With winter upon us, you may be thinking longingly of the far-off warmth of spring and summer. If so, now is time to start planning a deep-winter tropical getaway.!
If you are looking for something new and off the beaten path, we have the perfect locale for just that: Curacao!
Curacao is a Dutch colonial island located between Aruba and Bonaire in the Southern Caribbean. Willemstad, the colorful capital, is famous for its bright buildings that line the waterfront. The island’s pristine diving, gorgeous white sand beaches, and stunning nature are all attractions to the small number of tourists that pass through each winter.
Keep reading to learn about the best places to stay, food to eat, and things to do!
Accommodations: If you want to enjoy the culture and metropolitan vibes of the capital city Willemstad and be in the heart of it all, we recommend staying at BijBlauw Hotel. BijBlauw is situated beachfront in trendy Pietermaai, the historic cultural heart of Willemstad. Walk to hip bars and restaurants, shop at well curated boutiques and check out some of the historic attractions nearby.
If you are looking for a more relaxed destination, head to Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort. Situated on 2,000 acres just south of Willemstad, Santa Barbara is a destination in itself. Relax on their private white sand beach or poolside. Indulge in recreation on the golf course, tennis courts or biking and hiking trails. Santa Barbara is also a water-sports heaven with diving, fishing and other activities available.
Restaurants: The food is Curacao does not disappoint! Our favorite spots in Willemstad are The Gouverneur and Fort Nassau. The Gouverneur is a stunning spot located right along the water. The food is phenomenal. We highly recommend getting the Cuban Banana soup; it is out of this world! Fort Nassau is an old fort transformed into a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the famous bridge and the city. We suggest getting the steak or lamb chops. In Westpunt, Sol Food is a big hit. This tiny restaurant, with only 8 tables so you need a reservation in advance, is situated on the patio off of the owner’s home. It is only opened on the weekends and serves up delicious pizza and other grub. The highlight though is the scrumptious peanut butter brownie dessert. Jaanchies is another hot local spot in Westpunt. There are no printed menus, rather, Jaanchie himself comes up and tells you what they are serving today and takes your order. It is mainly fish and meat stews along with some sides. He will offer you a taste of the Iguana stew and you should try it. Travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zones, isn’t it?
Beaches: Our absolute favorite beach is Playa Knip, in Westpunt. Although it takes about an hour to get here from Willemstad area, it is totally worth it to view the crystal clear water, beautiful reef, and white sand. It is hard to contain oneself from running straight in the water!
Another great beach in the Westpunt area is a Daaibooi because it is quiet and peaceful, with no loud music or kids running around. Mambo is the most popular beach in Curacao, complete with beach bars, shopping, and events. Tip - Sit near Lions Dive Resort for a more peaceful part of the beach. Jan Thiel is our favorite beach located in a central part of the island. Every Saturday night they have a party with music. Entrance is free, but you will most likely spend some money at the bar. Dancing the night away on the sand is a perfect Curacao experience.
Activities: Curacao is known for its pristine scuba diving spots. We recommend diving at Playa Grandi (also a wonderful place to snorkel) where you are almost guaranteed to see a few turtles!
Other nice spots to dive are Alice in Wonderland at Playa Kalki and at Playa Porto Marie, all in Westpunt. For snorkeling, Tug Boat is a fun spot to check out a shipwreck up close. Speaking of shipwrecks, there is a massive ship at Jan Thiel beach you can snorkel/dive. We also recommend kayaking to the Blue Cave in Westpunt, where you can snorkel. Another unique activity in Westpunt is to see Watamula. This is an impressive, large, eroded hole above the ocean that the waves will crash through. Just don’t fall in! Klein Curacao, the tiny, uninhabited island located about 26 miles from the main island, is a day trip not to be missed. This little island boasts stunningly crystal clear water, an abandoned lighthouse, and a shipwreck to be explored. However, be warned that the journey to Klein is often very rough so if you get seasick, be prepared with medicine, or perhaps forgo this option.
Curacao is truly a hidden gem in the Caribbean. If you are seeking sunshine, adventure, and delicious food, this is the place for you.