The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Restaurant Komedor Krioyo
This restored eighteenth-century-planation-house-turned-restaurant is home to the Creole favorite, Komedor Krioyo. The garden features an open-air dining room with tables situated under the trees to create a cool place to snack on local dishes and sip fresh-squeezed tropical juices.
Genuine Curaçao Liquer Distillery
Willemstad’s historic Landhuis Chobolobo mansion houses the family-run distillery, where the authentic Curaçao liqueur (most notably blue but also comes in other colors) is made from the dried peels of the island’s bitter Laraha orange. A self-guided tour walks you through the history (how the Spanish actually brought the orange here in the fifteenth century) and the production process, as well as provides samples of the liqueur that dates back to 1896.
This local favorite serves up traditional dishes like grilled meats and fish as well as the famous Wiliburger, a goat-meat burger created with a special, secret blend of local ingredients. Part of the proceeds of the burger goes to the Williwood Youth Movement which teaches young people in the community the basics of starting and running a business.
After a night out, locals converge on the town’s many “truki pands” or food trucks, serving up sandwiches, barbeque, and chicken in peanut sauce. Locals tend to favor BBQ Express which specializes in burgers and fries, though unlike their American counterparts, these are usually topped with generous portions of chimichurri and lomito (shaved pork loin with sauerkraut).
Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
The Blue Room
An off-the-beaten-path underwater cave lies not too far away from the popular beaches of Westpunt, tucked in a cliff between Santu Pretu and Santa Cruz (to get there, book a trip with resident character Captain Goodlife). Called the Blue Room for its brilliant sapphire hue that reflects off its limestone interior, the cave is a snorkeler’s wonderland - home to all sorts of tropical fish.
The Netto Bar
One of the oldest bars in Curaçao (having opened in 1954), this small, hole-in-the-wall spot in the Otrobanda district of Curaçao’s capital city of Willemstad is famous for a unique homemade spirit: Ròm Bèrdè, aka green rum. Several signature drinks are designed around the green concoction, including the popular no-frills Koko Bèrdè – rum on the rocks with fresh coconut water.
Willemstad, Curaçao’s capital city, blends gorgeous Colonial architecture with Neo-Classic statues and modern street art in a vibrant blend of styles that make the entire island feel like a museum. This art walk showcases some of the must-see attractions from across the island’s history.
Located 11 minutes north of the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, this herb garden is overseen by the world-famous “witch doctor,” Dinah Veeris, who specializes in traditional plant-based medicine. Here, some 300 different plant species make up the garden, aiding everything from stomach aches and fever to love sickness.
Plasa Bieu is where hungry locals go at lunchtime, and where you’ll find true krioyo (the Papiamentu word for “local food”). Located next to the Central Market in Punda, the spot is like a food court lined with half-a-dozen food stalls, serving authentic homemade Caribbean cuisine to be eaten at the communal tables. Recommended dishes: kabritu (stewed goat) and karko (thinly sliced conch cooked in garlic and butter).
Beers at Boca 19
After a round at the Old Quarry Golf Course, which was named the best Caribbean golf course by USA Today, head to this restaurant overlooking the Santa Barbara Marina and Spanish Water Bay. The menu blends traditional Curaçao dishes, like goat stew, with other familiar flavors, like key lime pie.
How to spend 36 hours in Curaçao, with Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort as your base camp.
5 P.M. | Wander through the Pietermaai District
Just outside of Willemstad center, this quaint neighborhood is full of bars that range from hip to casual and restaurants that serve fresh seafood, local favorites, and upscale bites. The buildings are painted in bright, inviting colors – meaning the whole area is full of Instagram-worthy shots.
9 A.M. | EXPLORE HATO CAVES
There’s no special gear or spelunking required to visit these 200,000-year-old caves, located just a few minutes from the island’s airport – just easy walking through various lit chambers lined with petroglyphs from ancient inhabitants and limestone stalactites and stalagmites that form dramatic shapes. Tours depart every hour starting at 9 a.m.
11:30 P.M | WALKABOUT WILLEMSTAD
Curaçao’s capital city is divided into two main sections: Punda and Otrobanda. Start in Otrobanda to explore Kura Hulanda, a restored eighteenth-century village home to Dutch Colonial architecture and a comprehensive museum that documents the transatlantic slave trade (of which Curaçao played a central role). Then, cross the famous swinging Queen Emma Bridge to Punda, the main shopping area in the city (think European clothing, Irish crystal, French perfumes) with scenic pedestrian-only streets and lots of local color.
5 P.M. | PRIVATE SUNSET SAIL
A luxury yacht with an open bar and stunning sunset views are all yours when you book a private two-hour evening excursion with Adrenaline Tours Curaçao in Jan Theil, 20 minutes north of your resort. This coastal cruise departs from Caracas Bay and heads to the Spanish Water lined by luxurious homes and resorts, then into the super blue waters of undeveloped Fuik Bay.
8 P.M. | DINNER AT ZANZIBAR
Pizza and the beach – that’s what this open-air restaurant on Jan Thiel beach is known for. While the menu features African and Caribbean cuisine, the pizza is cooked in a traditional stone oven, which gives it a smoky flavor and crispy crust. Try their “Zanzibar Fruits De Mer,” a seafood pie that boasts a smorgasbord of local shellfish.
9 A.M. | LOUNGE ON THE BEACH
One of Curaçao’s largest beaches is located right outside your guest room: Santa Barbara Beach. This 1,500-foot white-sand stretch with ample lounge chairs and shaded spaces is set on one of the island’s calmest, glassy blue lagoons, where you can float with a mimosa in hand, served from the resort’s Splash bar.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Featured Adventure: Your Own Desert Island
Eight to ten miles off the southeast shores of Curaçao lies a minuscule islet known as Klein Curacao (klein meaning “little”). Save for a few passing fishermen who stop there and a few beach huts for shade, the island is totally deserted. So, if you can stomach the often choppy, two-hour boat ride out there on the open sea, the white-sand beach that is longer than any other on Curaçao proper is all yours (Mermaid Boat Trips offer tours on its sturdy sea-going vessel). If you’re not the idle type, an abandoned lighthouse and rusting hull of a shipwrecked oil tanker make for eerie exploration, while crystal-clear waters give way to underwater caves and coral formations for snorkeling.
Set Sail | Bounty Adventures
A spacious catamaran takes guests out onto Spanish Water Bay as the sun is setting to see Curaçao at its most beautiful. As well as a stunning view of the coast and bay, the boat offers a complimentary bar and snacks.
Hiking Curaçao’s Highest Point | Mt. Christoffel
Mt. Christoffel Park, the largest national park in Curaçao, is home to eight unique jungle-esque hiking trails, some of which ascend the 1,220-foot mountain summit. As you scale the mountain, keep your eyes open for the abundance of local wildlife, including the Curaçao white-tailed deer (of which there are only about 250 left).
Open Water Dolphin Dive | Dolphin Academy
Swim with the dolphins in an open-ocean setting (diving certification required) or in a spacious enclosure where you will receive an informative and intimate encounter. Dolphin Academy's mission is to provide an unforgettable experience in an educational and humane manner.
- Like a LocalQuirky, below-the-radar highlights only a local could recommendRead More
- The WeekenderHow to spend 36 hours here, with the resort as your basecamp.Read More
A Benchmark Resort & Hotel
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Santa Barbara Plantation, Porta Blancu, Nieuwpoort, Curaçao P: +5999-840-1234 Toll Free Reservations: (855) 590-2266