Sailing ship seen from one of Barbados' beaches (Photo: Mark Connell, Flickr)
Good morning everyone! Tired and sleepy, but holding on! Beach Thursday photos today are from the island of Barbados. I was there back in 2002 and it is a lovely place indeed. Consider it for your next beach getaway!
Barbados beach in Hastings, Christ Church (Photo: Ben124, Flickr)
Bridgetown is the capital of this island nation. And judging form this photo above, one of the best beaches in Barbados is close to it!
Seaside path at Crane Beach (Photo: Trevor Quinn, Flickr)
One of the many wonderful room views at the Crane Beach Hotel (Photo: Jennifer Martinez, Flickr)
Crane Beach, also among one of the top beaches in Barbados, also houses one of the oldest (and most charming) hotels in the island: The Crane Beach Hotel. According to the Travel Channel, it’s been named “One of the 10 best in the world by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Bathsheba: Barbados top surfing beach (Photo: Joe Ross, Flickr)
Surfer riding big wave at Bathsheba (Photo: Paranoid Black Jack, Flickr)
The best beach in Barbados when it comes to surfing? Bathsheba!
Contrast: Sea of life...dead tree (Photo: John Starnes, Flickr)
The best of the best when it comes to spots in Barbados, though? The unnamed beaches (as seen above)! Rent a car, find your unnamed deserted spot, and enjoy 😉
Enterprise beach, Barbados (Photo: gemteck1, Flickr)
Have you visited any of Barbados beaches? Which is your favorite?
I can’t believe I never told you the details about my travel without a plan “experiment”! While I have shared most of my Curacao adventures, I have failed to explain, in detail, the outcome of my Curacao experiment. So! What better time than Travel Tuesday to share this with you!? Let’s hit it! 😀
what I love about travel: Locals like him
Travel without a plan: The Hypothesis
I’m going to be honest here: I thought it wasn’t going to be that great. Don’t get me wrong–I loved the adrenaline rushes I was feeling weeks before the trip as I knew I would go plan-less. I mean, I did it in Israel and let’s be honest: It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. No way I could have planned 3 weeks straight of hitchhiking and couchsurfing solo across historical sites and kibbutzes! However, I at least had a plan-as-you-go mentality: While I had no itinerary when I departed, that quickly morphed into a “I know what I’m doing 2 days from now” mentality. Yes: I had itineraries written down 2 days ahead of time during the last half of my trip. This, however, would not be the case in the Curacao experiment…at all.
And I was scared because of it!
Why, you may ask!?Because I thought I would miss out on a thing or two. And do I know how the “travel regret” hits me…hard! So I was challenging myself in a big way.
Travel without a plan: The Methodology
Just bought a RT ticket Miami-Curacao. That’s it. Granted, I sent some Couchsurfing requests. Yet, in the end, I said: “Screw this, let’s make this the real Travel Without A Plan experiment!” I was even going to hit Bonaire in the process, but wasn’t going to buy that plane ticket until after I got to the Curacao airport. Yah, NUTS!
Curacao sunset from above
Travel without a plan: The Experiment
I arrived to Curacao with only one colorful duffle bag and a purse. Once at the airport, I simply asked a clerk where to go to book a flight to bonaire for a few days. She said: “Don’t go there if traveling solo! You’re young and unless you are diving, Bonaire can be boring. Spend your whole vacation in Curacao instead. You’ll have fun, I promise!” And so this is how I stayed in Curacao for 5 days…
Then, it was the Operation Finding a Cab. Charged me $25 as no one else was going, but at least he spoke Spanish and we had a great conversation on the way. I commented that I had not booked a hotel and told him about my Curacao experiment. What did my cabby think? A0 Estas loca. B) Te voy a ayudar (I’ll help you out). And so after asking “for any cheap hostel or guesthouse by the center of town,” I arrived at Villa Colombia. $13/night for a bed, including full breakfast? Oh yah, it’s on!
My Curacao guesthouse: Villa Colombia, No 74 – 79!
Villa Colombia was just a 10-minute walk away from the center, called Punda. For 5 days, I lived in the middle of a true Curacaoan neighborhood. Which of course, made the walk out and back to the guesthouse wonderful. I took in the daily Caribbean life, had a Curacaoan mom (my host!) that spoke Spanish, and was taken care of like family. Mom even exchanged my dolllars for florines (Curacaoan currency) at the fair market rate. I doubt I could have planned this so well!
my Curacaoan mama and me!
