City versus country in Curacao

Balancing city culture and country calm

Curacao is the most colorful place I’ve traveled. Ever. Showing off with Dutch architecture splashed in Caribbean color, plus a sultry set of natural assets (read: coral cliffs giving way to Swarovski crystal-sparkly water), don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.

In case a geography lesson is in order: Curacao sits on the cusp of the Caribbean Sea between Aruba and Bonaire in an island trio known as the ABCs. Bonus: only 35 miles North of Venezuela, the tropical paradise is outside the hurricane belt!

When I visited Curacao, the more research I did pre-trip, the more I gleaned that I’d have to balance the city and the country. After all, the main city, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the country is rimmed with ribbons of white sand and 65 individual dive sites.

Viewfinder Tip: Curacao’s country is breezy and the city is sweltering – the island is only 12° North of the equator! Pack loose, breathable clothes to handle the heat.

My Curacao quest started in the city. Taking a taxi from the airport into town, I found out my taxi driver spoke four languages – English, Dutch, Spanish, Papiamentu – and was learning a fifth, German. A new flight path from Dusseldorf was about to start, so the tourism board was offering language lessons to hospitality workers. He planned on mastering the language. I was in awe (and excited to meet more multilingual locals)!

In Willemstad, I spent the whole time wandering the famously walkable city on foot and through my lens, capturing the pastel hues coating the cityscape. My only stops were for more multilingual chats – I wanted to practice my Spanish – beer, misters, and air conditioning. (Why yes, I would like a gust of cool air with my duty-free lipstick. Seven lipsticks later, my husband cut me off.)

Curacao’s color and Queen Emma Bridge

 

Braking for beer proved to be a much cheaper cool-down than my lipstick-slash-air conditioning method. Really, it’s the restaurant misters I was most into, but I had to order something to get access! Sitting beside St. Anna Bay under the shade of a yellow umbrella, I sipped Amstel Light after Amstel Light (one of the island’s local beers) enveloped in a cloud of mist. Ahhhh.

Curacao’s countryside

To me, this perch was primo because it overlooked the historic and still-operational Queen Emma Bridge – steered by a captain – connecting Willemstad’s once divided districts. When ships approach the deep-water port, the bridge shifts to one side, when the coast is clear, it swings back into position. Best part: you can either hitch a ride (for free), or run to land before the bridge boogies.Watching this meandering marvel, I was like a kid in a museum. Come to think about it, sitting within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was in a museum, of the open-air variety. 

Once my camera’s SD card was nearly full of building, bridge, and beer shots, I headed for the hills to the Westernmost part of the 38-mile island. The transfer was easy (read: included) because I’d chosen to stay at a boutique hotel duo, Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa in Willemstad, and the Lodge & Beach Club in Westpunt. Here, my agenda was more in keeping with the pace of Curacao’s countryside: sleep, eat, beach, read, snorkel, repeat. Basking in the breeze, it was just me, my husband, and Curacao’s natural assets. Ok, and a bottle of Amstel Light!

On tropical vacations, do you like to explore, or plant yourself in one spot?

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.