We arrived in Curacao with some trepidation. It’s been on our list to visit for over a year, but it’s the one of the very few Caribbean islands that we’ve heard bad reports about due to its alleged unfriendly nature to yachties. Our itinerary scheduled us to be in Curacao for two months, however, if the island didn’t pass muster, we had a plan B in place, to dot back to its beautiful neighbour, Bonaire, until early November.
But enough of the drama, and of putting down Curacao, as to the contrary we have unearthed some delightful aspects of this island. If you were to come here on holiday, you would not be disappointed, and for all the sailors out there, stop dilly-dallying and get here quick as it has some amazing beaches, lovely shops, a cheap bus system and above all, safe anchorages as the island is out of the hurricane zone.
Perhaps it’s best to doff the hat to why cruising boats are put off in coming to Curacao. The Port Authority probably has the most archaic and controlling system of monitoring boats in and out of the anchorages that we’ve ever seen. To move from the main bay at Spanish Waters to a handful of safe anchorages on the island, you have to get a permit, and that means a 20-minute bus ride to town and a further 20-minute walk to the Port Authority to request a permit. Permits cost US$10 and are granted for a set three days, regardless of weather.
Yes, it’s a frustrating and downright daft system, as who can predict the weather further than 48 hours ahead? If they made the bold move to do it as an online request, it would cut out a lot of the travel time, rigmarole and pointless paperwork. But, once you get your head around it and accept the quirkiness; only then can you see the benefits. The anchorages are deserted as many sailors just can’t be bothered with the bureaucracy. So these wonderful bays remain peaceful and quiet, leaving those of us who enjoy exploring to reap the rewards.
So happy to be here!
The beautiful Klein Curacao
We had an amazing time at Klein Curacao, a deserted island just a dozen or so miles off the south coast of Curacao. Boat charters arrive in Klein Curacao in their droves early morning, but by mid-afternoon they depart, leaving the most stunning beaches and backdrop for us to enjoy to ourselves for a few hours each day. A couple of boats joined us, mainly en route between Bonaire and Curacao, but one evening we had the entire island to ourselves – aside from the island caretaker and his dog ‘Squat’ that is!
Curacao’s main anchorage at Spanish Water, which houses several marinas and a harbour big enough for a couple of hundred boats, is practical rather than pretty and the water is far from Caribbean blue we’ve been used to. However, the bus which runs to the capital Willemstad is a minute’s walk from the dinghy dock; there’s some great walks for the dog, and we’re just a mile away from one of the island’s best beaches at Jan Thiel – which also has some lovely restaurants and bars. Molly may not be welcome at some beaches, but the beach bars are still keen for our custom and often make an exception so it’s not too bad.
The historic and colourful capital of Willemstad, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, makes for a fun day exploring on foot. Pretty buildings line the estuary and a pontoon bridge, fondly called the Swinging Old Lady, separates the two main areas of Punda and Otrabanda. Visit on a Thursday evening, and the town turns into a celebration of music and food as locals enjoy spending time with family and friends and the tourists mix in with the fun and frivolity. Known as Punda Thursday Vibes, there’s different live music being performed on every street corner and alley from jazz and salsa to classical and rock. Alfresco dining is enjoyed alongside a festival atmosphere of music and dance.
Money is being thrown at the neighbouring district of Pietermaai, which is within walking distance of Punda and Otrabanda. Rundown buildings are slowly being turned into chilled-out bars and restaurants and boutique hotels; making this an area to keep an eye on.
And one further place not to be missed is Sint Willibrordus. Once just a nice, if little known, village 12 miles northwest of Willemstad, the locals, tired of being overlooked, have now rebranded it as “Williwood” by building a cheeky, hillside monument. It’s worth a visit just to see the sign, but for a bit more incentive it’s also close to a lake where you can see Flamingos close up.
Perhaps the one infamous item this island is known for is the rather startlingly-coloured liqueur, Blue Curacao. With a slightly bitter orange-like flavour, it can be put in cocktails alongside gin, rum, or vodka. It’s an acquired taste and, as a girl who rather likes her cocktails, my thoughts are that anything of this colour should really be photographed rather than imbibed!
© Two Drifters Travel