My days consisted of walking around the center of town, taking photos, and getting food at local restaurants, which was easy as virtually everyone spoke Spanish in addition to Papiamento (Dutch Caribbean dialect) and Dutch; sometimes also English. I had some great conversations and understood that Curacaoans were pretty similar to us Puerto Ricans. After all, we are all from the Caribbean 🙂
On my second day in Curacao, I befriended a Venezuelan guest called Sonia, and we would hit town together many times. Also, that same day, I met a couple of Latinos in the center of town, Yara and David, which were on their way to the beach. After Sonia told me to go alone because she wanted to do more shopping, I hit my first Curacaoan beach!
Once at Mambo Beach, I really befriended the Latinos. I learned that Yara was actually a tourism exchange student, so she was living on the island. This meant that after the impromptu day at Mambo Beach, I got to see her awesome cottage in a completely different town and met more exchange students there!
the exchange students’ Curacaoan cottage! So lovely
The layout of the Curacaoan cottage was nice
hammocks and…a KMART pool! XD haha I call those like that =P
That same night, I went out with all of them after eating some home-made Curacaoan fish and veggies. We danced the night away (live Latin band, YAY!) and sobered up by eating Curacaoan fast food afterward.
me with Dutch girl Sandra (center) and Latina-Dutch Yara (right) at the nightclub
My 3rd day was a day trip with Yara and David to Blue Bay with another Curacaoan friend of theirs. This was a beautiful resort and we had a blast, despite the cloudy weather!
part of the grounds of the Blue Bay Resort, Curacao. It was gorgeous!
entrance of the main beach at Blue Bay resort
Blue Bay beach view
What about my fourth day? On a tour, hopping some of the best beaches of Curacao and even a grotto all day! Oh, and did I mention it included an amazing lunch (I ate iguana in Curacao!) and free beer all day long?! Booked last-minute (the night before) and got a sweet 60% discount. Bargaining, of course. Ahh, gotta thank Egypt for the practice! 😀
Porto Mari beach
IGUANA I ATE!
Finally, Mr Mitch (@Mackinnontweets) arrived from his house build in Argentina and we spent the last leg of my trip together. Sharing travel stories while watching the ocean, eating amazing food at the more upscale restaurants in town, and even gambling at the local casinos was the perfect ending to my trip.
watching ships leave harbor with Mitch before dinner
walking to our restaurant (it was on a high floor)
gorgeous view with dinner!
a little gamblin’ after dinner (Photo: Mitchell Mackinnon)
Oh wait! I almost forgot to tell you: the hitchhiking was the pinnacle of this trip!
We took the local bus to Cas Abou beach on our last day in Curacao. You see, we were told we would only have to walk a couple of meters from the bus stop to the beach…wrong! It was more like a couple of kilometers… Soooooo after about 10 mins of walking and no coast in sight, I encouraged Mitch to hitchhike. He agreed, and we flagged the next vehicle: a mom and daughter from the Netherlands, who spoke perfect English and were quite chatty and amusing. Just fabulous!
300 meters? Not so much!
Cas Abou beach (Photo: Mitchell MacKinnon)
Travel without a plan: The Conclusion
One of my best trips to date, for sure! I proved my hypothesis wrong: I didn’t really miss anything, except for the diving. Which, in all honesty, iw as planning to do on a different trip anyway. So for not having a set plan (not even a hotel!), I paid close to nothing for a room, good several free meals, saved on exchange fees, and met some amazing people on the way! The best part? Living like a Curacaoan and seeing how they go about their daily life. I only took public transportation (except for 2-3 occasions) and stayed in a residential neighborhood. Just treat after treat! Traveling like a local surely is better than just being a tourist
Punda, the center of Curacao, at night
Cas Abou beach again
Artwork in Punda, Curacao
Curacaoan rum — oh yes
Do you have a great Travel without a Plan tale? Share it below!
Beach Thursday this week translates to The Best Beaches of Curacao! In the past couple of posts, you’ve learned (and seen) some of Curacao‘s exotic offerings: Eating iguana for lunch, fake beaches and nice resorts. Finally though, it is down to the best of the best. While I will be talking about gorgeous Punda center in a future post, we are beach hopping today!
Best beaches of Curacao: On the way…
beach hopping road trips are the best
Before I talk about the best of the best beaches of Curacao, I must at least mention others we found on the way. As you already know, I visited all these beaches during a Beach Hopping tour offered by Irie Tours. They were absolutely fantastic the whole way, the driver was great, and we even got free Venezuelan beer during the entire trip. Awesome double-whammy for a budget traveler like myself 😀 so! That being said, beaches we visited were Santa Cruz, Porti Mari, Kenepa Chiki, and another one I can’t quite remember the name of (Lola, please help me out!). I have included gorgeous photos below. Albeit the cloudy weather, views were great!
