After having written more than 45 blog posts, to provide our guests and other Curacao visitors with insider tips, I realized I didn't have an answer ready for Matt's mom.
Matt's mom asked one of the most important questions for someone that is looking for a wonderful vacation rental in a great destination:
"Last night we were chatting about vacation rentals we've had over the past 20 or so years of traveling as a family, and we decided it would be fun to explore your recommendations for our Family Trips for our once-a-year trips over the next 10 years. So: We are a family of 4 and we like beautiful houses in unusual places. Usually when we decide on a trip, we focus on a destination, and then use websites to look for great rentals. This time, though, we decided to try it the other way around: find some wonderful place that happens also to be in a great destination. Any recommendations would be most welcome!"
It would be great if Matt's mom would consider Villa Seashell and Curacao for one of their family trips, but then I would have to come up with good answers!
What makes Villa Seashell a wonderful place?
The best way to answer this question is to see what our guests are saying about their stay at Villa Seashell.
WONDERFUL VACATION AND STUNNING VIEWS
Patricia F. (Source: HomeAway, Stayed July 2015)*****
What a wonderful place to stay. We have stayed here twice and both times had a fabulous time. The house is exactly what you see and very clean.
The kitchen is stocked with everything to prepare meals. The House is big enough to accommodate a large family/group.
We loved the hand fishing there at the house, we caught a variety of fish (they love chicken). We did spend a lot of time at the pool. The covered area by the ocean was a favorite spot to sit and play cards and enjoy the view.
Karakter is within walking distance and is a great place to snorkel and have dinner.
I can not say enough about Linda Lou and the hospitality she has shown. There is someone to meet you at the house when you arrive and show you around. Any questions we had were answered promptly.
We will definitely visit again.
WHAT A GORGEOUS PLACE!
Kristen K. (Source: HomeAway, Stayed April 2015)*****
The owner did a fantastic job, from the moment we expressed an interest in the house to the checking out on our last day, of making sure every detail was covered. So when we did arrive, all we needed to do was switch off and relax!
The house itself is wonderful but it's the overall property that makes this place. The views, the pool, the spectacular places to enjoy sunsets, made this holiday an extra-special one.
The house was spacious and airy with views from each room, although we were outside enjoying the pool most of the time. The kitchen had all the mod cons so we were able to enjoy dining and grilling outside.
Our favorite pastime was walking the short distance to Karakter, the local bar, and watching the snorkelers and sun go down.
Everything about this property was excellent, definitely a place to book again!
PICTURESQUE VILLA WITH BREATHTAKING VIEWS
Sherry F. (Source: HomeAway, Stayed June 2015) *****
Villa Seashell and Coral Estates gated community is perhaps the most prestigious area on the island. Homes are perched cliff-side, directly over the ocean, with paved streets and meticulous landscapes. Karakter beach is actually within Coral Estates and boasts a manmade beach with free loungers, Wi-Fi access and is a very good restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Our group of seven found Villa Seashell to be spacious, clean and with all the anticipated amenities as described by the owner. The majority of our time was spent lounging or gathering on the outside porch, waterside deck, or poolside with food and beverage. View a majestic sunset from the natural cliff ledge or fishing platform, or simply watch boats move to/from the downtown area. Another major benefit of Curacao being a dry island is that we did not encounter mosquitoes and used a limited amount of bug spray during our May/June stay.
Should you choose to leave Villa Seashell to explore the island, don't miss the colorful downtown area for shopping, museums, dining or gambling, as the options are many and only 25 minutes drive. Watch the arched footbridge open for boat traffic while dining at "De Gouverneur" restaurant. Cas Abou beach was one of the favorites, but be sure to bring water shoes since there's coral underfoot upon entering the waters. Take a guided tour of the Hato Cave, located by the airport if you enjoy history and geology. Golfing was outstanding at Old Quarry on the southside, but Blue Bay golf was 15 minutes drive and a fine course.
Owner Linda Lou and house manager, Petra were very attentive and responsive to our needs although the house left nothing to be desired! Linda provides a comprehensive 50+ page document of island highlights including various activities, points of interest, places to visit and dine which we found to be very helpful. Thanks to both for a wonderful and unique Curacao experience!
There are many more reviews from our guests, which you can read on our Reviews page.
