Adventurist, Family Travel

Get a Look at the Adventurous Side of Curaçao

When we think of “Curaçao” likely two images come to mind: a delicious blue liqueur and/or a slice of Caribbean paradise.

Curacao is the namesake of the blue liqueur and the original birthplace of it. Curaçao is also an idyllic Caribbean island surrounded by sparkling turquoise water.

Yet, unlike many other Caribbean islands, Curaçao has much to be discovered on land. That’s right, not just a pretty plot of land famous for its beaches, rather Curaçao is a pretty plot of land with incredible beaches, culture, landscape, history, and adventure.  

In fact, Curaçao doesn’t just have a few land adventures, it has tons of them.


Tour the Island
a la ATV

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortNothing beats getting down and dirty on an ATV or buggy ride. You can ride alone or with a pal. Your guide will be sure to give you the basics of ATV driving if you’ve never tried it before. Typically there will be an array of tour options, ranging from half day to full day. Also the tours are usually split up into “East” and “West” allowing you to choose which parts of the island you want to see most. Depending on which tour you choose you’ll have different stops along the way to places such as the Aloe Vera plantation, caves, incredible views, etc. This is definitely an epic way to experience the island!

Two Incredible National Parks

Every destination should have at least one national park, and for an island as small as Curaçao, it’s amazing that it has two!

  • Christoffel Park – The island’s largest national park, Christoffel features Mt. Christoffel which is the island’s tallest peak. There are a plethora of hiking trails, plants, and animals to enjoy. This is also a favorite place for bird watching,
  • Shete Boka Park – This is for explorers who prefer to be off the beaten track, so to speak. You can explore the rocky wave-exposed north coast of the island, also where three species of turtles lay their eggs. The beginning of the park is at the breathtaking Boka Tabla, a place where enormous waves crash into an underground cavern. A favorite hike here is along the limestone bluffs above the cavern, which offers excellent views of the coastline.

Amazonia – The Lost Cultures

One of the newer attractions on the island, The Amazonia Tour is quite the experience. At this attraction you will see dozens of Mayan, Aztec, and Incan sculptures, carvings, and murals. You’ll be guided on a tour that will take you across 45,000 square feet of rainforest, temple ruins, ponds and pyramids. Basically you can feel like Indiana Jones as you get a glimpse at what the cultures of South and Central America and the Caribbean might have felt like, way back when. This is certainly not your typical Caribbean island experience, which makes it that much more fascinating and fun.

Visit an Actual Ostrich Farm

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortThis is a real thing. Basically you go to the farm and get to play with Ostriches all day long. You can take a safari tour, a quad tour, and feel like you’re in a South African Caribbean dreamland.

 

Biking Adventure on Santa Barbara Plantation

As soon as you arrive at Santa Barbara Plantation, you’ll immediately understand why there is so much to explore.  The expansive 2,000 acre plantation features breathtaking rock formations, beautiful caves and caverns, stunning views, and a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Rent a bike and explore the property on your own. Or, go for our morning jog using our miles of trails. Take a guided morning hike to learn about the plantation, Curaçao, and the island’s unique eco-system.

Explore the Hato Caves

What were once used as hiding places, shelter, and art galleries, are now part of Curaçao’s right history. The Hato Caves are north of the capital – Willemstad – and are open to the public to take tours through. A really neat experience!  

Experience Curacao’s Colorful History

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortCuraçao has had quite the eventful history, and a great many cultural influences over the past few centuries. Because of that, there are ample museums to enjoy, and really neat walking tours. You can take a self-guided tour through Willemstad, Otrabanda, and Punda to get a taste of urban life and history on the island. For details on the museums and architecture of the island, visit here.

Next time you’re in Curaçao, whether it’s the first time or not, we hope you take a bit of time to explore some of these land activities!

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, nestled beachfront within 2,000 acre plantation, is the ideal destination for adventure seekers.  The resort offers guided hiking and mountain biking tours, and miles of mountain trails for guests to explore on their own.  For those who want to venture out to sea, the resort offers an on-site dive and watersports center, offering Discover SCUBA courses, boat and shore diving, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and more. Our friendly team will be happy to help answer any questions, book any tours, and make your planning process smooth sailing!  

