Things to do in Suriname
Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam and its largest city, is known as the wooden city of the Caribbean. Some of the buildings were destroyed by fires in 1821 and 1832, but many white-painted colonial buildings remain. The inner city has been placed on the UNESCO “World Heritage” list of historical monuments since 2002, and the buildings are slowly being restored to their former glory. Around 250,000 people live in Paramaribo, which is located on the Surinam River, ca 10m inland from the Atlantic Ocean. In 1630 the area was settled by the British and became the capital of the British colony in 1650. In 1667 it was ceded to Dutch colonial rule. The current inhabitants and mainly of Asian, African, indigenous or Dutch descent. The name Paramaribo is derived from ‘Paramurubo,’ the name of an old Arrowak village, which means ‘city of parwa blossoms.
Attractions include Fort Zeelandia, Palmentuin Gardens, the Presidential Palace, lots of wonderful wooden buildings from the 18th and 19th century, museums and various religious architecture.
Independence square (Onafhankelijksplein)
Onafhankelijksplein (Independence Square) features a statue of legendary former prime minister Pengeland and is surrounded by the stately 18th-century Presidential Palace, aging colonial government buildings and an ultramodern finance building.
Behind the palace is the Palmentuin, a shady haven of tall royal palms that’s home to a troop of capuchin monkeys.
This is a nice garden to walk around.
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral
Beautiful, unique church, one of the biggest wooden buildings in South America
Mosque and Synagogue in Paramaribo centre
A Jewish Synagogue and a Muslim Mosque next to each other.
The only place in the world where you can see this.
Beautiful wooden buildings with the architecture of before year 1900 and next to the Suriname River where you have an spectacular view over the river
this is a beautiful historical part of Paramaribo, at the Surinam river.
You can sit en relax here, see the art and visit the museum.
The museum is a former 17th century Dutch fort in Paramaribo.
The Central Market
The large covered Central Market hall on the Waterkant is no doubt the most delicious place in Paramaribo. “Under the market”, as Surinamese call the ground floor, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, spices, herbs, etc. cookies, “above the market” (upstairs) clothes, kitchenware, spices.
So many kinds of mango (“manja”): golet manja, tetee manja, roodborstje (red breast), cayenne manja, papaya manja etc., and also different kinds of what we call “banana”. For Suriname people the word “banana” to a kind of Chiquita, but the tastier ones they call “bacoves”: sugar bacoves (lady fingers), Indian bacoves (red!), apple bacoves are the ones I know. And not to be forgotten the different kinds of papaya, of nuts (ever tasted fresh Para nuts or recently roasted cashews?). And fresh lychee (rambutan), birambi, jackfruit, breadfruit. Freshly picked citrus fruit: lemon, orange, pompelmoes, sucade !, mandarines, tangelo.
Take half a day, just for the market, just for tasting all those goodies and being astonished about the fish and all other things that are edible.
Suriname Spectacular Bridge
A job well done! The Architectural works of this bridge adds to the wonders of the country, this is the bridge across the Suriname River.
Its true beauty is at nights, crossing to the eastern direction on returning at its peak it would be nice to stop and grasp the panoramic view from here, and you will see Paramaribo in its true image.
This bridge was commissioned in 2001.
There is no bridge toll for crossing, so make this a must to see experience.
Have a drink @ the famous bar ‘t Vat
First thing lots of visitors do, is having a drink (or diner) at ‘t Vat.
A very good meeting spot, live music, every now and then soccer games on big television screens. A typical Surinamese terrace where you can meet the local people and the tourists.
Make sure to visit the zoological park to see many stunts and antics of the baboon monkeys.
Go cycling in Commewijne
Rent a bike in Paramaribo, cross the river by boat and discover the Commewijne district by bike.
From the Waterkant you can take a ferry, just ask the price, to Commewijne. Commewijne is the district at the other side of the river. It is mainly an agricultural area. Some old plantations are now in use as children’s homes.
This is also the district where mainly people from Java live. You will notice the difference. In the garden of many houses you will see prayer flags or small Hindu temples.
