When cruising, it’s often difficult to figure out how to spend time in port. That’s why so many of us just choose to book the cruise’s excursions. That’s a great way to experience a new place, but it can be expensive. If you’re a traveler and like to explore, sometimes it’s more fun to just go off on your own. This is exactly what we did on our last cruise. While traveling with MSC, we had a cruise stop in Curaçao, a country I had been hoping to visit for a long time. Here’s how we spent our time in port:
When you arrive in Curaçao, you wind up at Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino. Here, there are enough shops, restaurants, and bars to keep you all day. But, as nice as it is, it isn’t the real Curaçao experience, so wander a bit and then get out of there. Surrounding the hotel is Rif Fort, which makes for some good photo opportunities. As you leave the fort, you will get some good views of Willemstad, and there are some great little shops set up by locals with art and local handicrafts.
Admire Willemstad’s Colorful Buildings
These colorful buildings on the water are what most people think of when they think of Curaçao, and they were selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. After crossing the bridge or ferry, you can find a spot to grab a drink or bite to eat. There are also plenty of shops to stroll through as well, and soak up the beauty of this waterfront area, which in some ways feels very European.
Discover Street Art
I hadn’t thought of Curaçao as a place with street art, so it took me by surprise when we stumbled upon it. On our walk to the beach, we passed plenty of brightly colored buildings, but then we came to this one above. Everything about the building struck me, including the fact that it was abandoned and that plants were sprouting out of the roof. If walls and buildings could talk, I’m sure this one would have quite a story. But, the building has been given new life by being taken over by art. Even the column on the ground has been painted, and there’s a quote on the wall that has stuck with me,
“Once you break the walls that have been holding you captive, your journey to explore the world can finally begin.”
Since I can’t just share one piece of street art, the rest from our walk is featured below.
Again, the old and new really struck me, as did the use of pastel colors; it made our walk such a joy. While we only got to explore this small strip, I’d love to see if there are similar sites throughout the island.
Lounge at Mambo Beach
After some exploring, we decided to lounge at Mambo Beach, which is about an hour walk from the port or 15 minutes by taxi. We got tired of walking and eventually hopped in a cab. It was worth the money in the heat, but I am glad we got to see some of Curaçao’s beautiful buildings and street art. Mambo Beach is a bit touristy and commercialized, but it’s a great spot to spend a few hours, especially if you’ve come by cruise. The beach is beautiful and clean, and you can rent chairs and umbrellas for around $3 USD. There are restaurants, bars, and shops in this area, so there’s no reason to wander far. We relaxed, swam in the ocean, and then found a seat at the beach bar and enjoyed an Amstel Bright.
Take Photos on Queen Emma Bridge
Queen Emma Bridge is a floating bridge across St. Anna Bay and it’s a site that has to be seen. Several times a day it comes in, but there’s a ferry to take across to the other side, although watching the bridge go in and out is quite fun. It connects the Punda side of the island to the Otrobanda side and is one of the most unique bridges I’ve ever walked on.
If your next cruise has a stop in Curaçao, consider skipping the excursion and going off on your own. You’re sure to discover something you didn’t know along the way, and that’s half the fun of travel.
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