Relaxing in Waterland Marina in the Jungle and Driving in Suriname

Arya Dewaker Hindu temple, Paramaribo, Suriname, South America

Suriname is not well-known as a travel destination yet. It is an easy going country. A massive river flows through it, and thick green forest are all over Suriname. It offers jungle tours and a unique mixed cultural experience. Most of the sailboats and travelers are from the Netherlands.

Driving on the left side of the road was new thing for us. We managed quite well even while avoiding lots of pot holes and slowly driving over the Drumpels (Speed Bumps). With a non-Suriname Driver’s License, we can drive for two weeks. John applied for a ‘Suriname Driving Permit’ at the Nieuwe Haven Police Station near Paramaribo. To issue one, the official asked for a copy of the passport, a copy of the entry stamp on the passport, and a copy of US Driver’s License. It cost 150 Suriname Dollars (about USD21) and supposedly takes about one week.

One of the Resort Houses in Waterland Resort Marina, Suriname, South America

We have been staying in the Waterland Resort Marina, the only marina in Suriname. We simply wanted to relax here after crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice last year. Being in a marina, life gets easy. When we get bored, we visited forts, the market, jungle, plantations, and Paramaribo city.

Waterland Marina is a well-built resort in the jungle, not far from the city. Just walking in the resort and nearby, I hear the beautiful sounds of many animals either calling to each other or simply moving around. One day, during my early morning walk, I felt water dripping from the trees above me. I looked up and saw a bunch of monkeys crossing from one tree to another making a slow wave in the forest. They were small, white-faced and watched me curiously. Another day, we saw an otter crossing the road. One morning, while walking near the marina, I heard the sound of honey bees and smelled of the honey from the forest. I was later told that Suriname honey is purely natural. I will get some before we leave Suriname.

Sunrise View from Waterland Resort Marina, Suriname, South America

Most visitors take a jungle tour and stay in the jungle for a couple of nights. They hunt Caimans that later get served as a meal. We didn’t’ take a jungle overnight tour, but we did eat some grilled Caiman that the locals called “Water Chicken”. I am happy just staying in the marina and identifying with the small jungle moments in the area. Getting up in the morning and watching the tranquil sunrise over the river has been a joy here.

Boats at Waterland Resort Marina, Suriname, South America

Lotus Plants at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, Suriname, South America

Water Plant at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, Suriname, South America

Old Light Ship Wreck at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, Suriname, South America

Wooden Building at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam, Suriname, South America

Neighboring House Dog and Poppies near Waterland Resort Marina, Suriname, South America

Suriname Apples; it is about strawberry size and tastes somewhat apple flavor with bitterness, not as sweet as regular apples.

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Caribbean Islands, Sailings, South America

Internet SIM Card in Suriname – Digicel Prepaid SIM Card

Digicel SIM Card in Suriname, South America

(January – February 2018) In Suriname, I bought a SIM Card from the Digicel store in Paramaribo, Capital of Suriname. SIM Card cost 30 Suriname Dollars (about USD4) and 6GB data cost 153 Suriname Dollars (about USD21) which is good for 30 days. I paid it by US Dollars and received change in Suriname Dollars. The store person setup my phone. There was no waiting line in the store.

One of the Digicel SIM Card Stores in Paramaribo, Suriname, South America

We stayed in the Waterland Resort Marina near Domburg (http://waterlandsuriname.com/w/). There is Wi-Fi available at the outdoor café/restaurant in the marina. This Wi-Fi speed was good but the connection speed from the boat was not fast enough for me.

I bought my SIM Card to use it on the boat. The speed of my Digicel SIM card was slow. It was like 2G speed. It worked okay before 7am but was too slow to use starting around 7am until late at night. I spoke to a store person about the slow connection speed. They told me that they are aware of the slow speed issue. They are working on the improvement of speed. It is interesting to note that all over the main highway that there are signs that say Digicel 4g. Maybe soon, but definitely not now.

