Just Back from the Island of Curacao!

There is nothing common about Curacao.  It has a rugged natural beauty with a vast arid landscape and a mixture of clear waters and secluded beaches.  When you add it’s European style, rich cultural and architectural heritage with a blend of more than 55 nationalities it is a unique and different experience.

I decided to make a quick visit so that I could explore a bit and experience the new air service from Charlotte. Curacao-based airline InselAir International has started operating the route between Curacao and Charlotte. The new flights to Charlotte will operate every Wednesday and Saturday departing Curacao at 9.10AM, arriving in Charlotte at 1.25PM and departing Charlotte at 2.25PM and arriving in Curacao at 6.40PM.  Due to the interline agreement with US Airways, passengers can get ticketed through on US Airways flights and vice versa, making it possible to connect to 58 US Airway destinations within 2.5 hours of the InselAir arrival and departure time in Charlotte.

My visit consisted of a 3-night stay at the new Hyatt and I explored a large part of the island.  I covered a great deal of territory and found Curacao to be a great spot!

The new Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina opened in September of 2010.  Located on the southeast coast of Curacao at Barbara Beach you feel as though you have escaped to a private island.  This gated enclave is set between the glistening Spanish Bay waters and the Caribbean Sea on 1500 acres of terrain encompassing mangrove estuaries, rolling Hills, with a beachfront and bay front.  With 350 beautifully appointed guestrooms you will feel right at home.  Extra pampering is available at the Hyatt’s Pure Atabei Spa where you can enjoy holistic treatments inspired by the Arawak people Curacao’s original inhabitants. The resort offers Peter Burwash International (PBI) tennis center with four Hydro-grid clay courts with night lighting. An outstanding 7,200-yard Old Quarry Golf course designed by Pete Dye and last but not least the Seru Boca Marina with 128 slips to dock vessels up to 150 feet long with rentals possible.  My stay was very enjoyable with a few moments spent each day at the pool and beach.  Relaxation is easy in such a beautiful place.

During my travels around the island I found many great places.  The first place I discovered and knew little about was the Jan Thiel area with several hotels and beach clubs. I feel the Papagayo Beach & Lounge Resort is definitely worth mentioning. The area is situated 22 km away from the airport, at the southeast side of the island. Jan Thiel is an area with an abundance of water and not only ideal for diving, snorkeling and lazing on the beach but also for sailing, surfing and kayaking.

Opposite the Papagayo Beach & Lounge Resort lies Jan Thiel Beach with the waterfront café-restaurants Zanzibar, Zest and Restaurant Tinto.  Papagayo Beach Club has a fabulous infinity pool right on the waters edge along with very comfortable lounge chairs with beach service. You get to the beach by crossing a quiet road, mainly used by joggers and cyclists. At Jan Thiel Beach there is a water sports centre and a diving school. For children there is a large playground that includes a swimming pool.

At the back, the resort borders on the unique nature reserve of Jan Thiel, with its ancient saltpans, where one can regularly find flamingos. The nature reserve is also an excellent area for jogging and mountain biking. In addition, it is possible to hire buggies and quads for an adventurous drive around the region. 

Driving west we came to Sea Aquarium Beach one of the most popular beaches on the island, and its Curacao Sea Aquarium. It’s on the cutting age of the world’s aquariums that work to preserve the marine life habitat in its most natural state. Opened in 1984, this unique facility offers a series of tours and presentations that provide education and inter activities with the marine life. If you are on family vacations, you will discover that Sea Aquarium Beach will fascinate children of all ages for hours at a time.

Activities at the Curacao Sea Aquarium include touching and hand feeding stingrays, dolphins, and endangered sea turtles that nest on the northern beaches of the island, and even sharks. 

Beach has numerous facilities making it popular for family vacations. There are palm trees providing ample shade, several dining spots and bars, a good selection of stores and kiosks for shopping, dive shops, and numerous water sports opportunities.  Hotels near Sea Aquarium Beach Curacao include the prestigious Kontiki Dive and Beach Resort as well as the all-inclusive Breezes Curacao. Some of these resorts have great nightlife spots (including casinos), and there are also plenty of beach bars and nightlife spots offering music and other entertainment along the beach.

While exploring we also checked out some of the secluded beaches on the western side of the island like Cas Abao Beach and Daa Boo.  They were beautiful secluded beaches which offered counter service, a bar, beach chair rentals, water sports shops and restrooms.  They had beautiful blue water and white sand.  It’s definitely worth a drive to explore Curacao’s many beaches but be sure to rent a GPS the roads can be confusing.

Willemstad is a beautiful city steeped in the history of the island, one of fewer than twenty UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Caribbean. Local residents are justifiably proud of the facts about Willemstad Curacao and the remarkable preservation of this important Caribbean port city.  A good portion of the harbor is protected and dominated by Fort Amsterdam, the oldest of the several forts built on the island by the Dutch West India Company in the seventeenth century. For this reason alone, Willemstad tourism draws thousands of visitors every year, making it one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it enjoys many European Union privileges. Its low import duties provide a wide array of shoppingbargains for world-class goods from around the world.  The fascinating Queen Emma Pontoon bridge connects the Punda to the Otrobanda districts of the city. 16 floating pontoon boats support the “Pontoon Bridge.” Also known as the “Swinging Old Lady,” it swings open using two powerful ship motors, allowing ships to access the port.   We enjoyed a lunch on the waterfront of the Punda district and enjoyed watching her open and close.  Check out my video on of it from the Otrobanda side of the waterfront.

My favorite Resort on Curacao was the 5 star Luxury Beach Resort Baoase.  Named to the 2010 Hot List by Condé Nast Traveler, Baoase is situated on an idyllic 300 meter beachfront on the South side of Curacao between its capital Willemstad and Sea Aquarium beach.

Nestled amidst tropical gardens and caressed by the azure water of the Caribbean Sea, the Baoase Luxury Resort is an idyllic retreat tucked away on the island.  Featuring luxury villas and suites, Baoase exudes a relaxing and inviting ambience of Asian style with every modern amenity.

The Baoase Beach Bar & Grill is open for lunch and dinner and is located directly on the beach in front of the resort. The Bar serves light fare, drinks.  Willemstad is just a few minutes away with all of it wonderful restaurant choices and Baoase’s warm and friendly staff  will assist you with making reservation.  This classy Resort even has it’s own Heli-pad for those who want to arrive quickly.  I would not hesitate to send anyone to this beautiful place where you will feel as though you are in paradise.

I only had three days to explore this exciting island and I am so glad I did.  Every island in the Caribbean has it own uniqueness and that is one of the reasons I love the Caribbean so much.  InselAir has made it possible for more of you to visit so start dreaming!