I didn’t think I would hate Curacao, far from it, I just didn’t think it would be my favorite of the four islands I visited as part of the Marriott Passport To Paradise experience. The goal was to discover what makes these islands and resorts tick, so it was with a lot of excitement that I left Curacao having fallen in love with this rocky Caribbean island.
Curacao, located just 78 miles from Aruba and about 40 miles north of Venezuela, is part of the Netherlands Antilles. It has a long, complicated history and is one of the island jewels in the crown of Dutch islands. It’s popular with tourists, but not as popular as Aruba, certainly not with North Americans. This has thankfully led to a different tourism path than Aruba and has created the island I ended up enjoying a great deal.
The Curacao Marriott Beach Resort enjoys a great position on the island; both the airport and the capital city of Willemstad are easy to reach. As soon as you arrive at the Marriott, you’re met with one of the best ‘first-impression’ hotel views I’ve ever seen, the palm trees gracefully skirting the pools and beach beyond. The hotel reflects the island with open air spaces and plenty of quiet spots on the beach to relax. It’s also an active property, providing guests with plenty of options including snorkeling, SCUBA and a complimentary shuttle to Willemstad. It was thanks to this shuttle service that I was able to learn more about the history of Curacao and it’s how I gradually fell in love with this colorful island.
I love walking tours and was thrilled to find a unique one in Curacao. Led by Anko van der Woude, an architect by trade he leads a walking tour of the Otrobanda side of Willemstad, teaching visitors about the island’s architecture and history in the process. Traditionally the Otrobanda has been the rough and tumble side of town, but thanks to dedicated citizens it is now on the way back to becoming a place that is safe and welcoming, not to mention beautiful.
Thanks to Anko, I gained a better understanding of the early, darker history of Curacao when it was a slave port and how the Dutch sought to bring as many elements of their home life to the Caribbean as possible. I learned that the colorful buildings found around town were designed so that residents wouldn’t be blinded by the glare from formerly whitewashed homes and businesses; a strange feature that has distinguished Curacao from its neighbors for decades. By the end of the walk through this district, I could feel the love for his city radiating from Anko. While thoroughly Dutch, he was also born and raised on the island and his respect for its history and traditions is contagious. I don’t think I would have loved Curacao nearly as much had it not been for this quick immersion into Curacao’s past. That just shows you the importance of a well done walking tour.
The combination of the beautiful and luxurious Curacao Marriott Beach Resort and the colorful and always interesting Willemstad made not only the perfect island experience, but has me wanting to return for more. If that’s not the mark of a great getaway, I don’t know what is.
Have you been to Curacao? What did you think?
I was in Curacao as part of the Passport To Paradise project and was sponsored by Marriott Resorts. However all the smiles, laughs and honest opinions are entirely my own. To learn more about Marriott Resorts of the Caribbean and Mexico and to see their current specials, please check out their web page.