The Dutch island of Curaçao invites you to experience European sophistication with Caribbean warmth.
Offering an enticing combination of Dutch Attitude at a Caribbean Latitude, Curaçao is emerging as one of the Caribbean’s most popular gay destinations. A rare island where tourists and locals effortlessly coexist, Curaçao imbues your tropical vacation with cultural authenticity.
Conveniently located outside the Hurricane Belt, Curaçao enjoys year-round 80-degree days with minimal rain, perfect for both beach and city escapes. To best experience the island’s diversity, the sister properties of Kura Hulanda (kurahulanda.com) offer the “Best of Both Worlds” Package. Spend two nights admiring the Dutch Colonial architecture of the island’s capital, while staying at the UNESCO World Heritage designated Hotel Kura Hulanda (Langestraat 8-Willemstad). This luxury boutique resort boasts glorious courtyards, multiple pools, restaurants, a spa and casino. Then, spend three nights perched on rugged cliffs overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, at the secluded Lodge Kura Hulanda & Beach Club (Playa Kalki-Westpunt) on the island’s western tip. The Lodge’s onsite dive shop, Ocean Encounters West (oceanencounterswest.com), will complete your beach vacation by arranging snorkeling, diving, and boating excursions.
Planning your honeymoon? Both resorts are members of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and are eager to celebrate New York’s recent Marriage Equality victory. Until December 22, they are offering newlyweds who present a valid New York marriage license a free upgrade and dinner for two.
All right, time to get a little sweaty and explore the island’s natural beauty. Hardcore hikers should head to Christoffel National Park (christoffelpark.org) where you can climb 1,240 feet to the top of Mt. Christoffel, the island’s highest point. On a clear day you can see the coasts of Venezuela and Bonaire. If you prefer a rough ride, then fasten your seatbelt because it’s going to be a bumpy one. Eric’s ATV Adventures (curacao-atv.com) will take you through the wildest and most beautiful parts of Curaçao, including cliffs, dunes, caves and beyond.
Next, explore the tasty variety of Curaçao’s cuisine. Located about a mile from the Lodge Kura Hulanda, Landhuis Misjé (landhuismisje.com) serves up Caribbean comfort food with a sophisticated flair. Clearly stating her “100% gay friendly” policy on the restaurant website, Chef Graciela Real will make you feel right at home serving a unique fusion of the island’s Latin, Dutch and Caribbean influences in the lantern-lit yard of this restored plantation home. Want to recreate the island’s flavor back home? Learn the necessary skills at Angelica’s Kitchen (Hoogstraat 49-Willemstad, angelicas-kitchen.com) Caribbean cooking class. The ladies of the Kitchen will teach you how to make delicious “no fuss food” in a relaxed, festive setting. Drink, cook, eat and bond with a group of old friends or favorite new acquaintances. For a tasty Mojito or Caipirinha, head to the Latin-inspired café and bar Mundo Bizarro (Nieuwestraat 12-Pietermaai, mundobizarrocuracao.com). Part restaurant, part live music venue, Mundo is a perfect spot to socialize with the locals.
Want to make a splash? Curaçao will be dripping with cocktail, beach, and boat parties from September 30-October 2, when it kicks off the 7th annual Get Wet gay party weekend. Year round, Madame Jeanette “aims to make being Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bisexual or just confused a perfectly normal thing to be, one Party at a time!” The island’s hostess with the mostest throws her extravagant theme parties on the second Saturday of every month at TuTu Tango (Kaya Jombi Mensing 18-Willemstad, tutu-tango.com). For information on all upcoming events and parties, visit GayCuracao.com.
Less than a three-hour flight from the U.S., Curaçao provides a taste of Northern Europe in the Southern Caribbean. Trade your wooden shoes for a pair of sandals and enjoy the island’s “Live and Let Live” progressive attitude—with a tan!
(This article originally appeared in Next Magazine)