Monday, March 4, 2013

Curacao: What We Did

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot to do on Curacao. However, Husband and I took it fairly easy, spending most of our time at the resort and in the ocean. But we did manage to squeeze in a few non-resort activities.

Willemstad & Kura Hulanda Museum 

 Our resort offers a free, twice-daily shuttle into Willemstad, Curacao’s capital city. One day we took the 2 pm shuttle in and a taxi home after dinner. While this only worked out to only spending about half a day in the city, it was more than enough time to check it out.

We wandered around the historical downtown, stopped by various markets including the “floating” one (while the market itself isn't floating, the vendors do live on boats), crossed the Queen Emma bridge multiple times and then watched it move to allowing passing boats  while we had a couple of cold drinks at the Iguana CafĂ©.

We also spent a couple of hours at the Kura Hulanda Museum. This museum is home to the largest collection of African artifacts in the Caribbean and covers everything from ancient Egypt to slavery in Curacao to the American Civil Rights movement. While some of the signage could be better, the actual items are quite interesting and I think most people would get a lot of this place. It’s also air conditioned, making a great place to visit in the mid-afternoon.

One thing that did disappoint me about Willemstad was the shopping. I wasn't expecting decent clothing shops or anything like that but I did expect to see more quality souvenirs than there actually was. Most of the souvenirs we saw were the same tacky, made-in-China items.

Car Rental Day: Shete Boka National Park, Snorkelling & The Flamingos 
One day we rented a car at our resort and headed to the very north end of the island, were we spent a few hours at Shete Boka National Park. There we saw Curacao’s rugged north coast, several bokas (rocky inlets) and lots of cactus.

If you have a rental, do check this park out however, only attempt to drive beyond the main parking lot if you’re comfortable driving on narrow, pot-hole laden dirt roads. While our KIA Rio was able to take us to every corner of this small park, it was only because Husband knows how to handle a car on badly beat-up dirt roads. And note that if you take a tour up here, they will likely just take you to Boka Table as it can be walked to from the parking lot.

After the park we visited a couple of snorkelling spots. I'm still not entirely clear on the name of the first one, it might have been Playa Grandi or it might have been Playa Forti. It did though have a little beach that was deserted and was within walking distance of a restaurant. The actual snorkelling itself was okay but this site isn't a must-visit. That can’t be said for the second spot we visited, Playa Lagun. This tiny bay was packed with both people and underwater wildlife and is definitely worth the trip.

 Our last stop before returning to the hotel was Jan Kok, a marshy area that’s home to the flamingos and yes, they were there when we stopped in around 5 pm.

Driving around Curacao is pretty simple except for when you get to Willemstad. There things get tricky in part because of a serious lack of signage (we largely navigated using Pizza Huts and KFCs as they were all referenced on our map and are more common than street signs). If you can, get a GPS unit for your car, especially if you’re there during Carnival when key roads are periodically closed for parades.

The Curacao Sea Aquarium 
He's surfing on the dolphin
This certainly isn't the biggest or best aquarium I've been to but it is easily the most hands-on. Included in your $20 US admission price is access to feeding and petting a range of creatures including rays, flamingos and nurse sharks (feedings take place at specific times so if you do decide to visit the aquarium be sure to check the schedule before you go).

Also included in your admission ticket is access to the sea lion and dolphins, each of which take place three times a day. While a screaming baby derailed our sea lion show, we did get to see all of the dolphin show. While it was short, it did include some tricks that we’d never seen before.

You can swim with the dolphins, for an extra fee of course, as well as do things like the “sea lion encounter." We didn't see anyone do the latter but we did watch multiple people swim with the dolphins.

If you’re big into underwater life, and somewhat okay with captive dolphins, the Sea Aquarium is a must-do. Getting to it is an easy walk if you’re staying at Lion’s Dive (where we stayed) or any of the hotels located on/near the Sea Aquarium beach. Everyone else will need a cab.

So that’s it, my last post on my recent vacation to the ABC islands. On Wednesday it’s back to blogging about physical items that I've bought.

Fun fact: Sea lions dislike screaming babies

No comments:

Post a Comment