Written by lovethecaribbean on 12 Mar, 2011
Our main interest was snorkeling and I must say that Curacao had the best snorkeling that I have experienced in the Caribbean (I have been to St. John, BVI’s, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Belize, Anguilla, St. Martin, St Barts, St. Kitts, Antigua, Puerto Rico…Read More
Our main interest was snorkeling and I must say that Curacao had the best snorkeling that I have experienced in the Caribbean (I have been to St. John, BVI’s, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Belize, Anguilla, St. Martin, St Barts, St. Kitts, Antigua, Puerto Rico and Aruba so I have lots of places to compare.) The fish were so plentiful and there was more coral than I expected. I also saw things that I hadn’t seen before. One thing I should note is that all of the beaches we visited were pretty rocky, so I would recommend water shoes. We have ones that fit under our fins, so that works great for us.Beach at the Marriott- the water was rougher here than at the other beaches we visited, but there was still life to see. We saw quite a few fish including trumpet fish. Playa Kalki- This beach was beautiful! It’s the beach used by the Kurahulanda Lodge. We rented chairs- $6 a piece. And since there was an umbrella available, we used that for free. I guess because we rented the chairs (I even told the waitress we weren’t staying there), they came by with a little pretzel cracker snack, free water and fruit. That was a nice perk! The snorkeling was great here. We saw plenty of fish and I saw squid for the first time ever. I have seen eel before, but I had only seen their heads poking out from rocks. This was the first time I had seen one swimming. I also saw a houndfish and I had not seen one of those for a long time.Kenepa- This beach also had great snorkeling, but after the first beach, they all kind of blend together in terms of what we saw while snorkeling. (sorry, I should have kept better track!) But I do remember it being even better snorkeling than Playa Kalki. I also remember being chased by a pilot fish here. Man, those things are aggressive! I didn't even know it was swimming so close to me, but my husband did. I wear a snorkel shirt over my swimsuit when I snorkel, and he said he thought it was going to swim up my shirt. I would not have liked that! I prefer to be an observer only, I don't want the fish to touch me!Playa Lagun- This was also great snorkeling and we explored both sides of the bay here.Playa Cas Abou- This was the most expensive beach we visited- with an entrance fee and was also the most expensive to rent chairs/palapas—but it was so worth it! The beach was the prettiest that we visited plus had the best snorkeling we experienced on the island. We saw so many fish here and snorkeled both sides of the bay, as well as in the middle of it.I wish that we had more time so we could have tried our more snorkel spots. We will be back one day! Close
Written by european traveller on 17 May, 2006
"I am just so happy," Mrs. Amorella almost sang with a beaming smile. And who wouldn’t be, we were in the back of her white, minivan taxi on a beautiful, bright, sunny—not hot actually—October day in Curaçao on our way to colourful Willemstad. And if…Read More
"I am just so happy," Mrs. Amorella almost sang with a beaming smile. And who wouldn’t be, we were in the back of her white, minivan taxi on a beautiful, bright, sunny—not hot actually—October day in Curaçao on our way to colourful Willemstad. And if that didn’t put us in a good mood, then the news of Mrs. Amorella’s son passing his exam in far-away Amsterdam, or rather her reaction to the news, had to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
Mrs. Amorella’s enthusiasm and friendliness became typical of our 2-week stay on the small, Caribbean island just above Venezuela. The friendliness of the people on Curaçao is a rare gem in a tourist-fatigued world.
They don’t seem to mind sharing their island, and they have managed to keep a dignified attitude to tourism. The swimming pools, the restaurants, the clubs and bars are not just there for the tourists. We found just as many locals in the bars, and on a Saturday afternoon we counted more locals in our hotel’s swimming pool than tourists. Maybe that is why, to an outsider at least, the people of Curaçao don’t seem sick and tired of tourists—yet.
We had a fantastic time on the island, here are some of the parts we enjoyed the most:
Actually I should say The Hilton rather than Piscadera Bay. Come to think of it, I should say the staff at The Hilton. Never have I come across a friendlier hotel staff. Throughout our entire stay, we were always greeted with a friendly smile and a chat.
