Within the Caribbean, the ABCs are greater than the constructing blocks of language; they’re the three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and the biggest of the three, Curaçao.
The “C” of the ABC islands is something however common. From its assorted landscapes to its eclectic neighborhoods and cosmopolitan vibes (it has three official languages, for starters), Curaçao’s sides and layers make for a journey expertise that is distinctive, deep and wonder-inducing. And sure, it is brimming with improbable seashores, too.
The once-Dutch colony is now an unbiased nation the place folks from 55 nationalities coexist, together with a lot of European, Caribbean and South American descent. Willemstad, its capital metropolis, is all-around colourful, from the brightly hued homes alongside its iconic waterfront to the road artwork and vibrant festivals of its up-and-coming Otrabanda neighborhood. Historical past runs deep in Willemstad, too—a lot in order that it’s listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Web site.
Exterior the capital, Curaçao’s stellar dive websites plus mountaineering, biking and ATV trails invite exploration in any season—particularly since temperatures not often dip beneath 76 levels. Right here’s a better have a look at what you would possibly do in your journey.
Set 37 miles off the South American coast (and out of doors the hurricane belt), Curaçao is a nonstop flight away from Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, New York (JFK) and Newark. Many Caribbean cruises additionally come to port in Willemstad.
Plan to change or withdraw money (the native forex is the Antillean Guilder) for taxi rides and gasoline stations on the island as most cannot settle for credit score and debit playing cards. Most retailers and eating places on the island do, nonetheless.
Stroll by a cross-section of cultures
As soon as you have landed, Curaçao’s capital metropolis, Willemstad, ought to high your checklist of websites to discover. You could have seen the Punda district’s colourful bayside row homes in Instagram posts or postcards. The in-person view is significantly better. Admire them from the Queen Emma Bridge, a novel pedestrian bridge that floats on the water, fairly than being suspended above it.
When boats come by, as a substitute of rising, the bridge is introduced perpendicular to the shore to permit the vessel’s passage. At evening, the bridge’s minimalist-chic arches gentle up in a rainbow of colours.
These are a number of the metropolis’s most iconic sights—however just the start of what Willemstad has to supply.
You will start to get a way of Curaçao’s multicultural material as you peruse the markets within the Punda neighborhood—together with the “floating” market, the place Venezuelan retailers dock their boats and promote contemporary produce, spices and seafood beneath colourful tents. (They as soon as offered instantly from their boats—thus the identify.)
Pedestrian-only Punda is lined with cafes and retailers to discover. Thursday nights, the Punda Vibes competition brings a burst of native artwork, craft markets, reside theater and cultural dance to the streets.
Have dinner on romantic Nieuwestraat within the walkable Pietermaai district, the place small tables dot the sidewalks outdoors European-style buildings awash in vibrant hues. Strings of lights stretch throughout the brick-laid streets inviting you to walk by the neighborhood also referred to as Curaçao’s SoHo.
The attention sweet continues with Curaçao’s ubiquitous avenue artwork. Murals snake throughout partitions, home windows and doorways, bringing buildings throughout town to life. That is very true within the Otrabanda district, set throughout the water from Punda. (Unsurprisingly, “otrabanda” interprets to “the opposite facet.”)
The once-overlooked neighborhood has skilled a complete renaissance lately and is now thought of to be town’s cultural heart—and an enormous level of satisfaction amongst residents. This satisfaction may be seen in full impact in the course of the neighborhood’s annual Kaya Kaya competition in late summer time. The fest is devoted to celebrating the district’s revitalization and enhancing it by community-led beautification efforts, avenue artwork tasks, reside performances, meals and dancing.
After touring the district’s outside artwork, pop into the clothes boutiques, eating places and bars alongside Breedestraat, the district’s important avenue. Seize a paper cone stuffed with piping scorching Dutch patat (fries) at informal waterfront spot Dutch Deal with. Go for an genuine Peruvian ceviche or causa at Ceviche 91, Curaçao, which gives alfresco eating with bay views. Or head a number of blocks inland to Bodega Siete Gotas, a South American-Caribbean seafood and steak restaurant that earns constant raves with locals and guests alike.
