Exploring Curacao's Abandoned 1883 Hospital
Exploration and discovery. Makings of a wonderfully memorable vacation.
The first time we saw what appeared to be an abandoned Landhuis on a hill overlooking the blue waters of Caracas Baai (Bay), it seemed to be calling to be explored. It was on our next visit to Curacao that we answered the call.
What had the initial look of a Landhuis turned out to be a quarantine hospital built in 1883, abandoned decades ago and today home to the islands parrots and lizards.
Any seamen with an infectious disease arriving on the island, and to our understanding, all sailors from the ship, would be quarantined for 40 days.
The front entrance has a long, enclosed, veranda and winding stairs on both the left and right to a blocked off second floor. The quiet interior of the main floor has rows of posts that once supported hammocks. As you walk through to the back of the hospital, there is a wide staircase to the ground and what was once a spectacular view of Caracas Baai (now obscured by brush and cactus). Walking around this area, it appears that there was at one time a nice garden on possibly several levels.
Upon returning to the front of the hospital, face the building and look to your left. A set of concrete steps almost hidden by brush and likely missed by most visitors, urges you to explore just a little more. It is not hard to find your way through the brush and up the steps. Continue in the same direction through the brush and you will find the concrete remains of buildings and walls. After only a few minutes of pushing through the brush, the trees thin out and a spectacular view opens in front of you. This is one of those places that have a special quality of wonder as you stand on the cliff overlooking Directors Bay and Beach with its turquoise waters. The varied colored ocean and crashing surf below is spectacular to see.
And now for a surprise: when you turn around look for a trail through the brush slightly to your left. This easy to walk trail takes you back to the hospital and the east side of the front veranda. Of course, if you would like, you can take this route going to the Director’s Bay view point – but that would cause you to miss the exploration of the brush!
Drive to the far east end of Caracasbaai Weg, going past Fort Beekenburg at the east end of Caracas Baii Beach. As you look east you will see, on a hill overlooking the bay, the Seamen’s Hospital.
When you reach the end of Caracasbaii Weg, you are on a peninsula that from the 1920’s through the 1980’s was owned by the Royal Dutch Shell company where they operated an oil terminal which was dismantled in 1996.
Follow the road east towards Tug Boat diving and snorkel site watching for a road going up the hill on the left. Once on that road, you come to a T intersection. Turn to the right. This road loops around the hill and seems to be one way (it is narrow enough that I would not want to meet someone coming the other way). Once you have turned to the right, it is only a short drive up the hill until you reach a driveway on your right leading directly to the Seaman’s Quarantine Hospital.
As you leave the hospital, turn right and the road swings around to your starting point. Along the way watch for a paved road to the right that takes you down to Directors Bay and Beach for a refreshing dip in the ocean or a stroll as you search for shells.