- travel with carlo
touring | curaçao - add a little caribbean colour to your life
explore the 'dushi' side of the caribbean
i'm sure while reading this either on your commute or at home like many people you have imagined at some point transporting yourself to the white sand beaches & crystal-clear cobalt waters of the caribbean. this is where curaçao, a small island off the northern coast of venezuela has so much to offer. the history & colorful characters of this tiny island nation will take hold of your imagination, as it did me from the moment i arrived.
'i always look for locals to connect with & here i met so many but, Khalid of mosa restaurant was a true gentleman. we had many great experiences together from a boat party in klein curaçao to meeting up with his friend francis sling, a local artist. A huge thanks to khalid' for the great memories...
see & do
this island is absolutely packed with attractions from remnants of the past colonists to paradise beaches. here are just a few of my favourite places i visited while on this underrated island.
- caracasbaai area
i spend my first few days exploring the area on the south side of the island from fort beekenburg to quarantainegebouw both historical monuments that offer a glimpse into the past centuries of this historic bay. you'll also find tugboat beach & directors bay, both awesome snorkelling spots. for a chilled sunset cocktail head over to the beachside haunt of pop's place.
- spaanse waters
separated by a slither of land from caracasbaai this is one of the most exclusive locations on the whole island with huge homes that range in the millions of dollars. I took a nice boat trip with at divers choice here getting an insight into the interesting history of the area then heading out to some awesome spots along the coast.
- christoffel mountain & shete boka
one of the most popular attractions on the island is trekking christoffelberg. the 2-3-hour hike to the highest point on the island can only be done in the morning as the heat makes it impossible to get to the top safely later in the day. along the trail you can take in the beautiful flora & fauna of the island from the vivid orange of the trupial bird to capturing a rare glimpse of the curacao white tailed deer it is well worth the effort to get to the top.
after all that effort trekking to the highest point, check out the shete boka national park. these coastal inlets on the rocky wave-exposed north coast of the island have created interesting caves & natural bridges, you may also find sea turtles laying eggs during the season if you are lucky. while it only takes a few hours to explore the national park it does make for some fantastic photo opportunities.
- punda, pietermaai & otrobanda
the three main districts that make up the capital of this island paradise have so much to offer & while most island cities are not known for their tourist sights, here it's totally different. the history, culture & colour of these districts can inspire the imagination.
the ultra colourful area of pietermaai has to be one of the most colorful places that i have ever been, most of the homes & businesses are painted in brightly coloured pastel shades.
the historic heart of punda, a unesco site is where you will find all your shopping needs & bars for evening drinks especially on thursdays when shops are open till late. from the floating queen emma bridge you can enjoy the unesco vista of the historic dutch architecture on the banks of the bay.
over the bridge you will find the local quarter of otrobanda a must visit for culture vultures. in recent times this area has cultivated creativity with brightly coloured homes & murals dotted all over the district. francis sling created a massive mural here, he is one of the most famous artists on the island & a super cool guy. we had the chance to chat for a while, i loved his positivity & energy. you can follow him here on instagram.
i had to dedicate a space in this guide solely for the numerous paradise beaches that can be found on the island. the most popular & beautiful beaches can be found on the far western coast, but there are some other gems too.
this was my favourite beach. a secluded beach with fine white sand & turquoise waters. this municipal beach is the perfect place to snorkel or scuba dive without the crowds.
one of the most famous private beach clubs on the island. with its white sandy beach, private sea pool & direct to sunlounger service makes topping up your tan a breeze. the wild iguanas basking in the sunshine make for a great photo opportunity.
a vast bay with crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling. by far the most commercial/popular beach i came across.
an uninhabited paradise island with an abandoned lighthouse & coral reefs. It's a popular destination for locals to visit on the weekend for epic boat parties. a 40-mins boat ride from the main island, it's a must visit.
where to eat & drink
the quality & creativity of the eateries & bars on this island cannot be underestimated. you can truly find some world class eateries that would not be out of place in any major foodie city.
ultra-cool european style cafe located in the heart of punda. it was truly the only quality modern cafe that i found on the island. serving mainly healthy dishes for breakfast/brunch & lunch there is no better place for a quality coffee.
dishes from: (8 ANG | $5)
located in the artistic area otrobanda you cannot help but smile when you arrive. the brightly coloured murals of wildlife decorate the entrance & outdoor dining area. from pumpkin soup to vegetarian burgers its unpretentious comfort dining.
dishes from: (15 ANG | $8)
you cannot get more local than this place. in the heart of punda it's the place where the locals eat. with only outdoor seating with a view of the grill it was the most affordable place that i visited for lunch. a barbecue chicken meal setting you back (8 ANG | $5).
an innovative shared dining experience concept. a perfect blend of local & international flavors are presented on the plate beautifully. ceviche & the tenderloin are a must try.
dishes from: (22 ANG | $13)
an edgy caribbean-latin american inspired cocktail bar connected with mosa it is the perfect place for after dinner drinks. ask one of the super skilled bartenders to surprise you with a cocktail creation.
prices from: (20 ANG | $11)
in the heart of the colourful pietermaai district, this vast restaurant serves up some of the best meat dishes on the island from 8 hour smoked brisket to the pork collar you are sure to find a dish to suit. cocktails are awesome here too.
dishes from: (23 ANG | $13)
places to stay
curacao has a multitude of accommodation offerings to suit all needs from luxury hotels to guest houses & hostels. whatever your budget you will find a place to satisfy all your all your needs on this paradise island.
tourism in curacao is intertwined with this luxury resort as it's the oldest operating hotel on the island, the home of past royals, avila is one of the premier resorts to stay on the island.
its two private beaches with sheltered sea pools give you all the incentive never to leave the resort. the new oceanfront blues rooms are the perfect place to relax with a cocktail on the balcony watching the sunset. watch out for the abundant wildlife from pelicans fishing to iridescent fish following you in the sea pool this is the perfect luxury getaway.
prices from: (270 ANG | $149)
- bed&bike ho(s)tels (jan thiel & pietermaai)
a totally unique concept to the island. a boutique ho(s)tel offering privates & dormitories at fantastic prices, it is a solo traveler's heaven. a wonderful place to meet other young like-minded people.
they have two locations one in jan thiel with a nice sized swimming pool to cool off in the hot afternoon sun & pietermaai for the art & culture lovers right near the downtown. my advice is to split your time between the two to get the full experience of the island.
prices from: (45 ANG | $25)
sunshine, colour, culture & beaches what more would you want from paradise, curacao has it all. this under the radar island deserves to have the recognition of it more famous sister island aruba. i would even go as far to say that you will have a more local experience here. the history & culture can impress any tourist.
the caribbean is a notoriously expensive region. from the food & beer to the hotels & car rentals. a one-week trip will set you back around (2000 ANG | $1200) per person. due to the covid-19 pandemic the prices have dropped considerably on accommodation & attractions. if you are budget conscious i would recommend a stay at bed&bike where you can cook your own meals at the onsite kitchen.
⦿ budget ($100-150) a day including accommodation.
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country travel tips
atm: most banks offer withdrawals for ($5). don't accept the on-screen conversion.
sim card: siminn. 8GB is ($60) for 30 days. got an e-sim enabled phone try airalo.
transport: local bus ($1) per trip, rental car ($40) daily.
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here