Ahh the press trip – a chance for our media friends to get a sense of the destinations and resorts we’re constantly emailing them about. It’s easy for those of us at Diamond PR to talk about the incredible views, stunning beaches and close animal encounters in Aruba, the Galapagos or St. Kitts, but it’s another thing to experience them in person. Not until a journalist visits a country do they really get a feel for the people, the culture, the geography or the incredible experiences that travelers can take advantage of.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to co-host a press trip to the Southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao – the C of the ABC islands (just in case you were wondering). As the resident SCUBA diver in the office, the “Diver’s Paradise” themed trip was right up my alley. I mean, diving in the morning, grabbing a bite to eat at a local café, then exploring in the afternoon – I was in heaven (or paradise – literally). The five days spent in Curaçao were definitely the highlight of my travel career, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories.
I’m not much of a smoothie gal, except when it comes to sharing a Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie with my Barry’s Bootcamp partner-in-crime Lisa Schwartz. But I must say, batidos, the Curaçaoan version of fresh fruit smoothies, changed my outlook forever. Imagine the best piña colada you’ve ever had – well these batidos topped that! With just the right amount of fresh fruit – pineapple, mango, guava, you name it – milk and a dah of sugar, the refreshing drinks were definitely a treat in the tropics. And because batidos trucks can be found every few miles, it’s definitely worth picking one up after a day of fun in the sun.
- The iguanas
I didn’t realize that the scaly green reptiles always sunbathing on the riverbanks of South Florida would be so abundant in Curaçao. Along the side of the road, at the edge of the pool, blocking my chair during breakfast (I almost stepped on that one), iguanas are like the island’s other residents… and food source. I’ve tried alligator in the past and loved it, so I figured, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. We stopped at Jaanchie’s, a local restaurant on the west side of the island, and ordered a plate of iguana stew. It tasted like a mixture of chicken and pork but had a lot of tiny brown bones to watch out for. The consensus among the group: we were happy to have tried the supposed aphrodisiac, but one or two pieces were enough.
- The media and their stories
In the travel PR world, it’s a blessing when you get a group of journalists that gel and are up to try any adventure. I don’t think I could have imagined a better group if I tried. We had writers from Sports Illustrated, Scuba Diving Magazine, Sport Diver and Men’s Journal, just to name a few. From talking about past travel assignments to discussing ways to use Tinder or Bumble to find a place to sleep in an unfamiliar city, there was no shortage of engaging conversations.
- The diving
The “Diver’s Paradise” themed trip wouldn’t be complete without a little… or a lot of diving. Over the course of two days, our group completed five dives with Go West Diving and Ocean Encounters to some of the island’s most stunning dive sites, including Mushroom Forest, Director’s Bay, Beacon Point and the Superior Producer. Lush sponges, healthy corals, swaying anemones and vibrant fish made for incredible diving. We also spotted a baby sea turtle, a stingray, some eels, a few lionfish and a nurse shark. The highlight for everyone, however, was the highly anticipated dive to the Superior Producer, a freighter sunk in the late 70’s sitting at 100 feet below sea level that’s often regarded as one of the Caribbean’s best wreck dives. To top that, our group swam through a school of fish totaling the thousands. It looked exactly like that scene from Finding Nemo when Dory is asking for directions. (Photo courtesy of Jason Heaton)
- Checking one off the list
Come December 31st, I always set a New Year’s Resolution that usually dies by mid-February. This year, however, I was determined to stick to my two goals of re-gaining my split (thanks, yoga) and learning how to kiteboard. Because of Curaçao’s constant trade winds, the island is an ideal place to take lessons. Our group headed north to Sint Joris Baai where we geared up with the instructors of Nix Kite School to learn the basics. After an hour of learning to power/de-power the kite, get a feel for the steering and try a starter skill known as body dragging (letting the kite guide you though the water), we finally had the basics down. Equipped with the skills needed to continue my adventure, I fully intend to take a few more lessons in sunny Miami.