Klein Curaçao

We are currently anchored in Spanish Waters, Curaçao. We just returned from a lovely 3 day stay in Klein Curaçao, a small, uninhabited island composed of exposed and eroded coral.

Just recently, we saw flamingos flying and while en route and while staying on Klein Curaçao, we saw flocks of greater and greater size flying toward Bonaire. If you have never seen one flying they look like a long stick with some bright pink fabric fluffing towards the middle. We have seen flamingos on all of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao)

Upon our arrival, Duhkxy was beside himself when he saw the beautiful expanse of white sand beach. After racing back and forth on the beach, he set to digging up ghost crabs. He rarely injures a crab as his intent is only to whisk them onto the sand so he can chase them to the water.

Duhxky will dig sometimes until nothing but his back legs stick out from the hole
Referred to as ghost crabs, they are perfectly camouflaged for their habitat

This ghost crab sat perfectly still and Duhkxy quickly lost interest.

During the day, the uninhabited island is visited by vessels ferrying people from cruise ships and resorts for a day of snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, drinking and eating in this idyllic setting. Come around 4:00 or thereabout and the vessels all depart for Curaçao. Other than a couple of caretakers, visitors with overnight passes have the island to themselves. As one tour boat prepared to leave, the captain asked if we would like some pasta salads they had leftover from their lunch. Never to turn down a free meal we said “Sure” and he returned with large portions of two pasta salads; one of ziti, pesto and arugula; a second of couscous, beets, and a minty dressing – both quite lovely. He also supplied us with a massive amount of barbecued chicken skewers and spare ribs. What a treat – a gorgeous island to ourselves and, delicious food and no need to cook for several days!!!

We used our Hookah, that delivers air to about 20 feet to explore underwater. Like scuba diving, the Hookah allows you remain underwater slowly taking in the details.

Green Sea Turtle
Tube Sponge
Rope sponge
One of a small school of Permit following in the wake of a ray to capture food thrown up from the bottom
Flamingo Tongue – a mollusk often found on sea fans and in this instance a type of feather star (crinoid). This Flamingo Tongue has only part of its soft body extruded over its shell.
Sargent Major (damselfish)
Likely a sea plume
Giant Anemone
Lionfish (invasive and dangerous predator for reef fish – often divers requested or given permission to kill whenever possible)
Three-rowed Sea Cucumber
Tube sponge
Christmas Tree Worm (will quickly disappear into its calcareous tube if disturbed)
Spotfin Butterfly Fish
Ocean Surgeonfish
Conger Eel – Brown Garden Eel. Found in colonies. Extremely “shy” and disappear into sand burrow if approached
French Angelfish
Yellowline Arrow Crab
Grooved Brain Coral with burrowing Christmas Tree tube worms

We walked the perimeter of the island along the white sand beach and round the “back side” with crashing waves and sea wrecks.

Sadly the winds and waves carried masses and masses of flotsam (debris carried in from near and far). It would take scores of people scores of days just to pick up the large litter and within a few years you would likely not see a great difference. I am certainly not advocating for NOT picking it up. George and I always choose at least one shoreline to clean, but this was far beyond our capabilities if we spent months here.

To give an idea of how far this litter can travel until it meets a shoreline, George and I found 5 hamburger beans that floated all the way from Africa.

Hamberger Bean

We visited the lighthouse that is operational, but no longer inhabited.

Between the coasts the coral rock supports an array of plant species with a palette of oranges, greens and browns, as well as lizards and hermit crabs.

We enjoyed sun-filled days and periodic squalls, as is characteristic in these islands in January.

and one of the most beautiful sunsets ever

We look forward to visiting the island again with our daughter Allison, her husband Mike, and their children Riley and Tristan in February.

Getting Acquainted with Aruba

“Aruba, Jamaica, OOH I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty Mama”. Beach Boys “Kokomo” released 1988.

We expected to spend a week or so in Aruba before heading to Curaçao

Aruba, as well as all of the ABC islands were having unusually frequent, heavy rain, even given that it was nearing the end of the wet season. These winds were accompanied by squalls, and given the fact that a sail from Aruba to Curaçao, entailed unfavorable wind and current under the best of circumstances, we knew it could be some time for a favorable weather window. We expected to spend a week or so in Aruba before heading to Curaçao.

In the meantime we had two planned projects: 1) to have the salon upholstery cleaned and 2) to replace our anchor chain (although the existing chain was only 5 years old, it had become so rusty that flakes of rust had bridged a gap between part of the stainless steel windlass and the aluminum hull and the resulting electrolysis had begun to create pits in the aluminum. NOT at all acceptable!!

We had done our research before we left Aruba last spring, having found a dry cleaner who indicated they could do the upholstery job, we had removed the old chain, and ordered a new one. The chain was ready and waiting when we arrived.

Surprise, surprise, unexpected, frustrating setbacks

Salon Cushions – We dropped the salon cushions off at the dry cleaners, having already been assured by the owner they could do the job. A week later, having heard nothing back we revisited the cleaners and the were told by the manager they could NOT do the job. The pieces were too large for their machines. After pointing out the covers zipped off, she said they could do the covers. We paid and were told they would be ready the following Monday. Checking back in on Tuesday, they said they had not gotten to them yet and would have them ready the next Wednesday. We asked for the covers and our money back. No one there could cancel the payment on our card and we would need to come back the following day. We did so and were given a cash refund. We then checked out several alternative cleaners, found one, put the covers back on the cushions and Happy ending – 2 weeks start to finish.

