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The Coastal Walk from Otrobanda to Piscadera

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A popular walking path connects the neighborhood of Otrobanda to Piscadera, up the coast to the north. We regularly drive by this path, and always see people walking their dogs or jogging on it. So we decided to join them on an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon, for a much-needed spot of exercise.

Willemstad Piscadera Walk

We started walking from our house in Otrobanda, but the real “beginning” of this path is just past Holiday Beach. For awhile, every time we saw this hotel-casino complex, Jürgen would say, “There’s Denise,” or “Why is Denise here?” I let it go at first, because it was cute, but eventually I had to correct his pronunciation. “That’s Denny’s.” But he was right — what is Denny’s doing here? It seems strange.

In order to make a nice loop, we walked toward Piscadera on the main boulevard. This wasn’t as pleasant as the coastal path, because of the heavy traffic and the oppressive stench of sewage. Just past Holiday Beach, there’s a small mangrove forest, which seems to be fertilized straight from the toilets of Otrobanda.

We sped past the poop-munching mangroves as swiftly as possible and proceeded on to Piscadera, where the path turned back south and toward the coast. Away from traffic, this is where our walk started to be enjoyable. The long, sandy beach here, Playa Parasasa, appears to be a secret tip hidden in plain sight; it’s in a perfect position for sunset and popular with locals. We made a mental note to return one evening for swimming.

Willemstad Piscadera Walk

As we walked south, we came upon Aqualectra’s decommissioned Mundu Nobo desalination plant, which opened back in 1948, and looks its age. Despite a low average rainfall and almost no fresh groundwater to speak of, Curaçao is renowned for the excellent quality of its tap water. A number of plants around the island distill salt water straight from the ocean, making it safe (and delicious) to drink. Along with Aruba, Curaçao was home to the world’s first commercial desalination plants.

Across from the plant, ranged along the waterfront, are a number of rickety fisherman shacks. This is a lively area, with men and women outside working on their nets and boats, or cleaning fish which has just been brought in from the sea. In a couple weeks, we would be returning to this spot for both scuba diving, and lunch at an incredible seafood joint.

The path ends up at a small park dedicated to the black struggle for freedom, with a large sculpture of hands breaking the chains which had bound them. We were fatigued, and didn’t spend much time in the park. This had been a long, but entertaining walk; I would recommend starting from Holiday Beach, and perhaps just doing the coastal section; you’re not missing much by skipping the boulevard.

Locations on our Map: Holiday Beach | Playa Parasasa | Mundu Nobo Desalination Plant
Our Route on Wikiloc

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Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
Willemstad Piscadera Walk
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February 10, 2016 at 7:02 pm Comments (0)

Sunday Happy Hour at Mambo Beach

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Mambo Beach is the exactly kind of place which Jürgen and I normally avoid. Not only is it over-developed and crowded, it’s also attached to a shopping complex. But Mambo Beach isn’t necessarily just for tourists; Curaçaoans come here in droves, especially for the Sunday evening happy hour specials.

Among seasoned travelers, there’s definitely a shared conception that off-the-beaten-path adventures are inherently better than those which are popular. But if you refuse to do anything which might be commercial or too well-known, you’re shutting yourself off to a lot of experiences. So, every once in awhile, it’s good to visit a place like Mambo Beach.

Still, we showed up to Mambo with a bad attitude, ready to indulge our mockery. And the place was begging for it. All across the island, you see billboards for Mambo featuring beautiful, blonde women laughing and carrying shopping bags. To get to the beach, you have to walk through BLVD, an outdoor mall with the hottest names brands! And the trendiest fashions! It’s all so hot and trendy, Jürgen, we have to shop, shop, shop! And then we’ll be hungry… should we go to Chain Restaurant #1 or Chain Restaurant #2? They’re both so hot and trendy, let’s just flip a coin!

Mambo Beach Curacao

But after a few minutes of walking along the beach, we started lose the sarcasm and wake up to Mambo’s charms. Many of the bars here actually did look cool. And although the beach was crowded, it wasn’t overrun, particularly on the southern end near the Hemingway Bar. The lounge chairs were spaced out wide, the water was just as blue and beautiful as anywhere else on Curaçao, and there was a nice mix of foreigners and Curaçaoan families out for the day.

