After a very action-packed 10 days of travelling around Cuba, it was time to relax on the beach! The Caribbean is well known for its perfect beaches, crystal clear waters and magnificent coral reefs, it is no surprise that it is such popular tourist destination! After Jack did some research, he discovered Curaçao to be one of the cheaper of the Caribbean islands and also the least touristy, winner!! Compared to the Bahamas, Barbados, Turks & Caicos and Cayman Islands, hiring a car, accommodation and food in Curaçao was significantly cheaper.
Curaçao is one of the Caribbean’s Dutch Antilles. It is a tiny 444 km² island just 60km off the coast of Venezuela, it is so small you could drive from its east to west coast in 45 minutes! We flew into Curaçao’s tiny airport around midday and on arrival, we decided to hire a car so that we could visit as many of the Curaçao’s 38 beautiful beaches.
Since WiFi was limited in Cuba and our trip to Panama was a rushed one, we didn’t get a chance to book accommodation in Curaçao either. On arrival, I looked at trip advisor’s recommended hotels and no.2 was the boutique hotel, BijBlauw. We had a look at the hotel and instantly loved it, however it was a little out of our price range. We sourced a WiFi spot to find cheaper alternatives. Unfortunately there weren’t many and so, we decided to book one night with the intention of moving elsewhere the following day. However, we ended up extending daily and checked out on day 6 (we only planned to visit Curaçao for 4, we loved it that much, thank goodness it was quiet season!) We were delighted to know that when we woke up each morning that we wouldn’t have to pack our rucksacks in hunt for the next homestay or to catch a bus, instead it was in preparation for our road trips to the beach!! BijBlauw was a clean and quirky hotel, I mean look at those vivid colours!! The rooms were clean, simple and minimal – it came with a coffee machine, a fridge, a safe, bathroom essentials, fresh towels, the shower was lovely and powerful and the room was bright and airy. The theme throughout the hotel was rustic, minimal and contemporary – very Scandinavian, we loved it! There were lots of random furnishings scattered throughout the hotel, re-vamped oil cans, up-cycled furniture and fresh flowers in short vases or whatever quirky table centrepiece the owners found that day throughout the restaurant area! The breakfast (at an additional cost) was delicious, the pool was icy cold, the views were spectacular and the staff were fantastic – the staff knew all of their guests by name, which made the entire experience very personal and special.
After speaking to some locals, we learned that the East coast of the island was more developed and catered for tourists whereas, the West coast is a little more untouched and more rural. Since we were staying on the East coast, we decided to drive to the West coast (home to the more deserted and untouched beaches). Everyday, for 4 days, we drove to various beaches – mixed in with the locals, sun-bathed, snorkelled and admired the beautiful blue waters and sunsets. We did a small food shop in Kenny’s market (a local supermarket) and stocked up on snacks, beers and lunch treats for the week – a money wee money saver and just as well, most of the beaches didn’t have any amenities!
A sandy and volcanic rock beach with crystal clear waters and shaded coves.
Playa Kenepa Grandi (Knip)
A powder white sandy beach with coral reefs that be can accessed from the shore (it’s a long swim though!)
Playa Kenepa Chiki (little Knip)
A tiny stoney beach filled local Curaçaoan families barbecuing!
Daaibooibaai is quiet local beach which is perfect for snorkelling. Daaibooibaai was formerly a harbour, protected by the Dutch settlers, for little boats collecting salt at the neighbouring plantations. Remains of their old walls and WWII remnants from when American’s defended this bay against the Germans, still remain in the deep blue!
Located in Westpunt, Playa Fortí was the most Western beach we visited – here we met a group of Chilean marines and other travellers whom we went cliff diving with!
A coral and limestone beach. Kalki means limestone in Papiamentu, the language spoken in Curaçao. Papiementu is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and it also has some Arawak Indian and African influences. Its believed to be one of the few Creole languages that is still spoken!
The East coast beaches were quite touristy and filled with resorts, so we only spent a day in these beaches: Jan Thiel and Mambo beach.
Jan Thiel Beach
Jan Thiel beach is located in an open bay and is Curaçao’s busiest beach. It is filled with young Dutch travellers drinking beer and dancing to the live DJ’s. Spending a few hours here made us quickly realise that Curaçao is a bit like the Caribbean’s Dutch Ibiza!
Curaçao’s most famous beach – it is home to Curaçao’s festivals and beach parties!
Willemstad’s Dutch inspired architecture also has regional adaptations and this has resulted in a rich array of Caribbean coloured buildings across the capital city. Willemstad’s vivid buildings are a local tradition dating from 1817 when the previous style of white lime finish on a building exterior was banned, apparently to protect eyesight from the glare. Now, Willemstad’s buildings are predominantly red, blue, yellow ochre and various shades of green.
Curaçao is well known for the fine dining experience. However, we were more attracted to authentic Caribbean food – Curaçao’s famous truki pan, which translates to sandwich truck! By 9pm, once we had driven back over to the East coast – we hunted for street food (recommended by the Caribbean locals) and enjoyed our 4 most favourite meals of the entire trip, from these glorious food trucks! The say Caribbean’s know how to cook meat, they weren’t wrong! Over the 4 nights we had a BBQ express (Curaçao’s number 1 food truck – a must), Chip sigi (our 2nd favourite), Mexican street food and a selection of grilled meats and seafood all served with a huge selection of homemade sauces and dressings! These food trucks were open from 9pm-5am! In the UK, this is where we would go after a night out to soak up the alcohol, it’s much the same in Curaçao, however much tastier, healthier and more wholesome! I’m craving some food truck food, just writing this! You’ll find great food trucks in Salinja area, Santa Rosaweg, Caracasbaaiweg and Santa Maria area. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get any photos of our truki pan food, I felt a little awkward taking out the camera to click away as we were the only tourists amongst the locals! We also ate in a restaurant called Rolling sushi: the salmon sashimi, spicy thai tuna roll and volcano roll were the perfect fresh and tasty quick bite after a long beach day! I even got to practice my Spanish the two Venezuelan sushi chefs!