A vacation to Curacao just to lie on the beach? There is much more to do! In Curacao, you can literally climb mountains. Okay, a mountain only 372 meters high, but still. Tough it is, I can tell you. It is literally rock climbing. I am of course talking about the famous Christoffel Mountain in the Christoffelpark. On the northwest side of the island. A truly beautiful display of nature. And a nice variation from the beaches. So, not to be missed. In this article, I tell you all about climbing the Christoffelberg in Curacao.
The Christoffelpark in Curacao
Christoffel National Park is the largest national park in Curacao, located 40 kilometers from Willemstad in Westpunt. Are you staying in the east of Curacao, then you have to drive about an hour to get there.
The Christoffelberg, or St. Christoffelberg as this mountain is actually called, is the highest point of Curacao at 372 meters. After Mount Scenery on Saba (887 meters) and The Quill on St. Eustatius (601 meters), Mount Christoffel is also the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Climbing the Christoffelberg is the most popular activity in the Christoffelpark, but there are many more hiking trails and car routes you can do.
Christoffelpark boasts the highest biodiversity within the ABC Islands. This is due to the higher elevation and more rainfall, which makes the flora and fauna more varied than elsewhere. The park is home to about 50 rare plant species, 4 of which are endemic to Bonaire and Curacao. You will also find many animal species, including the Curacao rabbit, Curacao white-tailed deer, tree lizards, green iguanas, red-bellied frogs and silver snakes. Birds are also plentiful; you can even book a tour to spot birds.
The hike to the top of the Christoffelberg
The hike to Mount Christoffel is clearly marked with yellow arrows and dots painted on rocks and trees; getting lost is impossible. You start on a fairly flat road, which soon becomes increasingly steep. Because of the trees and cacti, it is sheltered, making you feel quite warm right away.
After you walk about three-fourths of the way, the trail turns into rocks. From here it is climbing up on hands and feet. For anyone with good mobility, this is perfectly doable.
After the climb, you’ll enjoy an impressive view. Suddenly you see how beautiful the nature in Curacao actually is. On a clear day, you can look across the entire island and even see Bonaire. There is a lot of wind at the summit, which provides a welcome coolness after the rather tough climb.
I myself sat on the top for at least 20 minutes, gazing over the beautiful island. The blue sea, the unexpected greenery and the other mountain peaks. This view alone is a good reason to do the hike to the Christoffelberg!
Where does the hike to Mount Christoffel begin?
First you drive to the Visitor Center, which you can find here. There you park your car and pay. Here you can also go to the restroom.
Once you have paid and filled out a form, get back in the car, cross the road and drive up the narrow path at the barrier. A real winding mountain road steeply uphill. But with a little experience driving in the mountains doable. After about a 10-minute drive, you will arrive at the entrance to the Christoffelberg. You’ll see it when you get there once you enter the parking lot. There you park and walk to the clearly marked start of the hike.
Once you get back down to the car you don’t drive back the same way, you actually drive further down the road again. The road you drive up is one-way, as is the way back.
Entrance fees and opening hours of the Christoffelberg
Admission to the Christoffelpark costs 15 guilders per person. If you come with 15 people or more, you pay 9 guilders per person. For children between 6 and 12, you pay 5 guilders.
Christoffelpark is open daily between 6AM and 2PM. On holidays the park may be closed, check in advance. You can climb Mount Christoffel until 10AM, after that access is closed due to the heat. This does not mean that you have to be back down at 10AM, but it does mean that you cannot start the hike after 10AM.
The best time to start
It is recommended to start the hike as early as possible, the later the warmer. Want to see the sunrise from the top of Christoffel Mountain? Then be at the Visitor Center by 6AM and start the hike right away.
I myself started the walk at 7:20AM. By then it was quite warm, but fine. There were people on their way back down by then. When I was almost back down around 9:30AM, a few more people started the hike. It was really quite hot then.
How long does it take to climb the Christoffelberg?
