Today we are making a little road trip, driving from the Lodges to Westpunt and back.
Jan Kok Lodges is located centrally, in the middle of the island. When you drive East, you will go to Willemstad and further on to (more touristc) Jan Thiel. When you drive to the less crowded and less tourist West, you will experience a very different landscape. With different vegetation, mostly more greener and there are also more hills compared to the East. Also here, from Jan Kok Lodges to Westpoint, you will find beautiful beaches.
Departing from the Lodges, we will take the main road, the road to Westpunt (which says it all 😊) and returning to the Lodges, we will take the coast-road, so you actually will not cross the same road twice.
Our first stop is at the Weg naar Westpunt at the Kunuku House or Kas di pal’I maishi. A small historical museum with objects and lots of info on the rural population of Curacao. If you want you can attend workshops and participate in a tour – for this, however, check their facebook page before your visit.
After this educational break we continue and drive further to Westpunt. On the way, we enjoy the colorful houses and pass Landhuis Dokterstuin and Landhuis Ascension, which we will visit some other time.
At Westpunt we stop at Playa Kalki for lunch. We park along the road (no need to park at nearby hotel Kura Hulanda, where you will be charged a parking fee) and take the steps down to the beach. You enter a shady wooden terrace with a diving school at your left and a cute little informal restaurant at your right. Sitting here in the shadow, overlooking the blue sea, enjoying a cool drink and some food….we doubt whether there are any better places to be at. The reef in front of Playa Kalki is known as Alice in Wonderland and is a gorgeous shore dive. But for now we resist diving in and continue our trip.
We make a short stop at Playa Kenepa Chiki, or Kleine Knip, a sweet white sandy bay between rocks, popular for long BBQ afternoons.
Next to Kleine Knip is Grote Knip, or Playa Kenepa Grandi, a beautiful lagun between high rocks. You will definitely be amazed by the blue color of the sea. There are plenty of sunbeds available and there is a simple bar where you can get drinks, smoothy’s and something to eat. Here we stay a little longer, the snorkeling is always great! There is a big change you will meet some sea turtles and manta rays here.
Then it is time to drive back to the Lodges, but not before we make a stop at San Juan, a wonderful spot if you want to get off the beaten path.
You enter the estate via a gate near the main road. Following is a dirt road, which eventually ends right before the ruins of landhouse San Juan. You will be greeted by a representative of the family that owns the estate and he will collect 10 Nafl entrance fee.
Beyond the landhouse is a dirt road leading to 4 beautiful beaches. Note that the dirt roads in dry season can be a challenge. During wet season you need a four-wheel drive to get around. If you find the roads too challenging (and important: do not have the right car insurance which allows you to drive on dirt roads) – don’t worry, wondering and exploring the ruins of the landhouse is already an adventure. Make sure to leave the estate again before 6 PM, when the gate will be closed (and we are actually not sure whether there is somebody checking whether there are still visitors around).
Approx 15 minutes later we are back at the Lodges, a wonderful day it surely was.
Kas di pal’i maishi, open from 10 AM tot 2 PM. Entrance fee Nafl 10 per person. More info on facebook Museum Kas Di Pal’i Maishi.
Playa Kalki, the restaurant is open daily and closes around 4.30 PM.
Grote Knip and Kleine Knip free entrace.
San Juan, open daily till approx. 6 PM (ask the guard), entrance fee 10 Nafl per car.
We were thinking….what could give you even more a holiday feeling besides white beaches, sunshine and beautiful nature?
Well, for many of us the answer might be to treat yourself to a massage. Or any other pampering: get your nails done, a fresh haircut, some new make up.
Maybe even better, a whole day, just for yourself, at a beautiful spa.
Curacao offers quite a few spa’s. But we certainly love ‘8 the experience’, which is close to the Lodges, just appox. 10 minutes drive.
And, as the spa is located near the sea, 8 gives you, and we do not exaggerate, the best view you ever had while getting your hair done.
When arriving at 8, you first enter the shop. Here, the product line of Aveda is being sold (the brand which is also being used for all treatments in the spa and the studio).
