If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I was vacationing in Curaçao last week. It has always been a dream of mine to be basking in sunshine and warmth while it was cold and dreary in New York City. While it hasn't exactly been crazy cold, it was still really nice to get a taste of summer-like weather at this time of year. The above photo was taken from my favorite shady spot on the beach.
Curaçao is an island country in the Dutch Caribbean outside the Hurricane Belt. It is the "C" of the ABC Islands along with Aruba and Bonaire and was once part of the Netherlands Antilles. Curaçao is the home to over 35 beaches and a rich and diverse heritage of over 55 cultures. The official language is Papiamentu, a unique mix of African languages and Portuguese, Spanish, with some influences from Amerindian languages, English, and Dutch. The official currency is the Dutch Antilles Guilder (also known as Florin) but the U.S. Dollar is readily accepted. The current exchange rate is favorable to the dollar and we found that prices converted to just over a half with that.
Since we had such a good experience with our Turks & Caico trip booked through JetBlue Getaways, I made use of them again. We decided to stay at the Avila Hotel, a contemporary style resort set in an 18th-century Dutch Colonial mansion with two private beaches featuring swimming coves protected by rock breakwaters. The hotel was conveniently located and had amazing views and the staff was friendly and amenable to all our needs. While our room was nice and clean and had a balcony overlooking the Octagon Plaza, it was nowhere as luxurious as the suite we stayed in at the Gansevoort last year but then it didn't cost as much either. The hotel did exceed our expectations in terms of food with a number of dining facilities with a range of tasty options. We ended up eating fish quite abit because it was fresh and plentiful. We also tried some of the local options like keshi yena which is cheese stuffed with meat. Yes the cheese is on the outside and it is commonly stuffed with a spiced chicken, onion, olives, capers and tomatoes. This dish was originally eaten by slaves that lived on the island during the Dutch colonization. Indonesian food is also common there because of Dutch ties to Indonesia and a popular dish is chicken satay with peanut sauce.
While we had some relaxing days just hanging out at the beach, we also visited Curaçao's capital of Willemstad which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located downtown, this area is known for the iconic Handelskade, a row of colorful Colonial Dutch buildings along the harbor with boutiques and sidewalk cafés. We took a walk across Queen Emma Bridge which is also known as "The Swinging Old Lady" since it is a floating pontoon bridge that links the "Punda" (Point Side) and the "Otrobanda" (Other Side) of the Willemstad across the Sint Annabaai Channel. We got to see the bridge open and close to avert marine traffic into St. Anna Bay which was pretty cool. I actually got a little queasy because of the constant motion when we crossed it. There is also a floating market along the waterfront that is named for the boats of the Venezuelan vendors who cross the sea between South America and Curaçao to sell fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. There were Christmas decorations up in Riffort Village and it was a curious sight to see them juxtaposed along palm trees.
We also enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods around our hotel where there were residences in building styles typically found in the Netherlands painted in lovely pastel hues. And there seemed to be no shortage of pretty flowers growing all around the island everywhere we went.
It was a fun getaway and not too far at about four and half hours away from NYC. Curaçao is a scenic island with warm and friendly locals and warm, sunny weather. It was raining the afternoon of our arrival but our driver told us that it actually rarely rains there and we were fortunate to have sunny weather for the rest of our stay. There seemed to be a continuous breeze blowing through the entire time which kept the heat from being unbearable The sunsets there were quite spectacular and we tried to catch them at every opportunity.
Have you ever been to Curaçao? Do you have a favorite warm weather getaway? Check out out our Turks & Caicos vacation!