The hotel itself and the rooms were not quite up to scratch, but they were clean. The grounds, the pools, and the beaches, however, were fantastic! The Hilton serves a fantastic breakfast buffet, but could do better on their dinner service. It was no problem finding nice restaurants nearby though, we in particular enjoyed a very romantic dinner at Hooks Hut. My partner found a jogging track close by overlooking the ocean, not a joy I shared, but whatever rocks your boat. Curaçao is just outside the hurricane belt, so visiting in October was not a problem, but we did enjoy some cool lightning shows over the ocean from the safe distance of Parasasa Beach.
The Hilton is in a good location for exploring the rest of the island. But then again, almost any place on the island is, as you can easily drive around it in a day. The hotel is very close to Willemstad—about 10 minutes by car. On a few occasions, we even walked from the hotel to Willemstad along the jogging track I mentioned earlier. The walk is not for the faint-hearted due to the heat, but we’re living proof that it can be done.
My first impression of Willemstad could only be colourful. I love the architecture and the colours of the old colonial buildings. Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, is divided by St. Anna Bay into two parts; Punda ("the point"), and Otrabanda ("the other side"). The two parts are usually connected by the famous Queen Emma Bridg—a floating pedestrian bridge. The bridge was going through a thorough restoration during our stay, so only the pontoons remained.
Otrabanda is less touristy and has more of an island community feel to it. On the small square by the St. Anna Bay people of all ages gather in the early evening, and sitting there enjoying an ice cream gave us a real feel of the Caribbean. Along Otrabanda’s narrow streets you’ll find many small shops catering predominantly for the local consumer. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Kura Hulanda Museum, where you can learn about the African slave trade amongst other things.
Punda is very touristy, or at least the part facing the bay is catering mainly for the tourists. We did enjoy a few dinners there, and if you walk away from the bay the place becomes much more intimate.
Walking around some of the less-colourful parts of Willemstad, we did, however, get the feeling of potential future tensions. The gap between a small group of well-off people, and the majority group of less wealthy is huge seen from a European’s point of view. On a night out with some local people, we also learned that the lack of jobs is a huge problem for young people on the island. Another problem was what can only be described as land-grabbing by foreigners. Prior to our visit, we had been very open to the idea of re-locating to the island, but the massive gap between those who have and those who don’t as well as hearing about the land-grabbing left us with a bad taste in our mouths.
The 4,500 acres of wilderness full of cacti, iguanas, exotic flowers and birds made our visit to Christoffelpark one of my most fond memories from Curaçao. We had hired a Rav4 for the second week of our stay on Curaçao, and I wouldn’t have liked anything smaller for the mountain route in Christoffelpark. We drove both the Plantation north coast and the Mountain routes getting out of the car at almost every possible stop, which left us little time for hiking. But we did manage to hike up parts of the Christoffel mountain trail, which most definitely left us wishing we had more time.
An ostrich farm is not normally something I would take time out for when travelling, but I am very glad I didn’t snob the Curaçao Ostrich Farm. We had some trouble finding the place, and when we got there the place seemed empty. Inside though we were told that the next tour would be in 20 minutes. As cruel as it may seem, we killed the wait with an ostrich burger. As the only two, we were driven around the small farm in a safari-type vehicle by a very entertaining and informative guide. He had us feed the ostriches, stand on an ostrich egg, and hold an ostrich chick. We spent a very enjoyable hour there learning about something I would never have thought could capture my interest.
This will seem sad to most, I know, but I have a thing for flamingos. I find them very elegant, nonchalant birds, and their pink colour is very exotic to me. So when we passed a flock of flamingos, the car was brought to a screeching halt. I could have spent hours just watching them, but my partner doesn’t quite share my fascination with flamingos. Curaçao is my first live encounter with flamingos. I still find them elegant and exotic, but having heard them "gossip" like geese, maybe not so nonchalant.
Boca Tabla Cave
Boca Tabla, near the West Point, was a pleasant surprise. Over the years, I have grown somewhat indifferent to caves. Admittedly, I have seen some fantastic caves in different parts of the world, but they have to be particularly spectacular to get me excited now. We had already visited Hato Caves, which were nice, but some rather annoying co-visitors completely spoiled it for me. So I wasn’t really expecting much, as we approached the national park, but I was wrong. Boca Tabla offered spectacular views and amazing displays of force, when the water came crashing against the rocks. Apparently three kinds of turtle species breed at Boca Tabla. We didn’t see any turtles, but then I’m not sure when they breed. We did see fantastic rock formations though, and we really enjoyed our visit. We came at high-noon, so we drove to most of the places because of the heat. But we did walk part of the way to the natural bridge, which was worth the sweat.