Aveda is fully organic and made of natural flower and plant ingredients and needless to say, smells lovely too.
8 offers body-, hair-, massage- and facial treatments. Prior to your visit to 8, it is best to check the website first and based on your wishes, make a reservation.
If you walk a little further, passing the lounge (where coffee, tea and fresh juices are being served) and turn right, you enter the spa area. Here are the open-air treatment rooms, all with a stunning view overlooking the sea.
After or in between treatments you can relax outdoors by the meditation pool or in one of the jacuzzis. There is also a sauna, a steam room, and a ‘one of a kind’ igloo room kept at 5 degrees Celsius. Everything just looks as amazing as it sounds. The place is decorated with an eye for detail and gives a relaxing and comfortable feeling.
On certain days, also yoga classes are being given. Make sure, if you have the availability, to sign up for one of these, we can definitely recommend.
On the other side of the building, you will find the studio. There is a special treatment area for hand and feet – and it’s a fact that, being in the tropics, walking bare feet all day, screams for well taken care nails and feet 😊. Here, you can also have your hair done. Just a cut or blow-dry, but we recommend to chose for a so-called Botanical Therapy treatment, which will make your hair look healthier, shinier and feel luxuriously soft and silky.
Oh, oh, leaving 8, you will look and feel stunning!!
8 The Experience
La Puerta Business Center
Rif St Marie – Sint Willibrordus
Phone: (+5999) 735 2388
A few weeks ago we paid a visit to former plantation house Landhuis Habaai. It was a few years (!) since our last one and although we pass by almost every day it obviously took way too long! Really too bad, because the landhuis is beautiful, cheerful and full of color. And Gallery Alma Blou, which now is located in the landhuis, is inspiring.
First a little history
Landhuis is the Dutch term for plantation house. Most of them were built in the 18th and 19th century and each plantation had a different function. Some grew fruits and vegetables, others produced sugar cane. Salt mining was the most profitable one.
Landhuis Habaai is built in the 18th century and one of the oldest in Curacao. In the beginning it was a plantation, later it served as a country retreat. In the 19th century it became a boarding school and orphanage. The name Habaai comes from a former Jewish resident.
Art and Culture
When you arrive at the landhuis (you can easily park right in front of it, along the street), you already notice there is something artistic going on here.
The landhouse itself, and even the mailbox, is beautifully decorated.
Inside you first enter the gallery, which actually is the oldest and largest gallery on the island. Here you will find local and Caribbean art. From little paintings to large sculptures. But also ceramics and jewelry. All art has a Caribbean character and it is clear that the artists are inspired by the island: the sea, landscape, the people etc. The very kind woman who works here is more than happy to tell you all about the art. We were especially impressed by the work of Iris Pérez-Romero and loved the sculptures of Otmar Jenny.
Walking a bit further you will find yourself at a wonderful bricked up terrace. Here, often cultural events are being organized such as concerts, book presentations and poetry readings. Take a seat, order a refreshing drink and enjoy the special atmosphere! It is a lovely place!
Frater Radulphusweg 4
Phone: (+5999) 462-8896
Tuesday – Friday: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Scharloo is the neighborhood at the northside of de Waaigat harbor in Punda, Willemstad. It is the youngest colonial district of the city and known for its colorful mansions built in the 18th century. During that time, Curacao was a popular port with wealthy shipyard owners who lived in these beautiful houses.
Last week we visited Scharloo (although we come here more often, not the least for the good coffee, more about that later).
We parked our car in Punda and walked via the floating market and crossed the bridge to Scharloo. The first thing you see is the Maritime Museum, located in a beautiful restored building. The museum shows more than 500 years maritime history of Curacao and in addition organizes several tours, also a harbor tour. Definitely worth a visit!
Before the museum, go to the right where at the end you enter a small alley. The small houses were originally built for the people who worked on the shipyards. Further on you will find more of these houses, all painted in similar bright colors.
At the end of the alley, turn right and you will see a building with a gorgeous colorful nature mural. Since a couple of years, Scharloo is more and more well known for its murals, which are all being initiated by Street Art Skalo. This organization makes it possible for the artists to make their master pieces. Street Art Skalo wants to bring people together through art by making the streets of the district more beautiful. Their mission: turning Scharloo into the creative district of Curacao.
