This time two weeks ago, I was living my best life on the beautiful island of Curaçao. And while I am happy to be back into the full swing of my daily routine, I can’t lie and say I don’t miss the endless piña coladas, stunning beaches and overall carefree feeling that comes with being on a tropical island. This was a girls trip and being that we are 4 women in our mid 20’s meant we wanted something nice, but still wanted something reasonable and within our budgets.
We also wanted a place that was different, somewhere none of our friends had ever really gone. Curaçao was that for us and more. Whether your looking for cost friendly travel, history and culture, excursions, or how to get your wardrobe “island ready,” you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for my guide to Curaçao
Whenever traveling, the earlier you plan your trip, the better. Especially when traveling overseas and working within a specific budget. Our trip was in January and we began narrowing down our options in September then officially booked in October. By giving ourselves plenty of time, we were able to put a deposit down and had plenty of time to pay in full. We also booked an all inclusive, which was a great option to streamline the entire process. We were never without drinks or food. The all inclusive included our stay, all of our alcohol, our food, a Starbucks and even our airfare. #Easy We booked on Cheapcarribean.com so don’t sleep on them.
Location + Transportation
Going to Curaçao for vacation ultimately meant being met with a few confused looks and “where is that?” questions. Geographically, Curaçao is a small island located right off the Venezuelan coast and right next to Aruba. It is part of the ABC islands which ar Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. It is considered “The Dutch Caribbean” and the culture heavily reflects the name. We partied off the resort almost every night so I would say it’s pretty safe and at no point did we feel like we were in danger. The island is so small, you could drive the entire length from north to south in about 2 hours. The weather in January was a smooth 85 degrees and it was sunny everyday. *ahhhh*
Our flight to Curaçao took about 6 hours with a layover in Miami. There are no direct flights, so keep this in mind when it comes to checking in a bag! Also rule of thumb is to always carry a change of clothes in your carry on. You never know when an airline is going to misplace your checked luggage so it’s best to be proactive about mishaps. We flew with American Airlines which all in all was a great experience.
As far as transportation is concerned, there are no Uber or Lyft’s in Curaçao. That being said, getting around (especially late at night) can be a bit of a challenge. There’s also no cell phone service so count your GPS out! We managed to party with the locals basically every night so we had to figure it out. There were taxi’s available from our resort but they can get expensive quick, so it’s important to incorporate a rental car into your budget. We rented a car for 2 of the 5 days we were there and it was an inexpensive way to get around the island. Though you don’t need one, it certainly helps.
The best time to go according to our tour guide is December through March. The weather is fair, no rain, lots of sunshine and not too hot. Right after the Holiday season is great too, because the airports aren’t crowded.
It would be a shame to visit another country and not go somewhat into the History. If you’re interested keep reading, but if you’re not (which I know some of you won’t be) just skip right on through to excursions and nightlife. Curaçao, like many islands in the Caribbean was a major hub for slave ships. The slaves came from all over and spoke so many different languages. While on boats and slave ships, it was essential that they learned to communicate for their own survival. Thus came the birth of their official language “Papiamentu.” The language is creole based, but embodies several different dialects including Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish. Slavery is a very big part of Curaçao’s history and there were slave huts all over the island. During our bus tour, we got to see a few. Slave master houses often sat at the top of the hill so they could overlook all of their slave huts.
In 1795, the slaves rebelled and ultimately won their freedom. However preceding slavery many of the slaves struggled to make a living. Curaçao used to have a very large Jewish community and once slavery ended many of the slaves found themselves working for them. For the first time, they were paid for their labor. The Jewish people lived in mansions and the slaves were paid for tasks like house care, childcare, and tending to the land.
However, in 1915 things began to change. The island at the time only had about 30,000 people on it and Shell Gasoline (a royal Dutch company) was establishing an oil refinery on the island. Some 50,000 people needed to be employed and quick. Shell imported people looking for work from all over, and those working for the Jewish people left to work for Shell. They were offered better housing, benefits, and much better pay then what they previously had. The people of the jewish community were now unable to find the labor they needed to maintain their properties and ultimately sold their land to move elsewhere. Shell changed the island’s economy forever and is a major part of their history. Today, tourism is a big part of the island’s economy amongst other things.
