It goes without saying that travel plans across the globe have come to a hold. We, as travel reporters, understand more than anyone that you may long for the sunshine now that autumn has started.
We were invited by Corendon to experience one of the only destinations left outside of Europe where you can “safely” visit the sunshine, the island of Curaçao. In this travel guide, we’ll tell you all about this tropical island, what our experience was like to travel during COVID, and the brand new Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort.
Flying to Curaçao during the pandemic
To be honest, I was a little nervous about flying during Covid. However, Curaçao is very careful when it comes to their visitors. So far, they’ve had a small number of cases and one casualty. To keep the island as safe as possible, all passengers must get themselves tested. You can obviously only enter Curaçao with a negative test result not older than 72hours.
Good news if you travel with Corendon; you get the PCR test for free!
On all flights it’s mandatory to wear a face mask at all times. This can be a bit uncomfortable if you need to wear it for 9 hours straight so make sure you bring a breathable mask you feel comfortable with. All meals served on the KLM flight will be vegetarian and you will receive a bag with some water and snacks during the flight. If you want you can also bring your own food on board.
Tip: when you check-in online, reserve your seat in an empty row of possible or upgrade your seat to an empty economy premium or business class at the last minute.
The Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort
Opened in July 2020, this brand new hotel is one of the only resorts on Curaçao that has a private beach. When you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the massive pool and waving palm trees. The hotel has just under 400 (!) rooms and they are currently building some extra suites that are equipped with a private pool, overlooking the hotel pool and seaside. Currently, the hotel isn’t fully booked due to COVID, so it has a very relaxed vibe.
Plenty of facilities
Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort is surrounded by a mangrove forest, a beautiful and protected nature reserve. It has 4 pools (2 silent pools, 1 activity pool for kids and the massive centre pool). Furthermore, you can get your thrill on at one of the rather impressive waterslides located at the hotels entrance. Besides all the water fun you can also enjoy the gym or relax at the outside spa with a massage. But the best thing about this hotel is the beachfront. The white sand, palm trees and stylish beach umbrella’s create a little paradise.
Looking for a tropical outfit? There are two shops including a surf & dive shop where you can also book a dive course.
Whoever did the interior design of the Mangrove Beach Resort did a hell of a job. It goes without saying that the Art-Deco style bedrooms have something to do with the wow factor. Comfortable beds (this is not always a given), and a stylish bathroom make it a place where you could stay for weeks.
Where to eat
Corendon is known for its All-Inclusive concept and whether you like it or not, it makes life a lot easier, especially during the pandemic. You have nothing to think of and you can totally relax, something we all need right now. In total, there are five restaurants at the resort; the main restaurant where you can enjoy the walking buffet with daily fresh food, the brand new Sushi Dushi restaurant, Cor & Don BBQ on the beach, and the pool restaurant where you can mainly get your snacks in the afternoon. No need to get hungry because the Patisserie is open 24 hours for cakes and coffee.
Plenty of choices if you ask us! However, we can imagine that you also would like to discover the restaurants on the island, so we’ve made a little list of where to eat! Mind you, most restaurants are briefly closed from 2 pm until dinner time.
If you are looking for a trendy-looking place that serves some of the best barista coffee on the island, this is your spot. Açai bowls, waffles, burgers, and salads, Number Ten is open for breakfast and lunch.
Hofi Cas Cora
Offers organic breakfast & lunch but is only open from Fri – Sun. Their goal is to raise more awareness of local produce and consumption. If you want something special, reserve a spot here.
This newcomer is located in the upcoming neighbourhood Otro Banda (more on that in this article). Come here for coffee lunch or dinner!
Located at the most touristic spot by the water, Jan Thiel Baai, but don’t let that put you off. This place serves some Instagram-worthy food and smoothies!
This large indoor breakfast & Lunch and dining restaurant is the concept of a Dutch couple Titia and Ruud van Dijk. You can find it in the trendy neighbourhood Pietermaai and they serve pretty breakfast, tasty lunch, and incredible dinner. Book in advance!
This was the best dinner we’ve had on the island for sure! The chef here certainly knows what he’s doing. From ceviche tacos to battered shrimps and avocado salad, make sure you come here when visiting Curaçao.
This trendy cocktail bar is situated right next to Mosa and belongs to the same owners. Besides the variety of cocktails, you can also order shared plates of food. Must visit!
Fish & Joy or De Visserij
If you are a fish lover (and we mean eating them), you should visit one (or both for that matter), restaurants.
As well as coming here with a group of friends, this is also a great spot for a dinner for two. Good news for vegetarians as there is enough choice on the menu. On Wednesdays, they offer a Caribbean tapas menu.
Additionally, you should visit this amazing-looking restaurant that opened back in 2019. We visited Nul Twintig after they opened, so judge for yourself.
Blue View Terrace
For a local experience with local dishes, you should pay a visit to this restaurant overlooking the seafront. It will be a great combination after a beach visit as it’s located in between De Grote Knip and Playa Grandi. If you dare, they also occasionally serve Iguana (you know, that big lizard).
The best beaches of Curaçao
Equally important, are the beaches of Curaçao. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of choices. These are by far our favourite ones, in order of our personal preference.
