The island of Curaçao is among the best-kept secrets and techniques within the Caribbean, regardless that it’s really the largest of the ABC islands (that’s Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao). So if you wish to appear to be you’re really within the know, skip that Bahamas trip and guide your subsequent journey right here.
Not solely does this lesser-known island sit outdoors the hurricane belt—that means the vast majority of its calendar yr is stuffed with nothing however sunshine and funky commerce winds—but it surely’s additionally a melting pot of greater than 50 nationalities (most locals can communicate 4 languages) and a haven for thrill-seekers. So if heart-pounding journey is what you’re after, right here’s the right way to spend 4 days on island time.
Methods to Get There
During the last three years, North American visitation has elevated by Eight %. To match demand, airways are providing extra flights than ever from the northeast—together with a 3rd every day flight from Miami on American Airways beginning December 2018.
Talking of Miami, this Dutch-owned island is barely a 2.5-hour flight from Magic Metropolis, and New Yorkers can anticipate a 4.5-hour journey to Willemstad, the nation’s capital. Should you’re piggy-backing off a visit to Aruba (which I extremely advocate), you’re taking a look at a fast 20-minute flight in between islands. However the brief flight time isn’t essentially the most enticing a part of Curaçao.
The place to Keep
Folks reserving an adventurous Caribbean trip are inclined to go in considered one of two instructions in the case of lodging: They both go all-out to have someplace luxurious to recoup, or go for a extra reasonably priced choice that saves money for actions.
Should you’re within the first group, then you definitely’ll need to keep at Avila Beach Hotel positioned within the Pietermaai district, particularly should you can nab one of many Ocean Front Blues rooms going through the Caribbean Sea for about $249 an evening. It’s the oldest resort on the island and it’s the place the Queen stays when she’s on the town. One other 4-star choice is Marriott’s Renaissance Curacao Hotel & Casino within the Otrabanda area, which has ocean-view rooms for about $245 an evening and ideally sits a five-minute stroll away from the long-lasting Queen Emma Bridge.
These wanting to avoid wasting dough can snag a room at Scuba Lodge Boutique Hotel & Ocean Suites within the Pietermaai district, whose normal rooms common $167 an evening. They’re supreme for many who don’t want a ton of frills however nonetheless need quick access to eating places and nightlife. There’s additionally Floris Suite Hotel & Spa in Piscadera Bay. The Loft Suite Millennial Particular averages $139 an evening and provides off a really inclusive, Ibiza-style vibe.
Wednesday: Good Meals and Dwell Tunes
Night: Relying on how lengthy you spent touring, chances are you’ll need to make your first night time enjoyable—however that doesn’t imply you must skip going out. Seize a cheerful hour drink at Zanzibar on Jan Thiel Beach, the place you’ll be able to dig your toes within the sand and nod alongside as local musicians unplug and play fashionable songs with an acoustic Caribbean aptitude. Keep till the present is over, or head subsequent door for an al-fresco meal at Tinto, the place you’ll nonetheless be shut sufficient to listen to the dwell music within the background as you feast on genuine Argentinian delicacies ready on a charcoal fireplace. One of many restaurant’s specialties: asado di tinto, or rib eye, rooster chorizo, and lamb chop served with Argentinean sauces and chipotle salad.
Thursday: Nationwide Parks and Avenue Artwork
Morning: Set your alarm, lease a Jeep, and drive to Christoffelpark, the most important nationwide park in Curacao that’s positioned on the northeast facet of the island. It’s residence to Mount Christoffel, the very best level of the nation, which at 1,220 toes of elevation will get the blood pumping to kickstart the day. Don’t attempt to put this off till later within the day, and be sure you deliver water—the path is barely open till 10 a.m. due to rising warmth and humidity.
Afternoon: Now that you simply’re awake, make your option to Shete Boka National Park for extra mountain climbing. The Boka Wandomi Trail is among the finest, and it’ll take you throughout jagged lava terrain to see the Boka Wandomi Natural Bridge, the Boka Tabla natural sea cave, two bokas (that’s Papiamentu, the native language, for “bays”), and superior views of waves crashing into limestone cliffs. Cease for a snack—iguana soup is a neighborhood delicacy—at any of the meals stands close to the park earlier than driving again to Willemstad.
Night: Get to know the town by means of its colourful avenue artwork. You may guide a breezy tuk tuk tour by means of One Curacao and zip by means of each the western Otrabanda facet and japanese Punda facet of Willemstad which, should you didn’t know, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 2 sides of the town are linked by that well-known Queen Emma pontoon bridge, which opens for boats to go by means of and solely permits foot site visitors. (Your tuk tuk information has a particular part of the bridge to go over.) Seize a restoration beer at Mijn Broodje Pietermaai. The menu options an array of conventional Dutch dishes. (We advocate the kapsalon, which has shawarma meat, melted Gouda cheese, dressed salad greens, and french fries.) For a extra upscale dinner, go to Blessing, a former cathedral monastery, for artisanal delicacies—and don’t neglect to order the wolfish.
