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Meals on Wheels – Curaçao’s Food Trucks

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Budget travelers to Curaçao will find no lack of cheap lunch joints in Willemstad. We’ve already written about some of our favorites in Punda, and there are plenty of others that we didn’t get a chance to try out. But as the sun goes down, these shops tend to close up. So what are the cash-strapped do for dinner? Cooking at home is a reasonable solution, but that’s no fun. The best option is to hunt down a food truck.

Food Trucks Curacao

Food trucks can be found all over Curaçao, dishing out delicious meals at cheap prices to those who have no need for niceties like silverware, plates, tables and waiters. Slop it into a styrofoam container, grab a plastic fork, hock down on the nearest curb, and fill your belly. That’s possibly not the most appealing description of a dining experience, but some of the best meals we’ve eaten on Curaçao have come through the window of a truck.

Food Trucks Curacao

If you only check out one food truck during your time on the island, make it the BBQ Express, currently found on Caracasbaaiweg. (I think this one’s location is more permanent, but other trucks seem to switch spots with casual frequency.) I ordered a serving of the ribs, which came with fries and noodle salad, and cost me about seven bucks. Despite my having ordered a “small” portion, this was a huge slab, dripping with sauce and falling off the bone — the best ribs I had during our time here. That’s no faint praise, considering that ribs are a Curaçao specialty.

The trucks are mostly a night-time phenomenon, but there’s one in Pietermaai which operates during lunch time. This white wagon also serves up local specialties like goat stew — ask what the daily special is. I had a breaded fish filet, served with the usual sides. Again, incredibly good value, but you should be prepared to wait in line!

Food Trucks Curacao

Generous portions of meat and fries aren’t the only things you can find at Curaçao’s food trucks. Often, we would pull over on the way home from the beach to pick up a refreshing drink. There are a number of trucks selling batidos: fruit shakes made with milk and sugar. Our favorite is found on the road to Soto (location), where we often stopped, and tried just about every conceivable combination. Mango-Pineapple was my favorite. No, Strawberry-Banana. No Passionfruit-Melon. The guys are super nice, and there’s a cute garden where you can sit and enjoy the drink.

You can also find trucks selling fresh coconuts. We got addicted to coconuts during our time in Sri Lanka, and were thrilled to find them on Curaçao, as well. After a day in the sun, nothing is as replenishing and refreshing as cold, pure coconut water.

Locations on our Map: BBQ Express | White Pietermaai Truck | Batido Place

Rent A Car For Curacao

Food Trucks Curacao
Food Trucks Curacao
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Food Trucks Curacao
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February 28, 2016 at 12:48 pm Comments (2)

The Blue Room

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An almost entirely submerged cave found in the cliffs of the western coast, the Blue Room is one of the island’s most famous snorkeling spots, second perhaps only to the Tugboat. We visited it during our last week on Curaçao, and found it to be just as beautiful as advertised.

The Blue Room is exactly what you think it’s going to be: a cave totally bathed in a deep, blue light. There’s always room between the water’s surface and the ceiling of the cave, so you can swim into it without worries. If you go all the way to the end of the room and look back toward the entrance, the effect is stunning, especially on a sunny afternoon when the light illuminates everything to perfection.

It’s possible to hire a boat to take you to the Blue Room, but it’s just as easy to walk over along the path which starts at the Santa Cruz Beach, and this is what we did. The biggest advantage of the boat is that you’ll have someone to watch your stuff. The Blue Room is notorious for thieves, who lurk in the woods and wait for their victims to leave their belongings unattended.

Let me repeat that: the Blue Room is notorious for thieves. We’re friends with a couple who visited the Blue Room about a week before us. They knew about the danger of theft, so made sure to hide their stuff carefully before entering the water. But they were being watched, and when they came out of the water, everything was gone: wallets, clothes, car keys, shoes. It is not enough to hide your possessions, you absolutely have to leave someone as a guard. For that reason, it’s most fun to do the Blue Room if you’re in a group of at least three.