When you walk straight ahead you are at the Scharlooweg, which is parallel to the Waaigat. Here you will find many of the beautiful restored mansions. All of them with baroque elements and painted in the most vibrant colors: pink, green, yellow, blue and bright red. Many of them host governmental institutions or function as business offices.
Today Scharloo is slowly becoming a hipster district. Not only because of the many murals but also because of the presence of creative businesses and new local (lunch)shops.
When you turn around and walk back to the building with the colorful nature mural, turn right and here is the shop of Integra Natural. The address for hand made natural products like body scrubs, lip balms, body lotions, soaps and much more. You will not leave without buying a couple of things! At the opposite of the street is Eatery Shop Fleur de Marie (Fleur de Marie is the name of the area on the rocky slope northwest of Scharloo). A little further (back to the main street at your right), is lunch café Beyglz. You can sit inside (where it is lovely cool) or at the terrace in the back. We enjoyed coffee (as always), fresh juice and some good food. For sure we will be back!
Maritime Museum www.curacaomaritime.com
Street Art Skalo www.scharlooabou.com/street-art-skalo
Integra Natural, Bargestraat 28D, open Mon-Fri 9.00 to 12. 00 AM
Beyglz Bitterstraat 17, open Mon-Fri 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM
When spending your holidays on an island, it is impossible to not enjoy a meal (or two or three) with fresh fish.
You can choose to drive in the early morning to one of the nearby beaches and buy from the local fishermen and prepare your seafood on your BBQ.
A lovely alternative is to have lunch or diner at De Visserij.
De Visserij is located in Piscadera, approx. 15 minutes drive from Jan Kok Lodges (follow the direction to Willemstad), directly near the sea and next to Pirate Bay beach.
It’s a perfect location: fishing boats just stop right at the restaurant to drop off their catch of the day.
The restaurant offers a simple concept. At the entry there is a counter with a large menu on the wall. You can choose from Dradu, Mula, Tuna, Red Snapper, fish soup, etc. And there are several (simple) side dishes too: salad, fries, bread (sweetbaked bread), etc. Place and pay your order for food and drinks and pick your seat overlooking the sea or more in the middle of the restaurant.
We ordered Tuna, Red Snapper and scrimps. And were definitely not disappointed at all. As a side order we had salad, fries and some funchi. Everything is prepared with simple seasoning and you really taste the fish as it should be! We will be back for sure!
Open Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11.00 AM to 9.00 PM.
Making a reservation is not possible.
Located in Piscadera next to Pirate Bay.
Grab your swimwear, towel, sunscreen and snorkeling set and off you go, to Playa Porto Mari.
Within just a couple of minutes drive from Jan Kok Lodges, taking the road leading along the salt ponds with flamingo birds, you will reach the private estate of Plantages Porto Mari.
Porto Mari beach is perfect for families with little ones. The sea is calm and easy and there are not many rocks, so with a little one on your hip you easily walk in. But also everybody else, with or without children, will fall in love with the white sandy beach and the turquoise water. And once in the sea you can swim to the raft and just sit there, overlooking the shore, with your feet in the clear blue see….that comes pretty close to paradise.
Back on the beach, there are plenty of sunbeds, which are situated in a way that you have enough space and privacy and there are also sunscreens offering enough shadow (which you need!).
There is a restaurant, serving good coffee and shakes and the lunch menu is pretty good, offering healthy sandwiches and salads and also warm dishes.
Next to the restaurant you find Porto Mari Sports, where you can arrange your dive lessons and rent snorkel gear. Porto Mari is well known for its unique double reef and thus a popular diving spot. There are two snorkel trails you can follow, get more info about these in the shop.
Open daily from 9.30 AM to 18.30 PM. Closed on 31 December and Carnival Sunday.
Entrance fee Nafl 5 per person (children do not pay entrance fee).
Parking is free and there are always enough spots available. For the sunbeds and screens you pay a small fee.