Curaçao, the largest of the ABC islands (made up of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), is often overshadowed by its more popular Caribbean counterparts. If you want to appear worldly and sophisticated on your next vacation, consider venturing to this lesser-known island.
As well as being outside the hurricane zone, meaning most of the year it’s bathed in sunshine and sweltering trade winds, the little-known island is also a melting pot of more than 50 nationalities (most locals can communicate in four languages), as well as a paradise for adrenaline junkies. Here’s how to spend four days on the island if you’re looking for an exciting adventure.
how to get here
If you are looking for a quick getaway, Curaçao may be the perfect choice. Visits to North America have increased 8 percent in recent years, and airlines are now offering more flights than ever before to meet demand. You can expect a 4.5-hour flight from New York to Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao. And if you’re coming from Miami, you’ll only need 2.5 hours in the air. I recommend a 20-minute flight to Curacao if you’re going to Aruba; definitely worth it. The best thing about Curaçao is that planes can land and take off both on the beaches and on the runways, unlike many other Caribbean islands.
Where to stay
If you’re looking to book an exciting Caribbean vacation, chances are you’ll go for one of two options when it comes to accommodations: total luxury or a cheaper option that saves money for activities. If you’re in the former category, stay at the Avila Beach Hotel on Avila Beach in Pietermaai, which offers rooms for around $250 a night. The option is Marriott’s Renaissance Curacao Hotel & Casino. Rooms have stunning sea views and are just a 5-minute walk from the iconic Queen Emma Bridge. You can reserve a room for as low as $245/night!
The Scuba Lodge Boutique Hotel & Ocean Suites in the Pietermaai area offers accommodations for as little as $167 per night, making it a reasonable option. They are perfect for people who don’t want to compromise on convenience but still want easy access to dining and entertainment. The Loft Suite Millennial Special is available at $139 per night and has an Ibiza-style party atmosphere.
Wednesday: Live music and delicious food
Afternoon: After a long day of travel, you may want to spend your first night resting. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun. Stop by Zanzibar for a drink during happy hour, where you can enjoy the view of the beach and listen to local musicians play popular songs with a Caribbean acoustic twist. Stay to watch the show or go next door for a cookout at Tinto, where you’ll still be close enough to hear the live music in the background as you enjoy traditional Argentine cuisine cooked over a charcoal fire. One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is the asado di tinto, which consists of rib eye, chicken chorizo, and lamb chops served with Argentinian sauces and chipotle salad.
Wednesday: Good food and live tunes
Afternoon: If you’ve been gone a long time, make your first night comfortable, but don’t forget to go out. Have a glass of wine in Zanzibar at Jan Thiel Beach, where you can lounge on the sand and nod as local musicians kick back and play popular songs with an acoustic Caribbean twist. Come for the show, or better yet, stay after and head to the Tinto next door for a cookout. You will still be able to listen to live music in the background while enjoying the best food in Argentina cooked over a charcoal fire. Be sure to try one of their specialties: asado di tinto (rib eye, chicken chorizo, lamb chop served with Argentine sauces and chipotle salad).
Afternoon: Get to know the city admiring its brilliant street art. At One Curacao, you can take a quick tuk tuk tour and tour both the western side of Otrabanda and the eastern side of Willemstad’s Punda, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famous Queen Emma pontoon bridge links the two sides of the city, which is only accessible by boat and only allows pedestrians to cross. Your tuk tuk guide will take you over a special section of the bridge. Afterward, stop by Mijn Broodje Pietermaai for a recovery beer.
Morning: The best drink stand is just outside the Renaissance, so stop by for a refreshing tropical drink before heading to Ocean Encounters Curacao. In its natural lagoon habitat, you can snorkel or dive with sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, and lemon sharks on an animal encounter package. You’ll also be able to feed these magnificent creatures as part of the deal! Sea Aquarium Park allows you to learn more about aquatic life while saving money on transportation costs.
For those looking for more excitement in their deep sea diving adventure, Superior Producer is perfect. Rated one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean, this 240-foot freighter loaded with holiday supplies when she tragically sank in 1977 now sits upright and serves as home to barracuda and some of Curacao’s most exotic fish. . However, she does note that she cannot explore while cruise ships are docked in port; if you get caught, the propellers can kill you.
Afternoon: SeaBob Curacao is perfect for those who want to get up close and personal with sea turtles and schools of fish. You will use your own underwater propeller to swim around Playa Piskado, it is an experience that you will not soon forget. If that doesn’t appeal to you, Substation Curacao offers a deep shark diving excursion where you can dive 1,000 feet below the surface in a mini submarine (Curasub). And don’t worry, there are plenty of trained experts on this expedition too. As you admire all the sharks, keep an eye out for some rarer ones like the Cuban Dog Shark or the Sevengill Shark.
Afternoon: Curaçao has more than 35 white-sand beaches, many of which get crowded during high season. But if you’re looking for a hidden gem, check out Playa Porto Mari on the western coast. Claim a chair and kick back, preferably with Brion, a local beer, in hand, or jump into the water for more snorkeling. And don’t forget to say hi to (and maybe feed) Willy and Woody, two little pigs who live on the beach. You’ll find some unforgettable sights here, from the mid-water swing to the stellar cocktails and seafood. Enjoy a romantic seat with your partner and take in all that Kokomo has to offer.