Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, is known for its beaches tucked into coves and its expansive coral reefs rich with marine life. The island was a great escape from the winter weather in New York. We booked using Jetblue Getaways using points, we got a great vacation package including round-trip non-stop flights from JFK, a rental car and our accommodations. We loved our resort, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, it was a great home base, however not in the best location for going to the beaches, it was a bit of a drive. We ventured out every morning to explore the beaches for the day and returned late afternoon to regroup and grab dinner.

Playa Porto Mari a beautiful sandy bay on the west coast of the island. Its white coral sand beach with clear and calm water is a true paradise. The unique ‘double reef’ is easily accessible from the shore providing a fascinating snorkel and dive site.  The beach is home to two large pigs, they are so friendly, and roam the beach looking for snacks, they will even go in your bag and steal a treat. The pigs lay in the shade, and cool off in the water to beat the afternoon heat. There were loungers, and umbrellas available for rent. The amenities at the beach were amazing, it made a full day at the beach with a 14 month old a breeze. There is a dive shop offering rentals and lessons, bathrooms with showers, a little boutique shop and a fabulous restaurant/bar. We loved the beach so much we came back another day!

Kleine Knip a beautiful beach, however much more off the beaten path and local. Sundays should be avoided, as the beach is very busy. Loungers and umbrellas are available for rent, and there are picnic tables as well. The water is calm and crystal clear. We spend a morning here, but it quickly became too busy, we left to find a more remote beach and some lunch.

Playa Forti a hidden gem. The beach is down a set of 50 stairs along a rocky cliff, the sand is not white but crushed coral filled with beach glass. We were recommended this beach by a nice man by Klein Knip, and boy did he send us to the right place! There were loungers and umbrellas for rent. We loved this beach for many reasons, it offered so much in terms of exploring. There is cove tucked behind a huge rock formation, the entrance is a small crack in the rock, you would never know that it was there! Just a short swim away from Playa Piskadó , and at the top of the beach was a fabulous restaurant, Restaurant Playa Forti, which offers stunning panoramic views.

If you are feeling adventurous, why not try jumping off a 40 ft. cliff into the crystal clear water below? One of our favorite adventures was Cliff Jumping at Playa Forti, a narrow path led along the cliff outside the restaurant to a small platform marking the jumping point. Standing at the top was nerve-wracking, but it is an exhilarating experience and definitely worth the nerves. I wont lie, I stood up on the platform for 10 minutes before I got the courage up to jump!

Playa Piskadó just a short swim from Playa Forti. If you are looking for an enchanting location on Curaçao to swim side-by-side with sea turtles, this is the spot to go. Playa Piskado’s name translates to “Fisherman’s Beach,” which is an apt description. Locals keep their tiny boats anchored just off-shore, here, and bring their daily catch to the small dock. Fishermen clean their fish and throw the waste into the waters, attracting dozens of turtles. Swimmers are welcome to jump in and swim along side the sea turtles.

The capital, Willemstad, has pastel-colored colonial architecture, and the floating Queen Emma Bridge. We made a quick stop here one day to explore before heading to the beach. This colorful Caribbean city is a UNESCO World Heritage site! It is divided into two parts, Punda on the east and Otrobanda to the west. The Queen Emma Bridge connects the two. Take in the colors, find your way through the alleyways and marvel at the street art. Walk the floating markets, filled with fruit and fresh fish from Venezuela. Willemstad is a port for cruise ships, so if you can check the schedule and avoid going when ships are at port. You don’t need more then a couple hours to wander around the streets of the city.

Watch the Flamingos at the Salt Flats. Stop by on your way to the beach, earlier in the day you have a better chance of seeing the flamingos, they tend to fly out when the flats get hot in the afternoon sun.

Caribbean cuisine is in a category all of its own. It’s flavorful, fresh and always delicious! You can never go wrong in the Caribbean by ordering the ‘catch of the day’. We dined at…

  • Boca 19
  • Restaurant Playa Forti
  • Brisa do Mar – Pop’s Place
  • Splash Bar
  • Playa Porto Mari Restaurant

Accommodations: Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort An ocean breeze filled our room, bringing with it an authentic island spirit. The grounds were perfectly manicured, the staff was friendly & attentive, and the amenities were endless. The resort itself had 5 options for dining, and the staff would take you by golf cart to the near by restaurant, Boca 19. There was a beach with water sports, the option for biking/hiking, multiple pools, a splash feature for kids, a kids club, and spa services. There are vacation packages to fit any need.

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