I will post a few photos here, but I have more from Curacao on my website: http://www.thecooler.info/travel/34.html
Written by jbunky on 22 Nov, 2005
Thursday - We ventured out to the east end of the island for some more snorkeling. This part of the island is markedly more developed – there is even a McDonalds and KFC. We drove through a high-class residential area (think Hollywood Hills in the…Read More
Thursday - We ventured out to the east end of the island for some more snorkeling. This part of the island is markedly more developed – there is even a McDonalds and KFC. We drove through a high-class residential area (think Hollywood Hills in the desert) to get to Jan Thiel Beach. It was a very nice beach, and the snorkeling was very interesting, but the water was a little choppy. We did get to see a HUGE school of fish and a sunken yacht. Very cool! The sea floor drops off pretty dramatically not too far from the shore, and lots of fishies congregate in that area. We only stayed there for a little while, because the waves were becoming a bit too much to handle (I got water up my snorkel one too many times), so we headed back to Marriott-land to enjoy a lunch a la our all-inclusive plan.
After that, we tried snorkeling in the beach right at the Marriott. There was a lot more to see there than we expected. There was a great variety of coral spread out on the sea floor in a pattern that made us feel like we were in someone's fish tank. The number of different fish so close to our room was very surprising. We had to cut the excursion short though due to more choppy waters. For dinner, we went to Ottrabanda (in Willemstad on the other side of Punda – Ottrabanda literally means “other side” - not too creative, are they?) and enjoyed an exquisite meal at the Astrolab Observatory at the Kura Hulanda Hotel. It was very romantic, as we dined beneath the massive ficus tree, surrounded by bubbling fountains. We knew the meal would be special when after we ordered, the waiter brought us the “chef's appetizer” (i.e., we didn’t order it, but they brought it to us anyway), served on a zen-like rectangular plate. It felt very much like we were judges on Iron Chef.
The said appetizer was a salad of the best tomatoes we have ever eaten with alfalfa sprouts. To the side of that was a salmon mousse. It was very creamy and delicious, with a smoky flair - like a really good, soft cheese. For our appetizer, we tried the ostrich carpaccio. Very interesting. Very different. When we didn't eat much of it, the owner came out and asked us why. We explained, to his surprise, that we never had ostrich. We were being adventurous. (I imagine he was thinking, “those silly American tourists.”) The next course (which we also didn’t order) was a sorbet of orange and carrots. You wouldn't think that these two would go together, but we discovered it was very, very good. Like peanut butter and chocolate.
For the main course, Rob ordered the day's special: duck with a tea sauce, which he described as “a religious experience” and “the best steak teriyaki I ever had – but it's duck.” I ordered the pan-seared filet of grouper. It was very good as well. And it was served with a polenta that was absolutely out-of-this-world. Yes, polenta can be part of a fine dining experience. And then dessert. Chocolate mousse with a yummy glass of Rothschild Sauternes. It was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Friday – We awoke at 6:30am to leave for horseback riding at 8:15. We rode for about 45 minutes, following a lead rider who showed us around a 200-year-old estate in central Curacao. I rode a very relaxed and compliant horse which was only trained to walk at a leisurely pace, while Rob's European-style horse wanted to run the entire route (come to think of it, the horses fit the riders very well). The winding path took us through groves of thorny bushes, to dusty hills where you can see each corner of the island, and finally, under a centuries-old mango tree before returning to the ranch. All in all, it was a fun, if not a dirty, ride. We did get to meet a couple from Pittsburgh who were also on their honeymoon and also got married on August 20. Cue the “It's a Small World” theme.