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Travel

Exploring Curaçao Up Close and Personal – Kayak Adventures Abound

What’s the best way to explore a destination?

On foot, by car, on a horse, from a helicopter, or on the water?

The question, by default, is somewhat subjective, but it’s safe to say that it all depends on the location.

When it comes to an island, especially an island with unique and interesting coasts, then perhaps on/in the water is one of the best ways.

Way down South in the Caribbean, just North of Venezuela, lies a laid-back, colorful, and exciting little island called Curaçao.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortCuraçao is nicely settled beneath the hurricane belt, and as such, offers beautifully in tact coral reefs, tepid waters, and calm weather patterns, typically. The ideal conditions for a little fun in the sea.

Granted, there are a variety of watersports and activities that enable visitors to explore the coastline, but today we will be focusing on exploring Curaçao via kayaks.

Seriously, you can see so many fascinating and magnificent parts of Curaçao’s coast from a kayak! Because we want you to fall in love with Curaçao just as much as we have, here are a few of our favorite kayak experiences on Curaçao:

Caracas Bay

  • This beautiful bay is a spectacular kayaking spot, mostly because you can also snorkel here! This spot used to be an anchorage for ships, which means it provides just enough shelter for a variety of fish and marine life. This is a popular snorkel spot because there’s a sunken tugboat underwater. It’s easy enough to bring snorkel gear – just pack it with you in the kayak! You can also enjoy a picturesque view of an old manorial estate and Fort Beekenburg, a nicely preserved fort, originally built in 1703.

Spanish Water Lagoon

  • The largest lagoon in Curaçao, Spanish Water Lagoon is perfect for kayaking. As you make your way around the lagoon, you’ll see beautiful mangrove forests, some of which are home to birds such as “Bubi tres Kolo” and “Garza Blanku.” You’ll also pass by some of the villas of the Spanish Waters, anchored sailboats, and other water sport go-ers.

Kayak Through the Mangroves

  • Mangroves, which are a critical part of the coastal saltwater ecosystem, serve as a buffer between the sea and the land. They offer protection against erosion, manage the damage of hurricanes and tropical storms, and are home to many creatures – especially birds and fish. So, it’s truly incredible to get to see them up close, to catch glimpses of the mini-world inside the trees. There are many kayak operators that will expertly take you around the mangroves.

Kayak AND Power Snorkel

  • If you’ve never tried power snorkeling, you’re in for a real treat. The tranquil, crystal clear waters of the South Coast of the island is where many of these tours are held. You’ll be outfitted with your own “state of the art” power scooter and snorkel equipment from your instructor. Once you’re set, your guide will take you the incredible views lying just below the water’s surface. The scooter enables you to glide along as you see sea fans, coral, and a plethora of marine life.

Kayak Fishing Adventure

  • This adventure departs directly from the luxurious and tranquil Santa Barbara Resort. The guides will pack and provide all supplies – including lunch! You’ll be paddling away the day in the Spanish Waters, trying your hand at fishing. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a big barracuda, or even a tarpon. Kayaking and fishing, what more could a person want?

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortThese are just a few of our favorite excursions, but there are plenty more to be had! Each piece of Curaçao’s coast is slightly different, and kayaking is an excellent way to explore them in-depth.

For the most luxurious home base during your stay, seek out Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Experts in all things Curaçao, the friendly team at Santa Barbara will guide you to the best tour operators and experiences possible! Feel free to contact the team with any questions about your vacation! Happy planning!

Flavor Of, Like A Local

An Island, a Liqueur, and a Whole Lotta Questions

Which came first – Curaçao island or Curaçao liqueur? Trick question of course, but then again, Curaçao is a mysterious liqueur.

When it comes down to it the real deal is to be able to drink a Curaçao cocktail while relaxing on the magnificent Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Yes, that is the life.

Ok, back to business, let’s clear up some of the general confusion surrounding the enigmatic liqueur.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortFact – Curaçao came from a failed attempt of the Spanish to cultivate Valencia oranges on the island.

Fact – Curaçao is naturally colorless.

Fact – Most people associate Curaçao with the color blue.

Fact – Curaçao is made from the oil of dried orange peels, and is then mixed with secret ingredients such as certain local herbs. The oranges are peeled with wooden knives, and then the peels are left to dry.