Fort Nieuw Amsterdam
At the other side of the river in the Commewijne district, where the Commewijne River and the Suriname River come together, there is another fort. It is fort Nieuw Amsterdam. The fort was built in the 18th century to protect the plantations. When the plantations were no longer profitable most of them closed. And the fort lost its defending position. The district government used the buildings from 1907. Later a part was used as prison. The prison closed in 1982.
Today the fort is an open air museum. You can see some old buildings, and have a look in the cell block.
Prior to the abolishing of slavery in 1863, Commewijne was home to some 60 plantations, mainly sugar. Once the plantation would no longer have access to cheap labour, they realised that they would be unable to continue with their large scale cultivation of the area, and many sold chunks of land to the freed slaves. Now only a handful of plantations remain.
The mansions were built on stilt for several reasons:
1. To remain elevated and above the workers.
2. To keep the dwelling cool.
3. To prevent vermin from entering the house.
Old sugar factory Mariënburg
In the Commewijne district you can visit the old sugar factory Mariënburg. The factory is no longer in use since the price of sugar and sugar products sank. But they didn’t dismantle the factory; old machines are still standing in an hall that is falling apart. A very special sight.
Matapica or Galibi
Make a trip to Matapica or Galibi to see the sea-turtles nest.
Matapica is located just east of the Suriname River estuary on the Atlantic coast within the North Commewijne-Marowijne Multiple Use Management Area (MUMA). It is a highly dynamic beach, which moves to the west with a speed of 1.5 km per year due to beach erosion on the east side and accretion on the west side.
Albina is a small, run-down village on the Marowijne River, the border with French Guiana.
With permission from the Carib Indians (and a hired canoe), it is possible to visit the nearby Galibi Nature Reserve where Ridley, Green and Leatherback turtles nest in June and July.
Albina has no accommodation but it may be possible to find a bed in a private house or sling a hammock in the park.
This is the capital of the district Nickerie in the West of Suriname and has a population of roughly 8000.
This district is known because it is the place where the Surinamese rice is produced.
If you drive through this district you will see countryside area that looks similar to Dutch polders as can be seen in the Netherlands.
The town contains a market and several hotels
Relaxing at Cola-creek
Bring your hammock and food and drinks and enjoy relaxing at this creek. The creek got its name from the colour of the water. The water gets it’s cola colour from the leafs that fall in the creek.
On the leftside banks of the Suriname River lies the village off Domburg.
In the early days it was a plantation; nowadays there is a small market where warungs sell food and other things
White Beach is an artificial beach created on the Suriname River and it is a very popular destination.
The strip of water where people are allowed to swim is protected with a net, in order to be kept clean and free from the river water animals.
The beach is about half hour drive from Paramaribo, The place is well maintained, there are several facilities, cafe’, cabins with toilet and showers and along the beach there are several huts with tables and hammocks for restoration and shelter.
This mountain once was sold to win gold here. But John Brown could not find enough gold here and sold the area. So in 1970 Brownsberg Nature Park was established. It is Suriname’s first and only national park. The park (as the name suggests) is located on a mountain. From the top of the mountain (500 m) you have a perfect view of the Brokopondo Lake.
The woods up here are a unique habitat. You will find endemic plant species, but also many birds and diverse wildlife. We saw a snake, agouti, several lizard species, howler monkeys and two other monkey species.
You can reach the park by car from Paramaribo. It is about 120 km so it will take a while. The park has a camp where you can rent a cabin or a place to hang your hammock. This camp is located on the ‘cool’ top on of the mountain. People from Suriname will tell you it is cold up there, but we think 20 degrees Celsius at night is not too bad.You can see many monkeys and other fauna and flora there.
You can book a trip at one of the many booking offices
Staying at Brownsberg is fantastic! You should stay 2 or 3 days to visit all beautiful waterfalls and sights! We also saw a lot of wild animals, big cats, monkeys, some snakes and many birds! Bring good hiking shoes!
Stay a few nights on an island in the Brokopondo Lake. It is really a good place to unwind. The water surrounding you is warm. So swimming is great. But you can also fish if you like; the lake has spots where piranhas are abundant. But there are other fish to catch too.
