Hey everyone! It’s Jason again—back to take over my Aunt Susan’s blog! Hope you aren’t sick of me yet.

 It’s hard to believe that soon after our last trip down to Tennessee, I would be invited on yet another epicurean expedition that will happen just a couple weeks later, but here we are! This time, my aunt invited me to accompany her to the island of Curacao.

I’ll admit, the only thing I knew about Curacao was the electric blue liqueur! Wait – do you mean to tell me that an entire ISLAND shares the name of this cerulean-colored concoction with equally azure waters? Let’s go!

Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao

We immediately checked into the Renaissance Wind Creek in Willemstad as soon as we arrived. This place was awesome! All the staff were super friendly and eager to hold open a door or answer any questions we had.

The room’s décor was accented by a lovely sea blue that reminds you that you are right next to the ocean, and each of our rooms had balcony access overlooking the pool.

Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Renaissance Wind Creek Curacao Infinity Pool
Renaissance Wind Creek Curacao Infinity Pool

Curacao was 88 degrees and sunny every day, so let me tell you, that pool became my new best friend. The pool was a welcome respite from the heat, but it was also just gorgeous! Designed to look like a beach, it was, in fact, an infinity pool that hangs right over the ocean.

I’m gradually discovering that I may have been a sea creature in my past life! I could’ve luxuriated in that pool all day (and night—let’s keep those after-hour swims between us, okay?!).

Blue Island Iced Tea
Blue Island Iced Tea

Did I mention the pool had TWO adjacent bars? We wasted no time ordering our first drink on the island, one containing the signature Blue Curacao liqueur called the Blue Island Iced Tea. Pretty!

Rif Fort, Willemstad, Curacao
Rif Fort, Willemstad, Curacao
Rif Fort, Willemstad, Curacao
Rif Fort, Willemstad, Curacao

We hit up the nearby Rif Fort, a 19th-century fort converted into a conveniently located shopping and bar-hopping haven, where we enjoyed dinner at Ceviche Nikkei 91. Feasting on fresh seafood, gazing upon the ocean, enjoying a strong breeze, and sipping drinks must be what island life is all about.

Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Ceviche Trio, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Ceviche Trio, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Lomo Saltado Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Lomo Saltado Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao

The Maracuya Sour and Lima Mule caught our attention and taste buds. At the same time, we noshed on a trio of ceviche along with a beautifully seasoned Lomo Saltado.  

Maracuya Sour, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Maracuya Sour, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Lima Mule, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Lima Mule, Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao

The next day started with a hearty breakfast—shoutout to Renaissance Wind Creek for a diverse array of breakfast offerings, like parfaits, pumpkin pancakes, custom omelets, and even a hot dog bar!

Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek
Breakfast Renaissance Wind Creek

I followed up breakfast with a solo bike ride around the capital area. That was fun! Met some stray doggies on my trek and burned off at least a few calories from that bountiful buffet.

We signed up for an afternoon walking tour, but first, lunch! We found this cute little place called Ocean House 19 in the Rif Fort mall, AKA my new favorite spot on the island. It was located right under where we had dinner the previous night so again, we were treated to lovely ocean views, refreshing breeze, and the drinks—wow!

Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Carpaccio, Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Carpaccio, Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Espresso Martini, Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Espresso Martini, Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao

This had to be one of THE BEST espresso martinis I have ever had—EVER! Just look at that thick layer of frothy goodness! Even my aunt was bewitched by it. The twist is that they add Drambuie, as explained by the ever so accommodating and friendly manager, Leiza. I can’t say enough about her. She made us feel right at home. The beef carpaccio was an excellent snack for fuel for the next 2.5 hours of walking.

Curacao
Curacao
Curacao
Curacao
Dushi - Word used to describe the good things in life
Dushi – Word used to describe the good things in life

The tour took us around Otrabanda and Punda, where we saw local art on display and learned quite a bit about the region’s history. I was particularly impressed with how most citizens can speak four languages: Dutch, English, Spanish, and Papiamento, which contains my new favorite word: Dushi—a catch-all term for describing something or someone as being “sweet” or “awesome!”

Punda - South side of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda – South side of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda - South side of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda – South side of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda - South side of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda – South side of the Queen Emma Bridge

Our tour guide, Junior Hamilton, was very informative and kind and gave us many tidbits on where we should go shopping and the best local cuisine—if only we had more time to do everything!

