Make sure to visit the Kura Hulunda Hotel in Otrobanda. It is dozens and dozens of buildings that were renovated into a hotel, museum and conference center.
It is designed like a hill town with charming streets that meander towards and away from the "town" square. You'll feel like you're in a tropical version of the old "Prisoner" series while still enjoying the special atmosphere.
An acquaintance of mine stayed here, The rooms are very relaxing if a bit on the old-school, colonial side of things. She said that there was a bit of a mosquito problem and that the waterfall-style pool didn't seem really clean (she is a tour operator so she should know).
One can also make use of their lush, sister resort on the Northwestern side of the island, too. Just make sure to wear a good hat as there is very little shade at the pool and beach! There is a daily shuttle there.
As mentioned before, I made my way in the daylight hours along towards the Avila Hotel. The walk from the heart of Punda along the Pietermaai and the Penstraat reveals a nice slice of costal life, both residential and commercial. Notice the Saint Tropez Oceanclub (Pietermaai 152) where one may wine, dine, swim (in their pool) and sunbathe. Makes a nice break from your hotel.
Also, note the gorgeous Tokara boutique guesthouse (Penstraat 55). Has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor.
I visited a very good, professional physical therapist, Milou Lindeman. Her wellness studio- Fysio Lindeman- is located just across from the Avila Hotel so following a refrshing massage, one may walk in the steps of Dutch royalty and other notables on the way to the beachfront bar.
Milou, who goes by the name "Kanila" on airbnb, also rents out a very nice apartment on her property, too.
Surprisingly, the Avila offers day passes (not on weekends) and you must bring your own towel. The crowd seemed to be very well-heeled, sedated Dutch gentry.
Finding one source for local events and special offers is a little tricky since there is not one source. The main publications to depend upon are, in order of usefulness, as follows:
'K-Pasa' (cultural events)
'Happy Hours' (watering holes)
These are complimentary publciations available in most hotels. There is an especially good selection in the Kura Hulanda Hotel lobby in downtown Willemstad, 8 Frederikstraat.
I thoroughly enjoyed my $15 day pass at the Hilton Curacao. The property is a bit worn but still serviceable. There is an attractive pool and two private beaches. Make sure to visit the Parasas Beach: like a lot of things on Curacao, it's not even obvious that it is there until you happen upon it. I almost left the Hilton without knowing it was there! There are showers and they'll give you a locker if you ask nicely. An extra $20 refundable deposit gets you a towel, too. There is a store nearby selling swimsuits if you forget yours. Round out your day of sun, fun and water with a cocktail around the bar. You mighty be lucky enough to hang with an entire gorgeous staff of KLM stewardesses!.
Welzijn Spa is a recreational, health spa with Dr Fish. Dr. Fish is an adventurous experience with with health benefits. The spa is more oriented for group treatments. Something to do after a days in the sun, on your last day of your dive vacation, Energy balancing, Holistic treatments and much more. Children as of 4 years can participate.
Moms can arrange their pampering and that of their family.
Shete Boka National Park was definately one of the highlights of our trip. It is a series of 4 main inlets on the rocky north side of the island where powerful waves crash against the shore. There are hiking trails connecting each of the Bokas, but they are also accessible by car. Boka Tabla is located near the park entrance and has a sea cave where you can see waves rolling in. Be careful the steps are slippery. Our favorite sight was Boka Pistol. Its name comes from the sound the waves make when the crash into the rocks spraying water everywhere. This park is a must see. Admission is $2 per person.
Loco Tour Bus sits outside Rif Fort , find the dude named rasta to take you on the tour...really chill bus ride all over the easter part of Curacao. You get to see the where they make Curacao which is the spirit of the Island, view of the Spanish Water , Table Hill , and a few other cool places. Bring snacks , they have water, soda, beer all you can drink for 25$ US. Its a four hour trip with a stop on Mambo Beach for two hours which is nice.
The remarkable carvings dating back as far as 1,500 years, make the Hato Caves in itself a very interesting site to visit. Add the knowledge that the caves were the place where runaway slaves used to hide, and the fact that is still known as a popular meeting place to perform ancient religious ceremonies, and you know it is place you ought to have seen before you leave Curaçao. The Caves are open Tuesday through Sunday; multi-lingual tours are given on the hour from 10 am to 5 pm.; admission is $6.25 for adults, and $4.75 for children under 13.
UPDATE: This Fort Church museum has been totally renovated and expanded and was re-opened in September, 2007! The museum has also expanded the number and quality of its exhibits and everything is showcased in excellent and visually appealing displays. Particularly pleasing is the way in which the "color" of Curacao has been brought inside to this small gem of a museum.
Built in 1634, Fort Amsterdam has guarded Curacao harbor against marauding pirates, and other enemies for centuries. The fort and the accompanying historic Fort Church surround an open quadrangle entered through a small archway. This building you see is the current seat of government and parliament for the Dutch Antilles which also includes Bonaire and St. Maarten (Aruba has its own seat of government). While in the outdoor quadrangle, look for the cannonball embedded high in the Fort Church outer wall.
The Fort Church Museum is located in the back of the church and is said to contain a very fine collection of artifacts pertaining to the Church's Dutch Protestant congregation. The Protestant Fort Church, opened in 1769. On display are artifacts such as silver chalices and a mahogany baptismal font, with a collection of records of the congregation going back hundreds of years. Admission to the Fort Church Museum is about 3 NL Antillian Guilders or approximately US $1.70 (2003 price). Worth a look if you have the time.
Just near the cruise ship pier but within 10 minutes of "downtown" Punda, you will find a type of sculpture and artwork that you have probably not seen elsewhere. You will be surprised by the "people" sculptures there. Some imaginative souls have piled, leaned or otherwise fashioned people sculptures out of coral and other stone which look like a gathering of people welcoming people ashore to Curacao or looking as if they are having a day out by the shore. I found these sculptures fascinating and they ultimately became one of my strongest memories of Curacao eclipsed only by the architecture and colorfulness of Wilemstad.
After exploring the little narrow streets, we found this little playground park not far behind the main streets of Handelskade and Breedestraat which seemed to be in an odd place because it didn't seem to be near any residential housing. A look at a local map of Punda indicated it is possibly part of Wilhelmina Park. I couldn't verify this.
November 2008 - We took a trip on a bus to the far side of the island from the cruise ship port on an excursion. The beach was very damaged by a recent storm. A lot of the sand had washed away and water shoes were necessary for most people. The area was very, very secluded. A rain storm developed and a lot of people stopped swimming. Guess they were afraid to get wet?!? But that was when the fish came in closer to shore so the snorkeling was even better.
You could snorkel off the beach and explore a reef just a few feet out from the beach. Flamingos could be seen in the salt flats on the way back to Willemstad.
If you like sweet, tick, liqueur, or you like to buy as souvenir. You will like this.
Don Jaime Sprock, a Caribbean merchant, went to Cuba where he sampled a wide variety of homemade Caribbean cream liqueurs, called 'Ponche'. From these tastings and after much research, he brought together the most authentic ingredients into one recipe which he called "Ponche Kuba".
Large bottle $15
While exploring Punda, don't miss the Floating Market, one of Curaçao's most famous and picturesque sights. Venezuelan merchants selling their fresh produce from small fishing boats. During the days they spend on our island between their trips to and from Venezuela, their authentic fishing boats double as living quarters.