We did the East/West Island tour and the Beach Hopping tour with Atcief. Both were very good tours. The Island tour only had us and one other couple. The Beach Hopping Tour was the same, but the other couple only did the half day and we did the full day, so during the tour a taxi came and picked them up and then we were on our own with the guide. Very nice. The Island Tour took us to Spanish Waters, drove through Punda and Ontrabanda, the Curacao Liquor factory, Boca Tabla and Grote Knip for swimming.
The Beach Hopping tour went to Playa Daaibooi, Cas Abao, Playa Lagun, Playa Forti and the Natural Jacuzzi. The beaches and water were lovely, but we found the water not a clear or the snorkeling as great as we expected or what we have read about. The sand is white, but full of rocks and coral. To get in and out of the water at the beaches there is lots of coral to go through. Water shoes were a must. Including the beach at the Lions Dive. The best snorkeling was at Playa Lagun. I did get stung by a jelly fish at Cas Abao. It didn’t hurt for long, but left a huge red mark. This was our first trip ever to get stung.
One of the best activities we did was the Animal Encounter Scuba Dive at the Sea Aquarium. The Sea Aquarium is within walking distance of the Lions Dive and staying at the Lions Dive we got free entrance. We have never scuba dived before and thought this was really great. The dive instructor and his staff were just wonderful in helping us learn how to use the equipment and with the actual dive. There were a nice variety of fish, sharks, turtles, sting rays and dolphins to see. DH did very well and was able to stay down for the entire dive. I was more apprehensive than I thought I would be and had some claustrophobia issues. The dive master was great and very patient in getting me comfortable in staying under water so I could participate in the fish feeding, but was readily available when I wanted to go back on the surface. They took a variety of pictures of the dive. 79 to be exact. DH is in most of them. They burned the pictures into a disc for $45. I thought it was well worth it. The only negative is that the water was not all that clear. However, it was a great experience and I would recommend this activity to anyone. We were glad to get to try scuba diving especially in such a controlled environment, but I don’t think its something we would rush out and do again on future vacations. Since there are so many pictures, I set up a separate book on our picture site just for this activity at:
We also did a evening tour and beach dinner with Caribbean Bayside. They took us to an area in which we had great views of the town below, a fresh fruit market and Ft. Nassau. We then went to the Avila Beach Hotel and had a nice dinner on the beach catered by the Blues restaurant. The food was good and we enjoyed the experience. We brought along 2 bottles of Champagne that we purchased and had them with dinner. The Avila Beach Hotel is very nice and their beach is great.
We also booked an Aqua Boat tour with Adrenaline Tours. We were very disappointed in this tour as what we booked and what we got were two different things. We booked the 2 ½ hour Aqua Boat Tour with snorkeling, but got the 1 hour jet ski tour with no snorkeling for the same price. We were supposed to be picked up at our hotel at 8:30am. By 9:00am no one had showed up, so the front desk personnel called them for us. They had no idea who we were or a record of our reservation that I had booked on-line in April even though I had an e-mail confirmation. They did end up sending a cab for us at 10:15am. Once we got to the office, we discovered there are no aqua boats. They only had 4 jet skis in use. I didn’t want the jet skis, but something bigger, but I was assured that we would get to go to the Tug Boat for snorkeling. They then tried to charge me $205 for the tour, but I had a credit card confirmation for $145 plus $10 for pickup service. My gut instant told me to call the whole thing off, but it was our last day on the Island and we really wanted to snorkel at the Tug Boat, so we went ahead. While attempting to get on the jet ski, it moved away from the dock and I ended up falling into the water. In doing so, I pulled the hamstring and groin muscles in my right leg and bruised the back of my right arm, but I’m OK though it hurt pretty bad and still does. I finally got on the jet ski and we are off. The water was very choppy and rough. DH was having a hard time driving as the water continually kept slapping him in the face, but he did very well. We were taken over to Spanish Waters to see all the waterfront homes. When we took a break, we were told that since it would be too difficult for us to climb back on the jet ski in open water, then we wouldn’t be taken to the Tug Boat for snorkeling. I was very upset. This is why I wanted the Aqua Boats. They are bigger and easier to get into. We’ve done them before in Grand Cayman and had no problem snorkeling and getting on and off or them. I didn’t appreciate the way this tour was handled and thought they could be a little more forthcoming with information before we booked this tour and took our money. Like there are really no aqua boats and that that we are too old and out of shape for jet skies. In hind sight, since what we really wanted was to snorkel at the Tug Boat, we should have just booked a catamaran trip that specifically went there.
Shopping - We spent one morning in Punda shopping. We found the stores to be very nice. Not too many tourist shops, but nice clothing stores, linen shops and department type stores. We purchased several linens, as I bought many for this years Christmas gifts. Found many nice clothes I would love to buy, and finally, shops that carry plus sizes. I only bought one nice top with lace cut-out designs. Also bought two wall hanging tapestries that will need to be framed. We went to the fish/fruit/veggie market. It was interesting to see. The shops in town were fixed prices and there was one area where we bought the paintings were we could do some haggling. No pushy street vendors or time share people. There was one older man, who tried to adopt us and get us to buy him food and beer, but we firmly told him no and he finally went away.
Overall, we enjoyed our trip and thought Curacao was quite charming, but it didn’t live up to our expectations with regards to dining out, snorkeling or water clarity that we have read so much about. Restaurants are not centrally located, but all over the Island and a car, taxi or a more convenient bus system was needed in order to get to them. I’m sure diving is better than snorkeling, but we found better snorkeling and clearer water on Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Turks and Caicos. The housing, people and living conditions reminded us a lot of Jamaica. Though the Island is desert like, it is much more lush than Aruba. We prefer Aruba over Curacao and are looking forward to a return trip to Aruba in the near future.
Our pictures are located at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
Next sailing: Alaska Inside Passage on the Golden Princess-September 2011
Our Vacation Pictures:
Carnival Carnivale - 1980
Carnival Victory - 4/2002
Star Princess - 4/2007
Golden Princess 9/2011
Cozumel 7-2000, 4-2002, 4-2007, 12-2009
Playa Del Carmen 8-2001, 9-2007, 12-2010
Las Vegas x 10
Cancun 11-2002, 4-2008
Maui/Oahu, HI 2-2003
Sandals Royal Bahamian 9-2003
Grand Cayman 11-2003 & 4-2007
New Orleans 11-2004, 4-2013, 12-2014
St. Thomas/St. John, USVI and BVI 5-2005
Sandals Grande St. Lucia 11-2005
Turks and Caicos 5-2006
RIU Tropical Bay - Negril, Jamaica 11-2006
Star Princess Western Caribbean Cruise 4-2007
Puerto Vallarta 12-2007
Isla Mujeres, MX 11-2008
Key West, FL 7-2010
Seattle, WA & Golden Princess Alaska Cruise 9-2011
Ochi Rios, Jamaica 11-2011
Cabo San Lucas 12-2012
Puerto Morelos, MX 5- 2014
Puerto Rico 5-2015
Ft. Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin, FL 10-2015
Savannah, GA 6-2016
St. Augustine, FL 12-2016