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.
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).
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.
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! http://www.justavantia.wixsite.com/artwalkscuracao
During your vacation on Curacao, a trip to the Christoffel Park is definately something to add to your to-do-list. The park is the largest national park on the island and mountain Christoffel is 378 m high.
The park has beautiful flora and founa (check for the wild orchids!) and during your visit you will see many local birds, iguana’s and maybe even barn owls or a white tailed deer.
The park offers 8 hiking trails, which run from easy to challenging. Challenging for sure is climbing the mountain. Preferably start the climb in the early morning (around 7 or 7.30 am is advisable), and if you take it slow it takes approx 1,5 hour to reach the top. Especially the last part might be a bit difficult but the reward is a breathtaking view and a never-forget experience.
In addition, the park offers several activities for you to join, like safari’s, deer watching, cave excurisons, full moon walks and sunrise safari’s.
At the entrance of the park is a just-opened lunch cafe Cactus. They serve huge sandwiches, good salads and coffee.
The Christoffel Park is also the home of the Plantation Savonet, which is one of the oldest plantation houses of Curacao. Nowadays it is a museum and one of the cultural highlights of Curacao.
The park is open each day and from Jan Kok Lodges it is approx 20 minutes drive. Make sure to visit the office at the entrance for info about tours, excursions and a map. www.christoffelpark.org