Nestled deep within the cliffs of a low limestone escarpment on Curaçao’s north coast are the Hato Caves. A visit to this subterranean world is like a trip back in time.
The escarpment was formed 200 million years ago by the same forces that pushed the island up from the Caribbean Sea. These forces caused receding waters to percolate down through the porous limestone terrace, creating a region honeycombed with fissures and grottos.
The caves are a dramatic example of this unusual geography. Over the years, the caves provided shelter for some of the island’s early inhabitants, the Caiquetio Indians, and then later to escaped slaves who used the many caverns to hide from their masters.
Today, tourists are the main visitors to the grottos. Knowledgeable guides provide insightful historical and geographical information as they escort visitors along the gently sloping quarter-mile trail.
Outside around the foot of the caves is the short but interesting Petroglyph Trail. The wooded track contains sections with stone artifacts as well as a collection of paintings and carvings etched into the rock walls over 1,500 years ago.