It’s time to chill on the colorful Dutch island of Curacao

By Mira Temkin

Walk along the sand and peer deep into the crystal clear waters that reflect back with glorious hues of turquoise. This is Curacao, the largest of the three Dutch islands in the Southern Caribbean known for its more than 35 spectacular beaches. When you look at the colorful, pastel architecture along the iconic Old Town waterfront, you’ll think you’re in Amsterdam. Here, Spanish, Dutch and South American influences abound in the beautiful architecture, culinary style and colorful dress. But this multi-cultural island is pure Caribbean.

Stay in Style – Avila Beach Hotel 

Located within walking distance of the capital city of Willemstad (a UNESCO World Heritage site), the Avila Beach Hotel is the longest operating hotel on the island, serving guests for more than six decades. You’ll feel the elegance the moment you enter the gracious lobby and look out on the two private beaches and infinity pool. Relax at the full-service spa. Dine on the water and enjoy live jazz at the Avila Blues Bar & Restaurant with its delicious grilled specialties and fresh fish. Be sure to sip a Blue Margarita, made with the island’s famous Blue Curacao. Listen all night long as the blues plays into the wee hours.  www.avilabeachhotel.com

Papagayo Beach Resort – Hip and Happy Vibe 

Welcome to this exclusive resort on Jan Thiel Bay featuring an upscale hotel,   trendy beach club, bustling casino, contemporary spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, a supermarket and various shops. Start your day with their sumptuous buffet and relax from 5:00 – 6:00 with Happy Hour Wine. With a minimalist, white façade that contrasts the island’s blue waters, Papagayo will simply take your breath away. papagayo.com

Escape to your own deserted island – Klein Curacao

Take off on a catamaran and set sail on Curacao’s Number #1 adventure. This relaxing experience in “Little Curacao” includes sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, delicious BBQ buffet lunch with rum punch, beer and wine. Go treasure hunting on the island, check out the brilliant coral reef, swim with the turtles or just chill on the beach. I hiked out to the abandoned lighthouse and shipwreck and was rewarded with exquisite views as far as the eye could see. Snorkel equipment and instruction are provided. bountyadventures.com

Charming, Historic Downtown 

Walk along the streets and see colorful buildings of pink, blue, yellow and gold (indicates a government building or monument.) Watch the iconic floating Queen Emma Bridge swing open to let the boats through. Visit the floating market where boats make the 35-mile sail from Venezuela to sell their fish, fruits and vegetables, right on the water, which adds to the colorful ambience… and you can just taste the freshness. Tour the 400-year old Mikve Israel Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the Western Hemisphere with sand on the floor. See the museum next door, filled with an amazing collection of Judaica. Stop at the Chobolobo Factory, a 19th century historic mansion where the famous Blue Curacao liquor is made. Get a taste and be sure to bring home a bottle of the island’s most famous drink.

Dining Divine

27 Bar and Restaurant – Here’s a cool place to hang out, the island’s first rock n’ roll bar and it overlooks the water. Live music, great food and a guaranteed good time.  27curacao.com. Be sure to try a traditional Batidos at food trucks everywhere. They’re made of ice, milk and real fruit, the perfect refreshing drink on a hot day. Get a taste of Zest Mediterranean, just steps away from Papagayo with fresh fish and chef-inspired cuisine. And for something completely different and delicious, try a goat burger and sweet potato fries at Williwood. Enjoy a great start to the day at Beyglz, one of Curacao’s newest eateries with lots of tasty, healthy selections. Dining at Mosa is like having dinner at your family’s house; warm, inviting and fabulous. This shared dining experience features excellent cuisine and wine in the heart of Curacao’s up and coming neighborhood, Pietermaai, now home to trendy bars, restaurants and colorful street murals. Mosarestaurant.com. Check out Hofi Cas Cora, a new farm-to-table concept where you watch the staff pick the fresh vegetables out of the garden and serve them to you for brunch/lunch.

 

A Natural Oasis  

Head to the west side of the island to the beaches of Westpunt and you’ll be awestruck by the crashing waves at Shete Boka National Park. Most of the beaches are inlets or coves like Playa Porto Mari and Playa Kip that offer exquisite beaches for swimming, relaxing or collecting shells.

If you go 

JetBlue offers non-stop service from New York City to Curacao. For more information, www.curacao.com. Make plans to visit Curacao now and the island is destined to become your go-to escape!

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