Curacao is an island of contrast; Abandoned, boarded up homes adjoin luxury hotels. Beaches with gorgeous unblemished water distantly neighbor oil refineries that spew colored clouds. Traditional Dutch style buildings are washed with bright Caribbean colors. On one side of the island a city lays thriving with industry while on the other, rural life dominates.
Where there is complexity there is depth, and in my week long trip to Curacao, I took pleasure in peeling away the many layers that make this autonomous country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands just plain beautiful.
Below are some travel lessons if you plan on heading to this gem of an island located just north of Venezuela.
1. Rent a car– Taxis are available, but it is nice (and cheaper) to have the flexibility to travel the island at your own leisure and effort.
2. Look at hotels outside of the city- I wish we had chopped up our stay to lodge half the time in the capital of Willemstad and half the time in a hotel outside of the city on the more rural part of the island. It was nice to have a taste of the bustling city, but the serenity and scenery out of town is breath taking.
3. Take a guided tour– I had to swallow my pride a bit on this one. I prefer to plan my way when traveling and dislike guided tourist ventures, but we decided to use Peter Trips and Scuba Lodge to show us around the island. I learned so much! To wherever I go next, I look forward to hopping a guided tour…perhaps I should look into purchasing a fanny pack?
4.Get to know the locals– Ask questions and get to know the locals. The people of Curacao are a treasure within themselves
5. Don’t bring a surf board– @aronska carried his surf board along this trip and despite what the internet said, Curacao is not an ideal surfing destination. The spots we did find were quite dangerous and only maneuvered by locals who knew the way of the reef and choppy waves.
6. Don’t convert your money- They take American dollars. You will, obviously, pay the exchange rate.
7. Don’t leave your windows and doors open- Friendly (?) lizards will crawl in, as I conveniently found out at 2am in the morning on my way to using the restroom.
8. For picturesque beaches, you gotta get outta town-Go to the beaches in the northwest of the island. Beaches like Cas Abao and Knip Beach (also know as Playa Kanepa Grandi), boast heavenly water and gorgeous white sand. Cas Abao is a full service beach so you can stay there all day and have access to food, wifi, scuba and snorkeling gear and iguanas are known to walk on to the beach for a bit of sun which provides for great photo opps!