Why should Curacao be on Matt's mom's bucket list?
I'm not even sure if Matt's mom ever heard of Curacao. Most Americans don't seem to be particularly familiar with Curacao. If someone has never heard of Curacao, I usually say that "It's near Aruba" or "It's just off the coast of Venezuela" and then most people understand where it is.
Curacao is located between its sister islands, Bonaire and Aruba. Although the trio is collectively known as the “ABC Islands,” they actually plot ACB reading from left to right on a map. As the largest member of the ABC Islands, Curacao stretches for 38 miles east to west. It varies in width from 3 miles to 9 miles and totals 275 square miles in area.
The population numbers more than 170,000, most of whom are of African or mixed African and European descent. In all, more than 50 different ethnic backgrounds are represented here, and the people are very proud of the island's international flavor.
Curacao's location, its 500-year-old multicultural historic background and diversity, its colorful capital Willemstad, its beautiful beaches, underwater world & nature, and its stunning architecture, make Curacao an unusual great place for a family trip!
To further explain this, I've put together 9 recommendations for Matt's mom to consider.
1. Curacao has the best weather
Have you ever booked a tropical vacation, only to have it ruined by rain or storms? Florida and the northern Caribbean face a real risk each year of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Why take a chance with the weather on your next families vacation? Curacao is one of the few places that have great weather year round: sunny, dry, with refreshing trade winds.
Curacao is located outside the hurricane belt, so your family can book summer & fall vacations without the worry of your vacation being ruined by a hurricane or tropical storm.
If you would like more detailed information on the Curacao weather, check our blog post 'Do you make these 5 wrong assumptions about the Curacao weather?'
2. Curacao has a strong local influence
Like its sister island Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but it very much has its own vibe: it is the Dutch Caribbean, historic and European while very African too.
It is not Americanized like Aruba, the Bahamas or the Grand Turks. It is a tourist destination for cruise ships and others, but only about 15% of its tourists come from America; it is not all chains and new and shiny and hollow. Tourists can easily mix with the locals, who are kind and friendly. All this makes Curacao an unusual place compared to many other destinations.
3. Curacao has the most beautiful capital, Willemstad, of the Caribbean
Picture an Amsterdam street, with narrow buildings along a canal. Now redecorate in rainbow colors, and you have an idea of what Willemstad is like. Curacao's capital is a fascinating town with centuries of history, first class photo ops, and a charmingly odd pontoon footbridge that hinges open to let boats into the St. Anna Bay.
It's worthwhile for any family to explore the fascinating city center, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the Otrobanda site, west of the St. Anna Bay, it has the Kura Hulanda Museum, which traces the history of the slave trade in this area, the Rif Fort, originally used as a defense for the harbor entry and now housing shops and restaurants, and the Curacao Museum located in a renovated 1853 hospital.
In Punda, at the other side of the St. Anna Bay, you'll find the Western Hemisphere's oldest synagogue (1732), the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum (attached to the synagogue), the Curacao Maritime Museum with its unique maps, charts, and nautical equipment, and Fort Amsterdam, now used as the governor's home.
Of course we have much more information on Willemstad, which can be found in our blog post 'The best of Curacao in 7 days' (day 3) and 'The story behind Willemstads colorful buildings'.
4. Curacao's beaches are its best-kept secret.
Unlike most other Caribbean islands, Curacao does not have long stretched beaches. Curacao's beaches are smaller beaches, secluded between limestone cliffs. The nicest beaches are found on the west side of the island.
Most of Curacaos visitors don't know much about the beaches and therefore, tend to go to the most advertised beaches, which are not always the nicest beaches. That's why we have a blog post 'Curacao's beaches ......its best kept secret'. This blog post describes 14 out of Curacao's 38 beaches. If you are interested to learn more about the other 24 beaches, let us know!
Your family won't get bored on the Curacao beaches, there are plenty of water activities for sports enthusiasts who can’t sit still. See our blog post 'Top 10 tips for water activities in Curacao'.
5. Curacao is constantly ranked among the world’s best diving spots!
I'm not sure if your family likes diving. If yes, you should definitely put Curacao on your bucket list. While so many diving destinations require boat trips out to barrier reefs, almost all of the diving & snorkeling on Curacao is easily accessed from beaches.