After a decent lunch in Marriott-land's local deli, we set out for the Curaçao Seaqarium just to the east of Willemstad. It took a few tries to get there, due to some navigational issues on Rob's part. Once we were there, an overwhelming sense of “this is it?” washed over us. The regular Seaquarium (which, much to my annoyance, had no air-conditioning) consists of 12 tanks of varying-size fish, 5 dolphins, which did a pretty substandard show (trainers' fault, not the dolphins'), a snack bar in the center, and a gift shop that was not open. We walked around for about an hour and gave up. On the way out, we paused to watch a single sea lion go through some standard “give paw” type commands. The real draw for the Seaquarium seems to be the Animal Encounters exhibits which put you in the tanks with sharks, dolphins, or sea turtles and are fairly expensive. The best encounters also require SCUBA certification. Maybe next time…
For our final night with our beloved Suzuki Jimmy, we again headed out into Ottrabanda for a meal at Bistro Le Chocard. The meal at Astrolab the night before was very hard to live up to, and while Bistro didn’t quite make it, it was pretty close. We were again offered a “chef’s appetizer,” but here it was a simple yet delicious bruschetta. I played it safe and ordered a chicken dish (I can’t remember the details, which means it was good but not outstanding), and Rob had the Chateaubriand, which was simple and delicious. I passed on the dessert wine this evening – the crème brulee was good enough as is.
Saturday – We turned in the keys to our Jeep today, which meant we spent our last full day in Curacao in Marriott-land. We wanted to see what all the hype was about. We awoke at a leisurely hour and had breakfast in our usual spot in the open-air Palm Cafe. We did a little bit more snorkeling at the hotel too – the conditions were much better today, with not as much choppy waters. Lunch was a bit later in the day, and we had some yummy pizza from the deli. While we were eating in the open-air lobby, we got to see a bride and her entourage pile into funky classic cars. That brought back some lovely memories of our wedding day. (She was tripping over her wedding dress too. After having my share of problems with that, it’s nice to see that is a common setback for brides. Ah, the things we do to be beautiful.)
Later, we had dinner at Portofino. It was, regretfully, sub-par. I had requested a table outside, but they seemed to have ignored my request, because there were none left. We were instead seated in the slightly too frigid air-conditioned interior, at a table that seemed to be more suited for a business lunch – honeymooners should have their chairs much closer together. The food was also not as good as the other times. We thought that perhaps the regular chef was working at “Caribbean Buffet Night,” which we happily passed on. It was silly, though, because the buffet festivities took place right outside of our patio. (“Why are people eating dinner in our backyard?”). After spending the entire day at the Marriott, we were very happy that we got to experience the rest of the island.
Sunday – Last day in Curacao. We enjoyed our final breakfast at the Palm Café, and I said good-bye to my mischievous avian friend. Check-out went smoothly, and a tour van (as opposed to a slightly dilapidated van) brought us to the airport. The flights home were smooth (no hurricanes – we just missed Katrina by a couple of days), and my parents picked us up at Bradley. All in all, it was a very interesting, very adventurous, and very hot honeymoon.
Written by kleslie on 23 Aug, 2005
Below is an excerpt to a coworker regarding his query on Curacao:
Depending on your budget and taste for adventure, you options for hotels are varied. Actually, you can explore the new site www.curacao.com. There is an accommodations guide on there that will at least…Read More
Below is an excerpt to a coworker regarding his query on Curacao:
Depending on your budget and taste for adventure, you options for hotels are varied. Actually, you can explore the new site www.curacao.com. There is an accommodations guide on there that will at least show you all the hotel options. If you want a romantic component to your trip, I strongly recommend Kura Hulanda (http://www.kurahulanda.com). There is also a list of dive operators on the site, as well as dive locations. If you tell me what you are interested in doing, I can have the director of operations make for the Curacao Tourist Board make some specific recommendations.
Curacao is a very interesting place. I think you will generally have one of two reactions: you will either fall in love with its rough-edged charm or hate it. Most divers love it. There is actually a dive camp there, so if you are really adventurous, that might be a way to go, but I do not know the name of it. One really good site is http://www.curacao-actief.com. I think you will find that it has more dive content and things you may be interested in. The dollar goes pretty far down there, but it is expensive to get there and the room tax is pretty steep, so while you may get what sounds like a really good room rate, the tax gets it back up to where you would expect.
