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Thread: Curacao

  1. #1
    TadPole
    Join Date
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    Curacao

    Curacao

    Up front travel tips:

    Make reservations before you go. The Marriott folks were touting a buy 3 get one free. We took two of those and discovered the 8 days were just about right to find our way around and get used to the place so by the end, we werenít using a map and were coming up with short cuts to places.
    While on the island, were told it is one of the nicer places, with Hotel Kura Hulanda setting the standard. The beds are great and the middle managers want everything to be OK.

    Breakfasts were part of the deal. We booked in March, paid in April and used it in late July. It was a bargain then and it may get better . We ate a breakfast that lasted us all day. So, we had dinner out, early. They had fruit to take with us for snacks during the day.

    Get an island map, showing all the dive spots, which is $7 at the Marriott dive shop on the beach or free from the concierge upstairs.

    Snorkel the Marriott house reef. Left to right facing the water, both inside and out.

    Really, snorkel at the Marriott. No kiddiní. Consider it one of the good dives.

    Get a car here in the States, or, where ever you are before you go. Even the Curacao Budget folks were surprised at our $150 for seven days. We were never able to quite figure out the security alarm but we heard so many of them going off at various car parks, we decided we were just part of some sort of tourist rent-a-car sub-culture.

    A heads up. The rental car booth is in the other (read: old) building, next to the new one which is where you arrive. Personnel there seem not to know the rental car booths are next door.

    Without a car, the cab fare, just to the downtown and resort area ranges from $25 to $45. Itís about 6 miles. Get an agreement on the fare before you get in. Doubling up means nothing. Everyone pays. It seems the whole culture defers to the cabs.

    If you donít get a car, there are lots of 9 passenger ďvansĒ for locals. Just stand at the Bushalt (sp?).

    The nicest thing about Curacao is that diving is the 3rd most important income generator, lagging behind both the refinery and the port activity.
    As a result, a visitor (70% of whom are from the Netherlands) is not treated unusually or patronized, but rather, just becomes part of the social landscape and therefore almost invisible in the population. But, if you insist on wearing your stingray, skull & crossbones, dive Omaha tee shirt, youíre on your own.

    Bring both your camera and binoculars. 50 pounds in the second bag is lots of stuff.

    Now, about the diving:

    Get in touch with Suzy at the Dive Bus before anything else from here in the US. I cannot overemphasize this. Tell her Vic Lancing sent you. Use that code name.

    The Dive Bus - HOME

    They may well have the best operation and service of any Iíve seen in either the Caribbean or the FL Keys. They just care about their folks having a totally good visit.

    You can comfortably consider them as the web browser for diving and anything else in Curacao.

    Ask her about Miramar, the sushi place just up the street. Oh man! Talk with the owner/sushi meister when you go there. Find out where heís from and what heís done. Also, see the general rule we follow for what to eat under the ďEat atĒ section.

    Do the Dive Bus house reef dives for your checkout. Thatís the Instructor in me talking.

    Lose yourself in the school of fish at the wave break.

    From there Suzy and Mark are happy to point you to or make accommodations for all your diving.

    The Dive Bus - HOME

    693-8305 when you get there.

    I carry my own weights in addition to my personal gear. Few do, but if you decide to, I suggest you carry the weights onto the plane to avoid the Homeland Security delays. (Itís one of those, ďAsk me how I know.Ē). Just tell the the straight faced badges what they are. Everything else goes in the 3rd bag. I use a $90 Travel Pro bag that has wheels and is large enough for both Annís and my gear, including 30 inch fins, and is still under 50 lbs.

    91.5 is one radio station.

    Schedule at least one boat dive from the rubber boat with Niels and Kevin from Dive-Charter Curacao, (www.divechartercuracao .com) just for the training and experience. (529-3899). They can hook you up for a once in a lifetime helicopter launch.

    Dive the unnamed spot, reachable only by boat on the Eastern side at the end of the wind generators.
    Dive Watamala because of the coral and the surprise ending.
    Dive Playa Kalki/Alice in Wonderland.

    Eat at:

    Our standard action is, first, ask for the chef. Then, ask what she/he suggests, then order it.

    Eat next door to the Dive Bus at the Seaside Terrace, the place beside the Breezes. Did you see me write NEXT DOOR to the Dive Bus location? Sit down. Although it looks like a counter order place or a longish food trailer at a state fair, thereís wait staff. Bring your appetite as well as your taste buds. They may close at 7.

    Fishalicious ( 461-8844 ). Actually, go to Intermezzo ( 465-8700 ) and eat there first, right beside the Swiss embassy. Plenty ĎO parking across the street and easy to find. While youíre having wine and tapas (theyíll fill you), ask where Michelle is now (she used to own Intermezzo under another name until 4/09) so you can figure how to get to Fishalicious the next night. Itís tricky and best found by parking in the same spot as last nite and walking. Ask your waitress at Intermezzo where to dive. Sheíll tell you site 65 for openers.

