Caribbean

Curaçao: Happy Island

What’s there to say about this tiny little island? I know Aruba is considered to be the “Happy Island”, but I really think that Curaçao can give it a run for its money.

When you get to this island you can’t help to be in good spirits. Aside from the obvious sunshine and beautiful ocean, the people are unbelievably welcoming. Everyone has a smile on their face and they all seem truly happy with small-island living. The people of Curaçao are friendly, willing to help and are just genuinely nice. When was the last time you met genuinely nice people?

Although I recommend spending a limited time here, I definitely do think it’s worth the visit. Here’s what to do if you visit Willemstad:

Handelskade – It’s the harbor front street that is lined with brightly painted 18th century buildings. They are homes to cafes, art galleries and small boutiques. These houses are a true reflection of this small island culture.

Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge – aka The Swinging Old Lady. This bridge separates the two halves of the city and is one of the busiest ports. As you walk on this port, you can see the multiple colorful homes lined up. It just sets the stage for this wonderful island.

Queen Jillian Bridge – If you’re afraid of heights you may want to bow out of this. I don’t know too much about infrastructure, but this bridge offers a bird’s eye view to the town parts of Punda and Otrobanda. The bridge is narrow, so don’t get out for a photo….it’s just plain old dangerous!

Riffort Village – A waterfront entertainment and shopping area. You can’t ask for much more on a small island!

Hato Caves – if you seek adventure, this is where to go. Visit the old coral reefs and enjoy this walking tour. Beware of bats, they just love to hang out with regular folk.

Dolphin Academy – Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit, but this Academy offers the opportunity to hang out with dolphins in a natural setting. Why not give it a try?

Like many islands, you are limited with what you can do here. If I can leave you with one reason to visit Curaçao, it’s the people. The energy and the happiness. It really is incredible.

Happy travels!

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Bahama Mama

Just returned from a quick visit to the Bahamas and I must say it is spectacular. I’ve always wanted to go, and I thought I would make it out there a lot sooner, but it was totally worth the wait! I flew in from Miami, which was awesome (not to worry, a separate blog will be dedicated to this incredible city!) and jumped on a 3-day cruise. (Told you, I love cruising, best way to travel!) So let’s begin! Like Aruba, Bahamas is one of those Caribbean countries where safety is not an issue. I felt comfortable walking freely along the streets of Nassau and didn’t feel at all threatened. In fact, Bahamians are actually very pleasant and friendly. Everyone is quick to “welcome” you to their home.

So what’s there to do? Well, a lot considering how small this 700-island country is. Let’s start with Nassau, as I would imagine if you go to Bahamas, this is where you will stay:

1.     Visit Atlantis – INSANITY! I mean it, this hotel is huge. If you aren’t staying here, you will have to buy a day pass.

  • Purchase a day Pass – depending on what you would like do, there are different entrance fee’s you can pay. Make sure to read over what you have access to before making the big purchase! I would recommend the day pass that gives you access to everything from aquariums, pools, beaches and lunch.
  • Aquarium – It’s pretty awesome that these sea creatures basically live in the hotel. The stingrays are massive and the fish are exotic.
  • Go to the beach – There are several beaches at the Atlantis (Cove Beach, Atlantis, West Beach) that stretch out for miles and surround the hotel.
  • Rapid River – On your own or with a partner, you can grab from the many available floats. Sometimes it’s relaxing, sometimes you’re getting sprayed with water and occasionally you ride through rapids. Super fun, and it takes about 35 minutes to get all the way back to the start.
  • Konche Fritters – Like I’ve said in many posts, I’m a total foody! A local dish in the Bahamas are deep-fried Konche fritters. I won’t disclose the calorie count, but it’s totally worth it!
  • Diamonds? – If you’re looking for jewelry, make your way to Diamonds International. Great deals for 1/3 of the price you would pay back home.

2.     Private Island Access – Again, one of the many reasons why I love to cruise. Ships normally own their own island in the Bahamas. In my case, I went to Great Stirrup Cay…which is completely amazing. First of all, only our ship was on this island, so there were plenty of beach chairs to choose from.

  • The beach – easily accessible and the turquoise water runs for miles
  • Activities –  beach volleyball, waterslide and shopping for souvenirs are just a few options of things to do while on this island
  • Buffet – all access, all day. Eat, tan, swim and then repeat!
  • Water Sports – for a small fee you can go scuba diving, parasailing, snorkeling….and remember, it’s only the cruise ship here, so there is plenty of space!

Bahamas will definitely be on my “must repeat” list. It’s a wonderful island that is a bit more civilized and safe. If you can add it to your bucket list then I suggest you do it soon.

Until next time!

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Aruba: Bon Bini

“Bon Bini” really sums up the island of Aruba. From the moment you step foot onto this wonderful little island, you feel the warm spirit of the island.

Finishing my Yard!I have visited this island twice, and I’m sure I will return at some point again…in fact it would be a shame if I didn’t. My first experience in Aruba, was a short one. It was part of a cruise stop, and I was really forced to explore this island in fast forward. The second time, I stayed for a week, and I really took the time to explore this beautiful island.

For anyone who is used to the typical all-inclusive holiday, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Aruba.  The pro’s are there is so much to do in comparison to other Caribbean islands.  There is a variety of restaurants, casinos, night life, beautiful white sandy beach, and plenty of activities.  The con’s, there are limited amounts of “all-inclusive” hotels, so if you’re looking for a cheap vacation, then I would warn you to stay away from Aruba.

So what’s there to do? Tons!

  • Shopping: Take a bus (yes, it’s safe!) into downtown. For a little island, there is actually a lot you can buy. Jewelry is less expensive, there are clothing stores and a row of stands and kiosks that sell souvenirs and keepsakes.
  • Senor Frogs: You want nightlife, well where else can you drink a yard, and be part of a conga line where you get shots of free tequila poured down your throat? Tons of fun!
  • ATV: if nothing else, go ATVing through the island. It’s a quick and fun way to explore all that this island has to offer. You go through the beaches, the mountains and if you’re tour guide lets you, ask him to take you to the Springs! It’s unbelievable after a long day in the sun!
  • Hotel: I’ve heard great reviews about a lot of hotels. From experience, I’m recommend the Hyatt. It’s beautiful, has a onsite casino, is right on the strip and backs on to a wonderful beach. Did I mention there’s a waterslide? You really can’t expect much more from any hotel!
  • Restaurants: Half the fun of not staying at an all inclusive, is you’re forced to leave your resort. The Hyatt has a number of restaurants on premise, but don’t limit yourself. Go to Texas de Brazil or El Gaucho…trust me, you will not regret it!
  • Water: Besides miles of white sandy beaches, rent a seadoo or get a bunch of friends and do the banana boat! It’s a great way to keep active, and still tan!

I’ve been to a number of islands, but have to say that Aruba is one of my favourites. If you ever feel the need to take a week for some fun in the sun, I would not hesitate to recommend this wonderful island.

Happy travels!

Categories: Caribbean | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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