Life & Travel

A 3-Day Itinerary In Curaçao For A Self-Care Getaway To Remember

Nothing says summer quite like a tropical background coupled with the turquoise hues of a Caribbean island. It’s a time when the days are longer, the clothes are fewer, and where many of us that crave an escape from reality instantly transport ourselves to beachy destinations, ideally where a passport is required. Curaçao is such a destination.

While I can confirm that most people I told about my trip to Curaçao started off with a question of, “Where is that?” or even more fondly, “Like the liqueur?” I can also assure you that with its 34 beaches, vivid colors, and rich culture, the dreamy sun-soaked location is working its way up the bucket lists of many, and with good reason.

The island is located in the Southern Caribbean Sea and is one part of what is commonly referred to as the ABC Islands. The three westernmost islands of the Carribean’s Leeward Antilles are comprised of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, respectively. The largest of the three, Curaçao has been touted as a favorite in the Caribbean and has 34 beaches, with each having its own personality due to much of the island’s untouched nature.

The sea is entrancing everywhere you look because of its three-toned appearance that occurs depending on how shallow the water is in its proximity to the shore. Its downtown locations of Pietermaai and Pandu offer vibrancy in another way through intricate street art and with buildings and homes that vary in shades, from bold yellows and pale pinks to deep greens and blues that rival the sky.

When I was invited to travel to Curaçao (pronounced cure-a-sow like ow) with Diamond PR, I was enticed by the itinerary’s emphasis on Curaçao as a “playground for wellbeing.” After engaging in a lot of inner healing work in the year so far, I wanted to tap into more experiences that gave me the opportunity to approach my healing work externally as well. The promise of relaxation, grounding nature, picturesque views, and slow-living laidback vibes assured me of the island’s potential to be a catalyst for being well.

After being immersed in all things Curaçao for a week, I can say without a doubt the country’s slogan, “Feel it for yourself,” has me singing a similar tune to anyone who'll listen.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

I thought about it while indulging in a glass of merlot in Koral Bar, nestled on the cliffside of Coral Estate Luxury Resort, where I stayed for the bulk of my trip. It was my first day there, and I had arrived before the rest of my group. I felt a sense of calm wash over my body the second I exited the airport the day before. And at that moment, while seated at the bar of my hotel, feeling the breeze release gentle whispers against my skin and becoming mesmerized by the sunset, and how fluidly the lilac of the sky melted into the deep blue of the sea the bar overlooked, it was the perfect way to spend the evening and the relaxation my body called for after a long day of travel.

I thought about how everything I was feeling vibrationally at that moment was a result of my being there in person. But the vibe was only a taste of the magic Curaçao had to offer.

If you’re ready to tap into the island of Curaçao as a wellness escape, I rounded up the ultimate self-care itinerary that you should feel for yourself.

Day 1

Do a MOOD Table at Universal Alchemist

When it comes to providing the tools to get your vibrational healing and your aura all the way together, Elly Sambo is that girl. Alongside Universal Alchemist co-owner Femi Meaux, my group and I were able to bask in the shade of a decades-old mango tree before engaging in a guided group meditation. We shared stories and embraces. And the icing on the cake was the MOOD Table element created by Elly that focused on joy, the perfect segue to connect the other aspects of our workshop, which involved hacking happiness hormones. The feeling of being grounded by nature as well as using our hands to create DIY tools for our energy healing, like body oils and teas, was equal parts relaxing and energizing.

As an herbalist, alchemist, yoni steaming specialist, and more, Elly and the Universal Alchemist have an array of offerings that cater to one's vibrational healing and wellness lifestyle. Come for some healing, stay for the vibes.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Have lunch at Fresh. by Bluemaxx Fresh

After some homemade nut milk and the Universal Alchemist has your vibrations running high, now's the time to get your health fix at a local eatery. Fresh. by Bluemaxx Fresh is an extension of BlueMaxx Health Club & Medi-Spa, a fitness center located in Willemstad Curaçao. The concept of the restaurant is based on wanting to provide food options that are healthy but also taste good. And I must say, mission accomplished. We ordered some yucca and quinoa-battered onions for the table to share.

For the main event, I ordered a steak bowl and a side of fresh pineapple juice. Everything we ate was the definition of fresh and flavorful.

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Do a breathwork session at The Space

What I loved about The Space was the inviting atmosphere. We were immediately greeted by warmth and the shining presence of founder Caroline Kolk who also gave us complimentary water. We removed our shoes and prepared to relax, relate, and release. The Space's approach to healing is holistic as they believe everything about the mind, body, and spirit is connected. When I thought about a yoga class right after lunch, my thought immediately went to yoga postures, and I was pleasantly surprised that our guide for that day was intentional about meeting us where we were, so we did a practice focusing on the breath instead.

The Space offers a range of classes, from basic Pilates to restorative yoga, as well as meditation circles, prenatal yoga, treatments, and even yoga teacher training.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Explore Willemstad Kaya Kaya

Although you can definitely explore the very walkable area of Willemstad by yourself, I highly recommend booking a guided tour with Kurt Schoop, a local born and raised on the island. He also is one of the owners of a business in the neighborhood of Ser'i Otrobanda called Bario and has lived there for 19 years. Through his storytelling, we were able to get another layer to the mix of art, culture, and murals that we were introduced to over the hour-and-a-half exploration.

