Curaçao is a beautiful island located in the Dutch Antilles with white sandy beaches, beautiful diving spots and lovely Creole food. I guess I’m a little bit spoiled as I’ve been frequenting this island ever since I was a babe, literally. Remember that mixed heritage I was talking about, yeah we have a link with Curaçao as well ;)
The island is a favorite with the Dutchies as it’s still part of the Kingdom, but because of it’s location it’s also very very popular with the cruising crowd. You can see massive ships docking the harbor on a weekly base bringing in folks from the US, Canada and who knows where else. Tourism is big here but it’s the islands local blend that I love. Venezuelans, Colombians, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, you name it, Curaçaos got it. It’s also this special blend that’s created a very tasty Caribbean cuisine! Now I realize having frequented the island so often I have a lot of things I love to see, do and eat, but that would take up way too much time. So I’m just going to give you a few of my top 5’s and a lil itinerary to make all of that happen.
1: Punda & Otrabanda
2: Kura Holanda Museum
3: Christoffel Park
4: Klein Curaçao
5: Beach time
1: Piska kora
3: Pastechi & empanada
4: Truki pan
5: Bolo cashupete
Lets start at the beginning in Willemstad, where all of you will be starting your CUR-adise. The city centre is divided up in two areas: Punda & Otrabanda. Punda can be seen as the more commercial side, whereas Otrabanda is the more local side. In the olden days the only way to get from one end to the other would be by ferry, nowadays an awesome pontoon bridge (Queen Emma bidge) gets you across as well. But take the ferry anyway, it really is great fun and offers a unique view of the city, also it’s free ;) On the Punda side stroll throught the floating markets that sail in from Venezuela everyday. They bring fresh fruits and veggies and amazing baqaillao. The local market Marsche Bieu is also a good stroll for fruits and veg, souvenirs and some very interesting local medicines and remedies.
Feeling hungry yet, not to worry, delicious food is nearby. Just behind the market you will find Plasa Bieu, THE spot on Punda to try some real local food. Don’t let it’s appearance fool you, all the vendors here sell massive quantaties of food every day, so it’s fresh from the pan and into your tummy! Our current favorite for Piska kora (crispy fried red snapper) is Zus, located in the back of the plasa. But in the past we’ve also had delicious meals at Yvonne, first resto from main entrance. Besides the piska kora there’s lots more to try, like kabrito stoba (goat stew), jiambo (thick okra soup), arepa di pampun (pumpkin pancakes), funchi hasa (crispy fried polenta) and much more. Do keep in mind that Plasa Bieu closes around 14:00.
With your full tummy you can now start your shopping spree. Just stroll through the streets and pick up anything that tickles your fancy. Don’t forget to take a picture at the Dushi or Curacao sign on the Wilhemina square.
TIP: American brands tend to be a lot cheaper here than in Europe, so maybe this is a good opportunity to stock up on beauty products at Penha or a new pair of Chuck’s at the Converse Store.
If you took the ferry to Otrabanda then now is the time to try a refreshing batidos at the Brion square. Whilst sipping your cool drink you can stroll through the streets of Otrabanda. Some may not find this interesting as Otrabanda is catered more to the local crowd than the tourists, but that’s exactly what I like about it. Now that you’re here you must visit the Kura Holanda slavery musuem to learn some more about the islands history. On your way back you can stroll through the Renaissance mall and literally step up on the old Rif fort walls and into the Rif fort museum.
Now getaway to the west of Curacao and pack your bathing suit cause some of the best beaches are located in the West. But first we’ll stop by the Kunuku house museum, an adorable little museum with a restored kunuku house (entrance fee 5/adults children for free). You can also stop by Hofi Pastor, where the oldest cotton tree on the island is located. It’s a true beauty and worth the stop (entrance fee 5/3.50 adults/children).
Time for lunch in an old mansion, Dokterstuin is the place to be. Whenever I’m in Curacao I just have to drop by here. They serve the best tutu ever and I really love the ambiance, the cultural relevance and of course the food! Favorites to try: kabrito stoba with some yummy tutu. Tutu is like a sort of mash of polenta, black beans and sometimes cured/salted meat. I so so love it! For the less adventurous the galina stoba (chicken stew) is also very good.
Full and satisfied it’s finally beach time! Take your pick from Port Marie (entrance fee 5/person), Cas Abao (entrance fee 10/car), Kleine Knip (free), Grote Knip (free). If you’re going for the lazy approach then head over to Port Marie or Cas Abao as there will be facilities and restaurants available to cater to your needs. For the more DIY approach, pack a large cooler with drinks and snacks and get going to one of the Knip’s. You can buy ice at any of the snek’s or convenience stores closer to your destination. Depending on the day and season you could actually be the only one on the beach… think about it ;) If you are not in the mood to put in any effort at all, you should def book a trip to Klein Curacao a little paradise island you can reach by boat. Just relax, chill, do some snorkling and let someone else handle the logistics.
For those who love the outdoors, Christoffel Park is a must. You can hike, go bird-watching, mountain climbing and much more. If you’re a fatty like me and not the fittest of the bunch, there’s lots to do by car as well ;) Speaking of fatty’s, you’ll of course need a lil snack for your Christoffel adventure, so how about you pick up some of those yummy pastechi’s or empana’s at my fav spot just accros Texas Grill where a darling lady sells them from her home. I also have very fond memories of Shete Boka Park and the Caves of Hato. Because of our guide there I shall never in my life forget the difference between stalagmites and stalactites, because it’s the titties that hang…
Late night munching
Now if you’re going to be partying at Mambo or Saint Tropez or any of the spots that cater to the party crowd, you are bound to have the munchies after. Curaracaos answer to late night munching are truki pan’s aka food-trucks. Our favorites are BBQ express for some amazing bbq and Hot Pepper for delicious burrito’s. For day time truki pan there’s a little arepita’s truck on the Caracasbaaiweg that sell’s the best arepita’s ever. I can’t remember the name but it’s bright green and also sells batidos.
It’s very likely your kids will be more than happy to just chill at the beach or pool where they can snorkel and swim and play with the other kids. But for the heck of it let’s do something entertaining and educational like visiting Sea Aquarium where there’s lots of activities to partake in. Also the Ostrich Farm is quite fun to do as you get to tour the farm in a cool truck and step on a huge ostrich egg (the ostrich steak tastes pretty amazing too). But there’s amazing spots like the Kunuku museum and Hofi Pastor that won’t break the bank and you can just sneak them into your regular itinerary and enjoy it as a family.
I realize my CUR-adventure was laden with food-tips and trust me I’ve been holding back… But I do feel I need to add a word of caution as the local cuisine does not cater very well to vegetarians. There’s not a lot of veg’s being eaten nor will there be a large selection to choose from. Expect lots of meat and fish… and veggie dishes with meat or fish… My refuge is this fairly inconspicuous Chinese restaurant next to the football stadium, they have amazing tofu and veggie dishes that actually taste authentic. That being said there’s always cake! Yes, we like the local sweets. Two cakes you must try are the bolo cashupete (cake with cashew icing) and the bolo pretu (a rum induced prune cake). I’ll admit it’s quite a task to find some good authentic ones but if you do it’s heaven! At the marsche bieuw you will also find some local stuff like tintalaria, koileche, peanut letters and kokada. It’s all super sweet but def worth a try!
Well I think that just about sums it up. Time to book those tickets ;)