Cas Abou is our all-time favourite. Also popular with the locals, more tourists are learning about this beautiful white sandy beach, located on the west side of the island. You can hire a sun bed and there is a small café that offers food and drinks.
Grote & Kleine Knip are literally located five minutes apart. Moreover, they are probably the most two famous beaches on the island. Both offer amazing clear sea, white sand, and sun beds.
Port Marie, this beach is very close to Cas Abou and offers something rather special. Occasionally, pigs come and relax on the beach. It can get a bit crowded with sunbeds but there is a small restaurant that offers a vegan salad.
Like many others, this beach is popular for snorkeling. It has a small beach bar and some palm leaf umbrellas.
Local, small and cute!
We only had a look from above, but this beach is surrounded by cactus which makes it rather special! The beach isn’t as white as the other though.
Other nice beaches we haven’t visited are Directors Bay and Playa Forti. If you want to spot sea turtles, visit Playa Grandi where the turtles come for food leftovers from the fishing boats.
Which places to visit on Curaçao
In terms of area’s and points of interest, you have a few options that we think are worth a visit.
This area is upcoming and is currently one of the most colourful neighbourhoods to visit. From the Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort, it’s only a five minute car ride. The best streets for wall art are Willemstraat, Van Lennepstraat (the colourful staircase), the corner of Curaçaostraat.
This is the area where you’ll find most trendy restaurants at. You’ll find yourself back here a few times during the evening, mark our words. Not to mention the many colourful houses for some photo snaps!
Probably the best known place on the island, but therefore it’s quite touristic. Nonetheless, it’s a must visit! From the Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort it’s only a ten minute walk!
Visit Klein Curaçao
Not far from Curaçao, you’ll find an uninhabited island named Klein Curaçao. To get here, you need to travel by boat and you have two options. A powerboat that takes you there in 60 minutes or a bigger boat that will take about two hours. Downside is that if the sea is rough (and this is the case 80% of the time) you will experience sea sickness. The powerboat is a lot more fun, but also heavy on the body. Pregnant women are not allowed to take this transportation. Once arrived at paradise, you can snorkel and relax on the white beach for a couple of hours or visit the pink lighthouse.
Hike up the Christoffelberg
This is a must do if you want more than just sipping on cocktails on the beach. Our advise is to get up early and start this hike before 06:30 in the morning. From about 7:30 the sun will get too warm and the climb will be more challenging. Equally important is the amount of water you should bring. One bottle might nog be enough and a power snack like a banana is advised. That being said, we saw old and young hiking this trail, so it’s definitely doable. The hike up takes about 1 hour to complete and there are plenty of places to stop and rest. Book your hike at christoffelpark.org.
Participate in a Caribbean cooking class!
If you really want to taste the flavours of the island, you should really think about taking this cooking class. Your teacher, Helmi Smeulders has a beautiful location where she will show you how to prepare local ingredients. Caribbean food is known as comfort food but there is more than meat and fish. For example, she uses flowers, cactus, silty plants, coconuts and creates the most amazing dishes. Even the locals are discovering what’s eatable on their island! Her cooking class only cost 99USD and includes lunch and drinks. Locals get a discount of 15%.
St. Joris Baai
If you want to go a little bit more Off the Beaten Track and you want to do something active, visit St. Joris Baai where you can also kite surf. Walk in between the cactus forest or rent a mountain bike and explore. We had the chance to visit a local land estate that dates back from the 1800’s. You will find many traditional farms in this area.
Eat a “snack” at a Truk du Pan
Do it the local way and visit a traditional Truk du Pan. Usually, these colourful foodtrucks are open during the night. It is your get go for a meaty snack with fries and loads of sauce. We visited BBQ Express, located at the Caracasbaaiweg. They have a large menu that consists of sandwiches or platters. For vegetarians they serve a veggie burger. Don’t come here if you count calories!
Extra tips for Curaçao
Before you book your trip, make a note of these tips, they might come in handy!
- If you book with Corendon, you are reassured of a flight back home if the travel advise changes from yellow to colour-code orange or red.
- Hire a car if you want to stay mobile! Taxi’s rates start at 15 euro per ride.
- Did you know that KLM currently adds double Flying Blu points to your account?
- Curaçao requires you to get a PCR test before you arrive so make sure you get your test done on time. They also require an Immigration Card.
- The hottest months are in September and October and the rainy season starts in November. However, the sun always shines on Curaçao!
- CAUTION: Some operators offer swimming with “wild” dolphins and riding on ostriches. Please be informed that this does more harm to the natural behaviour of these animals. We advise you to skip these options. Book alternative excursions like supping on the Spanish Waters or experience the Seaworld Explorer boat where you visit the transparent below deck and watch the fish and sea turtles. Both options are bookable via FBTT Travel.
In either case, if you are looking for a sunny destination to visit during this pandemic and you really need a break, Curaçao is your best bet right now. We felt completely save and the island is taking care of its visitors. Mind you, always check your local travel advise before booking your trip and follow your intuition!
Extra tip: Corendon is currently offering Curaçao Weken which means a holiday for 7 days (including flight, hotel + free PCR test) for only 499 euro!
See you in the tropics?