Saturday, July 9, 2011

CURACAO

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Netto Bar – 143 Breedestraat (Willemstad); 011-599-9-462-5188; www.nettobar.com; this unprepossessing location is must-visit because of its green rum.

BEACHES
Cas Abao – west of St. Willibrordus, about 3 mi (5 km) off Weg Naar; 011-599-9-463-6367; casabaobeach.com; pure white sand; restaurant on beach; gazebos for shade; admission fee.
Mambo Beach – Seaquariumbeach (Willemstad); 011-599-9-461-8999; mambocuracao.com.
Playa Forti – West Punt; astonishing views, even from parking lot; black sand beach.
Playa Jeremi – off Weg Naar Santa Cruz; small rocky beach with stunning headlands.
Snake Bay – next to Boka Sami; beautiful small beach.

DIVES
Barracuda Point.
Beacon Point – Caribbean’s largest stand pillar coral.
Blue Bay Gardens – sloped walls liberally pocked with gorgonians and large brain and star corals.
Blue Grotto.
Blue Room – formed by years of pounding surf; under water, “large room” with high ceiling and rippled sandy bottom.
Bullenbaai – serpentine wall.
Car Pile – sunken morass of cars, cranes, and trucks.
Cornelius Bay – gorgonians.
Director’s Bay – just southeast of Carácasbaai; earned name back in days when was exclusive playground for Shell Oil directors.
East Point – natural bridge coral formation with tarpon passing under.
Klein Curacao – dolphin and tuna schools; wall covered with black coral and purple tube and orange elephant-ear sponges.
Mushroom Forest – hard coral formations.
Porto Marie.
Tugboat – across from Sea Aquarium.
Snake Bay – next to Boka Sami; in water, protected by jetty and short swim that leads to sloping drop-off; reef dense with brain, star, and table coral; named for resident “garden eels.”
Superior Producer – coral-clad cargo freighter skeleton (sunk in 1977); among Caribbean’s best wreck dives.
Watamula – tucked off island’s northwest point; fat with health corals, including enormous star corals; turtles, too.

HOTELS
Avila Beach Hotel – Penstraat 130 (Willemstad); 011-599-9-461-4377 or 800-747-8162; avilahotel.com; on beach; atmosphere, charm, and personality; beautifully restored 200-year-old mansion and large extensions; 68 suites; today attracts Netherlands royalty; each room in Blues Wing has balcony with ocean view; some also contain kitchenettes; most have king- or full-size beds.
Baoase – 2 Winterwijkstraat (Willemstad); 011-599-9-461-1799; baoase.com; Balinese-style rooms and upbeat staff.
Hotel Kura Hulanda – Langestraat 8 Otrobanda (Willemstad); 011-599-9-434-7700; kurahulanda.com; tucked away amid cobbled streets.
Landhuis Daniel – Weg naar Westpunt; 011-599-9-864-8400; landhuisdaniel.com; lovely.
Lodge Kura Hulanda – Playa Kalki 1 (Westpunt); 011-599-9-839-3600; kurahulanda.com.
Hyatt Regency – Santa Barbara Plantation 1 (Porta Blancu, Nieuwpoort); 011-599-9-840-1234 or 888-964-9288; hyatt.com.

RESTAURANTS
La Bahia – Breederstraat (Willemstad, at Otrobanda Hotel); 011-599-9-462-7400; otrobandahotel.com; standard fare but terrific harbor panoramas.
Bistro le Clochard – Harborside Terrace, Riffort Village (Otrabanda); 011-599-9-462-5666; bistroleclochard.com; built into 19th Century fort; view over floating bridge and harbor; Franco-Swiss cuisine; signature dish is La Potence (spike-covered metal ball resembling medieval weapon, brought to table sizzling hot and covered with sausage and tenderloin, served with various dipping sauces); also good is cheese fondue and Toblerone chocolate mousse.
Blues – Penstraat 130 (Willemstad, at Avila Hotel); 011-599-9-461-4377; avilahotel.com; international cuisine and live jazz; along beach, on pier.
Equus Restaurant – Caracasbaaiweg (1st right after Caribbean Movers’ compound); Argentinian steak restaurant only open on Fridays; 1st seating at 6 and food will arrive around 7-7:30; be there by 5:30 to guarantee table; no cutlery at all; fresh-baked bread used to pull meat off skewers.
La Pergola – Waterfort Straat (in Waterfront Arches complex); 011-599-9-461-3482; good Italian food but slow service; open for over decade.
Gouverneur de Rouville – De Rouvilleweg 9; 011-599-9-462-5999; de-gouverneur.com; best tables are on terrace facing Punda; try keshi yena (stuffed cheese).
Jaipur – Langestraat 8 (Otrobanda); 011-599-9-434-7700; kurahulanda.com; try lobster salad and pad thai.
Landhuis Daniel – Weg naar Westpunt; 011-599-9-864-8400; landhuisdaniel.com; breakfast, lunch, and supper served on breezy patio.
Mundo Bizarro – Nieuwestraat 12 (Willemstad, Punda); 011-599-9-461-6767; mundobizarrocuracao.com; Cuban restaurant in renovated 1800s home; live music.
Tempo Doeloe – Piscaderaweg (at La Vista Resort); 011-599-9-461-2881; tempodoeloe.an; excellent rijsttafel.
Vishna’s Roti Place – Fisherman’s Harbour; 011-599-9-767-5085; Surinamese food.

SERVICES
Curasub – Bapor Kibra; 011-599-9-461-6666; substation-curacao.com/home.php; submarine coral reef tours.

SHOPPING
Mansion Chobolobo – Landhuis Chobolobo; 011-599-9-461-3526; curacaoliqueur.com; 115-year distillery that manufactures blue liqueur.

SIGHTS & SITES
Christoffel National Park – Savonet (Willemstad); 011-599-9-864-0363; 8 hiking trails to Mt. Christoffel’s top, from which, on clear day, can see Venezuela from top.
Flamingo Park – breathtaking spectacle.
Floating Market – Punda; local vendors.
Hato Caves – F.D. Rooseveltweg (Willemsted); ancient and mysterious petroglyphs.
Knip Bay – locals’ favorite beach.
Kura Hulanda Museum – 8 Frederikstraat; 011-599-9-434-7700; kurahulanda.com/museum.
Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue – 29 Hanchi Snoa (Punda); 011-599-9-461-1067; snoa.com; oldest continually used synagogue in Americas.
Old Market (Marsche Bieuw) – De Ruyterkade (Willemstad, behind Queen Wilhelmina Footbridge).
Punda – Handelskade (Willemstad); punda means "point"; Willemsted's most visited part; colorful houses for which Curacao so famed make for great pictures; museums, restaurants, and shops.
Queen Emma Bridge – Willemstad; connects capital with main shopping area; on 16 pontoons.
Sea Aquarium – Bapor Kibra; 011-599-9-461-6666; curacao-sea-aquarium.com.
Shete Boka National Park – Boca Tabla (Willemstad); 011-599-9-864-0444; carmabi.org; highlights include seafront cave.
Waiigat Canal – floating fruit market.

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