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  • khdeutmeyer

Curacao and Aruba...encountering the beautiful pink Flamingo!

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

I had a friend many years ago that married on a beach in Curacao and since that time, I had wanted to travel to Curacao to see the island. Since it is an island in the very southern part of the Caribbean, while touring Curacao, we also visited Arbua for three nights and were able to see the most amazing water and experience sunny days white sand beaches, and warm temperatures.

Playa Lagun in Curacao

“Curacao is just as I had expected...gorgeous colorful buildings, warm water, relaxed pace, and pink Flamingos! Aruba is just a short commuter plane flight away and is much more touristy and commercialized but has that beautiful and warm turquoise water!”

Curacao

Willemstad is the capital of Curacao, a Dutch Carribean island, and is exactly as you see in photos. Gorgeous colorful colonial style buildings situated on the water with a clear blue sky. This is exactly how I pictured it and just as it was! We stayed in a Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) townhouse in the Bahia Apartments on Playa Lagun. The location is about 30 minutes from Willemstad. We chose that location because the beach was very nice and the water was good for snorkeling. The townhome sat on the rocky cliffs above the water and overlooking the beach. It was a very quiet location and great for rest and

Playa Lagun

relaxation! A car is necessary if staying at Playa Lagun. We always rent a car when on vacaton so we can sightsee and tour as much of the island as we can in our short stay. The water at Play Lagun was not as warm or as clear as I would have liked and not as we have experienced in the past when visiting other Carribbean islands. However, the location was beautiful

and the beach gorgeous so it didn't matter. We snorkeled and saw a variety of fish but I would not make a trip back to Curacao to just snorkel. Curacao is about the beauty of the island itself and the people. The local school did swim lessons at Playa Lagun several mornings a week. It was really unique to see the kids coming to the beach to learn how to swim. It was awesome to get to experience a piece of the local culture. Staying at Play Lagun also gave us the opportunity to drive some of the island taking us out of the more touristy areas and into where the local people live. I alwasy enjoy that aspect of our trips.


Our real fascination was with the Flamingos! The Flamingos would fly to Curacao daily from Bonaire, another island close by, to the Salt Flats in Curacao. Many days there were at least 50 to 100 Flamingos hanging out in the Salt Flats. Such beautiful birds and so relaxing to watch them!


One of my favorite sights to see is the floating market in Willemstad. The market was operated mainly by Venezuelans who arrived daily by boat with local fruits, seafood, crafts and gifts. The boats are not commercial boats but wooden boats that arrive daily from Venezuela. Since our trip several years ago, the floating market has beebn suspended due to the political unrest in Venezuela. The people of Curacao hold hope the floating market will reopen again.


The Queen Emma Bridge is a ponton bridge across the St. Anna Bay in Curacao. It connects the Punda and Otrobanda quarters in Willemstad. The bridge is hinged and opens regularly to enable the passage of oceangoing vessels. It is a great place to take a beautiful photo of Willemstand and the colorful buildings. Below are photos of the beautiful island of Curacao.



Aruba

We left Curacao after a week and took a short commuter flight to Aruba for three nights. Aruba has the most goreous white sand beaches. Oranjestad is the capitol city and has a shopping mall area and a casino. Aruba is a fairly flat island not as hilly or mountainous as some of the Caribbean islands with plam tree lined beaches. We stayed north of Oranjestad at Eagle Beach in a Vaction Rental By Owner (VRBO). We also rented a car so we could drive the island and see as much as we could in the four days we were on the island. I regret not researching Aruba as much as I had researched Curacao before arriving. I was not aware you can also see Flamingos on Aruba but have since seen many Flamingo postings on Facebook. I regret not seeing them while visiting Aruba. The lighthouse is on the north end of the island and worth seeing. Beautiful views from this location.

Baby Beach, Aruba

Snorkeling the Antilla Wreck is only accessible by booking a boat tour. We thought you could possibly swim to it from Malmok Beach; it doesn't look that far offshore but we were warned to not try to siwm it. It's too far, there are strong currents and the water is rough too. We took a day boat tour and it was fun and incredible to see. So many fish! The best snorkeling from the beaches in Aruba is on the north end of the island at Arashi Beach, Catalina Beach, Antilla Beach and Malmok Beach. Mangel Halto beach is said to be the best snorkeling from the beach in Aruba but this is not a spot for beginners. There can be a current and you have to swim out to the reef and even beyond the reef to see beautiful corals. We tried to swim out past the reef and I am a strong swimmer. I got scared and turned back. I was very hesitant.