Even considering this, we cannot bring ourselves to recommend the boat trip to the Blue Room offered by “Captain Goodlife,” who operates from Santa Cruz. During our short interaction with him, he was unbelievably rude — as soon as he realized we just wanted information and weren’t planning to hire him, his friendly demeanor vanished and he refused to offer us any advice. Our unlucky friends reported a similar experience. He owns the nearest shop, and so was the first person they went to after having their things stolen. He scoffed at their situation, and said something to the effect of “serves you right” [for walking along the path, instead of booking a tour with him].

Wait a second… how did this article about an amazing natural phenomenon get hijacked by thieves and rude business owners?! Let’s get back to the good stuff. We loved the Blue Room. It’s not extra-large, and you can see the whole thing in just a few minutes, but we were so entranced by the gorgeous colors, we stayed until our skin started to wrinkle.

Getting into the water is easy enough, as you can jump from the rocks, but exiting is a little more problematic. You really have to pull yourself up onto the rocks, so you have to be in decent condition. It’s not overly hard, but just be aware that there isn’t a ladder or anything to help you leave the water.

If you enjoy snorkeling and are on Curaçao for any length of time, you owe it to yourself to check out the Blue Room. The walk to the cave takes about twenty minutes from Santa Cruz, and with proper precautions, it can be enjoyed without worry.

Location our Map
The Path to the Blue Room on Wikiloc

This Is Our Underwater Camera

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February 27, 2016 at 9:44 pm Comments (5)

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

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An 18th-century plantation house on the western side of Willemstad, the Landhuis Habaai is home to Curaçao’s oldest private art gallery. On the second Saturday of every month, they host a crafts market, where the island’s amateur artisans can sell their masterpieces.

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

We pulled up to the Landhuis Habaai at around 11am, when the place was already buzzing with activity. There were people admiring the art in the permanent gallery, others listening to an artist present her latest creations, and yet more crowding the garden, where an array of stands were selling crafts and artisan products.

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

Much of the art inside the gallery is excellent, with themes and colors inspired by the Caribbean. And it’s all for sale, although one look at the prices confirmed what we already suspected: those of us whose monthly “art budget” is jingling around inside our pants pockets are not going to be making any purchases at the Gallery Alma Blou.

We spent more time outside in the garden, among the more affordable artistic offerings of the monthly crafts fair. If you’re in the market for a unique souvenir from Curçaco and happen to be here during the second Saturday of the month, you might want to stop by. Even if the market isn’t on, it’s worth checking out the Gallery Alma Blou, as much for the art as for the lovely old mansion in which its housed.

Location on our Map
Gallery Alma Blou – Website

Framed Curacao Photos

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
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Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
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February 27, 2016 at 7:19 pm Comments (0)

A Friday Night Feast at Equus

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Located on the eastern side of Willemstad, Equus is a Curaçao institution, popular for both its mouthwatering food and chilled-out atmosphere. But it’s not for everyone. Don’t go if you’re a vegetarian. Don’t go if you had a big lunch. And definitely don’t go if it’s not Friday. However, if you’re a hungry carnivore on Friday night, head on down. You’re going to love this place.

Equus BBQ

The first thing you do when you enter Equus is find a seat. There’s a strict “no reservation” policy, and there’s no waiting list for tables. You just grab whatever table you can, find a stool if no table is open, and in the worst case scenario, stand at the bar to wait for an opening.

The second thing you do is put your order in. There is no menu, because the only thing Equus serves is skewers: beef, chicken and vegetable. Under no circumstances order more than one skewer per person; for most groups, the “golden ratio” might be two skewers for every three people. And don’t forget to grab a bucket of beer. Get comfortable and start drinking; you’re probably going to be waiting for a long time before your food arrives.

Equus BBQ

The third thing you do is to talk to the cook. He doesn’t mind, and in fact seems happy to chat with his customers. He’s mostly just turning the skewers over the grill, and isn’t too distracted to tell you about the place. I asked him about the reason that Equus only opens on Friday, and he told me that it’s an old tradition. The restaurant was actually part of a ranch, and Friday night was when all the workers would gather to feast and party after a long week.

