Travel Guide to Curacao
Curacao is a lovely destination... I can dream back to it right away; turquoise waters, white beaches, great beach bars, palm trees and a convivial atmosphere! Oh and lets not forget all the colourful buildings. If there is one thing that you can say about this island is that it really lives. Even during covid-19 it is definitely worth going. We went in March 2021 for 2 weeks. Everything was open, only you had to wear a facemask inside and 'real parties' were not allowed yet. In this guide I will give you all my tips for an amazing holiday on this beautiful island.
Where to stay?
As I always say; Airbnb is my number 1 choice. Due to covid we booked very late and thus we only had a couple of options; one of them an apartment in a castle in a protected neighbourhood on a 5 walk drive from the Spanish water and the other an apartment at a big house with pool and a view on the salt pans of the island. Eventually we went for the castle, as it is such a unique building. We had an amazing stay, the pool was nice and the view from the rooftop was amazing. Click here to go to the accommodation where we stayed in.
An hotel; the advantage is that sometimes they have private beaches and thus even if the country goes in lockdown you can often still make use of all the facilities.
There are also sites as TUI, Voyage Privé, Trivago and Corendon which offer trips/hotels for a lower price, at some websites sometimes up to -80% discount off the normal hotel price.
Hiring a car?
In order to fully explore the island you do need a car. On Santorini we drove a Fiat Panda because we didn't do a car upgrade; conclusion, the car had troubles getting up the mountains. As I wanted to be able to drive comfortably through the hills and mountains and I wanted a photogenic car I went searching for Fiat 500c's on google.
I found the company Livcuracao that only rents out beautiful Fiat 500's. And it was not even that much more expensive than a known company like Sixt or Herz as a 2nd driver, road service and an all risk insurance are already included. The company had great reviews and after some chatting with Chantal we reserved a car for 2 weeks.
During our stay we had some small problems such as that we had a huge rainstorm and whereafter the car didn't start anymore, after the road service told us that the car would be picked up by a truck Chantal directly headed our way to pick us up and arranged another Fiat 500c for us. Another thing was that our Taxi did not show us when we had to head to airport. Chantal her husband directly headed our way to bring us. That is what you call service.
Therefore I am so glad that we booked through this company, if we would have head these problems with a standard company I do not know if we were helped in such a great way!
Where to eat? My 3 fav restaurants!
El Gaucho! El Gaucho is a very good meat restaurant. I had a delicious steak with a red wine, it was mouthwatering good. The restaurant is located on a hill and thus has a view over a part of the island.
Karakter, a restaurant at the beach which everyone recommended to me. They have beautiful tables and great service. The food is higher priced but the taste is amazing, well worth the money!
Kyoto. This sushi restaurant does not have an all you can eat dining formula like we know in the Netherlands, but has great high levelled sushi. They also offer some options with local fish (if available).
Whe also went to a smoothie bar and a coffee bar. Both were very loved and unique in their own way. They are both located in. Willemstad
Where to go?
Willemstad, the capital of Curacao. Visit the trendy and colourful villages Punda, Pietermaai and Otrabranda. You will find many old, beautiful buildings in the most vibrant colors. Walk on the handelskade and look at the neighbourhood Otrobranda which is on the other side of the floating bridge. Often you will see magnificent wall paintings.
Swim in the Tomasito cave. This cave is located at the "abandoned" Kura Hulunda resort. This cave is one of the most beautiful things I have seen. It is definitely a must to visit this place. The Kura Hulunda is not in use anymore but there is staff at the gate and the reception, visiting the cave will cost you 5 guilders, which is about €2,50.
Swimming with turtles. The best beaches for swimming with turtles are said to be Playa Grandi and Playa Lagun. We did not see them at Playa Lagun, but we swam with a huge green sea turtle at Playa Grandi. At this beach the fishermen clean their fish and throw the heads in the water, which attracts the turtles, as young turtles are still herbivores. Be aware that turtles can bite if they feel threatened. Please respect these animals, keep a decent distance and do not touch them or swim aggressively after them.
Snorkel at Director's Bay. Wow! This place had such a magical underwater world. We did not see many big fish, smaller ones yes, fishing balls and parrot fishes, but the coral was outstandingly beautiful. We spotted elk horn coral, brain coral, sea fans and many more other types. This was by far the healthiest coral that I have seen on Curacao. However, I was shocked by the amount of fish we spotted, We did see fish balls and some parrot fish but it was still not much in regards with what I've heard and seen on video's. Thus, that was a reminder of how important it is that we look after our planet.
Hire a jetski at the Spanish waters. So Kev and I hired a jetski for 2 persons, with guide, at the entrance of the Spanish waters, over open waters we headed through the rest of the Spanish waters, looked at the most rich houses and toured around the mangrove. It was incredible. It was amazing to see the island from this perspective, and to cross on the water.
My top 5 best beaches
1. Jan Thiel beach. This beach is known for its many beach bars and parties. My favourite beach bar here is Koko's, they have great snacks and drinks, the vibe is chill and natural and the palm trees cause a natural shade.
2. Playa Porto Marie is the beach where you can find the famous pigs. This beach has a very tropical vibe, it is farther away from Willemstad but a great beach to go to.
3. Kenepa Grandi is a beach directly next to Kenepa Chiki, it is located in the North of the island. The location is more isolated, the water is perfectly blue and also there seem to be beautiful parts to snorkel, at the rocks and further away
4. Kenepa Chiki is the more intimate beach next to Kenepa Grandi.
5. Cas Abao is the most beautiful beach that I have seen on the island, therefore it is no surprise that it was rated as one of the 21st most beautiful beaches of the world by National Geographic. It has the idyllic picture; white sand, crystal clear water, palm trees and parasols made from old palm leaves.
6. Mambo Beach is one of the bigger beaches. For me a little bit too commercial and the sea is kind of separated from the beach by rocks; amazing for children but thus not that much sealife. However, I LOVED the beach bar Chill. Great food, delicious cocktails and beds and beach fee included if you spent a certain amount of money.
7. Playa Grandi, if you dream of snorkeling with turtles this is the place to go. The beach is small and intimate, there are a few beds and umbrellas you can hire. But this is your best shot in seeing turtles, as I said before in this guide, please respect the animals.
8. Playa Lagun, a beautiful, smaller beach, located in a cove. Here you can see some beautiful sealife such as corals and fish but it is also a great place to chill. We saw an enormous amount of fishballs here.
9. Kokomo beach, FINALLY a place where I could order a fresh coconut. This beach is a well known spot on Instagram; recognisable from the swing. This is a great place to snorkel and a great place to chill. The beds are not laid out in one row so it has a more spontaneous/vibrant feeling.