Also make a trip by boat between the trees. This lake was formed in 1964, when a dam blocked the water in the Suriname River. About 5000 Saramaccan people who live in this area had to move, because their home was vanishing in the lake. The forest died when the lake set. But the wood is extremely hard and today, 40 years later, you will see the tree tops still standing. When travelling by boat on the water keep in mind that there trees that are just under the water level and you can hit them. The wood is still being harvested by divers, who go down and saw the tree at the bottom of the lake.
You can take a boat trip down the Suriname river was a visit to the Jodensavanne.
During the inquisition the Jewish fled from Spain to flourishing countries like Holland and England. From there they came on ships to Suriname to start plantations. In 1640 the first Jewish settlement in this area started with growing sugar cane.
When they got the right to build a synagogue and graveyard the settlement of Jodensavanne was formed. Most of the Jewish left the settlement and went to Paramaribo. When in 1832 most of the settlement was burnt down it was lost.
In the Second World War they built a prison camp here to hold people suspected of collaboration with the Germans.
In 1971 a plan was made to protect the remains of the Jodensavanne for the future. The trees were cleared and today you can see the graveyard and the small remains of the synagogue.
Upper Suriname River tour
Along the upper stream of the Suriname River, approximately 200 km south of Paramaribo, you will meet the Saramaccan Maroons and their culture. When driving you will take the Afobaka road passed the fascinating, mystical forest with its unique tropical flora. At approximately 160 km from Paramaribo lies Atjoni where you will continue your trip by dug-out canoe further into the interior across rapids and passed Saramaccan villages along the Upper Suriname river. A unique experience to see the Saramaccan boat men manoeuvre between the rocks and swirling waters with expertise. There are several lodges and villages, you will mostly sleep in traditional huts and sometimes in hammocks depending on the duration of the tour (more than 3 days). When you take walks into the village you will meet the hospitable, friendly villagers. Cultural performances at night with singing and dancing, walks into the forest, visit to agricultural plots and surrounding villages
Dritabiki is a small village; named fore it’s tree islands.
It is headquater the Paramakas, also called the Ndjukas.
When you visit it, you have to meet the Granman to tell you’re here and to give a present.
It is possible to make an adventurous jungle trip in dugout canoe to the Amerindian and Maroon communities, deep in the interior where flora and fauna are untouched by man. The Amerindians and Maroons have maintained their culture and traditional way of life for centuries, which you can experience first-hand.
Climbing Nassau Mountains
You can participate in a survival expedition to the Nassau mountains. Climb 560 meters to reach the highest peak for a unique view that will leave you speechless. During your trip through the rain forest you will be taught survival techniques.
– A demanding climb to the mountain peak
– A unique view from the mountain peak
– Overnight stay deep in the rain forest
– Traditional hunting
– Paramaccan music and dance
Raleigh Falls and Voltz mountain
Raleighvallen Nature Reserve (Raleigh Falls) is situated on the upper Coppename River and is known for its rich birdlife, many monkey species and, of course, spectacular waterfalls. Part of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, lucky visitors may catch sight of the all-orange, all-dancing Cock-of-the-Rock strutting about.
In the heart of this remote forest is Voltzberg, a 240m (790ft) granite dome accessible by a 2.5-hour jungle trail and then a steep ascent of its face. Climb it at sunrise when the views of the forest canopy are unbelievable. Stinasu, Suriname’s Foundation for Nature Conservation, run guided tours and provide tourist lodges on Foengoe Island. It’s a five-hour drive and two-hour boat ride to reach the reserve.
Blanche Marie Falls
The impressive Blanche Marie Falls, located in the Nickerie River, are more than 300 km southwest of Paramaribo in the Bakhuis Mountains.
It is one of the largest waterfalls in Suriname with a massive displacement in the rainy season.
The impressive waterfall is extended over more than 100 meters and located in high forest, the most beautiful tropical rainforest species.
All the ingredients of the Amazon rainforest can be found here, including eight species of Suriname monkeys and more than two hundred bird species. Several footpaths lead to the fall in the Eldorado Nickerie River.
The road from Paramaribo to the impressive waterfalls is 320 km long and is not always easily accessible. The car trip leads through the jungle and over a number of bridges, what the impact of adventure travel increases.
Bakhuis fly to the mountains is also possible. The name of the waterfall is named after the wife of the Commissioner of Drimmelen, in the 19th century the Nickerie River to exploring the waterfall.