Sunday, August 23, 2009

Curacao Vacation

Friends have known where I disappeared to the other week, vacation, glorious quiet, cell phone free vacation. I was so impressed by the place we stayed, that I wanted to share the experience so that other folks on the internet can get to know about this place. If you love clear blue water, warm temperatures, the beach, shopping and friendly people, then I highly recommend Curacao. Specifically, if you're looking to take a few people, I will give a resounding recommendation for Flamingo Villa ( , a family owned rental on the country side of the island. We found them through home-away ( but they are also on VRBO (vacation rentals by owner). Let me start off with there are lots of internet scams out there. I was initially concerned, but several well known news shows have covered VRBO and HomeAway, so those fears were somewhat calmed, but I really wasn't sure exactly what we were going to show up to. Let me tell you, it far exceeded expectations. The house was exactly as shown in the pictures. Even as a rental, it showed no wear an tear. The family that owns this property really takes care of the home. Emails exchanged indicate that they are as much regular users as their renters.

Following are a few photos, and notes on our trip. If you ever go on a trip like this, hopefully you will find the property manager as friendly as Don - Don called us on Sunday giving us the inside story on places to go such as a Landhuis where local artists display there goods once a month, along with a steel drum band and local foods.

Curacao has a flamingo sanctuary at the salt ponds.

This was the view that greeted us on all the beaches. Clear blue water, unspoiled reef systems, dramatic coastline.

The Punda area of Willemstad was a beutiful Netherlands inspired city. The streets offered a variety of shops and food, along with friendly locals that would help you in any way needed.

This is the pontoon bridge, which is open to foot traffic when it's not moving out of the way of shipping traffic. Here it was being moved out of the way for a large containership.

This alley led to the Nena Sanchez gallery. No fear of street art here!

By Thursday, there were a few spots that needed relief from the sun. (Curacao is only 12 degrees off the equator and results in sunburns just about anywhere you don't regularly reapply sunblock.) So it was off to the other side of the island to visit the Aloe Vera farm. We didn't make it to the Ostrich farm or the herb farm nearby, but I hear they are also popular places.

On the way back into town, we searched out the practially hidden Curacao factory. We weren't looking for a place this small. It's amazing that a facility this small can produce all of the Curacao liquer. They were happy to let us taste several varieties, as well as mix a few samples to come up with combination flavors. And here is a tidbit of trivia - the Curacao factory has NO orange groves, they get all of the product from locals that bring in the indiginous fruits.

And of course this type of vacation wouldn't have been complete without being able to get below the surface. We went with friends, one of which is a dive master, so the two of us snuck out for a few days of compressed air intake. The shore diving was incredible. We were able to explore Cas Abou near our rental, then went with friends-of-friends that were local to The Tugboat near the southernmost point of the island. On Friday we hooked up with Neils at for boat dives at Watamula and Mushroom forest off the northernmost point of the island. As you can see in the slideshow below, the coral around Curacao was pristine. I've never been on a reef where you stop to look around and don't see sand somewhere. Macro fans will love these reefs.

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