You may not have heard much about Suriname, but by the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll want to hop on the next plane over there! This small but beautiful Caribbean country is located in northern South America, between the countries of Guyana and French Guiana. Situated on the coast, with access to the Atlantic Ocean, Suriname boats beautiful beaches and pristine tropical rainforests. In fact, the country is nearly entirely covered in rain forests. If you’re looking for somewhere different to go on vacation this year, try Suriname! Here are 10 incredible things to do there:
What to do in Suriname
1. Hike the unspoiled wilderness
Due to the fact that Suriname is largely overlooked as a tourist destination, it’s full of untouched forests and wilderness. In addition, 13% of the country is under official environmental protection, as of 2017. That means that there is an incredible amount of unspoiled territory for you to explore!
The rainforests and savannas are teeming with wildlife. Interestingly, Suriname is one of the best places in the world to see sea turtles in their natural habitat. In the rainforest of Brownsberg National Park, about 130 km south of Paramaribo, you can see wild parrots, macaws, and spider monkeys. Suriname may be a bit “off the beaten path” for tourists, but it’s the perfect place for travelers who are looking for something unique and adventurous.
2. See some dolphins and caymans
In Leonsberg, you can take a small boat down the Suriname River in search of these mysterious beasts of the deep. Watch adorable pink-bellied river dolphins jump and flip as flocks of tropical birds fly overhead and perch on the trees that line the river banks. Snap a quick photo when a cayman rises momentarily to the surface! That will surely be an experience you’ll never forget.
2. Soak up the sun on the beach
They are little known, and some of them are hard to get to, but Suriname’s beaches are absolutely breathtaking. Once you’ve dug your feet into the sand on one, you’ll realize it was worth the trip. White beach, by the Suriname river, takes its name from its beautiful white sand.
3. Learn some Dutch
Wait– aren’t we talking about a South American country? Shouldn’t people be speaking Spanish? Suriname is located on the South American continent, but Spanish is actually not widely spoken there. Since the country was settled by the Dutch during the colonial era, Dutch is now the official language. So, here’s your chance to brush up on your Dutch skills, or to begin learning this charming European language.
4. Visit an impressive wooden church
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Paramaribo isn’t just any wooden church. It is the largest wooden church in South America. When seen from a distance, this twin towered cathedral has the appearance of a stone building. However, as you approach, you can see that it is indeed constructed out of wood in basilica style.
Nevertheless, it is the church’s interior that steals the show. Apses, vaulted ceilings, and galleries entirely constructed out of unpainted wood will leave you speechless.Tours are available to help you learn about the church’s rich history. Although restoration efforts have been ongoing since 2009, the left side is leaning slightly, and donations taken inside are used for the cathedral’s upkeep.
5. Shop at Centrale Markt
Centrale Markt, or Central Market, is an eclectic indoor and outdoor market with local products and food stalls. It’s the perfect place to sample fresh vegetables, fish, live crabs and chickens, fruits, spices, and a host of other delightful products. Furthermore, the wide variety of offerings reflects Suriname’s many cultural influences.
6. Take a historic city tour
The historic city of Paramaribo is on the UNESCO Heritage list for many good reasons, one of them being its incredible collection of Dutch colonial buildings. Take a guided tour to hear all about the stunning architecture, or simply stroll through the town on your own. Shops and restaurants are all within short walking distance of the historic city center.
7. Explore Suriname’s religious side
You may be surprised to know that Suriname’s inhabitants adhere to a wide variety of religious belief systems. The colorful Arya Dewaker Hindu Temple and the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral are both located in the city of Paramaribo, not to mention the Neveh Shalom Jewish Synagogue. Furthermore, the Suriname City Mosque can be found at a short distance from these. Each one of these buildings is carefully constructed and beautifully detailed. They are a must see for visitors to Suriname!
8. Learn about Suriname’s culture
A visit to the Het Koto museum in Paramaribo will whet your appetite for all things Surinamese. In this beautiful renovated typical Surinamese house, you’ll find a peaceful garden, historical artifacts, and clothing and head-kerchiefs dating back from the 1860s. The curator or museum guides will share stories about the Koto and the Angisa, two Creole Surinamese cultures.
9. Watch sea turtles hatch
During certain times of the year, a visit to Galibi Nature Reserve will give you the chance to see baby sea turtles hatch out of their eggs. You can book a tour, or explore the reserve independently. Depending on the season, you might see leatherback turtles laying their eggs, or baby green ones hatching.
10. Taste Surinamese cuisine
Just like Surinamese culture, this country’s cuisine is a melting pot of many different cultures. The food is influenced by a host of European, African, Asian, and North and South American countries, including India, Italy, China, and the Netherlands.
Many restaurants stick to just one type of cuisine, while many others are labeled “fusion”, such as RUTU by Chefthro in Paramaribo. With so much variety, Surinamese cuisine is destined to please even the pickiest eaters!
Now that you know what to do in Suriname, it’s time to plan your vacation! Luckily, this Caribbean country has plenty of hotels and resorts for tourists to enjoy. Looking for a place to stay during your travels? Check out this lovely, luxurious hotel with views of the Suriname river, located in the historic town of Paramaribo. View deluxe accommodations in Suriname here.