Have you ever wanted to venture to the Caribbean with kids? With our baby at 9 months old, we set off to Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean. This island was an excellent place to learn to SCUBA dive, relax on the white sand beaches and swim in the blue sapphire colored water. This was an opportunity for our baby to be in calm, warm ocean water, play in the sand, and meet some locals.
We chose this island over all the others because we redeemed Marriott points for 7 free nights + airline points through their travel packages. This was the only Caribbean resort on the beach in their mid-tier Category 5 hotels, so it was an obvious destination.
Lay of the Land:
This tropical island is studded with beautiful beaches and water, especially in the northwestern coast. It is more arid than the rest of the Caribbean, so there was a desert-y landscape contrasted with inviting blue ocean. Our accommodations were in the capital in Willemstad, but we also ventured up the Northern coast to check out all the beautiful beaches and get a more local flare. We visited some old plantations, drove through the National Park, and then headed South to Spanish Bay for some windsurfing lessons and exploration.
Landhuis Santa Martha
Getting out of Williamstead was the best way to experience the true culture of the island. Most of the tourist desnsity is around the Rif Fort and Punda areas of Williamstead. When visiting the Caribbean with kids, we definitely try to explore the culture of the locals more than the tourist traps around the cruse ship ports.
Williamstead: Check out the Dutch architecture and Queen Ema Bridge in old town Williamstead. You can’t miss it, it’s on every post card. They are the colorful buildings on the West side of the mail inlet. Just beyond the Punda area, you’ll find the Old Town Market, where you have lots of local food vendors under one roof.
Plantations: There are a number of plantations that are well preserved from the 17th – 20th centuries. In Curaçao’s history, there were many slaves that lived on these plantations, many of which you can visit. We went to Landhuis Santa Martha and sat down for dinner. This plantation sits on a hill, so the sunset is quite spectacular.
Beaches: When thinking about the Caribbean with kids, the first thing that comes to mind is the beaches. Kokomo was a great beach for SCUBA diving and only a 20min drive from Williamstead. For the best beaches of Curaçao, you’ll want to rent a car and drive to the Northern tip of the island. Playa Abou is the quintessential crystal blue water and white sand. It’s beautiful. Slightly beyond that, you’ll find Playa Grandi, which is great for snorkeling and seeing schools of fish and turtles. Your best bet is coming here early in the morning when the fisherman toss fish scraps into the water attracting the sea life.
Boca Tabla: This is a cool place to check out as you watch the ocean crash into the volcanic cliffside. The ocean is much more tumultuous on the East coast and this is no exception. We ended up going here after hours (they have a gate and office) and just walked in for free. I’m not sure I would have paid to go.
Hato Caves: Located on the North side of the island and just 2 minutes from the airport, the Hato Cave is a fun place to take your school-aged kids to explore this nearly 200,000 year old formation. They take tours through the cave daily, and would be an easy stop going to or coming from the airport.
Visiting the Caribbean with kids is a stress-free, and easy way to enjoy the beautiful islands. Our baby loved playing in the sand and splashing in the water. Being closer to the equator, Curaçao tends to be a bit warmer and humid, which affected him the first couple days. We noticed he was a bit more lethargic but seemed to acclimatize throughout the week. He quickly learned about getting saltwater in his eyes, although that didn’t stop him from splashing around.
This was a fun place to visit and relax. But honestly, there are more desirable Caribbean islands to visit. The beaches are nice, but aren’t expansive, and I wasn’t exactly expecting cactus and a desert in the Caribbean. In August, its warm and a little humid. We had to improvise to keep our boy cool outside. We carried ice from our hotel in a cooler and put a cold washcloth on his head. Transportation around the island was limited to taxis, and there are plenty around. Rent a car at least for a couple days so that you can explore the island at your own leisure. Car rentals can be arranged through your hotel.
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