Enjoy more than 60 dive sites, underwater visibility to 100 feet, mild currents, lush coral gardens, protected reefs, walls, wrecks, and shore dive options.
In case some of the family don't dive, no worries, there are also great snorkeling opportunities in Curacao, where you will encounter many fishes and find healthy coral reefs in the crystal clear water.
More information can be found in our blog post 'Curacao's underwater world easily accessed from the beach'.
6. Curacao has two wonderful National Parks
Curacao is not only about sun, sea and sand. If your family loves nature, a visit to the two National Parks of Curacao, Christoffel and Shete Boka, is a must and a great way to explore the variety of flora and fauna of Curacao.
The heart of the Christoffel National Park is the 1,230 ft. high Mt. Christoffel, the highest point on the island. There are plenty of things to do including; visiting the museum at the visitors center, the former plantation house Landhuis Savonet; exploring caves; 8 hiking trails, from easy to difficult, with one of them going to the top of the mountain. You can access the park with you own car, go on a safari in a pickup car, or explore the park on a mountain bike. Of course, it’s also possible to go around with a park ranger, which will make the wildlife spotting significantly easier.
For more information on climbing Mt. Christoffel, see our blog post: 'The best of Curacao in 7 days '(day 5).
Shete Boka National Park is adjacent to the Christoffel Park and is located along the north coast of Curacao. Shete Boka literally means “Seven Inlets”. These inlets are located on the rough northern coastline of Curacao and are formed by an eternal game between water and wind. Officially, the park has not 7 but 10 inlets and all of them offer a different kind of natural attraction to its visitors. The Bays of the National Park Shete Boka on Curacao are protected nesting areas for turtles. The park has two hiking trails; both routes are about an hour walk and will guide you to the best parts of the national park.
7. Curacaos rich history comes alive in the stunning architecture to be seen all across the island
The Dutch West India Company (WIC) took possession of Curacao in 1634 and brought with it commerce, trading, and slavery.
Many Dutch colonists and Jewish settlers became wealthy and built impressive colonial buildings blending Dutch and Spanish colonial styles.
Plantation houses and West African style houses (former slave dwellings) are scattered all over the island. About 55 of these plantation houses can still be found, and many have been restored and can be visited.
Forts were also erected to protect the deep harbor and ports. Eight of these forts still remain, including Fort Amsterdam, Rif Fort, Fort Beekenburg, and Fort Nassau in Willemstad, the latter which resides on a hill overlooking the city, making it a great spot to enjoy outstanding views.
8. Taste from Curacaos 'melting pot'
It is certain that your family will never go hungry while visiting Curaçao. The island has so many different styles of cuisines with culinary influences from around the world that anyone is sure to find yummy dishes to satisfy their particular tastes. The island's culturally diverse restaurants range from sophisticated and expensive to cheap and tasty street vendors.
Restaurants on the island serve authentic Curaçaon dishes as well as some of the same foods that you can find in other countries like the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, and Indonesia, just to name a few. Where you decide to eat will probably be based on what you have a taste for at the time. Many of our guests like to experience the culture of the island and sample some of the local cuisines, which are a combination of international dishes with a local flair.
9. There are lots of other things to do on Curacao
In case your family is super active and the above will not fill your vacation days, there are many other things to do:
visit Curacao's Sea Aquarium and swim with the dolphins;
take a walking tour and listen to stories of days gone by in the Hato Caves;
plan an off the beaten path tour of the island on a mountain bike or go horseback riding;
enjoy Curacaos annual festivals and events, such as the carnival, salsa tours, drag racing, the regatta, or Curacao North Sea Jazz;
watch the flamingos;
visit Curacaos many talented artists and art Galleries to view and/or purchase some of their handiwork;
taste Curacaos genuine Blue Curacao liqueur at Landhuis Chobolobo;
learn about the healing powers of Aloe Vera at Curacaos Aloe Vera Plantation;
or visit the Curacao Ostrich Farm and take the opportunity to meet these fascinating birds up-close and personal.
These 9 reasons should help in the decision making process for Matt's mom. There are many more reason that would answer her dilemna, but I can't list them all here.
Perhaps the final sentence of our above reviewers tells it all: "Thanks to both for a wonderful and unique Curacao experience!"
Interested in staying with us? Contact us for information about our oceanfront villa, one of the nicest Curacao vacation rentals.
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