Whenever you travel internationally and are staying at a resort, your first stop should be the excursion desk. While away for 5 days, we managed to take 2 bus tours. The first was about 3 hours long and super informative. We learned the history behind the architecture and island as a whole which was *briefly* mentioned above.
We got to taste the official liquor of Curaçao from the distillery, and we learned the History of the entire island.
The second bus tour was much longer (about 6 hours) and was a lot more action packed. We went snorkling with turtles and fish.
We chilled with Flamingos. So pretty!
We toured a cave and did a bit of hiking.
We went to 2 separate beaches (Curaçao has A LOT of beaches) and spent about an hour or two on each beach.
We drove across the highest bridge in the Caribbean
We tried the iguana soup for the first time and we went to the highest point of the island.
The second bus tour was definitely more expensive than the first, but well worth every penny. And to think we did all of this in just one day!
We partied with the locals literally every night and we never felt unsafe or in danger. Generally, the people in Curaçao are easy going. Every night was a new and exciting vibe and almost all of the parties we went to were beach parties so get ready for sand to be everywhere. Our days consisted of Breakfast, sightseeing, beaches, and then beach parties!
Night 1 – The first night felt like a concert or late night music festival. There was a huge stage, everyone was in vans, and everyone just vibed out to the artist that was performing. We had a great time. The crowd seemed younger and very carefree. The music was a mix up of hip hop and reggae.
Night 2 – The second night was the complete opposite of night 1. We went to the Saint Tropez Hotel and instead of vans and shorts, everyone was in heels, button downs and sparkling dresses. Instead of hip hop, the music was deep house and funky beats. The lighting was dim and the cabanas were all filled with cute cocktails, attractive people and hookah. Our section included couches and overlooked the pool. This was definitely the place to go if you wanted to be seen. The crowd was young professionals in their 30’s.
Night 3 – The third night was a mix up of the 2 vibes. Not quite a street concert, but not quite a place I’d wear heels to. We started off at 1 beach party and then moved to the next.
It was also the first night we got to taste late night street food from a local food truck. Super delicious, but also super heavy!
Night 4 – The last night, we were invited to a huge house party at a mansion, and it was beautiful. 4 floors, 2 pools, 1 jacuzzi all on top of a hill so high it felt like we could see the entire view of Curaçao. It was the perfect way to end our nightlife experience on the island. I really lived in the moment for this night and didn’t get many pictures.
Getting your wardrobe “vacation ready”
Thinking of traveling to Curaçao? Pack light and pack a lot of swimwear! Between the beach at our resort and all of the beaches on the island we were in swim wear CONSTANTLY! So pack a good variety of swimwear and cover ups that can transition you from a tour to laying out on a beach for 2 hours. Pack bright colors. This is of course optional, but the buildings are all bright and the sun is beaming. Pack 1 good “dress up” outfit but to be honest, you probably wont need it. And ladies, you don’t really need heels or handbags. 1 pair of heels, 1 good handbag and 1 good beach bag is fine. Curaçao is beautiful, but it’s certainly not “glam” by any means. Matching sets and sun dresses really took the thought out of “what am I going to wear today?”
All in all, Curaçao was AMAZING. No one is worried about their phone, or about what their next move is going to be. In fact, we were shamed at one point for being on our phones too much. The beaches were beautiful, the cocktails were bottomless and everyone just wants to smile and have a good time.
It’s a much simpler way of life. You also don’t need a visa to live and work in Curaçao which means if you wanted to leave today and work there for 6 months, you could without having to worry about paperwork or being a citizen of the country. Not to be confused with your passport. You’ll certainly need a passport to enter and leave the country. The island isn’t the richest, but it is pretty well off so traveling off the resort wasn’t an issue. Everyone does speak English for the most part, but it’s still important to learn how to say hi, bye and thank you in Dutch or Papiamentu since those are the native languages spoken on the island. 4 nights and 5 days in Curaçao was the perfect amount and just what we needed as a girls trip. Looking to book your next vacation soon? Be sure to add Curaçao to your list!
As always thank you for reading and spending a piece of your time with me ♥