Take a hike, a experience or a dive
Whereas Willemstad’s intercontinental vibes could sometimes make you neglect the place you might be, the land and sea past its borders provide gorgeous reminders that you just’re certainly in a Caribbean paradise. To see the complete scope of Curaçao’s pure magnificence, hike to a privileged vantage level atop its highest peak, Mt. Christoffel (additionally the very best level within the ABC islands altogether). The trailhead—together with seven others—may be discovered inside Christoffel Nationwide Park, a 4,450-acre wildlife protect the place tall cacti, uncommon orchids and endemic shrubs create a novel panorama to admire in the course of the comparatively brief (1.7 miles out and again) however difficult climb.
From the highest, you will savor 360-degree views of the island’s rolling inexperienced hills and the sapphire sea surrounding. Tip: for these lower than mountaineering (a necessity on the finish of the trek), two driving routes take adventurers previous outdated copper mines, plantation home ruins, fowl habitat and cave work on the best way to the summit.
Bikers will discover their bliss on the jap finish of the island. As soon as utilized by Dutch colonists to reap salt from seawater, the Jan Thiel Salt Flats exist now as remnants, although you will nonetheless discover mounds of crystallized salt throughout the large rectangular accumulating “pans.”
This can be a scenic space to discover by way of a biking tour; the dividers between the flats are simply broad sufficient to experience throughout, and you will additionally traverse dense forest on the route. As a bonus, you will doubtless catch sight of the realm’s resident flamingos as they wade the shallow waters searching for meals. You may e book a experience with an area tour firm who will present the gear and steerage you might want to discover safely.
You may also navigate hidden corners of the island by way of an ATV experience. These high-octane adventures sometimes embrace stops at off-the-beaten-path factors of curiosity, from ostrich farms to secluded seashores.
It comes as no shock that Curaçao’s postcard-perfect waters are house to unbelievable dive and snorkel websites, from sunken ships to coral reefs. Many of those are protected against robust currents, making them very best spots for novices to get their fins moist, so to talk.
The year-round heat water temperatures—starting from 79 to 85 levels—are a pleasant perk, too. A rainbow of tropical fish, eels, corals, anemone and sea turtles await on your underwater viewing pleasure. For a distinct sort of water-based journey, e book a ship tour to the Blue Room, an ethereal-blue cave on the island’s western shore. It is accessible solely by way of boat experience or a hike.
Unwind on the seaside
Rounding out the array of issues to do on an island of broad-ranging enchantment are Curaçao’s dozens of lovely seashores. From well-known vacationer spots to secret sandy coves, there is a plot of paradise for each temper.
Close to the aforementioned salt flats, you will discover Jan Thiel Seashore, one of many island’s buzziest seashores, the place facilities like loungers and umbrellas for rent, cafes and eating places plus public restrooms make for a straightforward seaside day. Mambo Seashore, set close to seaside resorts, buying, eating and leisure, is one other in style spot.
On the quieter facet of the spectrum, Playa Lagun on the island’s western shore is about between two jutting bluffs, giving it a tucked-away, secluded really feel. Carry your snorkel gear to this one—the submerged cliffs are a favourite hangout for fish and sea turtles.
Although a bit rocky, pure seaside Playa Forti is value a go to for a serene swim. Close by clifftop eating places provide stellar views of the glimmering turquoise sea—a satisfying accompaniment to a celebratory spherical of drinks, particularly at sundown.
A brief drive from Willemstad, Pirate Bay Seashore is one other ace spot from which to catch the sundown, whether or not from a towel or a desk within the sand. (There is a seaside membership and restaurant by the identical identify there.)
Chill and recharge
In line with its status for eclecticism, Curaçao gives a little bit little bit of every thing in the case of lodging choices. You will see a handful of all-inclusive resorts set across the capital on the south facet of the island, well-known manufacturers (Sandals and Marriott, for instance) amongst them. Baoase Luxurious Resort is the independently owned (and top-rated) outlier, its villas decked out in a mixture of festive hues, teakwood and Balinese-inspired decor. Some partitions and ceilings confide in the tropical environment for a nature-infused “barefoot luxurious” expertise.
With its expansive oceanfront pool and handy location close to the seaside and eating places, Papagayo Seashore Resort within the Jan Thiel space is an effective match for households. As one other family-friendly perk, its spacious villas and suites embrace full kitchens.
Funds-conscious mini resorts plus eco-friendly inns using photo voltaic vitality and inexperienced constructing practices are additionally among the many myriad choices—as are quite a few trip leases.
If you happen to (understandably) cannot determine on only one place to remain, it is completely acceptable on an island this numerous to e book a number of and hop round. That manner, you will get to soak in as a lot as potential throughout your Curaçao getaway.