Curacao is the 'C' in the ABC islands north of Venezuela. Where Aruba (the 'A') is an upbeat, modern island with a cosmopolitan feel and Bonaire (the 'B') is a small, sparsely populated diver oriented spot, Curacao is an interesting combination of both. In the south, you have Williamstead with shopping, dining, night life and running Santa Clauses. In the north, you have a quiet, sparsely populated area that very reminiscent of Bonaire. So it is in fact the best of both worlds.
We stayed on the north side of the island in Westpunt. This is the quiet side of the island and also where the best diving is. Westpunt is approximately a 45 minute drive to and from the airport.
We stayed at Kura Hulanda Lodge in Westpunt.
I have to admit, we had some concerns reading TripAdvidor reviews on this place. There were a number of bad reviews and we were worried.
Arriving at the lodge, the first thing that struck me was how nicely they had decorated the grounds with bougainvillea and other tropical plants. It was a riot of color and quite beautiful.
Our first impression of the property was at check in. The staff was friendly and the process quick. The reception area is decorated with historical artifacts and very comfortable.
We upgraded our room to a second story ocean view suite. It was fantastic. The main room was large enough to accommodate our entire crew for lunches and post dive debriefings. The balcony overlooking the ocean was more than enough for Maurie and I to luxuriate with our coffee in the morning, watching the sea. The bedroom was spacious with a king bed and plenty of storage space. The bedroom and common room were on their own AC units. We didn’t have wifi in the room, but others in the group close to the main building did.
The beach at Kura Hulanda got some sketchy reviews in TripAdvisor, but we thought it was great. It isn't huge, but none of our party had an issue getting beach chairs and umbrellas. There was some coral ruble on the sand, but nothing that detracted from its beauty. The snorkeling in front of the hotel is excellent as is the diving.
Overall, the Lodge is a quiet little gem hidden in a very beautiful area. For most of our stay we felt like we had most of the property to ourselves and it was great.
Stay at this place if these conditions apply:
- You like quiet, more exclusive properties.
- You are OK with being away from the night life or making your own.
- You want to experience more of the local culture and food. You would be fine eating every day at the Lodge, but you would be missing something.
- You like to hike and and be out in the country versus shopping, clubbing, etc. You have access to this stuff, but it is in Williamstead which is 40 minutes away.
- You are a diver. See the Diving Section.
- You have non-divers with you that like to hang on the beach
We dove with Go West Diving the entire trip. This is a great shop and we would all dive with them again. They are rigged for both boat and shore diving.
Our crew for the week were:
And of course, Captain Roy...
During the week we dove:
- Watamula - Definitely some of our favorite dives were here. There are two moorings at the dives site and over the week, we dove from both. As the northern most dive site on the island and the closest to the deep water currents, this site has spectacular coral and marine life. Spotted eagle rays, octopus, and... are just some of the animals we saw.
- Elvin's Plane Wreck - The wreck itself isn't that special, but the rest of the dive is fantastic. The story of the wreck goes something like...
- Alice in Wonderland (beach) - We did a number of dives here which is the house reef for Kura Hulanda and Go West. Entry could be easier as you can giant stride off the pier. New divers... Night dive... Critters...
- Playa Hulu
- Playa Jeremi
- Mushroom Forest - This dive is touted as one of Curacao's signature dives. The large heads of star corals are great, but honestly, we liked Watamula and Rediho better for the coral. It is still worth the trip if you are there for more than a few dives.
- Blue Room - The Blue Room is a small cave in the side of the island and is a favorite for snorkelers. As Rafael suggested, we went into the cave and looked back out into the glowing light.
Here are some shots from the trip.
Here are the places we ate at while in Curacao.
Sol Food - we loved Sol Food. The restaurant is owned by ex-pat Americans and is within walking distance of the Kura Hulanda. One of the specialties of the house is lionfish which we all got to try. It was very light and quite good. Although it is hard for me to order anything other than fish on an island, one of our party got the pizza and it was fantastic. Great and friendly service.
Jaanchies - the great thing about Jaanchies is the proprietor. The menu is delivered by him verbally and you felt like you were sitting down to have lunch with him in his home. The food was basic and good. On the menu was iguana. Of course we had to try it. I found it to be very bony and didn't have a lot of meat.
Trio Penotti - billed as European fare, the menu for our dinner featured everything from African peanut soup to curry and it was all fantastic. The curry was spicy enough even for Maurie who can eat habaneros like candy. I really liked the open, airy space we ate at.
Rancho El Sobrino - once again, the aspect of this place was the server. He was quite a character and a lot of fun.
Curacao is truly a desert island, filled with an amazing array of succulents and cactus.
The west end of Curacao has a number of beautiful state parks. The mountainous terrain makes for very dramatic back drops.
The shopping in Curacao is in Williamstead. As a cruise ship port, you can expect to see the normal touristy fair, but especially if you get a bit off the beaten path you can find more interesting trinkets.