***Helpful Notes***

  • APN (Access Point Name) Setup: Name – digicel (*all lower case), APN – web.digicelsr.com (*all lower case)
  • Data Balance Check Code: *120*3#send
  • Money Balance Check Code: *120#send

List of Data Plan Price (in Suriname Dollars) and Activation Codes, Suriname, South America

Posted in Internet Abroad, South America

Entry Clearance, Roti Curry Chicken and Saoto Javanese Soup in Suriname

Monument in the Memory of Surinamese Veterans in the Korean War, Paramaribo, Suriname

The Customs and Immigration clearance took us only a half day because we hired a special taxi service through the marina we are staying at. The taxi driver took us to the right locations: (1) the Maritime Authority Suriname (MAS), (2) Tourist Visa Issuing Agency, (3) Suriname National Bank (30 Euros or USD35 Tourist Visa Fee/Person), (4) Back to Tourist Visa Issuing Agency, and (5) Military Police/Border Patrol (for Passport Stamp).

Suriname is for me the most harmonious melting pot country among all the countries I have visited so far. Some people were originally from Africa, India, Java/Indonesia, China, and Europe. Life and business are all multi-cultural without barriers. People speak Dutch, Taki Taki (Surinamese Creole), and English.

Display of Five Prayer Times (Dawn Prayer, Noon Prayer, Afternoon Prayer, Sunset Prayer, and Night Prayer) in a Islam Mosque in Paramaribo, Suriname

For the next two days, we drove to the jungle and explored the capital city, Paramaribo. We had Chicken Curry Roti (24 Suriname Dollar, about USD 3) for three lunches in a row. My next favorite dish is ‘Saoto’ Soup (15 SRD, about USD 2) in Warungs (Small Family Owned Javanese Restaurant). ‘Saoto’ is a clear broth soup with fried potatoes, bean sprouts, and one boiled egg in it. It comes with rice I can add to the soup. Most places serve it with hot crushed habanero pepper sauce. Adding a pinch to the soup, it kicks the flavor.

One day, John rescued a Sloth (very slow animal) on the road. When he lifted the animal, it very slowly hissed at him. The other day, a neighboring boat in the marina, showed me some monkeys in a tree. One night, we were awoken by a strange loud sound. It was howler monkeys talking very loudly. We want to experience a lot of Suriname but we have been sick, flu or cold. Our rental car has been waiting for us in the parking lot for days. I finished my cough syrup and anti-biotics but am still sick. Maybe more ‘Saoto’ soup with a big spoonful of habanero hot sauce can help?

Mining in the Suriname River, Suriname


Jungle Lodge Transportation Boats, Atjoni, Suriname

Boats near Afobaka Dam, Suriname

Bridge near Afobaka Dam, Suriname

Suriname River View from Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo, Suriname

Buildings by Suriname River Waterfront, Paramaribo, Suriname

Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, The Biggest Wooden Structure in the Western Hemisphere, Paramaribo, Suriname

Islam Mosque (Left) and Jewish Synagogue (Right) in Paramaribo, Suriname

A Islam Mosque in Paramaribo, Suriname

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Caribbean Islands, Sailings, South America

Visiting Salut Islands in French Guiana and Sailing to the Suriname River

Ruins of Prison Building, Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

(January 9 to 10, 2018) The ruins of an old French Prison on the Salut Islands were interesting, especially the solitary confinement. I watched the old movie “Papillon”, as this is where he was imprisoned, and finally escaped. I understand many prisoners died because of the hardship in the tropics. Despite of seeing some cute jungle animals during a half day strolling on the island, I had enough of the island because it was hot and humid. We went to back to the boat.

S/V Bad Bunny Tied to a Yellow Mooring Ball in Salut Islands, French Guiana. Later, We were told all mooring balls are not for private yachts to use.