However, we stopped at Lionfish, where they told us how and why Lionfish are captured and how to cook them. My aunt was given two lionfish stingers for her martinis to use as cocktail picks.

Kura Hulanda Village Curacao
Kura Hulanda Village Curacao
Lionfish Kura Hulanda Village Curacao
Lionfish Kura Hulanda Village Curacao

At Lionfish Caribbean, our mission is multi-faceted, aimed at protecting the fragile ecosystem of the Caribbean reefs while promoting sustainability, awareness, and education.
Our core initiatives are controlling the Lionfish population, fostering a vibrant Lionfish hunter community, serve fresh sustainable seafood, raise awareness, and creating unique jewelry made from Lionfish.
Lionfish Kura Hulanda Village Curacao
Lionfish Kura Hulanda Village Curacao

Lionfish Curacao website

Dinner that night was at Gouverneur de Roueville. Of course, I reserved balcony seating, a re-occurring setting for all our nosh sessions. As highly rated as this place came, we were disappointed with the service and some food and drink. But the nighttime views of the pontoon bridge Queen Emma and its many lights were stunning.

Gouverneur de Roueville Curacao
Gouverneur de Roueville Curacao
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, Curacao
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, Curacao

We had appetizer samplers, Keshi Yena, and a BBQ meat platter along with a dessert sampler (have you figured out that we like samplers?!) The Coconut Mojito was good, but I bet my aunt could improve upon them with one of her own recipes!

Our last full day on the island involved hiring tour guides (who were awesome, by the way—shout out to Suli and Angelo!) to take us to the island’s western point. I highly recommend the private tour. This is where you go if you want to find the most beautiful beaches in Curacao!

Suli and Angelo, Samurai Tours Curacao
Suli and Angelo, Samurai Tours Curacao

However, our first tour stop may have been as far from a beach as one could imagine—Hato Caves! We mingled with friendly bats and learned about limestone and stalagmites while traversing the dark caverns.

Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao
Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao
Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao
Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao
Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao
Hato Caves Willemstad, Curacao

Though, after spending some time in the murky, craggy caves, we were more than ready to see some white sand and sparkling blue waters. Next up was Playa Kalki. It was very pretty, though the beach seemed small and mildly crowded. No cruise ships were in port during our stay, but I imagine all the beaches get overcrowded.

Playa Kalki Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao
Playa Kalki Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao
Playa Kalki Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao
Playa Kalki Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao

Playa Piskado was next, where I could swim with green sea turtles. A local man, known only as “the turtle whisperer,” would call the turtles by name and throw fish guts to entice them over.

Playa Piskado Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao
Playa Piskado Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao
Ready to Go!
Ready to Go!
The Turtle Whisperer
The Turtle Whisperer

Mr. Whisperer would also select a few spectators to perform a kind of baptism by turtle, where he held their heads back in the water while coaxing his turtle pals to swim on top of them. I captured some footage with an inexpensive underwater camera—check it out below!

YouTube Snorkeling with Turtles Curacao
YouTube Snorkeling with Turtles Curacao
Playa Piskado - Swimming with Turtles
Playa Piskado – Swimming with Turtles
Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
Playa Piskado - Swimming with Turtles
Playa Piskado – Swimming with Turtles

We stopped for lunch at the nearby Playa Forti, known for providing local cuisine abutting a 40-foot high cliff top from which you can drop directly into the ocean. We decided to pass as we preferred to spend our time there dining on goat stew (if you love spicy food like I do, be sure to ask for the house-made “hot sauce” on the side!) and red snapper while enjoying lovely ocean side seating and sipping on cocktails.

Goat Stew - Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
Goat Stew – Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
Red Snapper - Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
Red Snapper – Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao

Here we had the “Signature” (Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, vodka) and “The Turtle” (lemon juice, ginger ale, vodka, and Blue and Green Curacao). Our server, Shurtje, was great at making recommendations and was very pleasant!

The Signature Cocktail - Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
The Signature Cocktail – Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
The Turtle Cocktail - Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao
The Turtle Cocktail – Restaurant Playa Forti Sabana Westpunt, Curacao

Back to the tour bus and our adventure! Grote Knip had to be the most picturesque beach I have ever seen. Granted, I live in New England and rarely go to the beach, but still! This place was truly gorgeous! The photo ops atop the lookout were not to be missed.

