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Fine Dining at Fort Nassau

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Of all Curaçao’s former Dutch fortresses, our favorite was destined to be Fort Nassau. Fort Amsterdam might have the most fascinating history and Fort Beekenburg the coolest atmosphere… but Fort Nassau has the food nailed down. And food beats history or atmosphere every time.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Dutch were busy extending their tendrils across the globe, a number of forts named Nassau were established to protect their new properties. You could find a Fort Nassau in the Bahamas, New York, New Jersey, Indonesia, Senegal, Ghana and Guyana, all of them named for the House of Orange-Nassau, an influential Dutch dynasty. In 1797, Curaçao got its own Fort Nassau, on the point where the Saint Anna Bay empties into the Schottegat Harbor.

Fort Nassau was taken over for a brief period by the British, but never came under serious attack, so it’s been able to remain in marvelous condition. In 1959, a restaurant was established in the old fortress, and ever since, Fort Nassau has been Curaçao’s most celebrated place to eat. For Jürgen’s birthday dinner, it was the only real choice.

Set high on a hill, the views from Fort Nassau are incredible, especially at night with the lights (and flames) of the Isla Oil Refinery off toward the north, and Punda laid out to the south. Almost anywhere you sit inside the restaurant, you’re guaranteed an excellent panoramic view.

However, you might have trouble taking your eyes off your plates, because the food in Fort Nassau is mouth-watering. The dinner menu includes an appetizer, a main course and dessert. And while it’s not cheap, neither is it overly expensive, considering the quality of the dishes and the generous portions. We both took the steak, and were left very satisfied.

If you only have time and money for one fine dining experience in Curaçao, rest assured that Fort Nassau makes a great choice. Often, these “most famous” restaurants don’t live up to the hype, but Fort Nassau was as good as we had hoped, with top-notch views, food, and service.

Location on our Map

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February 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm Comments (0)

Fort Beekenburg

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Built in 1705 on the small Caracasbaai Peninsula, Fort Beekenburg once protected the natural harbor of Spanish Waters from attacks by pirates and foreign nations. The fort has remained in excellent condition, and makes for a fun excursion.

Fort Beekenburg Cruacao

Perhaps we have oil to thank for Fort Beekenburg’s current state of preservation. When Shell came to Curaçao in the early 1900s, the Caracasbaai Peninsula was made part of its property. The company had no major interest in the fort, and left it alone. Regular people weren’t allowed to visit Fort Beekenburg until 2005, when Shell sold the refinery to the government, and Caracasbaai was reopened to the public.

A perfectly circular tower with a number of evenly-spaced notches for cannons, Fort Beekenburg looks exactly how you might imagine a defensive bastion, like a rook from chess. This is a site completely open to exploration; there’s no entry cost, nor signs explicitly prohibiting or allowing access. You can walk up a rounded set of stone stairs onto the first story, and then climb a ladder to the top of the tower.

This was a real surprise for us; we didn’t expect to find Fort Beekenburg in such good condition, and appreciated the fact that we could freely climb around at our leisure. This was the first thing we did during our visit to the Caracasbaai Peninsula, an area of Curaçao which turned out to be full of fun experiences.

Location on our Map

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January 24, 2016 at 3:47 pm Comment (1)

Fort St. Michiel and Boka Sami

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After visiting Boka Sami and the dilapidated Fort St. Michiel, we found a trail which led up the hill and along the cliffs to Vaersenbaai, home to Kokomo Beach. A short, mildly strenuous walk through the woods, followed by views over the Caribbean, and then cooling off in clear blue waters? Sigh, if only all our hikes were like this!

The trail begins at Boka Sami, where you crossing a small footbridge spanning the inlet which feeds into St. Michiel’s Bay. There’s an excellent hike which leads around this lagoon, where you can almost always see flamingos, but that would be for another day; today we were going up into the hills.

The great majority of the trail is uphill through a dense forest. The path is well-worn, so there’s no need to worry about getting lost, but it feels almost forgotten. The only other living being we saw on the trail was a white-tailed deer, far up ahead of us; it spotted us immediately and darted off into the woods before we could get a picture.

Soon enough, the trail reached the coast, giving us a view from the clifftops over the Caribbean’s crystalline waters. We walked along the rocks, discovering the paltry remains of Fort Vaersenbaai, which once protected the bay, and rested at a picnic table which has been set up for people to enjoy the panorama.

We now descended to the beach, where we spent the rest of the day swimming, snorkeling, laying out and eating at Kokomo Beach’s restaurant. On the advice of Anton from Scubaçao, we ordered the nachos. It was a huge plate, for an incredible price. As we were eating, a pair of fearless iguanas inched along the railing, ever closer to our table, before finally walking straight onto it. Who knew iguanas craved nachos?

We had left our car at Boka Sami, so after lazing about and stuffing ourselves, we had to hike back on the same path we’d come by. No problem; it’s just a couple kilometers long, and helped us digest all those nachos. Overall, this had been an easy, trouble-free excursion, perfect for anyone who likes to combine beach days with a little exercise and nature.

Locations on our Map: Fort St. Michiel | Boka Sami

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January 7, 2016 at 7:55 pm Comment (1)

Fort Amsterdam and the Fortkerk

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Colonial-era Willemstad was protected from marauding pirates and enemy navies with an extensive set of eight forts, six of which have survived intact into the present day. The oldest and most important is Fort Amsterdam, found at the entrance to Saint Anna Bay.

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The Dutch West India Company constructed Fort Amsterdam in 1635, immediately after the Netherlands had taken Curaçao from the Spanish. The territory’s colonial masters lived safely within its confines and, throughout the centuries, Fort Amsterdam has remained the seat of Curaçaoan power. Today, the governor lives here, and there are also a number of government offices.

Within the grounds of the fort, you’ll find the United Protestant Church of Curaçao, built in 1769. The Fortkerk, or Fort Church, was built to withstand siege and has survived in remarkable shape. The only visible bit of damage is a small cannonball embedded halfway into the facade. It was fired by the Captain John Bligh of England, who was attacking Curaçao from his famous ship, The Bounty.

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The church is of modest size, but quite pretty. The roof, painted a deep blue, has a clock right in the middle of it. There are simple stained glass windows on the eastern and western walls. The windward, eastern windows are slightly smaller, which allows a cooling draft to circulate. Another curiosity is the Fortkerk’s cistern, found between the church and an alcove that houses a small museum. In the days of siege, a large supply of water was vital, so the church was built in such a way that rainwater would filter through the walls, and collect here.

The church’s adjoining museum is alright, mostly old maps and portraits. The best piece is the antique clockwork, dating from 1788, which ran the original clock tower.

History is palpable in Curaçao, and no more so than when you’re standing in Fort Amsterdam. Here, it’s easy to imagine invading pirates stationed at the mouth of Saint Anna Bay, laying siege to the island, while from the fort, the Dutch defended themselves and their valuable new American property.

Location on our Map
Forchurch Curacao – Website

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December 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm Comments (0)
Fine Dining at Fort Nassau Of all Curaçao's former Dutch fortresses, our favorite was destined to be Fort Nassau. Fort Amsterdam might have the most fascinating history and Fort Beekenburg the coolest atmosphere... but Fort Nassau has the food nailed down. And food beats history or atmosphere every time.
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