Friday: Scuba, Snorkel, Stingrays, and Sharks
Morning: Cease for a fresh-fruit smoothie, or betido, at one of many many stands across the island (although arguably the very best one is positioned proper outdoors the Renaissance) earlier than visiting Ocean Encounters Curacao. An animal encounter bundle helps you to select between snorkeling or diving with sea turtles, stingrays, and nurse and lemon sharks in a pure lagoon. You’ll additionally get to feed the ocean creatures, and your ticket grants further entry to the Sea Aquarium Park.
If you’d like extra of a deep-sea journey, diving at Superior Producer could also be extra your pace. Ranked as top-of-the-line wreck dives within the Caribbean (and celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019), this 240-foot freighter ship was overloaded with Christmas provides when it sank in 1977. At present it sits upright and is residence to barracudas and a few of Curaçao’s most colourful fish. Simply notice you can’t discover when cruise ships are in port, as doing so may imply a most disagreeable dying by propeller.
Afternoon: Head to SeaBob Curacao subsequent, the place you’ll use the private underwater propellers to swim alongside sea turtles and faculties of fish off of Playa Piskado. There’s additionally Substation Curacao’s shark deep dive tour, which takes you 1,000 toes under sea stage—a.okay.a. decrease than divers are in a position to go—in a Curasub, or mini submarine. Maintain a watch out for a wide range of shark species you don’t usually see, together with Cuban Canine sharks, Seven Gill sharks, and Inexperienced Murray sharks.
Night: Curaçao has greater than 35 white-sand seashores, a lot of which might get crowded throughout excessive season, however Playa Porto Mari is a hidden gem on the western coast. (Although it was simply featured as a backdrop within the 2017 Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit situation.) Declare a chair and chill out—ideally with Brion, a neighborhood beer, in hand—or get within the water for extra snorkeling. Simply don’t go away with out saying hello to (and possibly feeding) Willy & Woody, two piglets who’ve lately made the seaside their residence.
Because the solar units, make your option to Kokomo Beach. (No, you received’t have the ability to withstand singing the well-known Beach Boys song.) There you’ll discover some fairly unforgettable views, stellar cocktails, and loads of seafood. There’s even a swing sitting in the course of the water, so don’t be stunned when your companion asks you to take a romantic seat and benefit from the view.
Saturday: Metropolis or Seaside
Morning: You’ve had two action-packed days so far, so give your physique some restorative consideration and mozy over to Hofi Cas Cora, the island’s first farm-to-table restaurant that’s fairly actually on a farm. They host a Hatha-style outside yoga class each Saturday at 8:30 a.m. beneath a giant ole’ Tamarind tree. (Signal-ups required, however mats are offered.) Refuel with the restaurant’s ever-changing brunch unfold, then discover the property to see precisely the place and the way the seasonal substances are grown. Or simply go and say whats up to one of many goats, donkeys, or pigs roaming round—they’re at all times on the lookout for new buddies.
Afternoon: At present you will have two choices—keep within the metropolis for a cultural infusion, or hit up extra seashores. Metropolis-folk ought to go to the Floating Market first. It hosts distributors from the neighboring nation who promote just-caught fish, tropical fruits, and greens. (Be aware: Whereas the market is often positioned on the Punda facet of Willemstad, it’s presently on the Scharloo facet, simply over the waterway, whereas the federal government updates the market constructions.) Once you’re finished, make your option to Wandu Café earlier than visiting Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue within the Americas.
If beach-hopping sounds extra enjoyable, then strive Irie Tours’ seaside hopping and snorkeling tour; your guides will present beer and enjoyable information concerning the space alongside the best way. Need to enterprise by yourself time? Playa Forti and Playa Kenapa (additionally known as Playa Knip) have essentially the most electrical turquoise-blue water, and each spots are identified for cliff leaping. Meals stands populate each areas, although you can additionally make the drive to Toko Williwood for a goat burger you received’t quickly neglect.
Night: Your final night time is usually a chill one with dinner at Ginger, a fusion of Caribbean-Asian dishes that hold your palate popping whereas native musicians entertain. Wrap it up with drinks and extra dwell music at Miles Jazz Cafe; sip on a Tokyo Millionaire at Luke’s Cocktail Bar; or see what’s taking place at 27, a blues and rock ‘n roll bar that honors iconic celebrities, like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, who handed away on the younger age of 27.