Did you know that Curaçao is a colorful Dutch Caribbean island and the ‘C’ of the ABC Islands? It sits between its sister islands of Aruba and Bonaire and the trio is the westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The largest of the ABC Islands, Curaçao is located 37 miles north of the Venezuelan coast and is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Known for its European architecture, rugged landscape and natural harbor, Curaçao is a popular destination for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts and home to more than 35 captivating beaches. Its capital city of Willemstad is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and the cultural diversity is evident not just in the colorful backdrop of the city with the European buildings and architecture, but also in its culinary influences. While there are plenty of trendy restaurants and bars offering modern cuisine, you will be able to taste the colonial influence of the Dutch and Europeans.
Amidst the cultural diversity and the love for global travel, there are plenty more to discover about Curaçao. Join us as we unravel what to see, do and eat in Curaçao and discover what makes this Caribbean gem a must-see on everyone’s travel bucket list.
Curacao Marriott Beach Resort
If you want to escape to the sun-kissed beaches of the Caribbean, there is no better place to stay than the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort. Located near Willemstad, the capital city, this resort spans six acres of oceanfront goodness that will have guests waking up to a tropical paradise view. This tropical hotel oasis features distinctive turquoise and mandarin colors reminiscent of Curaçao’s traditional European settlements and architecture. At the same time, it is blended with the warm hospitality of the Caribbean nation to make guests feel welcome.
The resort boasts 328 elegantly designed rooms with various textures and patterns that resemble the Old World European feel. In addition to the beautifully curated rooms, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort features an open-air lobby, tropical gardens, several on-site restaurants, and oceanfront views at every corner of the resort. Your stay, no matter how long or short, will make you feel pampered as you escape to paradise.
City of Willemstad
The capital city of Willemstad is one of the best examples of a trading and colonial settlement. This waterfront city is the best place to start if you want to explore the unique European architecture that has shaped the city’s visual identity. Many of the buildings and monuments in Willemstad have been preserved and protected as they are integral to the cultural heritage of the city.
Walking around the city presents the unique opportunity to be awe-inspired by the beautiful architecture of the historical buildings and monuments. Some notable sights you shouldn’t miss when you explore Willemstad are the Queen Emma Floating Bridge, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Wilhelmina Plaza. The cobblestone streets, artisan shops, steep-pitched tile roofs, and candy-colored houses are some of the highlights of exploring the city on foot.
You can’t talk about a Caribbean nation without mentioning the beach – and Curaçao has plenty of them. Depending on which part of Curacao you’re exploring, you can expect a unique experience. The island’s west side offers a blend of culture, beach, and food.
Westpunt serves as the rural center of the island but is also where you will find the highest concentration of beautiful beaches. Start your day in paradise at the Kenepa Grandi, known for its clear, turquoise waters. Kenepa Grandi is the bigger beach at Playa Kenepa. If you want to relax on a more intimate beach, head to Kenepa Chiki, notable for one of the best snorkeling spots. Klein Curacao is another go-to beach, if you’re looking for the whitest sand beach in Curaçao. Located 2 hours off the coast of Curaçao, this beach features gentle waves and is a popular stop for snorkeling and diving trips.
Regardless of which beach you choose to go to, Curaçao beaches are lined with rugged limestone cliffs that provide the perfect backdrop to the turquoise and crystal-clear waters. This picturesque beauty invites you to explore its abundant marine life or a memorable photo-op.
EAT & DRINK
Bijblauw Restaurant is located in one of the most vibrant areas of the city of Willemstad – Pietermaai. However, once you step inside the restaurant, Bijblauw will take you to another world. Taking pride in providing its guests with unique culinary delights, this restaurant is home to international flavors inspired by European and Caribbean cuisine.
Open from breakfast to dinner, you can choose to enjoy your meal in the hidden courtyard where you will be treated to not just great food but also the most stunning architecture. The best part about this restaurant is that they use only the freshest ingredients and mix things up with a new menu to excite their guests’ palate. While you’re there, stop by the adjoining Bijblauw Concept Store where you will find ladies fashion, fine fabrics, furniture with a story, home decoration & fancy accessories.
Bario Urban Street Food
Bario Urban Street Food is a happening destination in Curaçao. It is the best destination for a range of food and drinks options. It is a food court with plenty of food options, depending on what you’re craving on your visit. Aside from a wide selection of food, there is also a cocktail bar. You can take a stroll in the area to get to know the rich history and culture of the neighborhood while also enjoying its impressive street art. After your walk, you can head down to Bario for a delicious bite or two!
Ochenta Cocktail Bar
This cocktail bar is another destination located within the busy district of Pietermaai. Ochenta Cocktail Bar is the best spot to wind down for the night, wherein you can choose from a wide selection of cocktails whipped up by their world-class bartenders. They use local brands and fresh ingredients to ensure that every cocktail is a delight to your taste buds. Go ahead, and spoil yourself with their signature cocktails as you relish the elegantly designed bar interior.
Painting Workshop Experience
Although Curaçao is known for its pristine beaches, European architecture, rich history and culture, the art scene is also thriving and has carving its own space in the nation’s identity. Francis Sling, one of the notable art figures in Curaçao, takes pride in his work and hosts a Painting Workshop Experience with travelers interested in learning the art form. If you’re in Curaçao, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in his paint n’ sip workshop and learn from one of Curaçao’s best artistic minds.
Den Paradera Herb Garden
If you plan on bringing home a few souvenirs from Curaçao, head to Den Paradera Herb Garden. If you visit the garden, you will be bringing home more than just fresh herbs. You may also get the opportunity to meet owner Dinah Veeris and learn about herbal healing. Her commitment to sharing her knowledge makes every visit an educational experience. Most of the ingredients used in the products on display at her shop are harvested from her herb garden. It’s a must-see whether you are looking for a natural remedy or want to beef up your herb collection at home.
By Kinya Claiborne & Abigail Castro Sinsona, STYLE & SOCIETY
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Curacao Tourism Board