It all started in the beginning of the 16th century, shortly after the Spanish discovered a little slice of paradise just 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast.

Eventually those industrious Spaniards decided to develop Curaçao agriculturally, and being from Spain, they began to plant Valencia oranges.

Valencia’s may grow abundantly in Spain, but they sure didn’t thrive under the sizzling sun and arid climate of Curaçao.

After no success was found, the Spanish abandoned the project, and the Valencias were left alone to grow wild and free. Apparently not even the infamous Curaçaoan goats would touch the things.

Quite some time later, it was discovered that the peels of the orange, once dried by the sun, contain etheric oils that make them fragrant.

No longer the Valencia Orange, as it had a bit of time to evolve and transform, this new orange was dubbed the “Citrus Aurantium Currassuviensis.”

Since that’s a mouth full, the locals named it “Laraha.”

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortSo, Why is it Blue?

Great question. Humans love to make things colorful, and once dye was invented, Curaçao got dyed blue somewhere down the line, and it just stuck!

In fact, Curaçao sans coloring doesn’t have too much color to it, but the coloring doesn’t affect the taste, so typically distillers give it a little color!

Blue, green, red, orange, and clear are the typical colors Curaçao is found to have. The sweet taste and pretty colors are usually why the liqueur is used in fruity tropical cocktails.

Where to Try

Of course, Curaçao can be purchased at grocery stores, or you can taste it in cocktails at any given bar or restaurant (usually), but the best place of all to taste is, of course, Curaçao island!

We recommend heading to Curacao Liqueur Factory, which is run by the family Senior & Co., and produces the ancient liqueur in the famous Landhuis Chobolobo – essentially an old plantation surrounded by the natural beauty of the island. The factory offers free tours at Landhuis which includes a complimentary tasting of the fine liqueur!

Naturally you don’t have to travel all the way to Curaçao to taste Curaçao liqueur, but we highly recommend doing so as a gift to yourself! For the utmost in luxury and convenience, book your stay at the beautiful Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. The friendly team at Santa Barbara can help you arrange your tour at the Factory, along with provide recommendations for anything and everything else you desire to see or do throughout your stay!

Bon Voyage and Cheers!

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort

 

Adventurist, Like A Local

Sing the Blues in Caribbean Paradise at BlueSeas Festival 2016

Tumba, Reggae, Calypso, Compás, Salsa, Bachata, Punta, Zouk, and too many more to name, are all incredible Caribbean music genres.

Blues though? Would anyone guess that Blues is becoming one of the most popular genres in and around the Caribbean?!

It’s true, and one island in particular is celebrating the genre BIG TIME in a few weeks, for the 2nd year in a row, and trust us, this is not an event to miss.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortCuraçao, the “C” of the ABC islands in the southwest Caribbean, is hosting a two-day, completely free, blues music festival.

The 2nd Annual Curacao International BlueSeas Festival is going to be bigger and better than last year, if that’s even possible, and yes, is seriously free.

Imagine a vacation on a Caribbean island – white sandy beaches, tepid warm ocean water, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking to panoramic views, eating, drinking and general merryness. Sounds like a dream right?

It is. Add listening to world-famous blues artists, for free, to the mix and now you’ve got an unparalleled experience waiting for you.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortFrom Friday May 6 through Saturday May 7, six stages will be built in the historical area of Pietermaai where the musicians will be performing. The genres we can expect to hear are blues, blues-rock, bluegrass, soul, and even gospel.  

Talent includes emerging artists such as the British Laurence Jones and American Samantha Fish, to well-known established artists such as Robert Randolph and The Family band and Royal Southern Brotherhood.

Headlining is none other than American music legend, singer/pianist Leon Russell, one of the most accomplished and versatile musicians to date. Russell has been in the industry for 50 years, and has worked with the likes of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John.

So what can you expect to be doing, eating, and experiencing over the course of this two-day festival you might ask?

Well, let us illuminate the answers for you!

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortDoing:

Naturally if you venture to Curaçao for this incredible festival, you’ll be listening to some stellar blues.

