Curaçao, is fast becoming the hot, new, must-visit destination for South Africans…
(How do you pronounce it? “Cure-ah-souw”)
The island is the destination for Tropika Island of Treasure season nine and holds many romantic attractions even though the country defies standard ideas about the Caribbean. There is an island pace but residents are still cosmopolitan; there is spectacular diving but no expansive stretch of continuous beach.
Romantics will find unique attractions that exceed the Americanised Caribbean. Whether you like active pursuits, cultural ones, or a combination, the following attractions will add fun and romance to any visit to Curaçao, the “C” of the ABC Islands and little sister to more-famous Aruba.
No visa required!
If you plan to travel to Curaçao on a South African passport, you’ll be pleased to know that no visa is required!
1. A visit to the beaches
Curaçao is known for its famous beaches. It is a city where its isolated beaches are among the major attractions, particularly in the north and west. It’s possible to go to one of the secluded coves with a partner and not have to share your beach experience with anyone else… unless that’s what you’re into. Curaçao’s beaches vary in size and location; some can be walked to from hotels while others can only be reached by boat. It’s up to you to determine how secretive you want it.
2. Dinner and drinks
Along the Punda Waterfront Historic Willemstad’s most well-known buildings are along the harbour area called Punda, drawing a mix of tourists and locals in one of the busiest attractions of the city. Stop for cocktails or a meal along the water at the Iguana Café (recognisable from across the harbour by its bright yellow umbrellas).
The views are some of the best in the city, and the staff happily speaks English, Dutch, Spanish, and of course the native Papiamentu. Prices are listed in both dollars and guilders, which is helpful; but if you pay with one, be prepared for the possibility of receiving change in the other.
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3. Dinner at Fort Nassau
Built to protect Willemstad, this hilltop fort is now home to one of the most panoramic views in Curaçao. The entire bay and most of the city are visible, along with hilly terrain in the distance. Plentiful inside seating is available, but opt to dine at one of the tables along the fort’s edge; the breezes and views can’t be beaten.
Specials include a medley of Caribbean Sea fish: red snapper on pumpkin puree, mahi mahi filet on ripe olive risotto, and tuna tetaki on seaweed. There’s also grilled shrimp, steaks and (of course) cocktails made with Blue Curaçao.
4. Diving for all preferences
Dive operators can take couples or groups out on boats to experience caves, shipwrecks, and more. A day’s dive comes with fresh fruit, the occasional beer, and perhaps a curious spinner dolphin sighting for the lucky.
5. Visit Rif Fort
Originally built in the 1820s, the Rif Fort sat mostly abandoned in recent years until the Renaissance Curaçao Resort gave it… well, a renaissance. The UNESCO-protected fort now includes a spa, high-end shops, and several restaurants that feature outdoor drinks and dining.
Tour guides will happily tell you how it attracted young lovers during its abandoned days; today they might be a bit older, but the romantic crowd still considers the fort one of Curaçao’s top attractions.
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6. Dinner at Bistro Le Clochard
Reputedly Curaçao’s most expensive restaurant, Bistro Le Clochard also has one of the most remarkable views, along the water overlooking the Punda side of Willemstad. Book an outdoor table at sunset to get the most out of this attraction. Cuisine is a mix of Swiss and French. The staff expertly present filet mignons, creative fondues, and hot and cold appetisers.
7. Experience Kura Hulanda village square
Kura Hulanda (Dutch courtyard) is an interesting take on urban redevelopment. It was reborn by a Dutch man who recognised the potential in revitalising a traditional Euro-Caribbean village. Today, Kura Hulanda houses the high-end 82-room Kura Hulanda Village & Spa, several restaurants, and an historic square replete with 19th-century gas lamps. Stop in for dinner or just lounge together in this attraction’s open spaces.
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Auditions for Tropika Island of Treasure
Soon, South African celebrities Simphiwe Ngema, Kay Sibiya, Nadia Japhta, Siphesihle Vazi, Ntando Duma and Bouwer Bosch will be living their best lives in this tropical paradise – and you could very well be joining them. Auditions for #TIOT9 close at the end of October, and the best part is that auditions are happening online which means that wherever you are in SA, you can enter and stand a chance to win a spot on the island. Full audition details can be found on Tropika’s website.
However, the country is extremely accessible for all South Africans looking for a romantic break to a unique destination. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines remains the fastest and easiest way to travel to Curacao with nine flights departing to the island every week. With an array of romantic activities available, it’s no wonder that the island is fast becoming everyone’s next holiday destination.