If your roommate ever asks if you want to get away for 7 days, answer yes: always yes.
That’s exactly how I found myself on the gorgeous Dutch-owned island of Curaçao.
Although the island only boasts 171 square miles of land, there are so many things to see, do, and eat. It’s an island of diversity: from its people to its languages to its beaches to its rocky hillsides.
And here’s exactly how to have a dushi time.
Things to know before you go:
- Curaçao is part of the Caribbean ABC: Aruba, Bonair, and Curaçao
- Dushi (pronounced: douche-y) is a slang term used on the island that means “sweet” or “nice.” So no, no one is calling you a douche
- Locals speak English, Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamentu
- There were times we took taxis (so expensive) and buses (only $2 USD per person on average, but not as frequent), but it’s a lot easier to just rent a car (shoutout to our newfound friends who drove us around)
- Also the buses don’t look like regular busses from North America. They’re 9-seater vans that you wave down to board
- Most public beaches are free; however, most will charge you to use the beach chairs/umbrellas.
- Yes, most places and beaches do have wi-fi
- The island takes both USD and Dutch florins. Most tourist places will take USD, but some places will only give you change back in florins
- Some ATMs just don’t work at night and/or don’t give you USD… even after you visit eight of them across the island (that’s another story for another day)
Four Things You Have to Do:
1. Shop and Eat in Willemstad
The capital city of Curaçao with its sherbert-coloured architecture, as popularly seen on Instagram, is the tourist hub of the island.
Willemstad is home to the famous Queen Emma Bridge, which connects Otrabanda to Punda. Although most of the time you can cross the bridge by foot, it sometimes swings open to let ships through the canal. In that case, hop on the free ferry to get from one side to the other!
Bustling with local and foreign shops, find hole in the wall restaurants or enjoy happy hour right by the water. Make sure to also check out the Old Market where you can find local art, souvenirs, and even try a Bastidos (their smoothie) or iguana soup!
2. Explore the Aquarium
Created by a Toronto-native, the aquarium is smaller than the infamous Ripley’s, but it’s teeming with educational and fun activities. Feed lobsters and flamingos, be entertained by sea lions, or for an additional cost, get a chance to swim with (or get kissed by) dolphins.
3. Hop on an Island Tour
One of the best ways to see the island is to hop on one of the multitude of its island tours. While most Caribbean vacations are filled with bouts of suntanning on the beach, hopping on a tour in Curaçao opens your eyes to how arid conditions are away from shorelines and sea.
With our tour, we got a chance to stop by the Curaçao Liquer factory (what the island is known for, an alcoholic drink made from the Laraha, a bitter orange), along with Caracas Bay, Shete Boka National Park, Kenepa Beach, and had lunch at a renovated plantation house.
Although I slept for a quarter of the bus ride (whoops), the guide—who was born and raised on the island—proved to be informative with all her geographical and historical knowledge on the island.
4. Enjoy the Beaches Fully
Because why else would we visit the Caribbean?
Beach hopping is the way to go on this island with its 35 beaches of stunning blue water, that mirrors its liquer. It only takes 45 minutes to drive the island from one end to another, so why not? The beaches that line the south of the island have hardly any waves, while we were told the northern beaches can get a little dangerous.
If you visit Playa Piscado, bring your snorkelling gear because you’ll get a chance (for free!) to swim with sea turtles. Playa Piscado, however, is a fishing beach so prepare to smell like the catch of the day by the end of it.
And if you love the beaches during the day, make sure to check out the beach parties at night. Curaçao has a lively nightlife! We asked some locals what they liked to do, and if you’re there during their monthly Full Moon Party on Kokomo Beach (which we luckily were), I highly recommend it. It’s a night full of alcohol, music, tourists, and fireworks.
Now you also can’t leave without visiting Klein Curaçao, a small, white-sand beach island off the south east coast of Curaçao.
Set out a full day for this excursion. We went with the Mermaid Boattrips, which according to locals is one of the easier rides out thanks to its large size. It takes about two hours to get to the island (and about an hour to head back) and it was one of the waviest rides ever. If you’re prone to getting seasick, pack Gravol.
But it’s worth it!
When swimming in the waters of Klein Curaçao you get to see a lot of tropical fish and sea turtles.
Plus the tour had their own little hut area where they provided us with breakfast, lunch, shade, beach chairs, and snorkelling gear.
Overall, I really had no expectations going into this vacation. Ideally, out of the ABCs, Aruba was always on my to-visit list, but Curaçao pleasantly surprised me! It’s an island of vibrancy, cultural diversity, sun and so much fun.
So if your roommate asks you to hop on a plane to visit, do what I did.
It was nothing short of dushi, after all!
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