Curacao: The Other End of the Island

Today we’re moving to the west end of the island. We’ve had a great time in Willemstad but are eager to explore the quieter side of the island.

Westpunt is the western most point and mostly known for being surrounded by beautiful nature, scuba diving and shores.

The whole island from east to west is about 40 miles so it’s not a very long journey even though the roads are slow and winding. We made several stops at nature reserves, beaches and other sites of interest.

The salt flats (Salinas) near Jan Kok is where we found a Sanctuary where flamingos can be seen in their natural habitat.

The Salinas is surrounded by mud flats, shrub land and forests and is a foraging habitat for flamingos and several water birds.

The salt flats were used for salt extraction until the 1960s and salt pans are still present. The area is currently used for recreational purposes of hiking and biking as well as guided eco-tours.

A viewing platform offers a great view of the salt flats and wandering flamingos.
Flamingos can also be observed from a small restaurant across from the Salt Flats.

We found no tap beer, let alone Craft beer, in all of Curacao. Most places only carry Dutch brands of bottled beer such as Heineken and Amstel Bright a European Pale Lager style beer. We did find a Venezuelan beer at an isolated small grocery store. Most beer comes in small ‘pony’ size bottles. I’m guessing that the smaller size is used because normal size bottles become warm fast in this climate.

The Williwood sign (a parody of the one found in Hollywood) can be found in St. Willibrordus. The locals of the tiny tropical village were tired of being anonymous so they made the sign which changed the name.

Previously, the town was known for its grand church that dates back to the 1800s but the Williwood sign has taken the spotlight as the ‘can’t miss’ attraction. In 2011, St. Willibrordus officially changed its name to Williwood.

The roadside is bordered with scrubby green bushes with lots of thorns and spikes as well as lots of cactus — it’s lush with greenery but arid with desert and cactus. We were surprised to find mosquitos here … just glad we didn’t encounter sand fleas.

Sunset is coming and we need to find a beach. Bumpy twisty dirt roads took us to Playa Portamari and Daaibooi Baai. A handful of snorkelers and swimmers were waiting for the sunset.

Nice sandy bay with gentle waves good for snorkeling and a starting point for scuba.
The colors keep changing for about a half hour after the sun sets.

We drove the rest of the way to Westpunt in the dark and on a paved road but very winding and surrounded with shrub, scrub, cactus and an occasional street light.

We had a late dinner (8:00 pm … considered late here on the west end.) The Cactus Cafe is next door to our accommodations. Very quiet and very decorated for Christmas. We had Barracuda and funghi (polenta) for dinner and tried their African ‘peanut with banana’ soup. It was delicious but not something I’d make at home. Reminded me of Elvis.

All of a sudden David had a purring dinner guest sitting next to him.

We have arrived at Westpunt and so has the full moon.

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Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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