When I first joined the DPR team and was told that I would be assisting with the Curaçao account, it was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. My colleague Michelle kept raving about this colorful island, so I dreamt of the day I would be able to visit. The day came much sooner than I had expected, and the fact that I got to go with the entire Curaçao team made the trip that much more fun. Thinking of where to go this winter? Here are my 5 suggestions on what to do if Curaçao is on your list.
1. Snap a shot in front of Handelskade
Undeniably one of the best photo opps on the entire island is in front of Handelskade, a colorful strip of buildings known for their array of pastel colors. Rumor has it that one of the first Dutch governors ordered that all houses should be painted in colors other than white because the reflection of the sun gave him headaches. Come to find out, he had a stake in the local paint company, more on that gossip here. The vibrant collection of buildings is a constant reminder of the island’s Dutch heritage and is the most breathtaking part of Punda. If you visit this winter, consider the Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village + Spa, a historical property that spans over eight blocks, was once a village, and has an on-site museum. It’s centrally located, only steps away from the famous Queen Emma Bridge and Willemstad, the island’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Tour the eastern side of the island with Eric’s ATV Adventures
I was a bit skeptical at first since I had never been on an ATV, but I’m so glad I put my fears aside because this was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip. During the tour, we explored the eastern side of the island, which is extremely different than you’d expect. Think cacti, lots of dust, and huge crashing waves. I was able to cross off several things on my bucket list during the tour, including climbing into a bat cave and crashing my ATV into a bunch of wabis, a dry, thorn bush, which left several battle scars. Our tour guides, Flow and Captain, made our excursion that much more exciting with all the island insight they were able to provide. For a girl that’s never been on an ATV before, I think I did pretty well… and I’m sure my boss, Jody, would agree!
3. Take a day trip to the West Side
From gorgeous cove-like beaches to Christoffel National Park, most of Curaçao’s natural beauty can be found in Westpunt aka the west side. We hiked Mt. Christoffel, the tallest peak on the island reaching a whopping 1,150 ft.! Once we reached the top, we were able to take in 360° views of the island, which made the 1.5-hour hike definitely worth the climb. If skies are clear and you begin your hike bright and early, you’ll be able to spot Venezuela from the top of the mountain, which lies a short 40 miles away from the coast. After sweating the 12 bottles of water we had drank, we were seriously craving a dip in one of Curaçao’s relaxing coasts. With more than 35 cove-like beaches, there’s no doubt that you must visit at least a couple of them! Playa Knip, an intimate beach partly shaded by manchineel trees, stole my heart with its clear waters and soft sand. With a batido truck parked out front, you can enjoy a refreshing, fresh fruit smoothie and light bites from the snack bar.
4. Brunch at Hofi Cas Cora
While we were on the island, we ate like kings and queens. We visited multiple restaurants, some of my favorites being Zest Mediterranean, Saint Tropez and Karakter. Out of all the great dining experiences we had in Curaçao, my absolute favorite was brunching at Hofi Cas Cora. This cute little farm-to-table restaurant creates delicious meals with the freshest ingredients all grown right in the backyard farm. From the detail in the plating to the bathroom décor, Hofi Cas Cora is a hidden gem. The farm also has a stable in the back with horses and goats, who take great selfies IF you’re a goat whisperer (shout out to Joao for the awesome shot below!)
5. Enjoy some Keshi Yena at Avila Beach Hotel
At first, I was a little skeptical because the literal translation of keshi yena is “stuffed cheese,” but I took my chances and ended up devouring this dish TWICE during our trip. The plate is composed of stewed chicken and melted Gouda cheese, served with white rice and plantains… it really is the perfect bite! According to frequent travelers and locals, one of the best keshi yena dishes can be found at Avila Beach Hotel (Belle Terrace Restaurant,) where you can pair your delicious meal with a side of Caribbean views.
Between the thrilling adventures on the itinerary to getting and explore the destination as a local, Traveling with DPR was an amazing experience. This was my first time visiting Curaçao, and I already can’t wait to go back. It’s safe to say this colorful island simply stole my heart, but don’t just take my word for it… go visit for yourself!