Curaçao has become increasingly popular on the Caribbean travel circuit. Located just 40 miles north of Venezuela, with Aruba to the west and Bonaire to the east, Curaçao, part of the Dutch ABC islands, feels like a pristine European resort town gushing with tropical luxuries yet to be discovered. It’s laidback, aesthetically pleasing, progressive and relatively untouched.
Although Afro-Caribbeans make up the majority of the population— their traditions and culture have shaped the dialect, food, music art and indigenous religions— when travelers visit Curaçao, they’re embraced by a mélange of global influences that give the destination an evident edge. You’re likely to spot natives peddling fresh fruit and barbeque on the side of the road or hear Tumba, the local music, thumping in the distance. Curaçao is a place where finding your preferred vibe is part of the allure.
From the pastel-colored colonial structures dotted throughout the the capital city of Willemstad to the quaint beaches (there’s nearly 40) tucked away across the island, if you’re craving an uncommon Caribbean escape, this is it.
Baoase Luxury Resort
This Balinese-inspired five-star hotel is the ideal pick for jetsetters seeking exclusivity. Hidden in the heart of the city, 12 of the 23 guest accommodations feature private plunge pools shaded by lush gardens for a little extra seclusion. However, each room, suite and villa at Baoase is elevated in its own unique way.
Sunbath and sip champagne on the beach while admiring the surrounding rock formations, or if you’re up for an adventure, grab a kayak and explore the colorful coral reef. When you’re done, treat yourself to a full-body massage in an oceanside gazebo accented with tranquil, East Asian touches.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
On the far southeast side of the island, miles away from the action, is a sprawling 350-room resort flanked by endless shorelines. With amenities, services and activities the whole family can enjoy, post up and bask in laid-back luxury for as long as you can.
Xventure Curaçao Rappelling
Descending from a cliff, backwards, while secured in a harness 130-feet above sea-level, is hardcore no matter how jaw-dropping the views are on the way down. If you can push past your fears and surrender to the thrill, Terence Ching and Claudio Da Silva Correa of Xventure Curaçao, are skilled at ensuring that the journey is safe and enjoyable.
The company’s mission is to inspire visitors to tour the island in a sustainable way while offering them mentally, emotionally and spiritually rewarding experiences.
Book a day trip to Klein Curaçao, a tiny uninhabited island boasting the longest, whitest stretch of beach. It’s accessible via a two-hour boat tour from the mainland. When your catamaran docks, roam freely around the ring-shaped reef where cacti grow wild, hermit crabs move in hundreds, and a deserted pink 1850s lighthouse is surprisingly still standing.
Be sure to snorkel, even if you’re a first-timer. Klein’s shipwrecks and underwater caves attract a variety of fish species and the coolest green sea turtles.
Dining in Curaçao is a special affair. Reserve a table at Mood, an open-air beachfront eatery in Willemstad that attracts an international crowd. Start with the calida bienvenida cocktail (Anejo tequila, apricot liquor, agave syrup), move onto the grilled fillet of red snapper (served with roasted veggies and coconut rice) and finish with the tempura banana for dessert.
Head south to nosh on delectable dishes conceptualized and prepared by Curaçao native, chef Heinrich Hortencia, at Shore. The upscale restaurant offers a diverse selection of locally sourced ingredients paired with fresh and vibrant flavors. The seafood pasta and tropical spoom (rose water infused tropical fruits, prosecco, lime sorbet) are a must.
Photos by: Metanoya Z. Webb
Editor’s Note: This trip was taken before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. When planning to travel this summer, be sure to research any local tourism-related restrictions or closures ahead of time and continue to practice social distancing while visiting. Safe travels!