The fourth thing you do is eat. Your food has finally arrived and, hopefully, you’ve ordered a little of everything. The beef, you know that’s going to be good, and it is… in fact, it’s incredible. But what might surprise you is that the chicken is just as delicious; succulent and richly flavored. And the veggies are better than veggies have any right to be. I had expected that our group would be fighting over the beef pieces, but it turned out that we fought over everything.

Equus isn’t the cheapest restaurant on the island, but it might be the coolest. The outdoor seating area, decorated with colorful Christmas lights, the central grill pit, the good mood of the crowd, and the ultra-friendly service all contribute to make this Friday night meal something to remember.

Location on our Map

Curacao Souvenirs

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Equus BBQ
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Equus BBQ
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February 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm Comments (0)

A Couple of Curious Museums in Willemstad

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The very fact that tiny Curaçao has a Postal Museum was strange enough to arouse our curiosity. And after learning that it’s housed in the island’s oldest surviving building, we knew that we’d have to check it out. Later on the same day, we passed by another museum which looked to be even more unusual: the Octagon Museum in Pietermaai.

Postal Museum Curacao

The building currently occupied by the Postal Museum dates from 1693, just a few decades after the Dutch established Willemstad. Tightly packed between other buildings on the narrow, pedestrian-only Kuekenstraat, it’d be easy to waltz right by the ancient structure without ever noticing it. But it’s worth pausing to take a look, and depending on your interest in stamps, perhaps stepping inside.

To be honest, neither Jürgen nor I are the slightest bit interested in stamps, but we decided to visit the museum anyway. It’s kind of our job. When we stepped inside, the woman working there jumped to life; it’s safe to say that the Postal Museum doesn’t draw a lot of tourists. After taking our money (just $2 apiece), she led us on an exhaustive tour of the museum’s exhibits.

Her enthusiastic presence turned an experience which might have been dry into one which was rather fun. Frequently, she’d start to take her leave, saying something like, “Alright, I should let you see the rest at your own pace,” before remembering another piece of trivia which she simply had to share. And after we were done with the exhibits (all of which are dedicated to the history of postage in the Dutch Antilles) we stayed and chatted for awhile about her trips to Holland, and her distaste for Carnival.

We now walked down to Pietermaai, where we had seen signs for something called the Octagon Museum. We followed the signs onto the property of the Avila Beach Hotel, where we found an evidently old, octagon-shaped building. What could possibly be the subject matter of this museum?! Go on, I’ll give you a few guesses…

[splutter] Why, yes… you’re right! The Octagon Museum is dedicated to the life and times of South American liberator Simón Bólivar! How in the world did you guess that?!

Yes, this museum, which is only open for a couple hours on a couple days during the week, is all about the accomplishments of Simón Bólivar, and his Curaçaoan connections. Immediately before his military successes on the continent, he spent time on the island, staying in the now-vanished Plezier House in Otrobanda, and as a guest of the wealthy merchant Don Mordechai Ricardo, who owned the Octagon tower.

The museum is nicely done, with copious information on placards spread throughout the rooms. There are paintings and period furniture, as well as a copy of the Cartagena Manifesto. Although the museum itself is small, you’ll have to dedicate some time to it, if you want to read everything.

So there you have it: the oldest house on Curaçao is dedicated to stamps, and the most geometric house in Curaçao is dedicated to Bólivar. In the unlikely event of a rainy day during your stay, you might want to check out one, or even both of them.

Locations on our Map: Postal Museum | Octagon Museum

Curacao Collectible Stamps Online

More photos of the Postal Museum
Postal Museum Curacao
Postal Museum Curacao
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Postal Museum Curacao
More photos of the Octagon Museum
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February 26, 2016 at 9:51 pm Comments (0)

A Trip to Klein Curaçao

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Klein Curaçao, a small, uninhabited island found a few miles southeast of Curaçao, has become a popular destination for day trips, thanks to its pristine beach, excellent snorkeling, and atmosphere of forsaken solitude. We booked an excursion which brought us to the island on a catamaran, and spent the day checking it out.

