Curaçao is a Dutch Caribbean island that’s a three hour flight from Miami and about 40 miles north of Venezuela. While my boyfriend and I tend to choose vacation spots that offer more adventures than we have time for, this trip was all about enjoying some much-needed down time.
Our trip to Curaçao was supposed to happen in April 2020, but like so many others, we had to postpone because of the pandemic. I wanted to have a mellow vacation in the Caribbean even back then, choosing Curaçao in part because it was an island we’d never been to before, in part because my mother is Dutch and she once traveled through Curaçao from Venezuela to get to the Netherlands.
This was our first time on an airplane since we went to Belize in 2019, and while our main priority was relaxing on the beach and snorkeling in the clear blue waters, we did have some other plans for our first vacation in too long.
Keep In Mind
If you’re planning a trip to Curaçao, keep in mind it’s very windy. All the time. We were surprised by the wind on our first day, and after the wind continued into our second day and we asked around, we learned it’s like that year round. This meant two things for me in particular: choppy water when snorkeling and constantly wearing my long hair up.
I would also recommend buying your own snorkel gear and bringing it along. We were so thankful to have our own gear, not only because we’re in COVID times and I didn’t want to put the hotel’s community gear in my mouth, but also because of the convenience of grabbing our mesh bags and tossing them in the car as we beach hopped.
So what did we do on our six day getaway to Curaçao?
After leaving our house at 3:40am, we had two seamless flights to Miami and then Curaçao, picking up our rental car at the airport and arriving at our resort around 3pm.
We weren’t able to book the room we originally booked at the Avila Beach Hotel two years earlier, but when we walked into our first floor beachfront one-bedroom apartment, we were thankful for the switch. We had two full bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a large deck with direct access to the hotel’s private beach.
After unpacking and exploring, we enjoyed the barbeque buffet at Avila’s Pen Restaurant, relaxed with a stunning sunset and totally crashed.
After a leisurely morning with coffee on our deck and snorkeling in the cove we could see from our bedroom, we drove to a local grocery store to stock our fridge. We didn’t plan to cook much, but it was nice having breakfast food, snacks and bottles of wine to save us some money from eating and drinking out.
Then we totally chilled, snorkeling right on our beach, reading and people-watching. I think it was the most relaxed I’d been in two years.
For dinner we drove to Mambo Beach, a popular hot spot with shopping and restaurants that’s family friendly by day and boasts disco ball dance parties by night. We ate an early dinner, walked through the start of a party just to see what it was like and headed back to Avila. No late parties for us because we had an early wake up the next morning for our most adventurous day.
We started early, heading out by 6:30am to drive 40 minutes west to Christoffel Park. We knew climbing Christoffel Mountain would be challenging and hot – you can’t start the hike after 10am– but reaching the summit was worth it.
We also knew the best snorkeling is on the west coast so we changed from hiking gear to bathing suits in the car and drove to Playa Grandi and then Playa Kalki.
Playa Grandi gifted us with the thing I most wanted to see in Curaçao – sea turtles. Others apparently knew the secret of this beach as well because snorkelers crowded the boat ramp to get photos. But as one sea turtle started swimming away from a crowd of cameras, I followed it, having my own private swim that I didn’t want to end.
Our next beach, Playa Kalki, showed off its beautiful clear water and fine white sand. We saw some pretty fish as we snorkeled the westernmost beach on Curaçao, but at that point we were tired so we didn’t stay long.
After the 50-minute drive back east, we were exhausted, eating dinner at the Blues Restaurant at Avila and watching the sunset from our deck.
After a lazy morning, we explored Willemstad, the capital city of Curaçao known for its pastel colored buildings.
We walked through the Marshe, an open air market, and the Rif Fort, a former military fort from the 1800’s that is now a waterfront mall.
We crossed Queen Emma Bridge, a pontoon bridge that connects the Punda and Otrobanda sections of the city.
We shopped and snacked on Dutch bitterballen and pancakes, then bought Curaçao cuisine in the Plasa Bieu to bring back to our apartment for dinner.
We decided our last full day in Curaçao was all about relaxing in a lounge chair, snorkeling from cove to cove at our resort and enjoying a delicious sunset dinner.
Our COVID tests were negative so we started packing.
We had an afternoon flight so we took our time in the morning, with breakfast and coffee on our deck and one last walk around the resort before heading to the airport and returning our rental car.
Thanks for the memories, beautiful Curaçao.