I first heard about Curaçao when my brother-in-law surprised my sister with a honeymoon trip to the island. I remember anxiously waiting for her to call me back at the airport:
Me: "So where did he take you?"
Her: "Cure a Sow!"
Me "Awesomeeeee! Have a blast!
Also Me: Where is that even located? What’s up with their pig situation? I hope she doesn’t eat the bacon it sounds like they have some issues.
7 years later I've gotten my geographical life together, found out where it is, and have visited this island oasis not once but twice since then. After one trip, you too will understand why Curacao is growing in popularity. This Caribbean gem is naturally beautiful, there's plenty to do, but it's not so commercialized that you feel like you're in Touristland, America. If you're on the fence about booking a trip, below are a few reasons to make it happen:
First of all, Curaçao is the Skittles of the candy isle. Their capital of Willemstad looks like a Crayola box of colors, with rows of colorful buildings throughout the downtown area. All of your photos will look Straight Outta Easter, and the happy energy in the air is contagious. While it's only paint, many travelers have said the colors actually lift their mood, making an already beautiful getaway an actual stress-reliever!
You could go to a different beach in Curaçao every day for a month and still not see them all! My favorites were Cas Abao and Playa Kenepa (Knip Beach), both located on the west side of the island. While both gorgeous, I'd recommend them for different reasons.
Cas Abao was more lively, with a full bar, restaurants, a massage hut and water sports to enjoy. If you're rolling with a crew of friends, this is your place to kick it all day and have a blast without having to bring much with you.
Playa Kenepa is unbelievably beautiful. Like, open-mouthed stare gorgeous. When I pulled up in the parking lot I spent at least 15 minutes taking pictures from the cliff overhanging the beach before I even set foot on it. If you're traveling solo, with a good friend, or your better half, a day at Kenepa is a lovely way to spend the day relaxing and taking in the beauty of the island. The food and drink selections are a lot smaller here, so bring a cooler and snacks, and a little cash for incidentals.
Since most hotels are located on the east side of the island, definitely rent a car and take day trips to the west side to pick out your own favorite beach during your stay!
From what I hear the island recently went without rain for an entire year. While that's no fun for farmers, it's reassuring for those of us seeking some uninterrupted beach time. Curaçao has temperatures in the mid-80s year round, with a short rainy season between October-February. Even during rainy season the rain falls during evening hours, so barring unusual weather patterns, you're likely to get great weather any time of the year!
If you're a foodie then you'll love the wide variety of flavorful dishes in Curaçao. The menus at local restaurants are basically the "You Name It" challenge in real life, with every farm animal you can think of served at least three different ways. I tried grilled lobster at Deja Vu, broiled escargot at Kome, stewed iguana at Jaanchies, and lived to write about them all in this post! Be adventurous during meals, and treat yourself to an experience you can't get back home.
A great way to guarantee that is to eat what the locals eat. So while you're there, make sure you grab lunch at Plasa Bieu in town, Restaurant Komedor Krioyo near Westpunt, and Pop's Place which I didn't get to try myself, but came highly recommended by one of my drivers. Try a Pastechi (meat-filled pastry) if you're walking around or driving to the beach in the morning, then order some stewed goat, tutu, funchi and other heavier dishes when you have time for a nap afterwards.
If you're not an adventurous eater, no worries, there are plenty of simpler options all over town. Either way, you're sure to come back home a little fluffier, as you should after a vacation!
There is definitely no shortage of places to party in Curaçao. For a chic lounge vibe, hit up Saint Tropez in Pietermaii for dinner on Friday night. The place gets packed and the DJ keeps it going well into the morning hours. For casual bar-hopping, head over to Mambo Beach, which has multiple parties running simultaneously on Sunday evenings and a few other nights during the week. If you meet locals at the party, definitely find out their favorite spots to get an even more authentic experience while you're there!
For my ladies (and men who love men), the local men in Curaçao might cause you to stare. There are so many gorgeous shades of #heyboo walking around that you'll easily find yourself in the company of men eager to show you around.
Quick tip: For ladies traveling solo, just remember to stick to public places and keep your phone powered up, with your driver on speed dial for a quick getaway from a snoozefest (or crazy) date!
If you're the type that prefers to be actually in the ocean instead of sailing on it, Curaçao is the place for you. While it's absolutely breathtaking to look at, the magic lies underneath the surface. On my snorkeling trip with Ocean Encounters I saw some of the most beautiful fish and marine life I've ever seen, and even explored a sunken tug boat! At Playa Piskado, I swam with at least 4 huge sea turtles who let me get inches away for underwater photos. Whether you're diving or snorkeling, treat yourself to a water excursion to hang out with Nemo and all his friends who live off the coast of Curaçao.
While there are dozens of islands in the Caribbean to explore, Curaçao truly is a gem with a happy energy that I haven't seen elsewhere. Whether it's a mid-Winter pick-me-up, or a Summer getaway, consider this beautiful destination when weighing your options and you might find yourself making repeat visits just like I did!