a four-wheel drive to get around. If you find the roads too challenging (and important: do not have the right car insurance which allows you to drive on dirt roads) – don’t worry, wondering and exploring the ruins of the landhouse is already an adventure. Make sure to leave the estate again before 6 PM, when the gate will be closed (and we are actually not sure whether there is somebody checking whether there are still visitors around).
Approx 15 minutes later we are back at the Lodges, a wonderful day it surely was.
Kas di pal’i maishi, open from 10 AM tot 2 PM. Entrance fee Nafl 10 per person. More info on facebook Museum Kas Di Pal’i Maishi. Playa Kalki, the restaurant is open daily and closes around 4.30 PM. Grote Knip and Kleine Knip free entrace. San Juan, open daily till approx. 6 PM (ask the guard), entrance fee 10 Nafl per car.
Not far from the Lodges, in approx. 20 minutes, you will be in Barber, a sleeply little town with a beautiful church and a lovely place to enjoy nature: National Park Hòfi Pastor.
Driving from direction Willemstad, Hòfi Pastor is just right after the yellow church. There is a small parking area and when you enter the park you are being greeted by a sweet lady who asks you to pay a small entry fee. She will explain about the two trails you can follow, both approx. 2 km.
So off you go, first you will see the beautiful mango trees and when you walk a little further the oldest tree of Curacao, a giant Kapok tree, for sure will impress you! The Kapok tree was brought to Curacao over 400 years ago, by the first inhabitants of the island, the Caiquetios, a tribe of peaceful Arawak Indians who fled a fiercer tribe in Venezuela. The tree, in these hundreds of years, now has grown to be a national monument. Some say it has a ‘sensual’ form, although our kids just call it a tree for a little wizard ?, with it’s freeky shapes.
It is so nice to walk in this beautiful park and experience the feeling of being in the woods. It’s shady with many, many small and larger trees (you have to bend over quite some times not to hit the trees) and the smell of nature and green does so good. There are hawks and a few donkeys, butterflies and iguanas and you will see Kenepas and other tropical fruit trees.
At the end of the trail, which brings you back to the entrance of the park, there are picknick tables and here you can get a cool soda or fruit drink, while you are being chased by the chicken (and the kids play on the swings).
The park is being guarded by Amigu Di Tera, Friends of the Earth of Curacao, and they are working hard to keep it being a protected area where the trees will always bear fruit… so that everyone, especially children, have the opportunity of experiencing the wonders of nature.
When walking made you hungry, make sure to visit the snèk just outside the park, across the street. The lady there will make some good toast!
The park is open each day except on Friday. Opening hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance fee is Nafl. 5 per person. Make sure to wear good shoes (no flipflops).