Let’s face it while we all love the city in the winter months sometimes you just need a getaway to chase away the winter blues. This year I decided to break with trend and, instead of hitting up one of the typical “go to” spots (when we think of the Caribbean) I picked a little Island in Dutch Caribbean called Curacao. Let’s just say this trip certainly jumped to the top of my “go to” vacation spots. If you are looking for an affordable yet enjoyable winter getaway that has just the right amount of sun and culture, Curacao is it.
We stayed near Willemstad, the capital of the Island, in a small but most welcoming hotel called Floris Suite Hotel & Spa (www.florissuitehotel.com). An adult only resort with only 72 rooms and tranquil pool area it never felt busy, letting you decompress from your hectic life back home. The hotel had a very inclusive atmosphere, something you don’t see openly emphasized in most of the Caribbean.
While the hotel itself was not directly on a beach it had it’s own private beach area (Moomba Beach club) within a very short walking distance, I loved that it was never busy. If you wanted variety there were a number of small private and public beaches within a walking distance or a short drive. I think the picture speak better than I ever could when trying to describe the sandy beaches with its beautiful blue waters.
Taking in the sights:
Willemstad was a short (and free) shuttle ride from the hotel and worth a visit. The historical district in Punda had beautifully preserved Dutch architecture painted in vibrant Caribbean colours. There were times when walking through the narrow cobblestone streets that you forgot you were in the Caribbean and not somewhere in Europe. Of course there were loads of shops and restaurants for you to spend time in.
While Punda was nice and is what most people think when picturing Curacao I found it to be more touristy. My favourite area was just a short walk outside of the historic district Pietermaai, an up and coming neighborhood. This was definitely more my vibe with its trendy boutiques, hotels and restaurants mixed in with local residences and businesses.
What vacation is complete without talking about the food and our stay in Willemstad had number of amazing and delicious highlights.
Lunch by the Water:
Right as we got off the shuttle there is Rif Fort, once part of the old fortifications built to protect the bay area and now part of a modern shopping complex. There tucked away in one corner right at the entrance is Bistro Le Clochard (www.bistroleclochard.com). Having been there for nearly 39 years you know this family run restaurant has been doing something right. It may look small at first but walk to the back and you can be sitting sipping a delightfully tasty Blue Lagoon (with a Curacao twist of course) enjoying an uninterrupted view of the bay. Add to that some delicious food and you have your perfect lunch outing.
Coffee break from exploring:
Walking around the narrow streets in the historic district you will hit the oldest synagogue in the Caribbean and right across from it you can spot a relatively new addition to the many cafes and restaurants in the area. Wandu Café (www.facebook.com/wanducafe) billing itself as an oasis for coffee lovers it transports you to a modern and edgy café somewhere in Europe.
Drinks by the sea:
As we explored Pietermaai, we were told that one of the must see spots in the area was Bij Blauw (www.bijblauw.com), a boutique hotel, restaurant and store all in one right on the water. From the outside you are greeted by a row of brightly coloured Dutch houses and after some initial struggle trying to figure out the right door you walk to the back where you are greeted by a fusion of rustic and modern design elements. As the evening went on I could see how Bij Blauw nailed it as a spot to be in Curacao. Our only regret was not trying their delicious looking menu, next time…
Dinner at sunset:
Just a short walk from Bij Blauw is Saint Tropez Ocean Club (www.sainttropezcuracao.com) another boutique hotel and restaurant with its own private infinity pool and cabana. Once you are within the walls you truly are transported to it’s namesake, with the breeze on your back it is a perfect spot to watch the warm sun set over the horizon. With that it too transitioned from a hot cabana pool bar to a trendy evening venue with mouth watering food and very friendly waitstaff.
I can say that I am missing the warm sunny days that greeted me while I was there and cannot wait to go back next year. Now knowing more about the area I hope to go back to spots we enjoyed so much and try even more of the recommendations we got from all the friendly locals we met there. If you were looking somewhere different to go in the Caribbean this would be my recommendation. As always we love to hear from you, where is your go to spot in the Caribbean?