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Trip Report: March 2012

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chagrin falls
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Trip Report: March 2012

Quick trip report from our recent stay on Curacao. See my separate reviews for restaurants and attractions. While planning trip, I did not find much info on the island (other than TA, thank goodness), so thought I would pass along some info. I also found the Curacao app by Crapps for iphone very helpful. Curacao-to-Go app not so good, b/c could not access when off-line (which was most of time to save $$ from roaming charges).

DAY 1: Flew American Airlines from MIA - on-time, no problems. Quickest customs yet. Rented car from Alamo at airport. Mistake. Spent 2 extra hrs at airport, waiting in lines for car. Actual price was double of what was quoted on www.alamo.com. Car was 2009. One of reasons rented from Alamo was to have new car since our car seat required the new safety latches. Could not use car seat and Alamo did not have any to rent. Paid extra for GPS. A must. Roads are confusing and lots of detours due to construction. GPS was life saver. Finally arrived at Coral Estates (CE), where we rented villa (Las Verdanas #1023). 25 minute drive from airport. Villa was exactly as described. 3 bedroom w/pool, overlooking sea. For $200 per night, it was incredible value. Maid service twice while we were there. Location abit remote, but close to awesome beaches. Disappointed that there was no dive operation or restaurant on-site (currently in the works, Karakter bar/dining is supposed to be opening this week). Drive into town (45 minutes) for dinner was a little tiresome. Parked at Renaissance for free parking every night in town (whether going into Punda or Otrabanda). Dinner at Steak & Ribs at Waterfort. Would not recommend. Rude service and mediocre food. Mosquitos did not bother us at villa. Slathered on some OFF at sunset and no issues.

DAY 2: Woke up to beautiful view. Drove to Centrum supermarket (20 minutes) near Bluebay. Bring your own bags or be prepared to purchase some (nominal fee). Bring some small change to tip baggers.

Day at Mambo Beach (husband was diving w/Ocean Encounters at Lion's Dive since no dive operator at CE).

DAY 3: Husband dives. Rest of us to Sea Aquarium. Lunch at Hemingway's. Afternoon at Cas Abou. Clear water. Great snorkel. A little crowded. Entrance fee & pay for loungers. Can not believe how blue this water is!

DAY 4: Husband dives. Kids & I head to town. Lady at Information Center on Punda so helpful. She has daily schedule. Pick up copy of K-PASA while there. She recommends Pink Trolley Tour, which we do. Pricey, but I have 4 yr old who is getting tired of walking! Parking tip on Punda. Get parking ticket from automated machine. Make sure you have correct parking lane # and amount of time. Local told me that police will put boot on your car if you don't have correct parking ticket on dashboard. Lunch at SeaBreeze on beach between town and Mambo Beach. Very good. Afternoon at Playa Daaibooibaii. Quiet. No entrance fee. Pay for loungers.

DAY 5: Husband dives. Off to Ostrich farm. Fun until my 10 yr old realizes that this is NOT a zoo and they are serving ostrich steak in dining room. Still recommend. Jan Thiel beach. Entrance fee and lounger fee. Love the Euro vibe. Lots of restuarants and shopping. Afternoon at Porto Marie beach. Our favorite.

DAY 6: Insulinde trip. An absolute must-do. Sail & snorkel. Dinner at Grill King at Waterfort. Terrific steak dinner.

DAY 7: Travel up coast to Westpunt with stops at Playa Lagun (hoping for a turtle spotting, but no); Knip (jaw dropping gorgeous) and Kalki (expensive, $10 loungers). Lunch at beach bar - very expensive but amazing view. Good food. Would have gone to Sol Foods (but not open when we went) or Jaanchie's - but, my son has a lot of food allergies, so sometimes we need to keep it simple. My kids saw school of barracuda at Kalki. Dinner at Landhuis Daniel. Fabulous.

DAY 8: Hato caves. Enjoyed the tour. Lunch at Blue Bay's AzZurro. Good lunch w/view. Pricey admission fees to beach at Blue Bay, but I wanted to check it out since I considered villa there. Loved the amenities, however, I did smell faint oil refinery smell while there...could have been the way the wind was blowing that day...but never smelled it at CE.

Dinner at Governor's in town. Made reservation and asked for Punda view.

DAY 9: Trip home. When dropping off car at airport, no rental agent. We left car in rental lot. Have tried calling several times to make sure that car has been checked in and always get recording. Should have gone with Prins :(

All and all, it was great trip - would love to go back. Definately on our list of top 5 places we have gone w/family. We loved the beaches and snorkeling - even our 4 yr old was able to snorkel due to calm water. Locals were friendly. Did not find safety an issue, however, we are cautious travelers when w/our kids and stick to main path. Would love to go back next year!

Willemstad, Curacao
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1. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

Good trip report nice to hear that you enjoyed the island

London, United...
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2. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

Nice trip report and very happy that you enjoyed the island.

Next time try to avoid those big car rentals at the airport. I always use local car rental companies which is way better.

Just Drive Car Rental

No waiting lines, Free drop off and pick at the airport and no hidden charges. just send them an e-mail and you will get an offer. rental process is very quick about 5 to 10 minutes and you will be all set.

You can also use Prins Car rental as you described they also have positive posts on this forum.

Willington...
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3. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

Nice trip report. Sounds like you drove back and forth quite a bit. Ocean Encounters has a dive op out west.

PA
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4. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

Thanks for the detailed report. Very informative. We have Alamo booked in June. I really didn't want to use an off-site provider, even though I know they will pick you up, as I'm very prone to car sickness. Can I ask what time you tried to drop off your car? Our flight leaves at 3 in the afternoon, so hopefully their desk would be staffed at that time.

Thanks again for the post!

Willemstad, Curacao
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5. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

For a flight that leaves at 3PM you should have no problems with the drop off

chagrin falls
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37 posts
253 reviews
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6. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

My hub went w/ ocean encounters west for 1 day and was happy w them too. When we booked coral estates, it advertised dive operator on-site (which they currently do not have) - so we were bummed to have to do lot of driving. Coral estate directed us to Porto Marie & cas abou for diving b.c closer - but no boat dives, only shore. He wanted to do some boat dives. Hopefully CE gets new operator, although staff at CE was sort of vague on when that would happen.

chagrin falls
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37 posts
253 reviews
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7. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

My hub went w/ ocean encounters west for 1 day and was happy w them too. When we booked coral estates, it advertised dive operator on-site (which they currently do not have) - so we were bummed to have to do lot of driving. Coral estate directed us to Porto Marie & cas abou for diving b.c closer - but no boat dives, only shore. He wanted to do some boat dives. Hopefully CE gets new operator, although staff at CE was sort of vague on when that would happen.

As for car, we had early flight 7 am. Still unable to get confirmation from Alamo that they got car in lot. Making me nervous! Would definitely reconsider Alamo rental. Out of all counters at airport, their lines were longest...you have to wait twice too. Once for paperwork -- that line took over an hr. the 2nd line was to pick up car --- that took 45 minutes at least. Other than car rental issue and CE not having diving or restaurant ( and no close restaurants that I could find except for landaus Daniel), we had excellent trip.

PA
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389 posts
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8. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

Thanks for the additional information. I'll try to see if I can do any of the paperwork in advance for our rental. I know we've done that other times we've rented from Alamo and it has made the process a little faster.

I can't believe you still haven't heard from them. Perhaps you should contact the corporate office and see if they can do anything?

9. Re: Trip Report: March 2012

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