Klein Curacao

There are a number of operators which offer trips to Klein Curaçao, but we decided to book with Bounty Adventures, on the recommendation of a friend. And it turns out that the word “Adventure” in the company’s name is no joke.

The 90-minute boat ride to Klein Curaçao was among the roughest I’ve ever endured. Over and over again, we slammed headlong into huge waves, sending the bow of the ship meters into the air, and then crashing back down onto the water. Within minutes, everyone on-board was soaked to the bone, and many weren’t able to tolerate it. If you suffer from seasickness, or even suspect that you might, this might not be the right excursion for you. Seriously. There were a lot of people racing to the railings to empty their stomachs, and not all of them made it in time.

Everyone on the ship was overjoyed when we finally reached our destination. Immediately, Jürgen and I set out to explore, wanting to get away from the ship as swiftly as possible. Klein Curaçao is less than one square mile in size, so walking to the opposite shore required just a few minutes. On the way, we passed by an old lighthouse. Since the island is so small, its lighthouse was placed right in the middle, visible to ships on either side. We climbed up inside the tower, and although the top floor was locked off, were able to enjoy some nice views.

Klein Curacao

We continued east until arriving at the shipwreck of the Maria Bianca Guidesman oil tanker, which is totally rusted and slowly breaking apart under the pressure of the waves. This tanker ran ashore in the 1960s, and about half of its hull is still standing, with the wreckage of the other half strewn across the shore. We saw another, more modern wreck a few meters up the coast. There are apparently a few other boats which underestimated Klein Curaçao, but we didn’t take the time to search these out, as we were eager to return to the beach and get into the water.

The snorkeling is supposed to be great on Klein Curaçao, but maybe we didn’t find the best spot. We didn’t see much living coral or interesting sea life, and I was just about to label it “disappointing,” until we started spotting turtles. Klein Curaçao is mostly undisturbed by humanity and our destructive tendencies, and has long been an important breeding zone for sea turtles.

We never found much coral, but there was a short period during which we saw tons of fish. After our buffet lunch on the ship, the captain and his crew tossed the remaining food into the ocean. What ensued was a massive feeding frenzy underneath the ship. We jumped into the water with masks, and had front row seats for the crazy free-for-all.

Once we had finished swimming, eaten lunch, and cooked our bodies in the sun, it was time to head back to Curaçao. Given the rough outward journey, I was worried, but the return was a totally different experience. This time, we were moving in the direction of the waves. The captain even turned off the motor and foisted the sails, and we cruised back in style, stretched out on the catamaran’s tarp, with glasses of white wine in our hands.

Klein Curaçao is hard to recommend as an excursion for everyone. I’m not exaggerating the hellishness of the morning’s boat ride; it really is hard-core and the crew confirmed that this is always the case. After vomiting, the guy next to us had said, “Why am I on a boat to go to a beach, when I already flew to an island with so many beaches?” And it was hard to disagree with this logic. The beach at Klein Curaçao is great, but Curaçao has a lot of others which are even better. Although we had fun, and I’m glad we did it once, I’m not sure we’d want to repeat this particular adventure.

Location of Klein Curaçao on our Map

This is our underwater camera!

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February 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm Comments (0)

The Curaçao Museum

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Found in the former military hospital, the Curaçao Museum opened its doors in 1948, making it the oldest museum on the island. Its exhibits include world-class works of art, and period furnishings that pay tribute to the opulent past of the island’s richest days.

Curacao Museum

The museum’s furniture is absolutely beautiful, with many pieces hand-carved from mahogany, including the island’s oldest dining-room table, a phonograph and a grand master bed. But even better is the artwork. An entire room is dedicated to renowned Dutch artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Charley Toorop. You’ll also find paintings by some of Curaçao’s home-grown talent, including Charles Corsen, whose Black Madonna a minor controversy when it was painted in 1950. Also noteworthy is wall-sized map of the Caribbean, made of stained glass and created for the 1939 World Exhibition in New York.

One of the most interesting pieces in the museum is the carillon, a type of organ which uses bells instead of pipes. A series of levers and strings connect the instrument, found on the ground floor of the house, to 47 bells which can be seen outside on the roof. This is called the “Four Princesses Carillon”; the four biggest bells were named individually for each of the Dutch princesses, and the other 43 are named for Curaçaoan dignitaries.

