The Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao is recognized worldwide for its rich history, diverse culture, colorful architecture, and lively locals. With travelers now more than ever seeking memorable encounters and cultural immersions, the island is poised to become a trending destination in 2022 and beyond. Speaking to the island’s culture of creativity and inspired action, an impressive new roster of restaurants, craft cocktail lounges, nightlife venues, art workshops, immersive food encounters, and new hotels and resorts are introducing more ways to experience life in Curaçao.
“The appeal of Curaçao is that its experiences, its restaurants, its art scene – it’s all put in place for anyone to enjoy, not specifically with tourism in mind. There’s not a ‘tourist area’ of the island where you’ll find restaurants developed with a North American traveler in mind or specific beaches where tourists are encouraged to go. Rather, guests of the island are welcomed to experience it in the same way any of our residents do,” commented Rebecca Marval, Curaçao Tourist Board Marketing Director. “Join a workshop, sit down at a bar, or visit one of our 35+ beaches and you’ll find yourself in conversation with a Curaçaoan on one side of you, an expat on the other, and a Dutch tourist behind you. It’s the beauty of Curacao – everyone exists together, and tourists aren’t pandered to. They’re brought into the destination.”
Below are some of the newer experiences to be discovered:
Foodies Rejoice with New Restaurants and Immersive Experiences
With more than 55 nationalities on the island, Curaçao is recognized for its diversity and multicultural food scene. Not only can travelers enjoy traditional Caribbean and island fare, but also enjoy new, fine dining options and elevated European cuisine, as well as a unique mix of food influenced by the destination’s proximity to South American and Latin cultures.
New restaurants have opened in Curaçao, providing travelers with noteworthy options like Bario Urban Street Food – a colorful and unique outdoor food court located in the artsy and mural-filled neighborhood of Otrobanda. Part of Bario hotel, the food stands, and plaza is made of shipping containers and food stalls, including Lionfish and Mangoes, which specializes in sustainable dining, bringing travelers the opportunity to taste the unique fish in inventive ways – from quesadillas to tartare. Travelers seeking a locally trendy dining experience should head to the island’s first gastropub, BKLYN, which offers sharable food like jackfruit bao buns and cocktails in a lively setting with 90’s hip hop headlining the soundtrack. While the island is known for its Blue Curaçao, never has it been blended into cuisine, until the opening of Ceviche 91. Located in the historic Rif Fort overlooking the ocean and the iconic Queen Emma floating bridge, Ceviche 91 is home to the world’s first Blue Curaçao Ceviche, made with local fresh seafood and iconic liquor. Other delectable new restaurants include SAL The Kitchen, which stands for “salt” in Spanish and celebrates the fact that the walls of the restaurant, and specifically the kitchen, were built out of coral, Serafina – the island’s quintessential Italian restaurant with a dreamy patio and handmade pasta, and the lively OBaAR Brazilian Lounge which offers South American cuisine. When it comes to casual dining, travelers can enjoy the new De Broeders (Two Brothers) Café located in the heart of Willemstad that offers local cuisine with a modern twist, or Bliss the Berry, the new breakfast and lunch option in Mambo Beach known for fresh, tropical smoothie bowls.
Balancing out these new and modern options are immersive experiences that focus on highlighting ancestral cooking techniques and true Curaçaoan flavors. Vittle Art is a new bespoke cooking workshop that takes place in the cacti-filled countryside and focuses on generations-old techniques. Participants forage local and wild ingredients like vegetables, herbs, and plants, that are grown on the property’s grounds and then learn how to create local dishes from scratch. A group lunch is enjoyed in a bohemian setting overlooking the hills and desert-like landscape. Further connecting guests with Curaçao’s history, the Pan Sera breadmaking workshop at Kas di Pal’i Maishi serves as a window into the daily routines of the rural population from 130 years ago. Small groups learn how to make traditional bread with resourceful tools, then enjoy an al fresco lunch, pairing their creations with traditional stews.
Nightlife Makes a Comeback
The popular, walkable district of Pietermaai, known for its boutique hotels, small shops, cozy cafes, and nightlife scene, is back in full swing. With its picturesque and pastel-colored buildings and a street donned with sparkling lights, Pietermaai is the quintessential Curaçaoan experience. Here travelers will enjoy the island’s first mixology-focused craft cocktail lounge, Ochenta Cocktail Bar; the lively and social Mr. Porter Cafe; and the iconic Cuban-inspired Mundo Bizarro Restaurant and Lounge. No night out in Curaçao is complete without a visit to “Truk’i Pans” or food trucks, with the local favorite being BBQ Express, offering BBQ meats and french fry combo plates topped with flavors like local peanut sauce.