Kaya Kaya is a yearly celebration that takes place on September 2nd and is the biggest party on the island. The Ser'i Otrobanda neighborhood went from being an area of the island that wasn't really visited but since has been restored. It was incredible to hear how influential the beautification efforts had been as a tool for community building. Implementing various art projects throughout was a way of "changing the narrative" of the neighborhood and to see how much has changed through restoration in a matter of years was remarkable. So were the pastel-colored homes.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Afterward, since you're already literally in the neighborhood, visit the Bario Hotel's on-site restaurant, Bario Urban Street Food. My favorite was the fried calamari dish, but I absolutely loved the drinks from the specialized cocktail bar.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Day 2

Nature walk at Hofi Mango

The best part about the island heat is finding little respites where you can cool off. The 800 or so mango trees forming the shady center of the park felt like a cool drink of water on a hot day. The trees were mighty, they were lush and vividly green. The sounds of parakeets and other birds provided a soundtrack to our time there. Once a plantation in the 1700s, Hofi Mango has been transformed to be a playground for wellness. Though open to the public for walking and even lounging, the park is still in its development stages, but the hope is for it to be "a place in nature used for cultivating food but also as a space for gathering," which is what the Papiamentu word "hofi" can be loosely translated to.

The concepts for gathering in the park so far have been built with the intention of striking a balance between nature and development. As Bernice, the park manager who guided the tour for us, stated, "Nature doesn't compete, they coincide." And it is her intention that the people who visit Hofi Mango learn to coincide with the nature around them.

The walk is a pretty easy one, and at its mirador, you can see Santa Cruz (one of the island's many beaches) in the distance, closely neighboring the island's highest peak. The west side of the island is known for its beauty, and the views and landscapes you are introduced to during your time at Hofi Mango will highlight that even more.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Do a spa day at 8 Experience Curaçao

I can confidently say that the spa experience at 8 Experience Curaçao is a luxurious slice of relaxation heaven everyone should partake in at least once in their lives. The massage I had there was the things dreams are made of, and it's considered one of the best spas on the island. Go there for a facial or a massage and enjoy the facilities for the day. The spa itself is immaculately designed with stunning attention to detail. In addition to a sauna, they also offer a steam room infused with aromas and an ice room kept at 5 degrees Celsius. The connection to nature can be felt throughout the luxe facility, especially when it's time to get your massage.

The rooms have huge windows that open up to the Caribbean Sea by way of wooden shutters. So the picturesque views are literally framed, and while you are taking in the aromas of your oil of choice during your massage (special shout out to Nilitsa, who did the damn thing), your sensory experience opens up even more with the help of the sounds of the water against the cliffside, the birds, and even the wind. The emphasis is on wholeness, and every service offered at the spa delivers a taste of that.

In addition to spa and salon services, you can opt to lounge by the pool or one of the two jacuzzis nestled right on the cliffside, overlooking the sea. Oasis doesn't even begin to cover it.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Enjoy dinner on the beach at Karakter

Notably, Karakter is a restaurant known for being located in quiet and unique locations and chose Curaçao to be the home of their second restaurant. With the white sand and the blue sea and a special appearance of the sunset acting as our backdrop, we enjoyed the most decadent meal at this chic restaurant. There was careful care and consideration placed on incorporating the flavors the chef wished to highlight, like cauliflower, pumpkin, and dark chocolate, which went together seamlessly with some of the other elements of the dishes. Altogether, the elements provided a sensory experience to remember.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Day 3

Dip your toes into the clear waters of Mambo Beach

If you haven't found a beach yet, take in the crystal blue waters of Mambo Beach, one of the island's most popular and trendiest beaches. While the tropical lagoon is man-made, it's one of the calmer beaches of Curaçao, making it perfect for kids and non-swimmers as well. I am always mesmerized by the undeniable beauty of the sea and the image of palm trees swaying in the wind. Lounge by the water, have a drink from the beach bar (Rileks Beach Bar comes highly recommended), or enjoy a swim.

Just off the shores of the far-reaching white-sand beach are a lot of amenities and shops the downtown area has to offer. Mambo Beach Boulevard has a plethora of bars, restaurants, and of course, shopping. So whether you want to relax, dine, or play, Mambo Beach has a little something for everyone.

Explore downtown Curaçao

Prepare to be blown away by the breathtaking beauty of a different variety with the sights and sounds of downtown Curaçao. The brightly colored houses lining the waterfront and cobblestone streets populate an area of an island that has strong Dutch influences. In search of the Kura Hulanda Museum, we stumbled upon the brightly colored Kura Hulanda Village that opens up to a little pavilion with local shops to peruse. In addition to making a pit stop at Rustiq, we were introduced to a local artist there whose work is featured quite prominently in the area named Bagira. You can also visit Punda for some of the higher-end shopping if that's your fancy.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

Have tapas and cocktails at Soi95

Asian-inspired tapas served with a Caribbean twist are what you can expect at Soi95. We spent our last night dining on the scenic rooftop terrace, sharing light bites and sipping on unique crafty cocktails. The presentation was incredible, especially with the drinks that were sometimes served with flames or another element that upped the ante on its uniqueness. The flavors were eclectic, and every single bite had you yearning for more. A great dining gem worthy of a stop during your trip to Curaçao.

Sheriden Chanel/xoNecole

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Featured image by Getty Images



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