Curacao Museum

Also part of the museum is the Snip Haus, where you can see the nose and cockpit of the KLM Fokker F.XVIII which, in 1932, made the very first transatlantic journey between Holland and Curaçao. Known popularly as the Snip, the plane needed 55 hours for the crossing, but arrived in time for Christmas with sacks of letters and presents from relatives in the Netherlands. It was greeted euphorically by the people of the island, whose previous connections to Europe had been restricted to ship.

We enjoyed the Curaçao Museum; it looks larger and more daunting than it really is, and a visit doesn’t require more than an hour. If you don’t have a car, it’s a little out of the way, about a twenty minute walk from Otrabanda’s Brionplein, but worth the effort.

Location on our Map
The Curaçao Museum – Website

Travel Insurance For your Trip To Curacao

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February 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm Comment (1)

The Curaçao Liquor Factory

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From now on, when I hear the word “Curaçao,” I’ll think primarily of soft, sandy beaches, and colorful buildings. But there was a time (not that long ago!) when the only connotation brought to mind would have been “liquor.” Blue Curaçao has long been a staple at bars around the world, and we went to the Landhuis Chobolobo to see the factory in which it was originally produced.

Curaçao liquor is made from orange peels. Oranges aren’t a native fruit to the island, but a few trees were brought over long ago from Valencia, Spain. The harsh, windy climate of Curaçao proved too brutal for the sweet little trees and after they failed as a crop, they were forgotten about. Over the course of the centuries, the oranges adapted to the terrain, toughening up and becoming known as lahara trees. The bitter fruit of lahara oranges is nearly inedible, but the peels retain the aromatic essence of their Valencian ancestors, and lend Curaçao Liquor its distinctive flavor.

Call me naive, but I had assumed that Blue Curaçao’s famous color was due to some sort of strange chemical process, and I was excited to tour the Landhuis Chobolobo and find out exactly how it was achieved. So when I learned that the liquor itself is clear, and the blue comes from regular food coloring, I was disappointed. Turns out, the “secret” behind Blue Curaçao’s color is one which has already been unlocked various times by my five-year-old nephew during his kitchen experiments.

The Chobolobo factory is still churning out Blue Curaçao, and even using their original distillation equipment, which dates from the early 19th century. The factory tour is free and self-guided, but at least they’ve bothered to make the displays interesting and well-organized. You get a quick history of the island, and learn the story of the Seniors, the Jewish family who established the business. (Fun fact: Curaçao Liquor is kosher. When they were first starting their business, the Seniors had experts brought in from overseas to certify their product.)

As you might expect, the tour ends at a bar where you can taste a variety of the Curaçao liquors, and a shop where you can buy some to take home. It makes a good souvenir, although a rather short-lived one. This sweet drink is one that goes down fast.

Location on our Map
Landhuis Chobolobo – Website
The Genuine Curaçao Liquor – Website

Framed Curacao Photos

Blue Curacao Liquor
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February 25, 2016 at 5:58 pm Comments (0)

Curacao’s Maritime Museum

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Ever since the dawn of the 16th century, when it was finally drawn onto the maps of European explorers, Curaçao’s fortunes have been tied to the sea. The Maritime Museum, located across from the Floating Market at the beginning of the Waaigat Harbor, is a must for anyone interested in understanding the history of the island.

Maritime Museum Curacao

The museum occupies one of the most stunning mansions of the Scharloo, directly at the end of the pedestrian L.B. Smith bridge. This two-story house was built as a private residence in 1729, but burnt to the ground in 1988. After a complete renovation, the building re-opened to the public in 1998 as the Maritime Museum.

The renovation of the property was marvelously done, with an interior designed to evoke the hull of a ship, including portholes, railings and even the spiral staircase which leads to the deck… although in the museum’s case, it leads to a third-story room for special exhibitions.

