Updated: May 29, 2018
After the festivities of Christmas and New Year are over the reality that winter is here sets in. With the temperature dipping to those wonderful negative digits that we all love it’s time to think about a winter escape. For this most of us look to the Caribbean and while there are a number countries to consider we opted to return to Curacao.
Curacao with it’s abundance of beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters is a hidden gem. This small island may not be top of mind for most when considering where to go in the Caribbean but it’s one of the best kept secrets of the region! Providing you with not only the warmth of a typical Caribbean getaway but also the cultural and culinary experience found in larger international destinations.
I know many people would opt to go the all inclusive route, but I would highly recommend looking at booking just a room or renting out a flat. If you are not a big drinker it works out to be much more economical and it will give you the chance to explore the full breath of the cuisine Curacao has to offer.
Having stayed there previously and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of the staff we returned to Floris Suite Hotel, an adult only hotel just outside of Willemstad. This welcoming establishment will put you at ease from the onset and for the LGBT+ traveller it is a very inclusive atmosphere. There are are variety of room choices to pick from and all come with a small kitchenette that is very handy to have.
While you can always purchase one of the many tour packages offered to see the sights of the island, if you want to be on the adventurous side renting a car will give you the freedom to get around at your own pace. There are many beaches and points of interest throughout Curacao that you don’t want to miss, some of which you can only get through using your own transportation anyway. You can get a rental from anywhere between 35-60 USD a day depending on where you go so be sure to shop around. We arranged ours through Prudential Real Estate and it couldn't have been easier with both the drop off and pickup done right at our hotel.
Among the many beaches we had the benefit of exporing while driving around my favourites would have to be in the Jan Thiel Bay area (off to the east of Willemstad) and by Westpunt. The beaches in Jan Thiel are more established and if you are one to not sacrifice on the amenities this would be the spot for you. You can enjoy to beautiful waters while sipping on your favourite cocktail at Jan Theil Beach and if you get bored you can dip your toes in the Infiniti pool at Papgayo Beach just a short walk away. The area also has plenty of restaurants, shopping and a great nightlife to keep your entertained for the whole day (and well into the night if you so choose).
If you want to be off the beaten path and enjoy less populated beaches, take a drive up to the west end of the island and check out the beaches in Westpunt. My favourite of these was Playa Kalki, a small sandy beach tucked away right behind Lodge Kura Hulanda. These beaches are most certainly closer to being natural or unspoiled as you can get for a beach frequented by tourists. As well they are a much better option for the divers out there or those wanting to snorkelle. Be warned though, you may want to pack food as not all the beaches will have easily accessible food service every day (something we found the hard way).
Speaking of food the one thing you will enjoy while in Curacao is the wide array of food you can have, ranging from traditional local to European infused cuisine. One of the best areas to visit if food is your desire is the Pietermaai district, it has a wide array of establishments to satisfy the most diverse of taste palettes. Not to mention some breathtaking views of the sea to take in while you enjoy the meal.
Having missed out on their food the last time around we returned to Bij Blauw and it didn't disappoint. I would have to say that it’s a food oasis where you can enjoy superb culinary creations with an European flair while taking in the relaxing vibes or shopping in their boutique store.
Another favourite we made sure to go back to was Saint Tropez, here you can while away the whole day. This multifunctional establishment easily transitions from a pool lounge during the day to a vibrant restarurent with a lively nightlife. Be sure to catch the amazing sunset views while enjoying their delicious food.
Along with the trusted favourites we came way with new go to spots we well. Be it the cool eclectic vibes of Mundo Bizzaro or the Spanish flare of Cantina del Patron there is something for everyone to enjoy. The warm and welcoming Mundo Bizzaro with their mismatched furniture can be found right at the start of the Pietermaai district and you mustn't miss out on their live entertainment. It's a great spot for late night entertainment, delicious (for some also strong) drinks and good eats at a great price.
A short walk down the street from Mundo Bizzaro you can find Cantina del Patron, excellent for those looking for more tapas style fare. They have some great mouth watering dishes that are bursting with flavour. Be sure to grab a spot outside to eat so you can catch the sights and sounds of the street, it's something that ought not to be missed.
From the mouth watering food to the breathtaking beaches Curacao packs one hell of a punch, you are sure to come away from the visit wanting more and like I did itching to come back again. It's a sweat spot to visit or as they say there it's one "Dushi" place.