The Power of the Ocean Waves Meets the Volcanic Rock at Shete Boka National Park
The spectacular visual effect of the pounding waves on the basaltic lava in Shete Boka makes this National Park a “must see” on your list of “things to do” while on Curaçao.
Shete Boka is one of the two primary National Parks on Curaçao; the other being Christoffel Park which shares an eastern boundary with Shete Boka. You could spend anywhere from 90 minutes to a full day at the park depending on whether you chose to walk the trails between the bokas (inlets) or drive; and depending on how long you spend exploring at each on the sites.
Shete Boka is located on the rugged north shore and is about a 30-minute drive from the corner of Weg naar Hato and Weg naar Westpunt (this is the roundabout with the large iguana statue just south of the airport).
Be sure to bring sunscreen, plenty of water (one small water bottle is not sufficient), your camera - you will be kicking yourself if you forget your camera, a cloth to clean your camera lens, and a wet cloth to wipe the salt spray off your face and arms at the end of your visit.
The Park is open daily from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. The entrance fee is US $10 per person.
Shete Boka, literally means “seven inlets” and though the name is tied to history, it is misleading. Years ago tours of the area included seven inlets, hence the name of Shete Boka. Though ten bokas are within the park boundaries, most visitors to the park will visit four.
The majority of the park consists of a plateau of volcanic basalt rock that is sharp and will do considerable damage to your wonderfully tanned shins if you were to trip. It is recommended that visitors stay to the graveled paths that link the bokas.
When you arrive at the park and pay the entrance fee, you will be offered a park map for 1 ANG showing the roads and walking trials for the four main bokas. Though you can walk on gravel trails between the four bokas, parking lots at each boka significantly reduces the walking. You can expect this to be a hot, windy, salt sprayed excursion.
HINT: The salt spray will coat your camera lens rather quickly on a windy day. We recommend you bring a soft cloth to clean your camera lens several times during your visit.
There are times when, because of the wind and highly unpredictable waves, some portions of the park are closed for your safety.
In addition to being a spectacular location to observe the awesome power of the ocean, the park is an important part of the ecology of Curaçao as three types of sea turtles’ nest within the park boundaries.
After you have paid your entrance fee and are looking towards the ocean, our preferred route is to drive to the far-left parking area and Boka Wandomi. Boka Wandomi is the furthest walk you will have at the park, though the choice of how far you walk is yours. There are two viewing platforms at this boka. The shorter portion of the walk is to stay on the top of the cliff following the gravel path directly to the viewing platform. This provides a view overlooking Boka Wandomi which is consists of two inlets; a sandy beach that reach back into the volcanic rock for several hundred meters, and a deep-water channel stretching several hundred meters at a right angle to the first inlet. This second inlet leads to a natural bridge allowing waves into the boka from a second direction creating surging, churning water and crashing waves.
A second path branches down concrete and stone steps into the sandy inlet of Boka Wandomi where you can safely walk to the water’s edge. The high cliffs on both sides block the wind creating the effect of an oven when the sun is shining, and you will feel baked in a short time. The path continues across the boka, up steps cut into the cliff on the other side, back onto the plateau top and into the refreshing wind and sea spray.
The path leads to several views of the natural bridge and to a viewing platform built about halfway down the cliff providing a unique view of the inlet, waves and natural bridge.
Boka Tabla is the boka directly in front of the park entrance. The boka is a short walk from the parking area with two points of interest. If you walk to the left and stay on the cliff top, you will arrive at a viewing platform with views of waves coming unimpeded from the ocean onto the shore of Curaçao. These large waves are unpredictable and offer an amazing sight.
The second point of interest at Boka Tabla is to the right and within the boka. The path takes you to the entrance to a sea cave and a second viewing platform. The sea cave is closed if the wind and wave action is dangerous. The entrance and steps have been recently upgraded adding to the safety and we have not been here since this upgrade. When entering the cave, it will take your eyes a minute or two to get accustomed to the darkness. It is certainly a unique experience.
Boka Kalki is next on the trip. This is a wider boka and does not provide the same spectacular crashing waves as you see at Boka Tabla, however, like Boka Wandomi, you are able to safely walk to the water’s edge. A unique feature here is the walk from the parking area is through a winding trail that takes you through a shaded, slowly widening boka that emerges onto the shore.
Once you are here you can choose to take steps built into the cliff on the right side (as facing the ocean) to get a view of the boka from above. Now that you are on the trail above the boka, you can choose to walk the 10 – 15 minutes to the final boka – Pistol Boka, which gives you a different perspective of the shore while walking along the lave plateau – though be sure to have water with you.
As a caution, while walking, try to resist the temptation to wander off the path towards the water’s edge. Large waves unexpectedly crash into the cliff resulting in a massive amount of water to surge up and inward, then smashing onto the lava. Anyone who happens to be walking in the wrong place at the wrong time will not receive a refreshing splash of water but be pummeled to the lava under tons of water.
The final boka, Boka Pistol is our favorite which provides a show of magnificent waves. A newly built, shaded, viewing platform allows a person to sit, relax and watch the action. This narrow, short boka provides breathtaking wave action when incoming waves smash into the back wall of the boka. The sound of the impact can be like a pistol shot and the wave shoots back towards the ocean and up at about a 45-degree angle.
A second dramatic sight is the underwater collision of waves. The first wave, after hitting the cliff face still has tremendous force. The power of the water causes the wave to surge back towards the ocean where it meets a second wave coming towards the shore. The resulting underwater collision causes the water to be forced upward with remarkable results.
Shete Boka National Park is one of our favorite sights on Curaçao. Regardless of where you are staying on the island, be sure to visit this Park. One last note is that we recommend that you not try to visit Shete Boka National Park on the same day as you visit Christoffel National Park. The heat and wind at Shete Boka will drain your energy. Our recommendation is to plan to stop at a restaurant for a relaxing meal or at the least to stop somewhere for a refreshing drink on the way back to your accommodation.