Discover Curaçao like a local! When you think of Curaçao, you probably think of the sun, sea, and sand. That’s definitely there and it is certainly plenty. The sun, sea, and sand (as well as a huge number of tourists) can be found at the large resorts. However, Curaçao has much more to offer. In this article, I’ll give you tips to give your time in Curaçao a more “local flavor”.
Hit the road and Discover Curaçao!
Discover Curaçao and stay in a home or apartment. Of course, you can also stay at one of the resorts by Jan Thiel Bay. But if you want to see more of the island, rent a villa or an apartment. You can do this in the more urban area of Willemstad or on the western part of the island. What I find great about renting a residence is that you get to know the local people, because they are your neighbors and you can get out and about more easily than if you stay at a resort. We rented a home in the vicinity of Villa Daniel. This was perfect because the beautiful beaches were easy to reach, but we were also within fifteen minutes of Willemstad city center.
If you are not staying at a large resort, then there is a high chance that you will have to go grocery shopping every once in a while. You can go shopping at a large, famous Dutch shop, but you will pay a high price for it. We often bought our groceries at Centrum, a supermarket chain with reasonable prices. We got the rest of our groceries from a Chinese supermarket. What is interesting is that you pay six guilders for a bottle of soda at one store, while the same bottle costs three dollars at another. You have to shop around a bit and then you will figure out which store you should buy specific items from.
If you are not staying at a resort, it is unlikely that you will have a beach right at your doorstep. I find this to be beneficial: if you have everything you want in front of you at a resort, the chance is slim that you will get out and discover the island. We visited a great number of beaches in Curaçao. My favorite beaches are Daaibooi, Cas Abou, Grote Knip, and San Juan. San Juan is a real hidden gem. You pay 8 guilders for admission and then you have three gorgeous bays at your disposal. On a busy day, there are three other tourists. Other than a few garbage cans, there are no other facilities, so be sure to bring enough food and drink with you.
Renting a car
In order to discover the island, you are going to need a car. I highly recommend it, because then you can discover the island at your own pace. We rented a car at http://www.ddcarrental.com/ as it was a bit cheaper than the other better-known chains. On the way, you can listen to Dolfijn FM. Joris, the DJ, knows everything that is happening on the island. He plays some music every now and again, too.
Nature on Curaçao
On Curaçao, there are gorgeous natural areas. In November, we took a vacation to Curaçao with the children during the rainy season. It primarily rains at night. The advantage of all this rain is that the island turns brilliantly green. In December, the Orchid Trail in Christoffel Park is in full bloom.
We happened upon the Boka Ascension nature reserve by accident. At the start of the park, there is a sign indicating the routes. If you drive through, you will reach a parking area with a child-friendly beach. If you climb up and look at the water, you may see some sea turtles. Stichting Uniek Curaçao (Unique Curaçao Foundation) regularly organizes hikes through this area. We went along the trail with this foundation, where we learned a lot about the island and its natural environment.
Hofi Pastor is another great place for a lovely hike. There are two hiking routes from the old Kapok tree and these combine well. Make sure you have your shoes on because the cactuses drop their spines all over the ground.
There is an enormous number of restaurants in Curaçao. Leave your resort and discover the local restaurants, where you can eat Krioyo cuisine. The most famous are Marsche Bieu in the center of Willemstad, Jaanchies in the far west, and Sea Side Terrace.
My recommendations: Karakter, a restaurant on the water with sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and diving options. Sol food, close to Jaanchies, for pizza and brownies with a beautiful view. At Trio Penotti, you can munch on fantastic hamburgers and Pop’s Place offers local cuisine at low prices.
In addition to all that, there are the so-called sneks/snacks: local spots where you can grab some local food. Jojo Ala sells wonderful chicken wings. Here you are among the locals, at a place where you would not normally go.
The real Curaçao experience is a barbecue on the beach, just like the locals do.
This article was originally posted in Dutch on Reistips met Kids and has been reposted and translated with Karlien’s permission.