Searching for your next great adventure? This Sweet July series taps top travel enthusiasts to share first-hand insight into their ventures across the country and world, so you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare once you book your ticket. Wishing you safe—and sweet—travels!
Today: Dominique Jackson shares her top tips for vacationing in Curaçao.
Curaçao is a Dutch Caribbean island located in the southwestern part of the Caribbean and part of the Netherlands Antilles. It belongs to a collection of islands known as the ABC islands, which also includes Aruba and Bonaire. Island hopping can easily be booked through domestic flights that can take travelers between them in less than an hour.
I loved learning about the local culture of Curaçao and diving into the crystal-clear blue waters when I touched down in this sun-soaked paradise. The language spoken is Papiamento, which is a creole mix of African, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English. I spent the mornings meditating as the sun rose and the evenings enjoying mouth-watering meals with oceanfront views at sunset. It was the epitome of a soft life.
Curaçao is bright and colorful. In Willemstad, the capital, every corner is a perfect place to grab an Insta-worthy pic. For your next Curaçao adventure, take note of these recommendations below.
FOR A BUDGET: BBQ EXPRESS
BBQ Express is perfect for late-night and last-minute dinner plans. It’s a food truck located in Willemstad that is open until midnight. The atmosphere is casual, with family and friends hanging out at the tables in the front courtyard or in their cars. This Caracasbaai staple is known for its enormous portions of barbecue ribs and pork, along with its one-of-a-kind pindasaus, a spicy Dutch-Indonesian peanut dip.
FOR A SPLURGE: NULTWINTIG
This beachfront restaurant and cocktail bar is an experience with an array of local, freshly prepared food. The team comprises international chefs who take guests’ taste buds on a culinary journey. The menu changes seasonally, but I would highly recommend the locally caught fish or ceviche. Since we are splurging, visitors can’t go wrong with Nultwintig by La vie en Rose for dessert.
FOR A BUDGET: TERRA BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Terra Boutique Hotel is a bed & breakfast located on the vibrant streets of the Pietermaai district. It’s surrounded by plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, galleries and shopping. The hotel only has six bedrooms, so travelers can expect an intimate experience. The rooftop has an oceanfront view and there’s a pool in the courtyard area.
FOR A SPLURGE: BAOASE LUXURY RESORT
The “barefoot luxury” resort has the elegance of a 5-star resort with all the comfort to make you feel at home. It’s a hidden property—you’ll be close enough to the main city areas but tucked away from the hustle and bustle to truly feel like you have your sanctuary in paradise. The luxury property consists of rooms, suites and villas to fit any need.
FOR A BUDGET: DEN PARADERA HERB GARDEN
If you love learning about herbs and supporting women, a tour at Den Paradera Herb Garden is necessary. Its founder, Dinah Veeris, went to the California School of Herbal Studies and opened the garden on the island’s east side in 1991. Visitors can tour the garden and learn all about natural herbs and remedies. There is even a gift shop filled with wellness products such as oils, teas and herbs.
FOR A SPLURGE: KENEPA GRANDI
For a relaxing beach day, rent a car and head to Westpunt or Bándabou in Papiamentu. These areas are the rural part of the island. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Willemstad. Car rentals run about $50.00 usd/per day on average. You can stop along the way and pick up coconut water at one of the various shops and head to Kenepa Grandi, a local favorite with tranquil clear water and breathtaking coves.
FOR A BUDGET: RAPPEL DOWN THE TALLEST BRIDGE IN THE CARIBBEAN
Juliana Bridge is the tallest bridge in the Caribbean at about 56 meters high. You can book a tour to rappel down the bridge if you are up for an adrenaline rush. You’ll be able to see the island from a brand new point of view!
FOR A SPLURGE: DAY TRIP TO KLEIN CURAÇAO
A day trip to Klein Curaçao is a must-do for travelers seeking a wellness-centered vacation. Klein Curaçao is located about eight miles off the eastern edge of Curaçao and has the most extended pristine stretches of beaches in the Caribbean. A boat can be booked from BlueFinn Charter.
What To Pack
Curaçao has bright sun rays and warm temperatures all year round. However, the best time to visit the island is between December and April to make sure you avoid hurricane season. As a full-time traveler, I have a few items I try to never leave the house without. To protect my skin from the heat, I’m an avid user of Black Girl Sunscreen. It also doubles as a great moisturizer. You’ll also want a super cute swimsuit. I haven’t learned the art of “packing light,” so I usually travel with 2-4 swimsuit options. I love swimwear from Fe Noel. You’ll also want to pack plenty of bright, vibrant dresses, portable chargers, a water bottle and a travel bag. I faithfully use the luggage from CALPAK. While I haven’t purchased it just yet, I’ve been eyeing the Dare to Roam travel collection by Ciara.
Remember, Curaçao translates to “cure for the heart.” It could be the reset your soul needs.