We have been to Curaçao before so I knew what to expect. The last time we went in 2019 we did an island tour with VIP Tours Curaçao but my youngest was sick then and didn’t enjoy it as much because of that.
This year, I wanted him to see the island and enjoy it, so I booked a private driver for the day. I had originally contacted Natasja with Dushi Taxi but she was unavailable the day we’d be in port. She put me in contact with Elmer whom I sent a WhatsApp message to in December 2021. I explained to him what we wanted to do for the day, and he sent back some suggestions and a price. We agreed upon everything and decided that’s what we were doing. He agreed to charge us $300 for the day to carry us around. We were in port from 8am until 5pm.
Once we were able to debark the ship in port, we went ahead and got off the ship to go meet Elmer. We walked to the security gate to the right, and once we walked outside of the security gate, I instantly saw him. He had sent me his picture on WhatsApp so I knew what to expect. Once we were all together, we hopped in his Toyota 4Runner and off we went!
The first place we went was downtown Willemstad so we could do our shopping. The Queen Emma’s Bridge was currently unavailable to foot traffic as it was open for an oil ship to come through. That means all of the cruise passengers on foot could not get downtown at this point. We were able to get all of our shopping done first, with no crowds in the stores. It was nice! We also walked around Willemstad a bit just to explore and check things out.
Once we were finished shopping in Willemstad, we went to Cas Abao Beach to swim for a bit. Cas Abao Beach is not a free beach. The cost is $6 per car and it’s $3 to rent a chair. However, it’s very clean and there is food and drinks on site.
When we got there, they had ¾ of the place blocked off. A ship excursion was going there, so we only got to use a portion of the place, including no chairs/shade. That was a bummer, but they wanted to accommodate the cruise passengers going there. The beach is also coral rather than sand so you need water shoes. Once you get out into the ocean, it’s not bad. It’s still a beautiful area and a beach you can definitely enjoy. I just wish the ship excursions didn’t take up the whole place almost.
After we spent some time at Cas Abao, we went to ride around Curaçao some more and explore. We stopped at a few other beaches which were really nice. We went to Playa Porto Mari and Grote Knop which are some of the better beaches on the island. There were a ton of people however. Many people were diving off of the rocks which looked fun. This beach has a lot of rock at the entry side however. Be careful! I almost fell several times, and Sheila did fall and broke her toe!
After we finished our shopping and beaches, it was time for lunch. We would head to Playa Forti. This is a restaurant on the side of the mountain with excellent views. There is also a huge rock that many people dive from. We sat there and watched many people jump and dive from this rock. The food was good here as was the service. It was $43.14 USD for our lunch here. The views can’t be beat though!
From lunch, we would go next door to Playa Piskado where the fisherman come in. The fisherman come in around 1pm each day and clean their catch. When they clean the fish, they throw the fish guts and everything back into the sea. This attracts the sea turtles and other fish to come into the bay for food. This is a fantastic place to snorkel. My oldest and I got in and snorkeled all around and saw tons of fish and sea turtles. What I love is that this isn’t some excursion with sea turtles in enclosed areas. This is in the wild, so they are free to do as they wish. They would let you touch them, swim by you, and were just amazing creatures to be around. If you’re looking for a great place to snorkel, this is it! I highly recommend Playa Piskado.
We would spend the rest of our time at Playa Piskado snorkeling with the sea turtles. Once our time was up, we went back to Elmer, where we would head back toward Willemstad. We were tired by this point. We made it back to the cruise terminal where Elmer would drop us off. I paid him along with a generous tip and thanked him. He took us places we would have never thought to go. I would much rather snorkel with sea turtles in the wild than some cruise excursions where they’re kept in captivity. Happy turtles are the best!
We got back on the ship, took showers and got ready for dinner.