Where to Stay & What to Do in Curacao

 curacaotravelguide

What is Curacao?

215001_1942006195420_3671473_nFor those of you who don’t already know, Curacao is the southernmost Caribbean Island. It is one of the “ABC” islands that consists of Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao. They are known for their great diving locations, unique culture and all of their residents speaking four languages… that’s right… FOUR! It truly is a beautiful island and many people have never heard of it, unfortunately. But, with recent education and more frequent flights to the country, it is steadily growing as a hot destination in the Caribbean!

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I was lucky enough to go to Curacao in 2011 on a FAM trip with the tourism board and learned so many amazing things about the Curacao culture and land. I flew down on a direct flight from CLT on Insel Air, which had just starting offering direct flights and were offering very cheap flights. I couldn’t pass up the offer. Curacao was actually the first Caribbean island I’d ever been to and what a wonderful way to get a good dose of the Dutch Caribbean!

 

Where do I stay?

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Being a travel agent, I always see the mistakes people make when they don’t use one. They end up staying somewhere because they found it cheap online and they have no idea how much of a dump it is until they are standing in their room, too scared to even sit on the bed. I am here to help you with this. Here are my reviews on a few of the better resorts on the island of Curacao! (Be warned, America, you will be in the minority! Many of the vacationers on the island are Dutch!)

  • Kura Hulanda Hotel
    • I stayed at this hotel when I was in Curacao and it was the most different out of all of them. Located in the center of Willemstad, this hotel is great if you want to be where all the action is and want to be secluded at the same time. The rooms are all designed different and feature one of a kind items. The owner actually paid a whole town to make the cobblestone that lines the hotel’s walkways so that the village could eat for a whole year! There’s two pools and one is an eco pool with saltwater. There’s buy one get one drinks during happy hour and you are literally steps from everything in Willemstad. If you want great location and don’t care about not having a beach on property, this hotel is for you. (Don’t forget, you can always take the free shuttle to Kura Hulanda Lodge for a beach day or the free shuttle to Blue Bay Beach as well!)
  • Kura Hulanda Lodge
    • If you are on a honeymoon and want to feel like you are truly at a tropical island, this resort is for you. The resort is on the west end of Curacao and is very secluded. The downside to this is that Willemstad is about a 30 minute drive but there are free shuttles between both Kura Hulanda properties so you can always do a day trip into town. The rooms are African inspired and since it’s on the West end, you get a beautiful beach. The water is crystal clear, you can snorkel for about 10 bucks and there’s other water sports you can try at the dive shop right on property. The food was pretty decent and the hotel even offers an all-inclusive add-on.
  • Avila Hotel
    • Had I seen this property before I went, it would’ve been my choice. On the opposite side of Willemstad from the Kura Hulanda Hotel, it offers a long stretch of beach and beautifully modern rooms. I was able to see five different room categories and even the cheapest was beautifully decorated with interesting touches like red and blue lights in the bathroom. The staff is super friendly and there is a great bar with live music on the pier. If you’re a honeymooner, they have some excellent suites with amazing views of the water with balconies with lots of privacy for those romantic moments watching the sunset!
  • Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino
    • If you’re a big gambler, this resort is definitely for you. They have a casino comparable to that of the United States (unlike other resorts on the island that claim they have casinos when really it’s a bunch of locals in a hole in the wall room and they stare daggers at you when you enter). The food here is unbelievably good and you are literally steps away from shopping because the hotel is located in the Rif Fort which is in the middle of Willemstad. The hotel itself reminded me of Vegas from the decor to the rooms to the casino. If you aren’t a huge beach person, you might like the fact that their “beach” is located on the second floor. Their beach is actually man-made and is an infinity beach so you are looking right into the Caribbean sea but you aren’t on a real beach. They also have an infinity pool on this level as well.
  • Hilton Curacao
    • The property was large but the rooms weren’t that nice. If you are looking for a property to take your family, this might be an option for you but beware of the kids center and the mini golf course, both look a little run down and could use renovations (Note: this was in 2011 and they may have done renos since). They do have theme nights and parties for everyone each night and seemed highly occupied with a lot of pools and beach space. If you are on a budget, this might be for you.
  • Marriott Curacao Resort & Emerald Casino
    • Typical Marriott rooms, but a bit outdated. I loved the open air lobby they have but the beach space and the pool were super small. The plus to this hotel is there are only four rooms in the whole hotel that don’t have some kind of view of the ocean so you are pretty much guaranteed to get an ocean view! This is not a property I would recommend to honeymooners but could be a nice option for a destination wedding.

There are a few other contenders like the Hyatt Regency Curacao… but this is farther east and while the hotel itself is gorgeous, it wouldn’t make sense to stay there unless all you cared about was the beach!

What do I do?

Looking for some ideas of what to do once you’re on the island? Here is a comprehensive list of activities I’d recommend during your stay!

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1. Visit the west side of the island! They have the best beaches.

 

2. Swim with the dolphins or watch a show at the outdoor aquarium. Make sure you make your reservations to swim with the dolphins at least two week before you go. This is such a popular activity that if you wait until you get there, you won’t get in!

3. Stop by the Curacao Factory. It’ll only take a few minutes out of your day since it’s tiny but you’ll get to see how the infamous Curacao liquor is made and packaged (and buy some for yourself to take home!).

4. Take a stroll and visit the floating market. Everyday boats come up from Venezuela and sell fruits and vegetables and even some Venezuelan artwork on their boats. The island of Curacao can’t grow any fruits so this is the best way to get them! There’s no set prices so bargain away!

5. Visit the Hato Caves. I wasn’t able to do this but I would have loved to if I had more time. They are located near the airport so make sure you take that into consideration time-wise and bring your camera!

6. Go diving! The island is known for it’s great dive shops! Don’t have your diving certification? That’s okay, you can always take the class down there and go diving with the professionals. Not up for diving? You can see a lot snorkeling as well.

CuracaoFactory7. Take a ride in the first commercial submarine! It may cost you a few hundred per person, but the view is priceless!

8. LAY ON THE BEACH! White sand and clear water and the breezes Curacao is famous for make for a relaxing day on the island.

9. Explore town! Willemstad is full of many shops and tons of different cuisine. Since everyone on the island knows four languages and many people are a mix of different cultures, there’s plenty of different cuisines to try!

10. Run across the floating bridge when the alarm sounds. The bridge that separates the Punda and Otrabanda sides of Curacao actually opens up when a ship is coming. If the flag is black, make sure you get off quickly! This means the bridge could be open for hours. Don’t worry though, they have free ferries going to and from each side for people who can’t wait that long.

Curacao is a beautiful island in the southern Caribbean and if you love a beautiful beach and underwater activities, this island may be right for you! Make sure you contact your travel agent for deals to this stunning destination!

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Melissa @ Eat. Lift. Play. Repeat. | 9th May 16

    A floating market?!? I love going to outdoor markets in new cities, but this would be a first! How awesome!

    • Katie | 10th May 16

      It’s so cool! All the boats come from Venezuela for the morning to sell all kinds of food and what have you. Pretty neat concept.

  2. chloe | boxwood avenue | 10th May 16

    What an amazing trip! It looks beautiful there!

    • Katie | 10th May 16

      Thank you! It really was 🙂

  3. wrkreads | 11th May 16

    This sounds like a great destination. I would love to go and visit one day.

    • Katie | 12th May 16

      You definitely should! It is pretty budget friendly getting there. The cost of food though was high.

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