29 Jan Reconnecting in the Caribbean with Choice Hotels
After a few years of non-stop work, travel and a move across the country, we were in need of time to slow down and reconnect. So, we thought December was the perfect time to take a bit of a break before the holidays and visit the Caribbean with for a project with Choice Hotels.
There are numerous beautiful properties scattered throughout the Caribbean on islands such as St. Maarten, Bahamas, Aruba, Cayman Islands to name a few, and each one is more intriguing than the next. When deciding on a destination, we figured that we would head back to one of our favorite spots, which also happens to be the island that inspired us to start this travel site in the first place: Curacao. That first trip to Curacao helped us figure out the way we love to travel and how we best connect with one another, through adventure and relaxation, so picking Curacao as a destination to reconnect only made sense.
Adventure activities inspire us while fueling our craving for adrenaline, and the relaxation helps us process and reflect on the fun we had. So, when planning this experience, we worked with the wonderful staff at our hotel, the Acoya Hotel Suites and Villas, to create an itinerary that focused on giving us the best of both worlds. The mornings were spent exploring the island, while the evenings gave us time to relax.
On our first day, we arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon and were ready to unwind after a very early morning flight. After a warm welcome from the front desk receptionist, we were shown to our room. We spent the evening lounging on our balcony that overlooked the pool and had dinner at the delicious on site restaurant.
We stayed in a beautiful a two-bedroom suite with our own kitchen—we loved that cooking was an option, especially since the hotel provided transport to a nearby grocery store. The hotel also provides shuttle transportation to Mambo Beach and downtown Willemstad; the shuttle option is super convenient, but we would recommend renting a car to explore on your own, as well. In addition to the suites in the main hotel, the property also has private villas for rent—they were gorgeous multi-bedroom houses equipped with a kitchen, living room and private pool. We would love to return one day with a group of friends or family and rent a villa for a week!
Our first adventure was scheduled for the next morning, so after dinner we called it an early night and retreated to our room. It was so nice to relax and get a dose of steamy tropical heat, especially since we were coming from Minnesota in the chilly north.
After an early wake up call, we made our way to explore the island via dune buggy. The eastern side of the island is privately owned, so the only way to explore it is on a tour. We suited up, jumped into our buggy and got ready for a wild ride.
The tour led us to the desert with lots of dust and rugged trails. After a quick stop to check out the rocky, coral coastline, we got to fly around the windy paths and kick up some dirt. We also made a stop to explore a bat filled cave and the nearby Ostrich Farm.
It was a thrilling morning and one that desperately required a shower and lunch upon our return to the hotel!
That afternoon, we took the hotel shuttle to the nearby beach called Mamba Beach. We explored on foot, relaxed on the white sand beaches, browsed the shops and snacked on refreshing ice cream.
Our second day started with a tour of downtown Willemstad from the fantastic Maja who works with the Curacao tourism board. We learned all about the history of the island while sampling delicious batidos and dining on some of the best local fare in town. Micah had the stewed steak with rice and beans, while I had the fish with tutu—the portions were huge!
We also made our way across the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, to the floating market, and explored the architecture and government buildings around the adorable downtown area, which has been named an UNESCO world heritage city.
After thoroughly exploring downtown, we made our way west to check out the beaches, Shete Boka Park, and a variety of other iconic and hidden spots on the island. The day was so much fun, and dinner and relaxation at the hotel were definitely on order for the evening once again.
On our last full day on the island, we were set loose to explore with a rental car. We made our way back out west to hike Mt. Christoffel again, as it was one of our favorite adventures during our first visit to the island. The hike is rather short, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging! Most of the hike sees you scrambling up and over boulders that make up the path—the views from the top are definitely worth it though!
After expending all of our energy on the hike, we made our way to Playa Forti beach for even more adventure, this time with a couple of friends that just so happened to be on the island at the same time as us. We spent the rest of the afternoon jumping off cliffs into the water and swimming in the crystal clear waters.
That evening, we returned to one of our favorite restaurants, Sol Food, for great conversation with our friends, both old and new. Not only did this trip give us a chance to reconnect with one another, we were also able to connect with friends and locals, which is one of our favorite aspects of traveling.
To end our time in Curacao the best way possible, we spent our final morning relaxing by the pool, sipping on coffee and going for a swim. The pool was so gorgeous and I loved having a lazy morning soaking up one last bit of Caribbean warmth.
Spending a long weekend in the Caribbean with Choice Hotels was the perfect way to reflect on the past 5 years of our life and see how much has changed since our first visit to the island. It helped ground us and made us remember what we value and find important in both life and travel. Building lasting connections with one another and others we meet is what travel is all about. We left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for the holidays and the start of the New Year!
What Caribbean island would you visit to reconnect with a loved one?
We recently explored the island of Curacao as part of the #ChoiceCaribbean campaign. This article is sponsored by Choice Hotels and the Acoya Hotel Suites and Villas, and we were provided our hotel stay, airfare, and some meals and expenses in connection with our adventure in the Caribbean. To book your own Caribbean getaway, head to ChoiceCaribbean.com! The experiences, stories and opinions are entirely our own.