If you start from the visitor center, it will take you about 3 hours to get to the summit. If you start from the parking lot, as I did, you will walk up in about 1 to 1.5 hours. I myself took over 1.5 hours. Consequently, I took breaks quite often and walked quite slowly. The return trip is a little faster, so you’re busy forabout 2 to 3 hours in total. Most hikers also stay to enjoy the view at the summit for a while; I myself sat there for about 20 minutes before starting the way back.
Anyone can climb the Christoffelberg. Some take a little longer, but anyone can get to the top. Up to the rocks, the hike up Christoffelberg is perfectly doable, after that it becomes more challenging. You will have to climb a bit, but especially with some help, this is perfectly doable. Unless you have bad mobility: then this hike is not recommended.
Now I have to say that I actually found the first stretch pretty tough, but that’s because I actually always have trouble walking uphill. So I took it slow.
After the path up, at some point you come to large rocks. From there, it’s rock climbing instead of hiking. I saw people walking downstairs with blood on their legs, so already saw heavy conditions in front of me. But I didn’t think it was too bad. Paying close attention, holding on tightly and asking for help when necessary. Going up, I only asked for help just before the summit. You suddenly get to a tremendously high and steep section and that’s where I got stuck for a while. Fortunately, there were plenty of people to help me out.
Going down might be trickier than going up. Many warned me beforehand that I would get huge muscle pain from the descent, which ended up not being the case thankfully.
So: is the Christoffelberg doable? Yes. Take your time, put on good shoes and ask for help where needed. Are you mobility impaired? Then it is better to skip this hike.
What do you take with you to Mount Christoffel?
- Sufficient water, best at least one liter per person, Christoffelpark recommends 2 liters per person
- Mosquito spray
- Food for the road, such as bananas or high-calorie cookies
- Your sunglasses and cap
- A backpack
What shoes do you use?
I saw a few people doing the walk in flip-flops. This is not recommended by the park, and is really not recommended if you ask me. How you get up there on flip-flops: I have no idea. I myself did the hike on trail runner shoes from The North Face. I use these shoes for all walks, in nature and on asphalt and they are great. I hesitated beforehand whether I should still go on my sneakers, but I’m glad I opted for my North Faces. This walks much nicer and has more grip.
Keep in mind that it can get very muddy if it has rained, choose shoes that are allowed to get dirty.
Hiking the Christoffelberg alone or with a tour?
Are you traveling alone like me, but don’t want to climb Christoffelberg on your own? Then you can book a guide or tour here.
I myself did do the hike alone. Knowing it could be tough, I decided to climb Christoffel Mountain on a Saturday. That way I was sure there would be more people who could possibly help me get up or down a rock.
Taking into account the nature around you
There is an enormous amount of trash on Curacao, and you would expect people walking through such a beautiful and important piece of nature to take good care of it. Unfortunately, I also encountered trash while climbing Christoffelberg. Empty water bottles, packages of cookies and handkerchiefs. I have a hard time understanding why people would leave that in nature like that.
Therefore: if you go out into nature, anywhere in the world, please take back the waste you produce and throw it away in a trash can. Nature is damaged by waste, and if you want this place to continue to exist for generations to come, we must all take care of it now. Buying bottled water is not necessary in Curacao; you can drink the water from the tap. Bring one or two water bottles (from Hydro Flask for example) and fill them before leaving for the park.
What to do in Curacao after climbing the Christoffelberg?
I can assure you that after climbing Mount Christoffel, you will feel quite sweaty. You’re already all the way to the west of Curacao, so it’s ideal to continue on to Westpunt and discover the most beautiful beaches on the southwest side of the island.
I myself went to Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Playa Forti and Playa Lagun to snorkel and cool off in the wonderfully refreshing waters.
You can also drive on first to the impressive Shete Boka National Park, just a 5-minute drive to the west. Here you will discover the spectacular north coast of Curacao.
Climbing Christoffelberg: a must-do in Curacao!
This article contains affiliate links. Click here for more information.