The minute you get off the plane and breathe in the topical air, your holiday has officially started. A warm cloak welcomes you when you arrive at Hato Airport while the yellow airport building already gives you a little taste of the Caribbean colors you’re so going to love. Curaçao is the island of everlasting summer, cultural heritage, happy people, clear blue water and of course white, sandy beaches. Where to start? We’ll get you in the right direction!
The climate in Curaçao is wonderful with an average of eight hours of sun each day, a temperature around 30 degrees and a fresh island breeze, it’s fair to say Curaçao is the perfect tropical destination.
The luscious climate in combination with a jet-lag does require a little adjustment for your body. Luckily the island has many options for you to just unwind, relax and be at ease on the first day of your holiday. Since you can’t fit it all in one day, here is a 3- day schedule that can work for you!
Day 1 – Rest and Revive
We all have busy lives with an internet connection 24 hours a day. Well, this is the time to shut it off. Leave your telephone at the hotel, forget about the incoming emails and indulge in the treats of Curaçao. Vacations are a time to unwind and treat yourself, and it doesn’t get much more relaxing and indulgent than a great massage under a shady palapa with the sound of the ocean gently crashing nearby. Many local beaches and resorts offer this service. A masseur is waiting for you to loosen your muscles and get the holiday vibe in full swing.
A great location we love for a good massage is at the Sea Aquarium Beach offering a cozy, tropical location steps away from the shore. The sea breeze might already be enough to give you the Caribbean, take-it-easy-vibe.
Its’ your first day in Curaçao. After your swim, you may want to take a peek into the underwater world with a snorkel or sign up for dive intro. More diving on page 46.
The sun, the island breeze and sea provide perfect conditions for water sports, even if you’re totally unexperienced. If you’ve dreamed of windsurfing, this is your chance!
In the mood for a calm family activity?
Let us introduce you to Stand-Up-Paddling: supping. When supping, you stand on a surfboard while paddling through the water. This popular water sport can be taught in a minute and takes you to beautiful places.
After a day relaxing by the sea, it’s about time to discover the sizzling nightlife in Curaçao. Start your evening in full swing- Join a Happy Hour near you! Then enjoy a sunset dinner at one of the cozy beach restaurants serving local and international cuisine. It doesn’t end here, there are several restaurants that turn into a loungy atmosphere hosting live bands and djs as well as stylish nightclubs and bars. You can refer to page 62 for some insight.
Place your feet in the sand, enjoy the sceneries and cheers to you on a perfect holiday!
Day 2 – Let’s go culture hopping!
Curaçao has an interesting, multicultural history which can be explored through monuments, statues and even beaches all around the island. There’s a legit reason that Curaçao’s city center is on the Unesco World Heritage List.
The city center of Curaçao consists of Punda (“point” in Papiamentu) and Otrobanda, which literally means the other side. This area was created when Punda got too busy. Punda’s streets are filled with a variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars, cafés and a floating market with fresh fruit and vegetables you can grab on your way in or out the city. On one street nearby named Hanchi Snoa, stands the oldest synagogue of the western hemisphere. Jews have been living in Curaçao since the 17th century and have played an important role in the history and economy of the island. The Mikvé Israël-Emanuel Synagogue built in 1732, is still in service and the Jewish Museum attached to it, is worth a visit.
On your way to Otrobanda you can walk through Fort Amsterdam. It was once built for the head of the West Indian Company.The Governor still lives here. The Fort is situated at a strategic point overlooking the Annabaai and the entrance is at the famous Handelskade (trade quay in Dutch). You can almost feel the history standing in between the yellow walls of this Fort.
Now, it’s time to meet the Swinging Old Lady! The Pontoon Bridge, also called swinging old lady because it tends to swing during heavy waves and connects Punda with Otrobanda.
On the other side of the bridge, you can walk straight into Otrobanda. Since 2001 many parts of this city have been restored after a period of decay. Houses and monuments have become modern office buildings, homes, stores and restaurants.
The Riffort in Otrobanda was built by the Dutch in 1828 to protect Curaçao from pirates and unwanted guest. The historic fort provides great views over the bay and has become a meeting place for a drink, dinning and shopping. On your way, pick up a refreshing fruit smoothy from the smoothy
truck and walk along the colorful souvenir market at the quay! A perfect spot to buy gifts from local Curaçao! The streets of Otrobanda resonate with history and you will step through time seeing the old and restored parts of the city. One of the best ways to discover the hidden treasures of Willemstad is on a photo tour.
After a day exploring the city, you’re probably exhausted and need to reboot in time for nightlife. Start off with a sunset drink enjoying a unique view of the Handelskade and the Queen Emma Bridge from La Bahia in Otrobanda. Or from the opposite side, on Handelskade, with a view on Otrobanda at the all famous Iguana Café. If you’re up for a short drive, Fort Nassau is worth a visit too. The Fort at a height of almost 60 meter, offers a magnificent 360 view over Curaçao. Bon Apetit!
Day 3 – Time to explore!
Take a scenic drive to Banda Bou and relish in the unspoiled nature of Curaçao. The beaches in this area are quieter, especially during the week. The ride to this part of Curaçao in itself is marvelous. As you drive up north, you gradually leave the inhabited world and merge right into the impressive wilderness where there are many green and rocky hills. In between that exciting nature you will find jewel-beaches, each with its own distinctive charm.
Playa Knip (Kenepa), Cas Abou or Porto Marie are three beaches which are known to create the ‘wow-effect’. Dive in and get to know the Caribbean Sea yourself or take a little nap on a comfortable beach chair. If you’re up for it, snorkel or scuba diving at one of the many sites of the island, several reputable dive and boat tours operators can take you there.
We will never get bored of the idyllic beaches at the South Coast, but the North Coast is a welcomed diversification. The rocky coast line with big waves splashing against the massive stones is surreal and impressive. Since you’re already in Banda Bou, a little detour at the North Coast is a great way to spend your afternoon. After soaking up the sea and sun, continue northwest towards Mount Christoffel with its adjacent park. Here you can see, feel and smell the flora and fauna of Curaçao. The safest and fun way to explore the North coast is with a 4-wheel drive or Jeep. Therefore many tour operators offer quad tours. Get ready to cross through the mud, race over rocks and explore nature.
There’s always a lovely place to finish your day at this side of the island. Several snack bars and beach front restaurants are happy to serve you some of the finest international or mouth watering local cuisine of the island, accompanied wines, signature cocktails and a sunset that will take your breath away.
Three days filled with water activities, culture and nature tours may make you thirsty for more then sunsets. Did we mention the clubs and bars on the island? Popular house dj’s visit Curaçao often making the salsa and live music scene here very lively. Every moment of every day in Curaçao has all it takes to entertain and sweep you off your feet. You’ll never be done exploring!
written by: Elisa Koek