Why Not Curacao?

Clear water, blue skies.

You don’t hear much about Curacao. Heck, I wasn’t even considering it until I found out that our friends’ timeshare wasn’t going to be available in Aruba back in October for our honeymoon. But, hey, I figured why not go to the next island over?

Willemstad
Hato Caves

Known as the ABC Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are positioned in the very south of the Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela and largely protected by the coast from hurricanes. Better yet, the inhabitants of these Dutch Caribbean islands speak English, along with Spanish, Papiamentu (native language) and of course Dutch. Walking around Curacao is so easy – signs in English, driving on the right side of the road, low crime rate, etc. And the sights are astounding from the colorful architecture of Willemstad to the Hato Caves to breathtaking beaches with crystal clear water, but all these recommendations would fill a book. We’re here for the flavors of the island, so let’s get it started with a couple of drinks…

Ain’t that a fact.

We had the immense pleasure of staying at Sunscape Curacao where the drinks are always flowing. This was my first time at an all-inclusive and it was even better than I expected. I was thinking I would get a few different beer options and watered-down two ingredient cocktails. However, these guys could make your Tequila Sunrise or Long Island as well as a huge list of specialized cocktails. The names alone made me want to try them all, and since it was all-inclusive, I could.

Try these recipes at home!

One of the ingredients common to many of the cocktails was the island’s signature alcohol – Curacao Liqueur. So, it was absolutely mandatory for us to go to the Curacao Liqueur Distillery. We signed up for a bus tour with a guide from the Dominican Republic who went by the name Papi. As if we weren’t drinking enough, he passed a bottle around the bus. It wasn’t just any bottle you can buy at the liquor store. It was a drink from his native country consisting of red wine, rum and honey soaking in with tree bark and herbs. This is called Mama Juana and our whole tour group became fast friends with Mama.

The signature round bottles on display featuring the various colors.

Once at the distillery, we were ready to learn… and drink a little more! We learned that the colors are only added to make the cocktails pretty and that they don’t necessarily make them taste any different. The liqueur is made from the fruit of Laraha trees harvested on the eastern part of the island. We also learned that authentic Curacao Liqueur is bottled in a very specific circular bottle and that everything else is a fake. So, don’t settle for the imitators. Even if I wanted to drink all day, I was getting hungry and needed something substantial to pair with that alcohol. Thankfully, our next stop was for lunch at a place known for their unique burger. First, we were going to have the chance to learn about our food before devouring it.

Papi showing us the Laraha plant.
This ostrich was a baby. They get much larger.

Now, when you think of ostriches Curacao isn’t the first place that comes to mind, but we visited the very interesting Curacao Ostrich Farm. The tractor ride is highly educational and gives you an experience of being in South Africa and not the southern Caribbean. It’s not as if you’re picking out the feathered giant that you’re going to eat for lunch, but it was still a funny experience to go right from this tour to gobbling down these animals in the Farm’s restaurant. Highly recommend these burgers! Healthier and a little hardier than hamburgers. My wife who considers herself a burger aficionado insists they’re the best she’s had, and I’m inclined to agree.

Whenever I speak to people about honeymoons or tropical getaways, I have to rave about Curacao. If for no other benefit, hopefully you have a few more ideas about what to concoct for a new drink or you’ve opened your mind on eating big birds.

Have you ever visited a unique place and tried a drink or meal for the first time? Share your recipe if you can!

-Greg