“And fine, there’s shopping,” I scolded myself, suddenly embarrassed of my prior sneering. “As though I’ve never been to a mall.”

We scouted out the entire beach, before sitting down for a couple drinks at the Cabana Beach Bar, where there was an early happy hour special. Before long, we were chatting with this huge, body-building Curaçaoan guy who’d taken a seat next to us. He was a car enthusiast, and engaged us in a conversation about the East German Trabants which are still being driven around the island.

I’m not sure what that anecdote is meant to illustrate, except for the fact that Mambo Beach is a good place to meet and interact with an entertaining variety of people — weight-lifting, car-obsessed Curaçaoans, for instance. That’s especially true on Sunday, when everyone is drinking and having a good time. As the Cabana’s drink special came to a close, the one at the neighboring bar began, so we moved over.

Wet ‘n’ Wild’s Sunday Happy Hour is something of a Curaçao institution, and the single most frequent recommendation we get when asking about fun nightlife. There’s a DJ set up on the beach, generous discounts on beers and spirits, and a large crowd on hand… and it’s as enjoyable as it sounds. We had arrived at Mambo Beach with cynical attitudes, but left with happy buzzes and a rekindled appreciation for the fact that over-developed, crowded, commercial activities can also be worthwhile. Not always, but it’s possible.

Location on our Map

Beach Wear

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February 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm Comments (0)

Kayaking through Curaçao’s Mangrove Forests

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In the past century, Curaçao has seen a dramatic reduction in its mangrove forests, as valuable coastland has been gobbled up for development. It’s not a problem unique to the island; mangroves around the world have come under similar attack. But with the help of Ryan De Jongh and the Carmabi Foundation, the plants are making a comeback on Curaçao.

Mangrove trees are a critical part of coastal ecosystems in the tropics, providing a buffer between the sea and land. They protect against erosion, limit the damage of hurricanes and tropical storms, sustain a variety of bird and fish life, and maintain water clarity.

It was perhaps this last point which spurred Ryan De Jongh into action. He’s a native son of Curaçao, from one of the first Dutch families to have arrived on the island, centuries ago. But he didn’t set out to become an environmentalist. His true calling is kayaking; he’s participated in races around the Caribbean, including a marathon journey from St. Maarten to Curaçao. But after getting involved with Carambi and learning what the destruction of the mangroves would do to the island’s water, he felt he had to step up.

Ryan took it upon himself to help teach Curaçaoans about this important ecological resource, personally going from school to school, and constantly petitioning the government for funds. He’s re-planted huge swaths of mangroves, and also organizes kayak tours to help educate people about them.

It was early afternoon when we arrived at offices of Carambi, next to the Pirate Bay beach club. Together with Ryan and a visiting Dutch family, we carried our kayaks into the water and set off. We had a hard time keeping pace with everyone else, since Jürgen kept putting his oar down to take pictures. But it was hard to scold him; with the sun just starting to sink, it was a beautiful scene, and grew more so as we rowed further inland, approaching the mangroves.

We made a couple stops on our tour. The first was to see some of the mangroves which had been replanted years ago, and learn more about their strange salt-cleansing properties. We then rowed to a shady spot where we saw some old-growth mangroves that had survived Curaçao’s development boom. Finally, we arrived at another little bay where we could see some baby trees growing on a makeshift, floating “incubator” of Ryan’s own design.

The tour lasted for about an hour and a half, and by the time we arrived back, my arms and back were aching. But it was a good, sporting kind of ache, and it had been worth it; this was a great experience, and a fun way to see a different facet of Curaçao’s ecology. If you’re interested in doing something similar, contact Ryan directly through his website.

Location of Pirate Bay
Ryan de Jongh – Website

Rent An Incredible House On Curacao

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January 16, 2016 at 10:52 pm Comments (0)
The Coastal Walk from Otrobanda to Piscadera A popular walking path connects the neighborhood of Otrobanda to Piscadera, up the coast to the north. We regularly drive by this path, and always see people walking their dogs or jogging on it. So we decided to join them on an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon, for a much-needed spot of exercise.
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