I. my husband, his older brother and wife shared a self-catering bungalow at the Livingstone Jan Thiel Resort in a beautifully landscaped and pristinely maintained compound on the southwest coast of the island. Focal point was a large outdoor swimming pool next to a covered bar and al fresco restaurant. There was also a small grocery store and laundromat on the property and the ocean was a two-minute walk from our door. Our tastefully furnished two-bedroom, two bathroom bungalow had a wrap around patio where we ate breakfast (the store had fresh croissants and breads) every morning. It was cleaned daily & the supply of towels for beach, pool & household was endless. On the beach itself was another bar and several restaurants serving excellent fare. (We lived on creamy iced coffees and pina coladas as well as freshly caught seafood.) There were specific activities, particularly on the weekends, at both resort and beachfront. But, since we were with extended family -- another brother proposed to his female companion at sunset at the beach on her birthday (which was the reason we had all come to Curacao) -- we created our own entertainment.
It is essential to have a car on the island. Jan Thiel is a 25-minute drive from downtown Willemstad; the nearest large supermarket (and a European bakery run by a Dutch baker) is 15 minutes away. There are buses but we rarely saw one. Willemstad is a pretty city with a historic core, a special "floating" market and a large harbor catering to Caribbean cruise ships. The rest of the island is a string of resort hotels and beautiful beaches. Make sure you bring a face mask and snorkel; the sea life is incredible! (Playa Porte Marie is recommended.) There are scuba courses and boat (catamaran and clipper) cruises. My husband, an experienced sailor, and I went out briefly in a rented Hobie Cat but the ocean was far too rough for such a small craft to sail safely. The Shete Boka National Park with its distinctive porous lava arches and caves carved out by years of being battered by the northern sea is also worth a visit (our timing was off to see the sea turtle nesting areas).
Curacao has long been connected to The Netherlands and the official language is Dutch. (There are Dutch newspapers and a daily newscast in Dutch). Papiamento, a mixture of Dutch, Portuguese, French and Spanish reflecting much of the island's history, is the other official language. A lot of locals also speak English and/ or Spanish. The currency is the Netherlands Antilles guilder (called Nafs). Both U.S. dollars and euros are welcome here; you can change money at the airport for a fair rate.
Curacao boasts sun 365 days a year and a constant temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, the ocean is a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius. The island enjoys natural "air conditioning" from sea breezes.
Ours was a wonderfully relaxed vacation. I would recommend Curacao for young families where the focus would be on beach activities and visits to nature preserves and historic forts, for couples whose children have grown or for anyone of any age who is really into outdoor sports like mountain biking, wind surfing, hiking, diving, deep sea fishing and the like. (There are also two golf courses where one may encounter a family of iguanas at a particular hole!) There are casinos, bars and discos but I think diehard party "animals" might be a bit frustrated with the laid back tropical pace.
Finally, while we were cautioned about rising crime (mostly theft), we never had any problems. People here are incredibly friendly, easy going, helpful and very cheerful.
We now have our eyes on St Maarten for our next Caribbean adventure, only because we feel we have pretty much "seen" Curacao (and life is short, yes!?!). Our overall experience of Curacao was extremely positive and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a holiday destination.
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- Also Known As:
- Livingstone Jan Thiel Hotel
- Livingstone Jan Thiel Curaçao
- Livingstone Jan Thiel Resort Curacao/Willemstad