This cleaning company had adopted a few stray dogs. They always had them neutered and gave them shelter, love, and affection. Members of the community, unfortunately, know this. Quite regularly, new dogs are dropped off to join the menagerie (16 dogs at present).

Anchor chain – George painted the new anchor chain with different colored stripes at 25 foot intervals so he knows the length of chain he puts out is correct for the depth and conditions of the anchorage.

When he began to pull the chain up by the Windlass, it jammed after a few links. Following consultation with the owner of the marine store who obtained the chain, we discovered the anchor chain had two different “specifications” for the size chain we ordered. After a few links passed through the Gypsy (part of the windlass that accepts each link of the chain while winding it in or out), it would jam. We had ordered the wrong chain. Easier, and far less costly, was to purchase a new gypsy that would fit the new chain.

Search for a new gypsy took just shy a week. Purchase and shipping from Germany to Miami took another couple of weeks. UPS air delivery from Miami took another week. Just shy 4 weeks start to finish.

Silver Lining – unexpected time to explore Aruba

With more time in Aruba than expected we kept our rental car and set off to explore beyond the vicinity of the marina.

Oranjestad, the capital and largest city in Aruba is on the west coast of the south side of Aruba. It is teaming with shops that sell everything between inexpensive souvenirs to very high end jewelry and designer clothing. Passengers on enormous cruise ships disembark in Oranjestad to explore and shop unless they have elected for one of the pre-arranged excursions they can take. The majority of large resorts and beach bars are nearby. The vegetation in the city and vicinity has been coerced into lovely native landscaping.

Aruba has preserved 20% of the island as a National Park. We were unable to enjoy the National Park as dogs (including Duhkxy – go figure) were not permitted.

Nonetheless, there are extensive areas that are wild and uninhabited where man and dog can explore and enjoy.


The Northwest tip of Aruba

Aruba’s California Lighthouse
Rustic waterfront near the California Lighthouse


On the south end the most popular beach with refreshments, shade, and lounge chairs is Baby’s Beach

Baby Beach rents chairs and shade

Thatched roofed structures, sometimes with a center table is frequently found on large and small beaches – available for first who come, as far as we could tell.
Baby beach Concession/Refreshments

Just to the north side of Baby beach we found Roger’s Beach. No accoutrements, but quiet, beautiful, and no chance Duhkxy would be of concern, we soaked for a time while Duhkxy ran on the beach and looked for ghost crabs.

Just north of Roger’s Beach – the vestiges of an oil refinery business. Peppered around the ABC islands, these refineries, in the past, worked to capacity refining Venezuelan crude oil.

A Hidden Gem of Aruba, is the town of St. Nicolas. Our experience there and its charm will keep to another day

Getting Acquainted with Aruba’s Southern-Most End

We typically spend a minimum of several weeks when visiting a place for the first time. This practice was solidified when we spent almost 15 months in Grenada during the height of the Covid pandemic. Only time and experiences can truly give you a sense of a new island’s or country’s culture, cuisine, people, and marvels. We have also adopted the practice of renting a car for a portion of the time we spend in a new destination.

The Southern-Most End of Aruba

Aruba is the smallest of the ABC islands. Despite its size, the island has much to enjoy beyond the areas most frequently visited by cruisers and other tourists. The southern most end of Aruba needs to be included in your visit to the island.

San Nicolas

San Nicolas is the second largest city in Aruba. It initially grew in size and population following the opening of an oil refinery there in 1924. The oil refinery changed hands several times, and ultimately closed in 2009. Vestiges of the refinery still stand just beside Rogers Beach. The closure of this refinery, as well as, refinery closures on Bonaire and Curaçao, were due to environmental concerns which cannot be resolved without costly modernization of the old refineries.

Structures from an old refinery (1924-2009) seen from Rogers Beach

In more recent years, the stark utilitarian architecture of many of San Nicolas’s Buildings have been transformed by beautiful murals depicting life and culture of Aruba, and the artistry of its people. San Nicolas is a treasure not to be missed.

After touring the town and marveling at the murals we proceeded to exploring the southern beaches. I’ve already mentioned Roger’s Beach beside the remnants of the old oil refinery and will add it is a clean, uncrowded, sandy beach with crystal clear water. We enjoyed a good soak there without concern about Duhkxy joining us. The next beach traveling south is Baby Beach. Baby Beach is replete with refreshments, as well as chairs, lounges and shady open tents to rent. Baby Beach was clearly the favorite that day, but far from crowded.

Baby Beach Concessions
Baby Beach

Last but not least was a vast expanse of dunes and waterfront beach that serves and a pet cemetery. Hundreds, upon hundreds of graves with simple to elaborate headstones memorialized beloved pets, primarily dogs. We have found dogs to be considerably more well treated and loved in Aruba than on some islands where they are primarily kept as guard dogs, more than pets.

We ended our day’s visit to Aruba’s southern end with a delicious, traditional dinner at O’Niel’s Caribbean Kitchen.