Baby Beach is on the south end of the island with calm waters and a gorgeous beach. They say you can see turtles in the water when snorkeling but we didn't see turtles. We saw fish but unfortunately no turtles. But it is a busy beach with many beginner snorkelers so I don't think turtles will be hanging around with so many people! But definitely a beach worth seeing. Photos of the island of Aruba are below.


Overall, Curacao and Aruba are beautiful islands but I am not yearning to go back anytime soon to Aruba. I would definitley return to Curacao and add a few days on the neighboring island of Bonaire too. Another island with Flamingos!


HOW TO TRAVEL ECONOMICALLY AND GET THE MOST FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY

I also get asked many times, "How do you travel so often and keep it affordable?" A few tips are below:

  • For me, planning and researching is part of the excitement of the trip! Visioning is so much fun!!!

  • I plan all of my own trips and research, research, research on the internet. I utilize TripAdvisor, Frommer's, and blogs from other travelers to find the information I need for my trip. I do ALOT of reading and researching. It takes patience to plan a good affordable trip!

  • I have a budget in mind for each trip and challenge myself to stay in the budget. Depending on the location, I typically start planning and booking hotels, cars, etc., approximately 9 months out. Hotel prices usually get more expensive the closer to the trip unless you are willing to do a last minute internet deal. Car rental and airline prices also go up the closer it is to your trip. Occasionally you can get a last minute deal but something else may be more expensive and you are really not saving. I like to plan!

  • For hotels, I use Booking.com, or Priceline.com. I look for hotels with good reviews, pay when you stay, and free cancellation in advance. We look for smaller boutique hotels with good amenities and great locations.

  • We have done all-inclusive in a couple of tropical locations years and years ago but found that we do not eat and drink enough to make it worth the extra expense. We like to go off site from the hotel and experience the local cuisine and traditions. We have not done all-inclusive in the last 15 years. However, all-inclusive is wonderful if you want to stay at the resort for all meals, not rent a car, and have the hotel shuttle you to your destinations. That has worked for us in Jamaica and it was very relaxing! But I would not drive in Jamaica so all-inclusive was the smartest option! If you enjoy all-inclusive, the earlier you book the trip the lower the price. Unless you are game and are not a planner, and are willing to travel where the last minute deal is advertised. Then you could get a great all-inclusive deal!

  • If we are flying, I use the Skyscanner app to check airfare prices and I try not to buy until about 60 to 75 days out. There are times where I will by earlier if the price is super reasonable. I usually do not book on Skyscanner. It will tell me the site that is the most affordable to purchase the tickets and if it is a more well known trust site, I go directly to the site to purchase the tickets. Many times Skyscanner will take you right to the airline website. Skyscanner will search all airlines and will sort by price, times, shortest trip, etc. We typically fly from Chicago, Il. to avoid extra commuter flights. Occasionally we will find a lower cost flight from Milwaukee, WI.

  • Have a credit card that gives you miles or hotel points. We will use points for many of our trips. We are American Advantage members and have an Advantage credit card. We try to fly American as often as we can to earn points and then use those points for future airline tickets. Our credit card is tied to our Advantage numbers and awards points as well.

  • We drive if the location is in the United States and we can drive and sightsee along the way. If we need to rent a car, we reserve online using Booking.com, Orbitz.com, or Priceline.com. They are usually the most reasonable. I watch for specials and never book a luxury vehicle! We also have a credit card with a low limit that we use for vehicle rentals that provides insurance as a credit card benefit. We always decline the insurance when we are in the United States. If we are traveling out of the United States, we check with the credit card if the insurance is valid internationally. We have found it is valid in Europe, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, but in other locations, we are forced to purchase the liability insurance from the rental car company.

  • While there are free maps online for most destinations, I always go onto Amazon and buy a map of my destination, especially if it is international. I do not buy maps for tropical Caribbean islands. I just get one when we arrive. But for countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, England, Canada, Germany, France, etc., I always purchase a good map. As you do you research, you can use the map to highlight the places you want to visit and the sites you want to see. I have it as a reference later for putting my memories and photos into a photobook!

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