We had a 10-day stay in Curacao... little island down by Aruba and Bonaire, located about 15 miles from the coast of South America. We stayeed at the Breezes Resort - 7 days is long enough - 10 days was too much. The Resort was very nice and our 10-day stay ran about $3400.00 - not bad for an all-inclusive. The beaches was beautiful however the island is very dead-looking, no lush gardens except those tended to at the resorts. Mostly cactus all around. If you take a drive around the island do so only during daylight... stay in at your resort in the evenings or venture out at your own risk. I would highly suggest the Bounty sailboat day trip. It stops twice during the 4-5 hour trip for snorkeling and BBQ and drinks are included in the price of the sail. Beautiful
beaches and great views all around. Shopping in Willemstadt is a must - we bought each other rings while there and they were reasonably priced. I booked the trip through aa.com (American Airlines).
I agree with pretty much everything you've said, but you've missed out a little point about Curacao. Its a property hot spot - and I mean in a more global sense than simply in the Caribbean. The key to the property market is to make sure you get there before the media does - then your set.
Also its actually over 60 miles rom Venezuela. Aruba is approximately 15 miles from the coast.
We thought Curacao was absolutely perfect. We also stayed at the Breezes Resort & Spa at Willemstad for 10 days, though we paid a total of 3,400 for 10 days, including our airfair all the way from Seattle, WA. We went with friends, group of 20, so received discounted group rate. The resort was very clean, staff was friendly & very helpful at all times (rooms cleaned daily top to bottom), food was great and we found it available 24-7 either at the buffet, restaurants (by reservation), poolside grills & even snack packs in the middle of the night & leftovers at the buffet, drinks (alcohol & non-alcohol) were great too. All the snorkeling, one dive per person per day w/equipment (shore dives only), kayaking, hobie cat, paddle toys, windsurfing stuff was all free with the all-inclusive price at resort. We had an oceanfront room that stepped out onto a patio and right onto the beach, other sliding door stepped out into pool area/bar & grill. Rooms were clean, with air-cond., king bed and everything we needed was available with no problems. No theft probs. either, housekeep even found a lost bracelet under curtains and laid it on bedside table for me to find later (I hadn't realized I lost it!).
The white sandy beaches, gorgeous landscape, birds, turtles, hammocks, thatched umbrellas and buildings with comfortable lounge chairs were plentiful and very relaxing. The entertainment was really fun every evening---circus, dancers, dancing and knowledge contests, skits and shows at supper--very well done.
We did rent a car (reasonable charge of 59.00 for 24-hours on mid-size car) and explored the island for a day and evening. We felt entirely safe the whole day and night, though we didn't go to the city at night. The drivers in the city were a little reckless, but no more than rush hour in Seattle! The drive around the island we found a private beach for a skinny dip and a little alone time, old plantation houses were beautiful, flamingos at the Salt Flats, visited a couple old forts and found the other end of the island to be very different than at Breezes. At Breezes the sea is calm, lots of diving and snorkeling areas with easy shore access, but the other side offered stunning views of rocky cliffs with crashing, spraying waves. The best area was Boka Pistol---amazing how the waves rush into a keyhole like area in the rocks and it sounds like a pistol going off as they spray hundreds of feet into the air! The cave there with the waves coming into it was also a sight to see. Clear, aqua-blue waters were just gorgeous all around the island.
My husband found the diving to be great. He went next door to the Breezes Resort to a little dive shop and found a couple new friends (the owners) and buddied up with them for several day dives, which he thoroughly enjoyed and saw plenty of marine life. The Breezes Resort is next to the aquarium (which was alright, but wouldn't visit it twice), but he liked diving the underground national park area by the resort. The resort also offered the free crash-course style dive lessons for those who are not certified with our package deal.
I found there was a lot to see both on land and in the water and plenty of fun, friendly people. I spent one afternoon shopping in Punda/Ostrabanda (spellings?) and enjoyed watching the floating bridge between the two cities, the floating market with its Venezuela boat/produce vendors and the wonderful colors of the buildings against blue skies were very pretty. The pastel, brightly colored buildings are everywhere on the island...so different than where I live. I found shopping in the city to be a bit boring, pretty much the same type of items (many identical store to store) for souvenirs or gifts, but I don't like shopping much either. Bought a hammock to take home from the outside vendor (they were willing to barter more) and chatted over an hour with one vendor with whom we swapped addresses and have begun corresponding with each other. The resort would be great for families too, will take the kids one day soon.
The sunsets & sunrises were gorgeous and we shared a very romantic time together underneath the Curacao stars......would go back there in a heartbeat. If you like the touristy trap resorts then Curacao isn't for you, but if you like to get off the beaten path and away from all the people it is more suited to this type of vacation.
Hope this helps someone out there choose their next vacation spot...........