Curacao has been on my bucket list for a while and I was so excited when the Curacao Tourist Board invited me to their amazing island! I was a bit surprised, but super happy to find that Jet Blue offers so many direct flights. I had no idea what I’d find there, but what I experienced was some of the best the Caribbean has to offer. What I discovered was a true adventure island, a playground for independent travelers as well as the perfect destination for a family vacation…Curacao has it all! From a defined, unique and fun culture, to gorgeous beaches, to some of the best food you could ask for, experiencing Curacao is truly experiencing traveling to a different country (but where everyone speaks English!). Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, is the type of city that was born to be a star with its candy-colored buildings lining the waterfront, and Flamingos lounging in the water so close to shore, you could reach out and touch them.
Curacao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea around 40 miles north of Venezuela. Though often overshadowed by its sister island Aruba, Curacao can definitely stand in the spotlight all on its own. Could I be any more obsessed with this Island? The four days I spent trying to cover the whole island had me straight up looking at apartment listings, and telling my fiancé maybe we should leave nyc and embrace Island Living. I loved the colorful charm of all the architecture, the easygoing carefree vibes exuded by the locals, and the Island’s seemingly endless list of things to do, see and eat (and party)!
If you’re on Instagram, you’re sure to have seen Willemstad, and if you’re on this blog, you have definitely seen my pictures. The capital city is compact enough to walk across in 15 minutes, but to really enjoy it you’ll want to stop frequently for photographs of its architectural marvels and to get some snacks in the open air market. For the future Picasso, stop by Serena’s Workshop, and make your own chichi doll. Once you reach the waterfront, you’ll find another fascinating structure: a floating bridge, which spans the narrow harbor that cruise ships dock along and connects Otrobanda and Punda, two of the coastal historic quarters of the city.
Here is the list I have compiled from my adventure with the Curacao Tourism Board of where to stay, what do, and where to eat.
Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino – In the heart of historic Willemstad, built around the historic Rif Fort – a 19th-century landmark designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site – Renaissance Curaçao is a unique resort that offers something for everyone. With a casino, gym, infinity pool, beach, Starbucks, a variety of shops along the open-air boulevard and many restaurants, the possibilities here are endless.The other cool thing about the hotel is its proximity to downtown. – The Renaissance is in the heart of it all, so you have easy access to shopping and nightlife.
The Papagayo Beach Resort is located in the well-known Jan Thiel region, an upscale beachfront neighborhood, and has developed into an impressive network of properties, consisting of a resort, hotel and beach club. It is also home to many shops and great nightlife. You could come to Curacao, stay at Papagayo, and never leave the 5 mile radius (approximation) that Papagayo covers, and you’d still have the best time and adventure. It’s set upon its own private beach with a massive infinity pool overlooking the sea, where I saw pods of dolphins swimming in the sea.
No matter where I am in the world, I enjoy waking up and planning my meals for the day (not necessarily healthy meal planning, just making sure that I have plans to eat good food, although healthy doesn’t hurt!). Usually I am up for anything; fine dining, food trucks, you name it. So whenever I visit a new place, I like to try the full spectrum of cuisine. In Curacao, they have an amazing variety, so bring some pants with elastic waist bands! While I would have loved to have tried every restaurant in Curacao, as not one meal did disappoint, here are the places I did get to visit:
Mood – One of the stylish eateries and beach clubs on the outskirts of Willemstad. Imagine Soho House meets the beach!
Cana Kitchen & Bar – A chic spot in Williamstad. Cana has a cool atmosphere and boasts a diverse menu, where you are immediately tempted to try something out of the ordinary or venture outside your culinary comfort zone. No matter what you choose, you will not be disappointed. You may have an issue saving room for dessert with all the options on the dinner menu, but trust me save room for dessert! Order the Corn Panna Cotta; who knew popcorn ice cream could taste so good?
Plasa Bieu – Otherwise known as the Old Market. Even if you are staying in one of the Resorts on Curacao, you can still indulge in “local cuisine.” Located in the heart of Willemstad, the old market is a great place to go for lunch, and I’d recommend going hungry. Again, you must save room for the pumpkin pancakes (also known as Arepa di Pampuna) for dessert! I don’t like anything pumpkin flavored, but I loved these. Plasa Bieu is the place you can enjoy a filling delicious authentic meal for under ten dollars.
Koraal – A fabulous roof top bar / restaurant with a phenomenal ambiance. Firstly how can you get a better view of Curacao than from a rooftop? Secondly, where can you get ambiance and excellent taste and quality food without paying a fortune? I’ll tell you, at Koraal! A simple meal of fish and chips was outstanding in its preparation. I have no clue how they managed to turn an ordinary menu item into the extraordinary, but they did! As far as drinks, the bartenders make awesome pina coladas as testified to me by numerous guests imbibing them (I stuck with sparkling water). This is a go-to restaurant for food and drink and make sure to come for the sensational sunset.
Tinto – If you enjoy a fabulous steak dinner, Look no further (who doesn’t enjoy a fabulous steak dinner, other than my vegan/vegetarian peeps?). Another big plus is it’s location on the beach! I didn’t know that there could be such an amazing Argentinian Steakhouse outside of Argentina or NYC (shout-out to Balvanera NYC), but Tinto definitely makes the grade. It’s also another spot to see a great sunset
Curacao knows how to party. A mix of locals and tourists, many from Europe (those Europeans know where it’s at), were out at night spots during my trip. Curacao night hot-spots boast lively scenes any night of the week. Be sure to check out Mood Beach Club (mentioned earlier) and Zanzibar.
Playo Porto Marie is a beautiful Beach on the island, also home to two pigs that you may get the chance to swim with (Exuma isn’t the only place you can swim with pigs!) The beach has a restaurant on site, and you can even grab a Massage by the ocean for only forty dollars. If you’re into snorkeling, bring your flippers too, as the beach is also known to be a great place to spot some beautiful Caribbean marine life.
Bottomline Curacao is DUSHI (meaning sweet in Papimentu)!
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