    Landhuis Daniel ( Landhuis daniel, 528-0008). Save it for the last night. An experience not to be missed. Itís unique. That simple.
    The ďSupermarket,Ē left at the second light, going west, has a bunch of great red wines for 10.99 G. Cono Sur, a Pinot Noir with the bicycle on the label is our favorite there. Also, try the various crackers and snacks. They have great, light colored, hard cheeses. Be sure and buy a plastic grocery bag or two, pay the carry out guys and save the bags for shopping back home.

    Popís Place. Say hello to Shahirea Maktis and ask her whatís best today. Ask after her children and husband. Also, ask her for the home made garlic salad dressing and Tar-tar sauce. They do close at 7. At the other end of the beach, Carcasbaai, walking distance, is the Golden Sea Horse. Owned by the same guy who has and sits at the best table at Popís Place and reads the newspaper.

    Spend a day driving the West coast beaches and swim, snorkel or dive.
    Jump in at Grote Knip with the kids when you tour the NW coast.
    Stop by Jaanchieís when youíre touring the top of the West coast. Itís a landmark. Open air with singing birds thru and all around as well as a noisy rooster out back. But first, check on the timeliness of the service with the pleasant owner who sits down at your table to verbalize the menu and take your order. We waited an hour for the food after we ordered and had a problem getting someoneís attention for a second glass of red during the wait. The stack of Dutch newspapers and magazines help pass the time or you can take a book.

    Hookís Hut, down the road beside The Hilton or just up street from the Marriott (thereís a sign) is one eveningís must, just to get a tee shirt to wear back home. Parking is on the right.

    Spend your time in Punda, away from the stores.

    Here again, ask Suzy. She can suggest great places to go.
    Visit the slave museum (allow 3 hours, really).

    Here youíll see the finest hotel on the island. Itís rated as one of the top 100 small hotels in the world.

    See Boka Wandomi, the national park on the NE coast - the rough coastline and the waves.

    See the resident pink flamingos, youíve only ever seen them stuck in U. S. lawns, on the West side of the island and often missed.

    Pick up a team jersey from Dasia Wielersport ( www.asiacuracao.com ), the islandís leading cycling club shop.

    Hope this all helps the next person/s going to Curacao.

    Best,

    Ann & Bill,
    PADI OWSI 238458

  2. #2
    What a great trip report! Sounds like you were adventurous enough to find some hidden, some local spots, after finding Mark and Suzy which was your best move. Truth be told you missed a couple gems so plan your return soon!

  3. #3
    Shark
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    Three weeks and me n missus will be there..WooHoo!
    We will be staying at Lion's Dive and diving mostly through Oceans Encounters there ,but you convinced me to look into diving with the Dive Bus as well.

  4. #4
    Grouper
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    What an excellent post! Thank you very much.

  5. #5
    Grouper
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    Quote Originally Posted by scubastud View Post
    Three weeks and me n missus will be there..WooHoo!
    We will be staying at Lion's Dive and diving mostly through Oceans Encounters there ,but you convinced me to look into diving with the Dive Bus as well.

    Nolo and his wife (the owners of Ocean Encounters) moved there from here in Oklahoma. Note the big OU flag hung at the dive shop!!! I'm tempted to send him a dueling OSU flag as one son went to OU and the other to OSU!! We had an excellent time diving with them!! Also, note that if you do the dolphin dive over at the Aquarium (unless its changed), the dive is done in the open water not a pen!! I hope you get one of the pool/ocean facing rooms like we did at Lion's Dive!! We just put our gear outside the patio doors to dry and never had a problem. One warning - be sure to take the proper plug-in adapters if you have anything electrical you are going to use. My roommate and I had to go use our best "blonde" looks down at the desk to say we don't know what happened to our electricity!!! This after I was in the bathroom and heard a big ZAP! followed by a little scream!! Hopefully for you, the manager at the restaurant there is new. Our group had a little run in with her when 2 of the people tried to get some coffee before they were officially open. There is always the nice little restaurant on the other side of the cove (by the Aquarium)-just a short walk across the bridge!!

  6. #6
    Shark
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    Thanks Cowgirl!
    I was actually there last year sans wife, stayed at the Royal Resort across from Lions Dive, but spent most every evening at Hemmingways. and did a lot of diving with the Oceans Encounter people. My son is there now, working at OE.
    Appreciate the tip about the adapter, didn't think of that.

  7. #7
    Grouper
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    I hope to get to go back someday. It was where I did my first ocean dive which of course makes it very special in my memory. Except for that little incident of doing a giant ankle twist getting into the boat before the first dive!!! It was all good when I was in the water-just a problem back on land!! How lucky for your son to get to work there! I remember you talking about him doing the dive school after he got out of the service but just didn't remember where. Have all the topless women become old hat to him yet?

  8. #8
    TadPole
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    I forgot one thing.

    At the airport, be sure and check out the brand name of the largest fans I've seen in a public place.

    P.S. After reading the above, I want to mention the Marriott has plugs that let you use both 220 or 110 (U.S.). I think they're magic of some sort.

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