Looking for recommendations on how to travel with purpose on your beach break in Curacao?
Over the Christmas break, my husband and I brought our four-year-old son to Curacao for some R&R beach/ family time. We stayed in the northern tip of the island, overlooking a stunning lagoon. We rented a car and drove around the island trying to take in as much as we could over two weeks. It’s an incredible place to visit – it’s safe to drive all over the island, it’s sun-drenched, and its easily accessible reefs are alive with coral and fish. There are also a ton of activities for families. When I’m travelling, I’ve always got my eye out for responsible tourism initiatives and ways to incorporate travelling with purpose into my visit. I was happy to find that Curacao has some great stuff going on.
Here are some top ways to travel with purpose in Curacao.
Be kind to coral
Snorkelling through a kaleidoscope of colourful fish in Playa Lagun, I spot something unusual – a coral nursery! If I hadn’t of heard about it beforehand, I would not have guessed what it is. It looks like a little tree with pieces of coral hanging to it. In fact, these bits of coral have been tied there by divers and conservationists trying to ensure the longevity of the coral, and the sea’s biodiversity. There are many coral nurseries around the island, set up by Coral Restoration Curacao. Their 300 certified divers have helped re-plant 7,500 pieces of coral. Another way travellers can be kind to the coral is to wear reef-safe sunscreen. It’s a little thing that we can all do to help protect coral – not just in Curacao, but any tropical destinations. My family and I used Raw Elements, all-natural and reef-safe.
Stay at an eco resort in Curacao
Yes, Curacao has its own certified eco resort! It’s not an ecolodge (like this ecolodge in Jordan with no electricity, heating/air, and its own water treatment system on site), but it certainly is taking steps in the right direction. I think it’s important that as our understanding of climate change and the impacts on the environment grows, that we consider more accommodations that are truly trying to make a difference. The Morena Eco Resort is a series of villas and apartments spread out blending perfectly into desert gardens. There are two pools and restaurants here. And while the hotel is not right on the beach, it’s just a short walk to trendy Jan Thiel beach.
What makes it eco friendly? The resort is made with environmentally sustainable materials from fair-trade cooperatives in the region. Also, each guest has a solar water heater on the roof providing warm water all day. If you want to travel with purpose in Curacao, this is a great place to start your vacation.
Enjoy Curacao’s stunning nature
One of the things I loved about Curacao was visiting its northern parks. Just about as far north that you can go, you’ll find national parks, Shete Boka and Cristofell. Christofell is popular with hikers but go early because the sun is blazing by mid-day and it’s a very dusty desert hiking area. At Shete Boka, you can drive to various points, park the car and take a short walk to see spectacular coastal views. Here, the calm turquoise seas give way to crashing waves; at one point called Boka Pistol, the waves crashed into the rocky coast, spraying air straight into the sky. My son got a kick out of this! Spending a morning here was a refreshing change of scenery from the beach.
Nearby these national parks is an iconic restaurant, Jaanchie’s (Little Johnny in Dutch). It’s a fun place to take a meal with lots of little curious items all around the restaurant, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of little yellow birds at the windows. Jaanchie himself takes order and shares that the restaurant was started by his mother who came to Curacao as a servant.
Curacao’s colonial past
I admit I was struggling to fully understand and comprehend Curacao’s history – and just how the island’s residents have moved past it to create the country it is now. Curacao was a key island in the Dutch slave trade. Scores of Africans were brought here to work in plantations. Many of these plantations are still standing today. Some are used today for special venues or restaurants or museums. I was able to visit a few museums and two or three for lunch. It’s surreal to be in these colonial homes (landhuis as the Dutch call them) and remember the history of the island. To travel with purpose in Curacao and learn more about the island’s history in the slave trade, there is the Slave Museum in Willemstad.
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