Beach I can’t remember the name of – help me out Mrs Lola!
me at the “unknown” Curacao beach – found out it’s named Westpunt!
loved these signs to identify most beaches in Curacao
too bad the weather was cloudy–I’m sure these beaches are even more spectacular than my photos show!
Fortunately though, Mother Nature graced us with a bit of sunshine sprinkled throughout the day — enough to allow us to enjoy two beaches in their full gorgeous selves! 😀 Maybe, then, I am a bit bias when I describe the following as the beast beaches of Curacao IMHO. But how can you blame me after seeing these?!
Playa Kalki – one of the best beaches of Curacao? I think so!
Playa Kalki was the very first beach we visited during our beach hopping tour. We arrived while it was raining, but later on the clouds revealed a hot sun — and many iguanas! I took the time to snap some great photos and tell my boyfriend at home how much I missed him (story to follow soon! That’s some news I haven’t shared with you yet…).
look at that water!
Messages to habibi back in America…
I love jou!
After Playa Kalki, we drove by the beaches I previously mentioned and spend a couple of minutes walking on the sand and snapping photos. We only really got to enjoy sun bathing and relaxation at about 3 beaches, as that’s what our time allowed. Still, we covered a lot in 6 hours!
Kenepa Grandi arguably tops the list of the best beaches of Curacao by many accounts — and was definitely my favorite! The gorgeous views afforded from the cliff/terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the horizon and beach below are simply breathtaking.
what a view!
our tour group was nothing but ladies!
That’s it for this week’s Beach Thursday! In the coming month I will unveil the last spot in my list of the Best Beaches of Curacao. The chosen one? Cas Abou beach!
Are these the best beaches of Curacao to you or not? Comment below?
Unfortunately, the first beach I went to was a tourist trap called Mambo Beach. Not only is it a man-made beach, but I felt I was overcharged for everything. Moreover, I didn’t think the vibe was any special to deserve such pricing. but hey, some people are into these type of beaches, so if you are willing to fork out some money to pay for beach entrance & additional fee to sit on a chair at an artificial beach full of tourists and not real Curacaoans, be my guest 😉
Wherever there’s water and sand though, I always find some fun. Typically in the form of posing for pictures (I wanted to be a model in a previous life, apparently)…
Bottom line: As a budget traveler, it would be counterproductive to pay for the relatively-long bus ride here to then have to pay for everything — on an artificial beach. Sorry, but I can’t stress that enough, I felt cheated… 😛
The “Passable” Resort
The second beach I visited in Curacao was Blue Bay. It is located inside a gorgeous, massive resort and the drive to the beach itself was great. Some of the houses were beautiful and seeing the mountains reminded me of home!
This trip, of course, was possible thanks to a Curacaoan young man that some Dutch-Latinos I met in Punda knew. He picked us up and took us to Blue Bay. His words are still clear in my head: “If my business keeps doing well, I am buying a house here. It is one of the most beautiful resorts in Curacao. Plus, I like to live the good life!” Funny, charming young man 🙂
me with our young Curacaoan entrepreneur!
chillaxing on a cloudy day is still done better at the beach!
Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy for most of my stay in Curacao. In turn, my photos don’t do justice to the beautiful waters! Still though, we had a great time at Blue Bay and was one of my favorite places to hang out, especially with the locals (and many visiting Latinos). Hearing Spanish frequently made me feel at home once more 🙂
being at a beach always makes me smile
Long enough of a photo essay for today! Stay tuned though, as I will continue this Beaches of Curacao mini series next Beach Thursday. Some of the best beaches are yet to be featured, so come back next week for more eye candy! 😉
Can you name this beach!? Come back for the full scope and more photos next Thursday!
Have you ever been to any of the beaches of Curacao?
Alo! I’m super excited to share some great news on this lovely Travel Tuesday night with ya! 😀 As you already know, I’ll be visiting Curacao for the first time in November. However, what you didn’t know yet is that I’ve added Bonaire to the mix! After speaking to other travel bloggers that have been to the ABC’s (Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao), I was told that it is wise if I were to spend 2-3 days on each instead of the whole time in just one of them. And since I’m trying to visit all countries in the world…this would be a perfect opportunity to cross off two at once 😀 after some debate, I decided to stay longer in Bonaire (3 days), as I wanted to visit the least crowded island with the most unspoiled nature for better diving/snorkeling. Then, I will fly back to Curacao and stay for 2 days to soak in the night life and possibly cycle around instead of renting a car *fingers crossed* I’m excited to have a taste of the Dutch Caribbean! Oh and in case you were wondering why I have left Aruba out? I already visited back in 2002 😉
Aruba's Natural Bridge, which collapsed in 2005 - I went there just 3 yrs earlier!
