Suriname? Where in the world is that?
Perhaps this Caribbean country nestled between Guyana and French Guiana isn’t on your bucket list of countries you’d love to visit (yet). Let’s just say it isn’t as well-known or discussed as, say, Jamaica or the Bahamas. If Suriname were a kid at school, perhaps he’d be the quiet one who plays by himself and doesn’t raise his hand to answer questions in class.
But, just like those quiet kids (who often grow up to be incredibly successful, despite never being “popular”), Suriname has a lot going for it. In fact, we’d say it’s one of the best Caribbean countries to visit if you’re looking for a truly unique vacation.
Of course, “popular” destinations like the Bahamas and Barbados are loads of fun too. Nevertheless, these Caribbean countries attract thousands upon thousands of visitors each year, especially during the busy season (spring break, Christmas break, etc.) Just to put things in perspective, the Dominican Republic ranks 47th on most-visited countries worldwide, while Suriname ranks 148th. So, why not give Suriname a try?
However, we’re not saying you should visit Suriname just because there will be less crowds to deal with. On the other hand, that’s certainly a great reason if you want to avoid crowded beaches like this one:
There are plenty of other reasons for visiting this mysterious jungle country– namely, the jungle! The lush Amazon rainforest is largely untouched in Suriname, and you can explore it on foot, by boat, or even by charter plane.
But…does Suriname have great beaches?
Glad you asked! The answer is YES– and they’re absolutely breathtaking. Here’s White Beach located near Paramaribo:
You can also visit the fantastic Commewijne River, where dolphins play and caymans lurk in shallow waters. Take a boat tour to see these creatures in their natural habitat, as well as sea turtles. Suriname has some of the most highly populated turtle habitats in the world. This is due to the fact that many beaches are hidden away by dense rainforest, leaving the turtles and their offspring largely undisturbed. You’ll have a very good chance of seeing these and other animals if you go with a knowledgeable guide.
Natural Wonders in Suriname
Suriname is for nature lovers. The country is replete with national parks and nature reserves. Here are some of the best nature-related activities to enjoy:
- Brownsberg National Park: located to the south of Paramaribo, this park features hiking trails that twist and turn through the rainforest. Make sure you wear adequate clothing and use insect repellent. Bring your binoculars or camera along, and look out for colorful parrots and macaws. You may even catch a glimpse of a spider monkey or two!
- Galibi Nature Reserve: This is a great place to see the nesting areas of sea turtles. That isn’t a common site nowadays, due to the endangered status of many sea turtle species. The facilities at Galibi are run by an indigenous tribe. If you book a tour, you will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of Galibi’s inhabitants. The reserve also features a lovely, tranquil beach.
Discover Diversity in Suriname
Unlike most South American countries, which were mainly colonized by Spain, Suriname was held by British and Dutch settlers. After Britain lost interest in the country around 1667, the Dutch took over. This is why the majority of Suriname’s population speaks Dutch today.
However, Amerindian indigenous tribes lived in the rainforests and beside the rivers long before the Europeans arrived. Some indigenous communities still inhabit Suriname’s jungles to this day. In addition, workers came all the way from China and India to work on the plantations after slavery was abolished, making the population more diverse than ever.
Today, the country’s ethnic diversity is reflected in Suriname’s wide array of Dutch colonial, English, Chinese and Indian architecture. If you visit Paramaribo, the nation’s capital, you’ll see elaborate Hindu temples, giant mosques, and carefully built wooden cathedrals. In fact, Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Paramaribo is the largest wooden church in South America.
An Incredible Adventure
Be forewarned. Suriname isn’t an easy-access country. There are few roads once you leave the city, so traveling by car can get a bit tricky. Chartering a plane, while expensive, is the best option for those who want to see Suriname’s untouched rainforests. Some remote villages can only be reached by paddling down a river in dugout canoes. Nevertheless, this is exactly what adventurous travelers are looking for: incredible, unspoiled nature.
Fortunately, hower, there are plenty of places to stay in Suriname, although they may be much different from the bustling, noisy hotels and resorts that many travelers are used to. You can find everything from standard rooms to luxury accomodations, to family-friendly villas and apartments.
Tips for traveling to Suriname
There is plenty to do in Suriname, but keep in mind that getting around may not be as easy as in other countries, unless you employ concierge services.
Suriname is for adventurous folks. It’s for those who want to carve their own paths through the wilderness. It’s for those who long for something more than a few days spent basking on the beach. And…it’s the perfect place for a unique vacation! So, if you go, keep an open mind, and be flexible.
Average temperatures are generally in the 80s year round. Suriname has two seasons: wet and dry. If you go during the rainy season (April to August), keep in mind that any dirt roads (of which there are many) will become mud pits, making road travel nearly impossible. If you’re planning on using a vehicle, try to visit this Caribbean country from November to March.
Plan to spend at least 2-3 days in Paramaribo to visit popular sites like the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, Fort Zeelandia, and the Riverside Boulevard. Then, travel outside the city to enjoy Peperpot Nature Park, a dolphin tour on the Commewijne River, and a rejuvenating trek in Brownsberg Nature Park.
Looking for more things to do for a unique vacation experience? Check out 10 Incredible Things to Experience in Suriname.
Main photo source: amazingplaces.com