Hello Curacao - When travel doesn’t go to plan

Steffanie van Twuijver


April 5, 2022 4:38 AM

It was time for a new continent – and South America is where we are headed. However, we decided to first have a little 2-week stop at tropical wonderland Curaçao. Now let me tell you beforehand – this is not the positive-vibed happy go lucky travel blog you might be looking for, as Curacaosimply turned out to be nothing like we expected, and everything we do not like. So, strap in, buckle up, let’s talk about when travel doesn’t go to plan.


Hotel scams

We arrived in Curaçao around 6 in the evening, and after some haggling with the local taxis, we finally found a kind lady who was happy to bring us to our Airbnb as long as Olive stayed in her crate. This was the first sign of a stay that didn’t go as smoothly as we expected – up until now we have had it so easy when it comes to finding dog friendly places, but Curaçao did not seem to make that list.

The drive to Dolfijnstraat 12 was about 30 minutes or so, and this lady was BOOKING it – honking her horn, racing through potholes – she was on a mission. We didn’t mind, as honestly, we were WRECKED and needed a goodnight sleep!

When we arrived at our Airbnb, we were a little confused –the place looked like a person’s house, and the Airbnb listing said we would have the place to ourselves. We could clearly see this was the same place as the listing we booked, but the lady who lived there claimed otherwise.

We were told there was no Airbnb here, and our taxi driver told us that there is a big issue with scams like this on the Island. So, we hopped back into the taxi, not really knowing what to do. We had no place to stay, and the island was very not dog friendly, meaning there wasn’t any hotel that was happy to take us on.

City center save and grace

The only place I could find within our budget was a casino-hotel combo situation that didn’t say anything about being dog-friendly or not – so we headed to San Marco hotel regardless, and I pulled Olive’s Emotional Support Dog vest out of our luggage. No - I do not advise anyone doing anything like this, I’m not a fan of telling people about her being an ESA, and rather just find places that are dog friendly instead, however at this stage it was 7.30 at night, and we were so lost – so we pulled the ESA-card out. And San Marco accommodated brilliantly, after some haggling that is.

We ended up staying at the Santa Marco hotel in the middle of city center – overall, it was okay. The hotel did not have a kitchen, which was a bit of an issue for us as eating out in Curaçao is SO EXPENSIVE. However, we found some good places to eat, and the rest was fine. The staff was absolutely lovely, kind, accommodating, and joyful.

What we noticed about the center of Willemstad, however, was that it was more of a touristy façade than anything else. Stores were not owned by locals, boatloads of cruise-tourists crowded the streets during the day, and it made it feel a little like a Disney Park to us. It was just all so… Fake. We spoke to some local dudes who quite frankly felt the same way, they explained to us how they think that due to their colonized history a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit went lost through the generations. Children, Parents, Grandparents, none of them were taught or helped to set up shops, run businesses, and grab opportunities, and before they knew it all was owned by big chain hotels and resorts.

Out of town – out of mind

After a few days in the city center, we relocated to a small Airbnb near Santa Rosa – and we loved our location. The owner of the house, Siegfried, was the kindest man ever, and was kind enough to drive us to our 3d day covid test and back, as well as anywhere we wanted to go. There was a supermarket around the corner, plenty of walks nearby, a coffee place on walking distance, and some decent affordable restaurants. (The one thing everyone should eat when visiting the ABC islands – “Chinese” fried rice, SO GOOD!)

Now mind you, it wasn’t the blue seas and beaches we expected, but it was a great spot. We were lucky enough that one of my dear friends, Anne, was in Curaçao at the same time we were, and thanks to her, we were able to see some better sides of Curaçao like the beach, some great restaurants, and east point.

The verdict

As you might understand from the previous paragraphs – Curaçao simply wasn’t for us. Overall, the local people are amazing, the local food is great, however most of the island seems to be taken over by tourists, cruise ships, big resorts and hotel chains, and it is very expensive. If you want an all-inclusive holiday where you can just read some books and chill at the beach resort, Curaçao is great. But for the adventure travelers or people that want to have more local experiences, I would not recommend going to Curaçao.

Written by:

Steffanie van Twuijver

Just your quintessential dog mom millennial trying to make a living while travelling the world with her dog.

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