Grote Knip Beach - between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao
Grote Knip Beach – between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao
Grote Knip Beach - between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao
Grote Knip Beach – between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao
Grote Knip Beach - between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao
Grote Knip Beach – between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun, Curacao

However, my favorite beach may have been at our last stop, Playa Porto Mari. There were wild pigs that freely roamed the area- how adorable! I also had the best snorkeling experience there, observing many varieties of local maritime life. This trip instilled in me a new obsession with snorkeling.

Playa Porto Mari - Sint Willibrordus, Curacao
Playa Porto Mari – Sint Willibrordus, Curacao
Playa Porto Mari - Sint Willibrordus, Curacao
Playa Porto Mari – Sint Willibrordus, Curacao
Playa Porto Mari - Sint Willibrordus, Curacao
Playa Porto Mari – Sint Willibrordus, Curacao

Later that night, my aunt was craving the espresso martini I had from Ocean House 19, so the question of where to go for dinner was settled. We were surprised and a little confused when we arrived. We were initially greeted by two life-sized teddy bears dancing to an energetic Latin music band.

Dancing Bears on Mother's Day - Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Dancing Bears on Mother’s Day – Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao

Facebook video from Ocean House 19 on Mother’s Day.

The restaurant/bar was more lavishly decorated than it had been—we thought we had just made a mistake and walked into someone’s birthday party! It turns out Ocean House 19 was celebrating Mother’s Day, and despite being nearly fully booked and very busy, they could seat us right away!

Mango Mimosa - Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Mango Mimosa – Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
French 76 - Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
French 76 – Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Ocean House 19 Cocktail - Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao
Ocean House 19 Cocktail – Ocean House 19 Willemstad, Curacao

Kudos to Cindy for organizing the event! We toasted our own moms back home with complimentary mimosas before partaking in a French 76 and their titular drink, the “Ocean House 19” (vodka, vanilla, flor de Jamaica, lime, orange blossom, passion fruit foam). Despite the technical difficulties in the presentation, the flavor was great, and the foam on top was almost sorbet-like.

The seared tuna and the grilled “Ursula” were very enjoyable. The carrot cake could be summed up in one word: “MOIST.” Also, “yummy” would be apt. Okay, I guess that was two words; sue me.

The following morning, we packed our bags and prepared to fly home, BUT we would be remiss to depart the island of Curacao without making a pit stop at the Distillery known for producing the iconic blue liqueur the island is known for!

A group tour of the Landhuis Chobolobo facilities educated us on the Valencia oranges grown locally, which are too bitter to eat but are harvested for their rind, which is then distilled with cane sugar and other ingredients to create the famous spirit. The manufacturers began adding coloring to their products, starting with blue to represent the ocean’s hue, as far back as 1915! 

Senior Family History, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Senior Family History, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Golden Orange, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Golden Orange, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Ingredients, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Ingredients, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Copper Still, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Copper Still, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad

The rounded shape of the bottle represents the Valencia orange, and the neck represents its stem. Apparently, if you buy curacao liqueur and the bottle is in a different shape, it is not a genuine article! We sampled liqueur shots and some cocktails and even grabbed a few bottles for the road (our favorite was the Tamarind!).

The Bar, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
The Bar, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Colors of Curacao, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad
Colors of Curacao, Landhuis Chobolobo Saliña, Willemstad

After several unexpected delays, customs congestion, and a horrifically mad dash to – just barely– make my connecting flight, I arrived home, content to have had yet another exciting opportunity to travel with my aunt and sample global cuisine and cocktails. It’s been “dushi” guest writing for my aunt, but now I’m handing the reigns of the blog back over to Susan—though who knows?! Another adventure may be on the horizon, so you’ll have to deal with me again! Signing off for now! Cheers!

Susan on the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, Curacao
Susan on the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, Curacao
Lighted bathroom mirror - Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Lighted bathroom mirror – Renaissance Wind Creek Willemstad, Curacao
Jason at Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao
Jason at Ceviche Nikkei 91 Willemstad, Curacao

Cocktail recipes coming soon!