When you get there, you will get a red bag at the airport. Be sure to get one; it’s right after you go through customs. There is a table set up, and it will have a lot of information about things to do, diving, etc., as well as some coupons. Taxis there are pretty interesting, but they are not metered yet, so it’s all a bit negotiable. About $20 will get you just about anywhere, but be sure to ask "How much to take me to… ". Driving there is not too bad, and right now it is off season, so rates are cheap, I had an economy car down there last week for $164 for 5 days, I think. There are some good package deals, and I think there is a way to get $200 off of your airfare or something.
The people there are fantastic. They all speak four languages. Dutch is their official language; the locals also speak Papiamentu, a Creole-like language that has many distinguishable terms; and they also speak English and Spanish, although I think they tend to speak better Spanish than English. They all speak very good English, and you will have no trouble understanding them. You may get strange looks when they hear you, not because they do not understand, but it takes some of them a second to figure out which language they are hearing. You see this more with people who do not have constant interaction with the tourists.
Curacao is a very safe place. I have been out on the streets late at night with no concerns. The clubs there are pretty fun, and they really like Americans.
You can use US currency everywhere you go, and the exchange rate is very favorable. It’s not a bad idea to get your change in a few places in NaFl (guilders). Be careful, particularly in smaller restaurants, as the tabs come in guilders and you will end up paying a lot more than you should (speaking from experience, like the time when I had a $25 hamburger from room service at the Howard Johnson my first night there). If you have time, I strongly encourage you to take a ride out to Knip Beach, as it is one of the quaintest and most beautiful beaches I can think of. I have attached a few pictures.
If you stay at Kura Hulanda, be sure to have drinks in the courtyard around 5/5:30ish, which is very relaxing, particularly if you are with your wife. When it gets dark, the tree frogs start chirping, a very nice sound. One other warning there, particularly since you are from New York and are probably used to a certain level of service: These are island people and not particularly service-oriented, so service is slow. Be patient, and if you are in a hurry, be sure to ask for your check at least 15 minutes before you have to leave.
There are lots of good places to eat. If you want just a quick sandwich, I highly recommend Delifrance. There are two or three of them on the island, and their sandwiches very good and very fresh. My favorite is the salami and brie on a brown baguette, and I don't even like salami. As far as nice dinners, Bistro Le Clochard is very good, and the Astrolab at Kura Hulanda and Jaipur at Kura Hulanda are also good. If you want to really experience something local, take a trip out to Westpunt (west point) and go to Janchees (pronounced Yanchees). The guy is very personable, there is no menu, and he will tell you what he has. If you are really adventurous and want to spice up your love life that day, try the Iguana Soup.
Let me know if you would like to know more.
Written by DebbySav on 29 Jan, 2004
The West End beaches are our favorites in Curacao!! And of those, we like Porto Maria, Cas Abao, and Playa Kalki the best!! All three have excellent snorkeling right off the beach. Playa Kalki has a long pier, which is fun for jumping in the…Read More
The West End beaches are our favorites in Curacao!! And of those, we like Porto Maria, Cas Abao, and Playa Kalki the best!! All three have excellent snorkeling right off the beach. Playa Kalki has a long pier, which is fun for jumping in the water. All three are also great for shore dives. Porto Marie has the best restaurant. There is shade at all three and Cas Abao and Porto Marie have lounge chairs and more facilities. The water is so clear and beautiful; we saw garden eels, puffer fish, and peacock flounder just off shore! Close
Written by okika on 01 May, 2003
Before going to Curacao in April, we checked on the Internet for ferries between those two islands, and found the Flamingo Fast Ferries, operating from Curacao, with their schedule and prices, on a website last updated in April 2003. How disappointing to discover they have…Read More
Before going to Curacao in April, we checked on the Internet for ferries between those two islands, and found the Flamingo Fast Ferries, operating from Curacao, with their schedule and prices, on a website last updated in April 2003. How disappointing to discover they have been replaced by Chogogo Ferries, operating from Bonnaire, and making it compulsory to overnight in Bonnaire except on Fridays. Their email: firstname.lastname@example.org Close
The island is famous for its blue liqueur called "Curacao"; we can recommend another one, also made on the island, called "Amaretto", which makes an excellent drink when mixed with orange juice and some ice. And the Dutch beer called Amstel really beats the local…Read More
The island is famous for its blue liqueur called "Curacao"; we can recommend another one, also made on the island, called "Amaretto", which makes an excellent drink when mixed with orange juice and some ice. And the Dutch beer called Amstel really beats the local beers found in Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Antigua, or the French West Indies. Close
Written by bvormittag on 17 Jan, 2001
BEWARE: The Island charges you a TWENTY USD ($20) DEPARTURE TAX. This really bothered me. It will NOT be included in any tour packages, it is not posted anywhere while entering the island, but if you want to leave, you have to shell…Read More
BEWARE: The Island charges you a TWENTY USD ($20) DEPARTURE TAX. This really bothered me. It will NOT be included in any tour packages, it is not posted anywhere while entering the island, but if you want to leave, you have to shell out TWENTY DOLLARS A PERSON!!!!
