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
Food & Drinks: de Visserij for fresh local fish
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.
Beaches: Playa Porto Mari
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.
Nature: The oldest tree of the island in Hòfi Pastor
Not far from the Lodges, in approx. 20 minutes, you will be in Barber, a sleeply little town with a beautiful church and a lovely place to enjoy nature: National Park Hòfi Pastor.
Driving from direction Willemstad, Hòfi Pastor is just right after the yellow church. There is a small parking area and when you enter the park you are being greeted by a sweet lady who asks you to pay a small entry fee. She will explain about the two trails you can follow, both approx. 2 km.
So off you go, first you will see the beautiful mango trees and when you walk a little further the oldest tree of Curacao, a giant Kapok tree, for sure will impress you! The Kapok tree was brought to Curacao over 400 years ago, by the first inhabitants of the island, the Caiquetios, a tribe of peaceful Arawak Indians who fled a fiercer tribe in Venezuela. The tree, in these hundreds of years, now has grown to be a national monument. Some say it has a ‘sensual’ form, although our kids just call it a tree for a little wizard ?, with it’s freeky shapes.
It is so nice to walk in this beautiful park and experience the feeling of being in the woods. It’s shady with many, many small and larger trees (you have to bend over quite some times not to hit the trees) and the smell of nature and green does so good.
There are hawks and a few donkeys, butterflies and iguanas and you will see Kenepas and other tropical fruit trees.
At the end of the trail, which brings you back to the entrance of the park, there are picknick tables and here you can get a cool soda or fruit drink, while you are being chased by the chicken (and the kids play on the swings).
The park is being guarded by Amigu Di Tera, Friends of the Earth of Curacao, and they are working hard to keep it being a protected area where the trees will always bear fruit… so that everyone, especially children, have the opportunity of experiencing the wonders of nature.
When walking made you hungry, make sure to visit the snèk just outside the park, across the street. The lady there will make some good toast!
The park is open each day except on Friday. Opening hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM.
The entrance fee is Nafl. 5 per person.
Make sure to wear good shoes (no flipflops).
Food & Drinks: Fresh and local at Number Ten
Just a few minutes away from Salina, close to shopping-malls Zuikertuin and Promenade, you will find hidden treasure Number Ten, just along the road, direction Santa Rosa Weg.
The exit from the road is just in the corner, do not drive too fast, you easily miss it.
Number Ten is located in the lush garden of Landhuis Bloemhof. Lots of old trees surround the property.
There are hanging chairs and swings in the garden, not only nice for the kids ?.
The place is owned by beautiful Liberty, who also has her yoga studio close by, and her Island Barista. You will like the cosy but at the same time a bit chic atmosphere, think heavy cutlery and beautiful plates. Definitely a place that is not in your average Visit Curacao manual.
You can sit outside on the patio, at the large table or in one of the chairs. But if you prefer to be in the air-conditioning, you can sit inside, although it happens pretty often that there all the tables are reserved. Inside it is lovely though, it reminds of a French café with antique furniture and well-thought-out styling.
Breakfast is served all day and this time we picked the Acai Bowl, which is fresh and tasty, and the house-baked Granola with mixed berries (very good). Of course with an iced coffee and as the day was going to be a long one, another cappuccino too. Breakfast and lunch are all prepared with fresh and local ingredients and the pastry and homemade goods make you come back again.
Reservations are recommended and can be made via www.numbertencuracao.com.
Number Ten is open on Monday – Friday: 07:30 – 16:00. Closed on weekends.
Culture: Discover urban art in Willemstad
Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, is a vibrant and colorful town.
Besides shopping, buying souvenirs, enjoying the food and drinks on the numerous terraces, of course there is much more to discover. And a fun way to do this is by bike.
A couple of days ago we joined a bike tour through Punda, organized by Avantia Damberg, a local artist who tells you all about the public urban art in the city.
The art Avantia takes you to see, varies from being funny and sweet to really, really impressing.
We got to know the stories behind the art pieces as well as those about the artists who made it.
Special during the tour was the visit to the first floor of Marshe Nobo (the round market). We climbed all the way to the top and had a great view overlooking the city.
And on the first floor we admired some beautiful paintings.
At the opposite of Marshe Nobo we visited a, what seemed to be an almost historic bar full of paintings and owned by the initiator of the Carnival Parade and the popular Tumba Festival on Curacao.
After approx. 1,5 hour we biked back to the place where we started and had a well-deserved drink at ‘Mijn Broodje Pietermaai’. No better way to end this really nice discovery tour!
Besides bike-tours through Punda, Otrabanda and Scharloo, also walking-tours are being organized by Avantia’s company ‘Art Now Tours Curacao’.
The duration of the tours is between 1,5 – 2 hours and the cost is between $ 10 – $ 25, including the bike.
Make sure to bring your water bottle and camera!