A loud horn woke us up when we just started taking a nap in preparation for night sailing to Suriname. Our plan was to leave at midnight. Looking out, there were two French Navy ships right next to us. They told us that the mooring balls are not for us to use, “Leave now or anchor somewhere!” We were using one of the yellow mooring balls at that time. Earlier that day, we saw another sailboat struggling to remove an old car tire from their anchor when they lifted the anchor up from the bottom. We are not anchoring here. We raised the sails up seven hours earlier than we planned.

At first it was beautiful night sailing and watching the shooting stars in the clear sky! Then, the wind died. We dropped the sails and motored. The next night, we arrived at the Suriname River channel at dark, midnight. Our original plan was to arrive here early in the morning. Going through the long entrance channel will be challenging at dark but we decided to try instead of waiting for daylight wandering at sea. When we were ready, there was a huge freighter ship coming to the channel. We talked to the Maritime Authority Suriname (MAS) on the VHF radio. They told us to wait so that the freighter goes first.

Sailing at Sunset from the Salut Islands, French Guiana to Suriname

The Moon didn’t come out until 4am. We made a 120% effort to look for channel markers at dark. Missing one, and a bad thing could happen. Being tired and tense, we wanted to drop an anchor at the river mouth but it was too rough. For the next six hours, we motored up the channel carefully and nervously, the GPS was perfectly right. Arriving at the Domburg anchorage in Suriname River, we couldn’t see any free anchoring space because of fog and darkness. Knowing the current is still behind us, we drove 6 more miles up the river into the jungle. When we arrived at the Waterland Marina Resort around 6am, it was still dark. Waiting for daybreak, we saw an empty spot and tied our boat up at the marina just before sunrise. What a relief! We managed to drive the boat for 42 miles into a jungle river in the dark. Feeling proud, I sensed all my nerves quickly relax. Everything can wait… The sun started coming up but I curled myself in my cabin and fell asleep in a second.

View of Devil’s Island from Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana


at Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

at Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

Animal in Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

Walking Trail, Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

Fuel Delivery Truck Landing on one of the Salut Islands, French Guiana


Water Storages, Royale Island, Salut Islands, French Guiana

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings, South America

No Rental Car and No SIM Card in French Guiana

S/V Bad Bunny at Anchorage near Cannes Port, French Guiana

(January 10, 2018) Upon arrival in French Guiana, we cleared our entry at the Main Port (Degrad des Cannes). The Harbor Master near the anchorage kindly drove us to the French Customs Office. He also showed us a series of animal pictures we can look for in French Guiana: Jaguars, Monkeys, Birds, Snakes, and more. We were excited to meet the exotic jungle animals.

On Saturday, we hitchhiked to a town (Cayenne) to get a rental car. It turned out we needed an International Driver’s License. With a US Driver’s License, we couldn’t rent a car. We didn’t have enough time to get a SIM Card because they were closed for their long lunch hours. We browsed a busy colorful produce market (Fruits and Vegetables) and had lunch in a Chinese restaurant nearby. Interestingly, I see most local people were eating Vietnamese Noodle Soup ‘Pho’.

The marina and anchorage are in such a remote location, it is difficult to do anything without a car. Taxi ride might be an option but it cost 30 Euros (USD36) just to get a main town (Cayenne). Besides, jungle bugs started attacking me when there is no wind. I frequently sprayed bug repellent on me. I wore long sleeve shirts and long pants in this tropical humid hot weather. In the meantime, John is topless but bugs didn’t bother him.

On the following Monday, we cleared out at the Customs and had a nice local Creole lunch with French Wine near the port. We left the next day at 1am, timing with outgoing tide on the river, we lifted the anchor and drove the boat for 7 hours to Salut Islands (Iles de Salut, Salvation Islands). This is the island where the old movie “Papillion” was based on. After seeing the Salut Islands, we will sail to Suriname.

We often have pouring rain here. It cleaned our boat nicely washing off the salt and thick yellow dust from cruising in the Atlantic Islands for last six months. It is nice to walk and sit on the deck without feeling crispy salt or fine sandy dust.

Cannes Marina, Port de Degrad des Cannes, French Guiana


Marine Store in Cannes Port, French Guiana

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings, South America