A Travellerspoint blog

Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

A Desert Island in the Caribbean.

sunny

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KNOWN FOR

DIVING, A CARIBBEAN ISLAND OUT OF THE HURRICANE BELT, DESERT TERRAIN, BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

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TRAVELLER TIPS

  • RENT A CAR. Taxi's are almost non-existent and super expensive. Beach hopping is almost impossible without one. Nightlife jumps from beach to beach depending on what night of the week it is as well. If you pick the wrong one, you'll be the only one there.
  • GO TO THE GROCERY STORE NEAR THE AIRPORT. Markets are almost impossible to find, even in town. Having a cooler with food and drinks makes beach hopping a breeze. Many beaches don't have services either.
  • BRING WATER SHOES. Most beaches have rockier entrances than you may be used to. Forums claim white sandy entrances but even the best beaches still have obstacles to avoid.
  • THE WATER IS DRINKABLE. You don't need to waste money on tap water.

HOTELS

RITZ STUDIOS

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An old ice-cream factory converted into a glamorized hostel. Listed as a hotel but without a comforter, warm water or a t.v., I downgraded it. Other than that, this accommodation has large, clean, Ikea style rooms for cheap in Punda. Great for a late night arrival and for a night after a trip to Klein Curacao to save some dough. Pampus restaurant is in walking distance, featuring views over the water as well as live music.

AVILA

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A great hotel within walking distance of Willemstad. (Safe during the day, not recommended at night with many deserted homes to pass before town). Jazz wing sea rooms hang over the ocean. The hotel has one of the better beaches on the island as well as great food. Just across the street are more fine dining options including Seasons. Seasons was a bit pricier than most restaurants, but for the small difference in price, it was far superior. A local hangout, Ginger served large portions of yummy Asian tapas just down the road. Hyatt is a newer hotel, but there is no comparison. The Hyatt does not face the ocean but rather a canal. The Avila also has an infiniti pool while the Hyatt's pool has no ocean views.

KURA HULADA BEACH RESORT

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A Small Luxury Hotel of the World in Westpunt. (The other, more isolated, side of the island) In my opinion the award was given years ago and the hotel is lacking in luxury. Quaint rooms with no A.C. in the bathrooms, old televesions, Motel 6 type towels and bathroom amenities, etc. The hotel is right on Kalki Beach. A great dive spot. The hotel has a pier that divers can go straight into the water from. Fun for snorkelers as well, as the reef is right at the sand. However, this means a super rocky entrance. Not the beach I dream about for an island vacation. Great restaurant cliff views over the beach, but super quiet hotel. There was literally zero nightlife. I think all the divers were resting up. We were the only people at the bar past 8pm. A great beach, Playa Kenepa nearby, but no shuttle service to and from. You must rent a driver a day in advance at $15 a person. Indian Caves are on the premises. A fun walk but nothing more than a little stairwell down to a cave with enough water for one person to dip in and right back out. Tip: If you don't have a car and are staying in Willemstad for part of your trip, use the shuttle between the hotels to save a 75 dollar transfer fee each way. Just cab to the other hotel and shuttle from there.

BEACHES

JAN THIEL

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A fun beach for happy hour. Locals crowd the beach on specific nights and many stay for dinner and partying into the late evening. Remember, local servers operate under island time. Dinner takes over an hour to be served on a crowded night.

PLAYA FORTI

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Free entrance. A great local beach where you'll spot beachgoers cliff diving. The sand on the beach itself is rocky but the entrance into the water is easier than others on the island. Only a few huts for shade, so make sure you get there early. Great restaurant on the cliff with amazing views as well as "platform" for a 10 meter jump into the water below.

CAS ABAO

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Visitors pay a fee per car. Security guards clear the beach at sundown. Known as one of the best beaches on Curacao, this beach has chairs as well as a beach hut selling food and drinks. Clean restrooms are also on the premises. This is the white sandy beach of the island, but you still have to navigate coral getting into the water.

KENEPA GRANDI

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Also known as Big Knip, several outlets have voted it one of the top 25 beaches in the world. Beautiful views from the cliff of the aqua water below. Depending on whether you show up on a weekday or weekend, you can find yourself alone on this cove or surrounded by crowds of locals. A small shack on the beach sells snacks. Cliff diving is popular here as well.

KALKI BEACH

(See Hotel Kura Hulanda Beach Resort above)

ACTIVITIES

KLEIN CURACAO

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A great day trip from Curacao. I heard mixed reviews and after going am shocked. This island is stunning. It has the white sand beach and perfect aqua water, the island is missing. As far as the complaint of the long journey, I think sailing with a drink in hand is half the fun. I recommend going with Bounty Adventures on a Sunday as most tour groups won't go on this day and the island will be less crowded. It was mainly only our boat there. Plus, they have a full bar included with the price of the excursion. The boat ride is about 1.5 hours each way and some do get sick. I get sea sick easily, but 1/2 a Dramamine pill was enough to keep me feeling great, but not too tired. They don't sell it at the dock, so remember to pack your own. I did go on a day without much wind, so check the weather. The remote island has nothing but a few shacks for shade. If you go with the Mermaid group you will have access to a hut with bathrooms on the island, but you'll also be with a crowd. There is a lighthouse and shipwreck to explore, but that will only take 30 minutes. On our trip, a boat of windsurfers showed up. Pretty to watch but the novices lack of control meant we had to dodge them while snorkeling. Don't forget to pack your own snacks if you think you'll get hungry before lunch, your own towel, and cash. The Mermaid Boat excursion only accepts cash for snacks and drinks (not open bar for them). Tip: Go back to the boat a half of an hour early so you can get a spot on one of the catamaran nets for the sail back.

CUBAN CIGARS

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Sopranos Restaurant in the Renaissance Fort sells them in larger numbers, but we found they were cheaper at the local bars. Miles Jazz bar in Willemstad was a great local hangout where patrons smoke Cuban cigars and have drinks while listening to the owners DJ local favorites.

WILLEMSTAD

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We walked around for an hour searching for a market to buy extra snacks. We eventually found one, but only with a local's help. Very unusual for a downtown area. We did see the floating market in Punda which really consisted of a few kiosks selling basic produce. That is it. A one minute excursion. Seeing the main bridge move, allowing the passage of larger vessels, splitting the city in half, is great to see. I also had drinks at the Kura Hulanda Hotel downtown which is a World Heritage Site. A must see in my opinion, especially if you have time to browse the museum. The fascinating part of Willemstad to me is the abundance of deserted mansions and lots right on oceanfront property. It makes walking at night require a little more awareness.

OTHER

There are many other excursions on the island including the Hato Caves, riding and ostrich at the ostrich farm, the Seaquarium where you can swim with dolphins, the Blue Curacao distillery and Amstel Brewery. I chose to only include activities on this blog in which I participated in.

Posted by IesimSkriesim 16:21 Archived in Curaçao Tagged desert diving caves island netherlands cuban_cigars curacao jazz snorkel dutch avila antilles willemstad westpunt kura_hulanda klein_curacao playa_forti kalki_beach kenapa jan_thiel queen_emma_bridge punda cas_abao bounty_adventures jona_lisa Comments (0)

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