Wowed by Curacao - Page 5

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Patio view from Lodge Kura Hulanda, Curacao
JUST YOU AND THE IGUANAS: A view from Lodge Kura Hulanda  (Nathan Borchelt)

For a classic sun-and-sand vacation, stay in one of the beachfront resorts on the west end of the island, where iguanas might outnumber people and beautiful beaches abound. For a more cultural/historical vacation, stay in or around Willemstad (which is only 10 minutes away from several lovely beaches). It's 35 minutes between the two districts.

Lodge Kura Hulanda & Beach Club
Style: African-themed beachside resort
Location: The west end
Accommodations: 42 simple and stylish guest rooms, 32 spacious suites
Rates: From $185 in low season ($325 high)
Amenities: Beach and pool; two restaurants, waterfront bar, grill and sunset lounge; dive shop; fitness centers; open-air spa pavilion; all-inclusive option
Contact: 877-264-3106

Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino
Style: A Dutch colonial village come to life
Location: In the Otrabanda district of Willemstad
Accommodations: 80 elegant rooms in restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings
Rates: From $200 in low season ($325 high)
Amenities: Three restaurants, courtyard café and cocktail lounge; casino; two swimming pools and shuttle service to nearby Blue Bay beach; fitness center; spa; sculpture gardens. Packages invite stays split between Hotel Kura Hulanda and Lodge Kura Hulanda.
Contact: 877-264-3106

Floris Suite Hotel
Style: Modern and minimal
Location: Piscadera Bay, just outside Willemstad
Accommodations: 71 "neo-colonial" suites splashed with color
Rates: From $150 in low season ($250 high)
Amenities: Elegant restaurant; fitness center; full kitchens; pool; five-minute walk to private beach and beachfront restaurant
Contact: 5999-4626111

Setting: A rustic country kitchen in Westpunt
Cuisine: Local specialties
Recommendations: Iguana soup; stewed fish with funchi (polenta); stewed shrimp
Price: Entrées from $18
Contact: 5999-8640126

Awa Di Playa
Setting: Rustic local hangout on
Piscadera Bay
Cuisine: Seafood and local favorites
Recommendations: Awa di playa ("beach water"), the peppery fish soup for which the restaurant is named
Price: Entrées from $10
Contact: 5999-4626939

Bistro Le Clochard
Setting: Romantic with a capital R, in Otrabanda's historic Rif Fort
Cuisine: Swiss and French
Recommendations: Escargot marinated in cognac; shrimp risotto; sautéed Dover sole; Swiss chocolate mousse
Price: Entrées from $23
Contact: 5999-4625666

Setting: Chic alfresco dining in the Floris Suite Hotel
Cuisine: Mediterranean-Caribbean
Recommendations: Carpaccio of marinated tenderloin with a flan of duck liver and green herb salad; potato-leek soup with veal and fennel; baked lamb chops with slow-cooked lentils.
Price: Entrées $18 to $31
Contact: 5999-4626111

Blues at Avila
Setting: At the end of the pier at the Avila hotel, featuring live jazz
Cuisine: Seafood
Recommendations: Koko Piska, a Caribbean coconut fish soup; Japanese quartet of sashimi; jambalaya with prawns, chorizo and chicken; watermelon "soup" with ice cream
Price: Entrées $14 to $23
Contact: 5999-4614377

Curaçao is a beach lover's delight. Among the best strands are Blue Bay, just outside Willemstad, and Westpunt and busier Cas Abou, both on the island's west end. For some of the best diving in this popular scuba destination, try Ocean Encounters at Lions Dive Resort (5999-4348888). History buffs can explore Willemstad's storied past on a guided walking tour. The island's many museums cover everything from its Jewish history to maritime culture, but don't miss the powerful and well-stocked Museum Kura Hulanda, the only slavery museum in the Caribbean (5999-4347765). Thrill seekers can fulfill a need for speed on Xtreme Tours ATV Rides (5999-7388668), and animal lovers can get up-close and personal with some very ugly creatures at Curaçao's Ostrich Farm (5999-7472777). Night life is serious business in Curaçao, and on any given night at least one hot spot will be jumping. Popular lounges include De Heeren (5999-7360491) and Omundo (5999-7388477), which feature live Latin music, and Restaurant Cinco (5999-4614545) for late-night DJ action. For listings of all the island happenings, pick up a free copy of the partygoer's Bible, Kiko Ta Kiko.

Tourist Information: 800-3CURACAO;
Documents: U.S. citizens need a passport and an onward or return ticket. Canadians may enter with photo ID.
Getting There: Hato International Airport has service from Atlanta (via Delta, connecting with more than 40 other U.S. cities); Miami (on American and Curaçao's national carrier, Insel Air); Newark (via Continental); and from Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York JFK on Air Jamaica via Montego Bay.
Dialing In: 5999 + seven-digit number
Currency: Netherlands Antillean guilder. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
Getting Around: Many hotels offer free transportation into Willemstad, and hotels in the capital usually have free beach shuttles. Taxis are readily available, or you can rent a car from well-known companies, including Budget, Avis and Alamo.

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