Which I MUST say was my least favorite part of the entire Curacao trip.
Also, don't worry about buying your Blue Curacao Liquor before you enter the airport, the duty-free shop in the airport was a lot cheaper than purchasing the Blue Liquor at a local supermarket! Close
Written by cassell90 on 29 Apr, 2006
Spent most of the time at the beach! Scuba diving was disappointing because recent storms had destroyed a lot of coral. The diving is all shore diving as well—no boat diving.We went to a beach frequented by locals, so the environment was cool and relaxed.…Read More
Spent most of the time at the beach! Scuba diving was disappointing because recent storms had destroyed a lot of coral. The diving is all shore diving as well—no boat diving.We went to a beach frequented by locals, so the environment was cool and relaxed. Close
Sunday Rob and I arrived in Curacao after relatively smooth flights. I wore my tiara in hopes of inspiring the ticket agent to upgrade us to first-class, but to no avail. The flight attendant from Puerto Rico to Curacao did address me as “your…Read More
Rob and I arrived in Curacao after relatively smooth flights. I wore my tiara in hopes of inspiring the ticket agent to upgrade us to first-class, but to no avail. The flight attendant from Puerto Rico to Curacao did address me as “your highness,” though.
A very nice gentleman with a slightly dilapidated van met us at the Curacao airport and brought us to the Marriott. He took a few minutes to explain Curacao a bit (38 miles long, 3-7 miles wide; very diverse population; “on some days you can see Venezuela – it's always there, you know, but just some days you can see.”)
Our room at the Marriott is beautiful –the sliding doors lead right out to the ocean. It looks like a Corona commercial. A little more privacy would be nice but the location is great. We got the “all-inclusive” package so we were under the impression that meals (and all associated fees) are included, but while taking a leisurely stroll through the resort grounds, we saw some fine print on the menus outside of the restaurants about 12% and 5% fees. We asked about it at the front desk and the very kind woman told us in her best English that these fees are not included in the “all-inclusive” package. Alrighty then. (We later found out that they are, in fact, included – the kind woman's best English was apparently not good enough.)
We rented a Jeep today – actually, a Suzuki Jimmy with no air conditioning. The Curacao travel books that I had read said you need 4WD to get to some of the beaches. I’m beginning to not trust those travel books and wonder if the writers have actually been to the places they are writing about because we soon learned that we did not need 4WD and a/c definitely would have been nice. Anyway, today we headed into the capital of Willemstad. We drove the 5min from our hotel, parked (parking is very easy and it’s all free) and took a ferry over to Punda (the “shopping” district).
We enjoyed a European-style (i.e., 2-hour) lunch at the Vienna Ice Cafe overlooking Santa Anna Bay. It was very nice if not excruciatingly hot out. I had a cheese “toastie,” which is basically a panini but with a much more amusing name. We then walked around Punda a bit to explore the shops. We kept getting the feeling that we weren't really welcome there – so much for hospitality from the locals. Rob bought some toenail clippers and the woman made a frustrated face when we said we were paying in dollars (Florin is the official currency).
After that, we headed back to the hotel and had an exquisite dinner at Portofino – now this is what fine dining is supposed to be like. We dined al fresco and the service was excellent. I found it amusing that the waiter offered up not one, not two, but something like five choices for water (tap, two choices of “flat” bottled, and two choices of bottled “with gas”). I think we just chose one of the flat bottled varietals which was placed in a metal container on ice beside our table as if it were a fine champagne. For dinner, I had the shrimp and Rob had the red snapper. We both don’t normally eat fish but we tend to get adventurous on vacation. It was delicious. I can’t believe I’ve ignored shrimp all of this time. I finished off the meal with some tiramisu and dessert wine. It was perfect.