  • You may also be lounging on one or more of these beaches (for a little R&R in between sets).
  • Or checking out the beautiful buildings and unique architecture in and around the festival in the historic neighborhood of Pietermaai, which is known for being a cultural, raw, edgy, but also in parts luxurious neighborhood. A bit of historical Curaçao meets modern hip Curaçao.

Eating:

One of the most delicious and exciting ways to experience a new culture is through its food! Because Curaçao is a serious melting pot of cultures – think Spanish, French, British, Dutch, African, and more, the local food has influences from across the globe.

  • Keshi Yena, a local dish of cheese stuffed with meat. Often times the cheese is gouda, and is commonly stuffed with spiced chicken, onion, olives, capers, and tomatoes.
  • Okra Soup, this yummy soup is made with the green okra vegetable, which is boiled and then mixed with fish and salted meat. Similar to American gumbo.
  • Pastechi, a delicious pastry stuffed with chicken, cheese, tuna, or minced meat, and typically eaten for breakfast.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf ResortExperiencing:

Well that’s simple – the sights, sounds, and activities of everyday life in Curaçao! Plus a plethora of Blues artists! For your time before and/or after the festival, here are a few fan-favorite Curaçao activities:

  • Scuba Diving, whether you’re a seasoned diver, or a beginner, Curaçao boats some of the most spectacular diving spots in the Caribbean.
  • Ostrich Farm, this is a real thing. Not sure how this ended up on the island, but regardless everyone is guaranteed a good, and hilarious, time.
  • Hiking, one of the best ways to get a solid feel for the island, not to mention ahh-mazing views, there’s a variety of hikes in size and scope you can try out, visit here for more information.

Do your inner blues afficionado a favor and find your way by plane, boat, private jet, yacht, or any other way you can discover, to Curaçao for the epic 2nd Annual Curacao International BlueSeas Festival. Two days might not seem long enough for some fun in the sun, which is why we always recommend arriving before, or staying after, to continue enjoying the delights our beautiful island has to offer.

For your accommodation needs, book your stay at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort – a perfect blend of luxury and culture, while being secluded yet centrally located to all the islands attractions. Happy festing!

Family Travel, Like A Local

A Holiday Dressed in Orange, Fit for Kings, and Filled With Bargains: Koningsdag 2016

Koningsdag, also known as “King’s Day” is not your average holiday. Not that there’s anything remotely average about the colorful Dutch island of Curaçao.

For those new to the culture of Curaçao, King’s Day is not simply just a day to honor the King of the Netherlands birthday, oh no, it’s a day to swim in a sea of orange, find the best bargain on anything and everything, and party your heart out.

Adventurist, Health & Wellness, Luxury Travel

Cleanse the Spirit and Detach From Everyday Life on the Idyllic Island of Curaçao

April showers bring May flowers. Ah, Spring, that time of year where everything begins to feel like a breath of fresh air.

A season filled with the energies of renewal and rebirth, a clean slate to begin again. Finally the weather permits windows and doors to be opened, a chance to let out the stuffiness of Winter, to clean out the clutter, and invite sunshine and happiness inside.

Adventurist, Family Travel, Health & Wellness

This Caribbean Gem Has Enough Culture and Excitement For the Entire Family

Imagine, a blissfully isolated island, piña colada in your hand, and nothing on the agenda except relaxing under the sun, and listening to waves roll in. Sound like paradise?

It might for some, and for others that might sound boring. The point is, everyone’s ideal vacation is different, and trying to find a destination that fits the needs of all, can be challenging.

Health & Wellness, Luxury Travel

You Deserve a Spring Getaway That Will Renew Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Could your mind, body, and soul use a Spring cleaning? We don’t typically consider applying the concept of Spring cleaning to ourselves, and yet, spending some quality time clearing the clutter out of our minds, pampering our bodies, and indulging in activities that satisfy the soul, might be just what we need this Spring. Why should our houses, cars, and offices get all the love? Send some of that Spring cleaning gusto to yourselves!

Adventurist, Luxury Travel, Romance

Paradise Awaits: Honeymoon Planning Tips to Keep You on Track

A week or two spent in blissful newlywed-ed paradise is about the closest thing to shangri-la most of us will ever get on this planet. From the first steps over the threshold, through the remaining days of fun in the sun, your honeymoon will be unforgettable.