Maritime Museum Curacao

Even those without a special interest in the seas should find plenty inside this museum to hold their attention. The exhibits start at the very beginning, with the canoes employed by the Arwak Indians to reach Curaçao from the Venezuelan mainland. The museum then moves on to the “discovery” of the island, its occupation by the Spanish and Dutch, and the Atlantic slave trade.

We enjoyed the section about the dawning of cruise ship tourism. I had never thought about when this phenomenon began, but it’s older than I would have guessed. The first cruise ship reached Curaçao from New York City in 1901. Passengers in those days eschewed the island’s beaches, disembarking primarily to shop in Willemstad, which was known for fashions and jewelry at prices unheard of in Manhattan.

With further exhibitions about the Isla Refinery and its dry dock, as well as old nautical maps and uniforms, this museum could easily occupy an hour or more, and we highly recommend a visit. Keep in mind that they also offer a ferry tour of the Schottegat Harbor two days a week. If you plan correctly, you can buy a joint ticket for both the museum and the tour.

Location on our Map
Curacao Maritime Museum – Website

Hotels In Curacao

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February 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm Comments (0)

A Hike Around Patrick

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Between the town of Barber and the eastern coast of Curaçao lies a swath of land known as Patrick, named after a plantation house which used to sit roughly in its center. Rugged, isolated and mostly flat, this is a popular area for ATV tours, but you can also hike and easily reach the coast where there are a couple of impressive inlets.

The hike begins on a path through the woods. Two minutes in, we encountered a young guy with a machete, walking swiftly towards us. “Keep cool,” I told myself. “There’s got to be a rational explanation that doesn’t involve bloodshed.” And sure enough, after a cheerful “bon dia,” he took a side path leading to a field of palm trees. A coconut collector, not a murderer. And a reminder that Curaçao is a country where people might have legitimate reasons for walking around with machetes.

Patrick Hike Curaco

The path was easy enough to follow and led us directly to the coast, where we found a strange geological formation called the Suplado. Like a younger sibling to the larger “Eye of Curaçao” at Watamula, this is a round hole not far from the coast, through which the churning ocean is visible. We’ve heard this spot referred to as a “natural jacuzzi,” since you can apparently bathe in the shallow pools which surround it. But this looked as though it would have been dangerous, and we were content to stay dry.

On either side of the Suplado are a pair of interesting bokas, or inlets. To the north is Boka Santu Pretu, most remarkable for its darkened sand and rough waves. We paused here for a packed lunch, and then continued south to Boka Patrick.

Patrick Hike Curaco

Boka Patrick is a large inlet with a wide, sandy beach strewn with petrified wood and plastic. It’s a shame how much of Curaçao’s eastern coastline is inundated with trash. I don’t know if these are places too infrequently visited to bother with clean-up crews, or if there’s simply too much trash to keep up with, but the heaping mounds of old shoes and tires are a real turn-off. Still, we liked Boka Patrick for its extreme natural beauty and solitude; it’s amazing that such a place could be completely off-the-radar for both tourists and locals.

The path back to our car led us around a hill called the Seru Kosta, and toward heavier vegetation. The final quarter of the hike was the most difficult, as we entered the woods and lost the trail a couple times. But it became interesting when we passed the ruins of the old Patrick plantation house, spotting a well and what looked to be the walls of an old reservoir.

We’d miss the beaches, for sure, but we also enjoyed these peeks into Curaçao’s less-heralded side. This is an island of striking contrasts, which you won’t see unless you embark on hikes like the one we experienced at Patrick.

Locations on our Map: Suplado | Boka Santu Pretu | Boka Patrick
Our Route on Wikiloc

Rent Your Jeep For Curacao Here

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Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
Patrick Hike Curaco
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February 24, 2016 at 10:55 pm Comments (0)

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Meals on Wheels - Curaao's Food Trucks Budget travelers to Curaao will find no lack of cheap lunch joints in Willemstad. We've already written about some of our favorites in Punda, and there are plenty of others that we didn't get a chance to try out. But as the sun goes down, these shops tend to close up. So what are the cash-strapped do for dinner? Cooking at home is a reasonable solution, but that's no fun. The best option is to hunt down a food truck.
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