Now, how the HECK were NOLA, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand, and even AUSTRALIA thrown to the mix!? Let me begin by saying that they are not all on a one-way RTW ticket (although that would have been pretty epic)…
French Quarter, New Orleans at night (Photo: Falkue at de.wikipedia)
NOLA, aka New Orleans, aka the “Big Easy” was an impulse buy from yours truly during a ridiculously-beautiful AA sale – snatched a RT ticket, direct flights, TPA-NOLA for just US$160 including taxes (I know, I’m a baller). I’m excited because the first and only time I’ve been to NOLA was to volunteer and help victims affected by Hurricane Katrina. Meaning? That time I got to be a part of something big for people, now this time I will be part of celebrating their recovery, BIG, with them! 😉 shall be a blast! This is happening on a long weekend in December, by the way.
And now, I shall describe the biggest event of this post. Band, drum roll please! *drum roll*
Omg, you have no idea how excited I am, my fingertips just keep doing a happy dance across the keyboard every time I type about that! Soooo! What’s the plan you must be wondering!? Since I basically have it all planned out from Plan A to C to D, I’ll tell you all about it on a tentative timeline I’ve outlined below!
Nov – Dec 2011 * Curacao & Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean); Miami & Tampa FL (USA)
Plan B? If by Feb-March I got no promising job offers on my table, start looking for jobs in Australia as well! I got a contact (if you wish to be named, you’re welcome to move forward mister!) that will help me find a job in the tourism industry there. Tour guide? Interpreter? Both? We shall see! 😀
Plan C: Really I got one? Indeed 😀 apply to become a flight attendant for a Middle Eastern airline, preferably Emirates or Qatar Airways. Travel the world while having a base in the Middle East and improve my Arabic in the process? Why not!?
Plan D (aka worst case scenario): Stay in Tampa FL a bit longer, until any plan from above happens. because you know, Maria Alexandra makes things happen!
A beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico
April – Aug 2012 * If either plan A, B or C from above happens, I’ll move back to La Isla Del Encanto, Puerto Rico (HOME!) and live with my family for a few months. It’ll be wonderful, because my first nephew is coming to this world in Feb 2012, so he will get some serious fun time with Titi Maria before she jets off to live in another remote country! (I wish he was old enough to teach him how to Skype already…)
Worst case scenario: Still in Tampa FL, job searching (aka still working on Plans A, B & C from above)
Plan A: Living (and working) in Egypt again!
Plan B: Last week of Aug, head to Southeast Asia, travel through Thailand (for the first time!) for a couple of days, then head to Cambodia to volunteer on a house build through Habitat for Humanity. Afterward, tubing (and much else) in Laos. And “finally”? Travel job in eastern coast of AUSTRALIA!
Plan C: Become a reincarnated PanAm dream (umm, flight attendant) for Emirates or Qatar Airways, living in the Persian Gulf, but FLYING often around the world!
Sept 2012 * living and traveling either throughout the Middle East, Asia and/or the South Pacific!
And…what if all of the above fails due to some major mystery of the universe? Well, I’ll just stay right here, in Tampa FL, working as a translator and social media manager, still searching and waiting until a promising opportunity crosses my path. I know God has a plan for me, and while I do possess the gift of free will, He also helps me by guiding me in the path that best suits my abilities and all the love and talents I have to give and share with others. I’m such a people person, got so much love and great plans to share and spread around the world, I know what will make me wake up ecstatic every morning will show up eventually 🙂
Until then? I got my timeline to work on! And…
…a great view + pool at my apartment complex to enjoy in Tampa Bay, FL
This post may have been a little tedious for some of you to read, but I am the kind of person that needs to write (errm, type) plans out in order to focus, tackle, and WIN. I’m absent, scattered minded, so time lines like this one have previously helped me achieve some of my biggest life goals. And so this shall be my proclamation, my inspiration–the sticky note I will read every day until my wildest dreams come true!
MOREOVER, I am challenging YOU right now to proclaim your own. Write down your dreams, travel plans, BIG GOALS for the next year already! Come join me, let’s take this journey together!
Hey guys! Last night (and errm, today) I spent several hours working on a digital scrapbook, as a Shutterfly promo I got through Tripadvisor to get $30 off a photobook was about to expire. So! Since I’m very proud of the product (and can’t spend any more energy in front of a computer typing), here it is! It basically summarizes (some of) the most memorable moments of my 5.5-year college stretch. You may ask, how did I manage to travel extensively while pursuing so many degrees? The short answer: Study abroad, low-cost airlines & Couchsurfing! I plan to write an entry about the specific steps I took in order to be successful both in school & in life later on.
Part 2 (including trips to Israel, Spain & Iceland) coming soon!