Klein Curaçao

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Coordinates: 11°59′34″N 68°39′03″W / 11.99278°N 68.65083°W / 11.99278; -68.65083

Location of Klein Curaçao

Klein Curaçao (English: Little Curaçao) is a 1.7 square kilometres (170 ha; 0.66 sq mi) uninhabited island south-east of Curaçao in the Caribbean Sea, and is part of the Dutch country of Curaçao. The only structures on the island are an old lighthouse, a beach house, and several huts. Klein Curaçao is well known as a beautiful diving-spot because of its coral and underwater caves. It's fairly easy to spot colorful fish and sea turtles when snorkeling.

Formerly, goats were allowed to roam the island, which contributed to desertification. In 1871, John Godden, an English mining engineer, visited the island, and until 1886 phosphate was mined and exported to Europe. The island was mined out, the level of the island dropped, and seabird populations plummeted. Currently, reforestation is being undertaken by CARMABI Marine Research Station, Curacao.

The island also played a part in the slave trade. The Dutch West India Company brought many slaves from Africa to Curacao. Before these slaves came ashore in Curacao, the sick were placed in quarantine at Klein Curacao. The remains of this first quarantine building can still be found in the northwest of the island. The slaves, and other passengers who did not survive the voyage, were buried at Klein Curacao. There are several graves in the southern part of the island.

The Dutch West India Company were also given licenses to hunt the highly endangered monk seal on Klein Curacao. Like its mother island of Curacao, the island is little affected by hurricanes, but several storms have left their mark. The first was the hurricane of 1877, which destroyed the first lighthouse on the island. The next lighthouse, which still survives, was built in the interior of the island.

The lighthouse at Klein Curaçao

Klein Curaçao has no permanent inhabitants, only a few palm-frond covered sheds for day trippers from Curaçao, and apart from some coconut palms has little vegetation. There are some fishermen's huts where fishermen normally stay for some days. They get water from the Coast Guard of Curaçao. The windward side is a graveyard for boats that did not stay out far enough or lost power. A small tanker, the Maria Bianca Guidesman, is gradually being demolished by the constant pounding of the waves. The remains of another four or five boats have been washed far onshore.

Shipwreck klein curacao.jpg
Beach of Klein Curacao.jpg