We ventured out to do some snorkeling on the far western tip of the island – Playa Kalki. Before heading out there we stopped at a local market where I went inside to do shopping and Rob waited in the Jeep. Not only is there no a/c in our beloved Jimmy, there is also no back window so no real way to lock it. We can’t be too trustful of those “friendly” locals. Grocery shopping was an adventure, especially because mostly everything is in Dutch. A kind teenage local took the bags out for me and he hung around for a tip. Told him all we had was American dollars. Another frustrated face. Well. Driving out to the beach, the landscape was very arid and everything was very underdeveloped. Think dessert and small shacks that are Curacaoans’ minimalist homes. As Rob said, it seems as though owning a Kia is a status symbol here.
We got to Kalki and did some snorkeling – the place is swimming with marine life! We even saw a manna ray (or was it a sting ray?). I tried to use the bathroom at the beach and the woman who apparently works there asked for a “guilda” for the key. I didn’t have to go that bad. (We later found out that a guilda and a florin are the same thing. Rob immediately started with the Princess Bride references.) We left the beach and found a place for lunch down the street and I used the bathroom there, free of charge. The lunch place wasn’t all that great – microwaved chicken nuggets – but it was good enough. Can’t have fine dining all the time.
At night we headed back to the hotel and ate at one of the other restaurants - Seabreeze. It was not as nice as Portofino. And we found out (after being transferred to someone who can actually speak and understand English) that the 12% and 5% charges are included in our “all inclusive” package. We took a nice walk on the beach at night and lounged on the loungers to stargaze. We saw a helicopter go by and Rob quipped that they must be looking for us – we didn't stay in Marriott-land that day for lunch and we didn't return our snorkel fins. I feel so sad for the poor vacationers that never leave the hotel – they are missing so much. Don't get me wrong - the hotel is beautiful - but it doesn’t capture the distinctiveness that is Curacao. To really experience Curacao, you have to leave Marriott-land.
This morning is the (hopefully) final day of a family reunion that has been taking place at the hotel since we got here. On Sunday they had the pool cornered off for them and on Monday they had the nice, quiet section of the beach sectioned off for a concert that you could hear all over the resort. While it's great to have such an engaging reunion, the influx of people has smeared a little grit on our honeymoon. The family in question is mostly American and of Jewish decent. When they are all around us at breakfast, you can close your eyes and swear you're smack dab in north Jersey. So much for exotic seclusion.
Breakfast, by the way, is otherwise very nice. We have it in the same place every day. It’s in a huge open-air patio where exotic birds like to fly by. My favorite is a black and yellow one that’s a bit mischievous. He likes to steal the sugar packets when no one is looking. And he won’t settle for Sweet-N-Low.
Today we headed out snorkeling again, this time to Playa Porto Marie. Despite being a bit crowded (with mostly Dutch tourists), it was great. This beach is the epitome of the Royal Blue Caribbean. There is a protected bay with coral reefs surrounding it and cliffs on either side. The view was breathtaking. The snorkeling was also very good – in addition to all of the colorful fish of various sizes, we also saw several types of rays and even a lobster! And we saw a HUGE iguana! He was sitting on the steps as I was going to the bathroom. A guy scared him away before Rob could get a picture though.
Also of note, there was a marked difference in the clientele at Porto Mari. The attendant first requested the payment for the beach in Dutch. His English accent wasn't much easier to understand (think Scotsman underwater... blub blub blub). There were very few people speaking English at lunch which brought back some of the exotic nature we were looking for. The sea life and iguana (HUGE I tell you) also helped.
On our way out of the beach, Rob was having fun with the 4WD and he pulled off a “perfectly executed” drift in the dusty parking lot. I was not impressed – it frankly freaked me out. Upon returning to Marriott-land, we had some yummy tropical drinks at Seabreeze (perhaps one too many) and then dined alfresco at Portofino again. It was just as yummy as the other night.