The Hidden Gem Of The Caribbean: A Travel Guide To Curaçao
Anyone who knows me is well aware that if you ask me, “Would you go back there?” after I visit a new country, the answer is always the same. I have literally fallen in love with everywhere I have been, but why would I repeat a destination when there are so many places to see in the world? Every once in awhile you find a place that really leaves you wanting to come back. Tulum is one of those places for us (we’re heading there for the third time next May!) and I can honestly say that Curaçao gave me the same feeling.
Located in the Southern Caribbean Sea and about 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, Curaçao is sandwiched between two other islands, Aruba and Bonaire. I keep referring to it as “The Hidden Gem Of The Caribbean” because I can count on one hand how many people I know who have actually visited Curaçao. It definitely does not get the credit it deserves from us Americans. As a Dutch island, it welcomes the most visitors from Holland. I can’t even tell you how many new friends we have in Amsterdam after this trip. And let’s be serious; you know you’re visiting somewhere cool if it’s full of Europeans.
We have the pleasure of sharing our anniversary date with my hubby’s best friend, Mike and his wife Karlie. They got married exactly one year before us, so we decided it would be fun for all of us to celebrate our anniversaries together. It was our 2 year and their 3 year. We chose to stay at the Avila Beach Hotel and we loved the location and the property, so I highly recommend staying here if you visit the island! It is located in the Pietermaii district of Willemsted. Many of the hotels do not have a sandy beach area because the coast is very rocky. Avila has two separate beach areas, plus a stunning pool so that was one of the reasons we chose it.
One of the most magical days of the trip was when we took a catamaran to an uninhabited island 15 miles off the coast. It’s called Klein Curaçao, which means “Little Curaçao”. The only things you’ll find on the island are a shipwreck on the shore from almost fifty years ago and an old lighthouse. The water was the most clear turquoise color I have ever seen. We used BlueFinn Charters and had an incredible time with the fresh cooked lunch, open bar and beautiful boat. The staff was amazing and took great care of us!
When I first started researching Curaçao, I kept coming across photos of people with pigs at the beach. Turns out you don’t have to go to Exuma to find a pig in a tropical destination. There is a beach called Playa Porto Mari which is about 30 minutes north of the city and there are four wild pigs who live at this beach. (A little different than the Exuma swimming pigs, but still really cool!) We decided to rent a car so we could spend a day exploring the northern part of the island. We went to the “pig beach” first, hoping we’d get there before a million other people. The pigs were nowhere to be seen when we first arrived, then we realized they were hiding/sleeping so we decided to come back for sunset. We returned several hours later and they still weren’t on the beach. We were so disappointed, until the sun started setting and the beach cleared out. All of the sudden, we looked over and two of the four piggies were making their way down to the sand looking for food.
Speaking of food, Curaçao is the one tropical destination that made it really easy to eat healthy. They don’t eat a ton of carbs, so that helped. Although I love chowing down on tacos and chips and guac in Mexico, I really appreciated coming home and not feeling as though I gained 10lbs on vacation. I actually only gained ONE on this trip and I’ll blame that on the alcohol.
Literally right across the street from the hotel were two of our very favorite restaurants. Fishalicious had the most incredible tuna and salmon sashimi. We went here three times for it if that tells you anything! Their oysters were amazing as well. It made me never want to get oysters in Nashville ever again. Next door to that was a cozy place called Rozendael’s and everything here was unbelievably delicious. We visited this place twice for dinner because it was just that good.
About a 10 minute drive from our hotel, we had breakfast at the cutest cafe named Number Ten. They had a gluten free bread option, so I got to eat avocado toast and it was so delicious! Everything about this spot was memorable and totally Instagrammable. Shout out to Karlie for coming across this gem!
For our anniversary dinner, we made reservations at the restaurant at Baoase Luxury Resort. They have an option to reserve a private beachside gazebo in the sand. It was complete with pillows, candles, and our own message in the sand! The food was amazing. Jordan and I went all out and did the four course surprise menu from the chef, along with the wine pairing. I think it was our most expensive meal to date, but totally worth it! ($460 USD after tip. OMG.)
One of our favorite ways to explore a new city (besides just eating and drinking! ha) is to grab the camera and roam the streets without an itinerary. We did just that in Willemstad and came across some really unique spots!
Last but certainly not least, we found some amazing snorkeling in Curaçao. When we drove up north to explore other beaches, we came across “turtle beach” (also known as Westpunt) and ended up hanging out in the water with about 10 giant swimming turtles. It was awesome! Another spot we found for snorkeling was Tugboat Beach, which is located toward the south side of the island. This little cove has a giant vessel next to it that has been parked there for almost 2 years. There is a tiny little bar, a shop to rent snorkel gear and that’s about it. The reason you want to visit here is because you can swim out and snorkel or dive to a sunken tugboat. I was so lucky Jordan captured an incredible photo of me with the sunken ship on his GoPro!
So in case you can’t tell, we found quite a few ways to occupy our time during our week in Curaçao! Everyone was so nice and there was so much to explore. If you’re the kind of person who likes to go on a beach trip and just lay by the beach or pool the whole time, you can probably do that somewhere a little closer. But if you like to get out there and explore, snorkel, and get lost in the streets of a new city, along with taking in stunning ocean views, you will have an absolutely incredible time visiting Curaçao. I left a little piece of my heart on this island, so don’t be surprised if I go back at some point! Keep up with all of my adventures via Instagram!
Thanks so much for reading and again, I hope I can inspire you to take the plunge and visit somewhere you’ve never been! The world is waiting.
Special thanks to my very talented hubby Jordan Heid for always capturing our travels so well!