My family hired DLN Ecursionsto give us a unique and tailored experience of our day in Curacao on 6/2/2022. Prior to our visit we were able to correspond with a trip coordinator to nail down the types of things we wanted to see and do on the island. Days before sailing we received a confirmation email with good instructions on how to find the tour contact, and our contact was professionally dressed and on time when we exited the ship. Our ATV and driver were more than ready for our excursion. Chen gave us a brief overview of the vehicle and types of terrain we’d be seeing and got us all situated in the vehicle. They came prepared with goggles (the ATV lacks a windshield) and sunscreen if we needed them. Though it seats 4 passengers, the middle seat in the back is suited to a smaller member of the party, and if all are full adults, I would recommend keeping the party to 3 instead of 4.
We had requested four things on our trip: authentic food, flamingoes, island views and snorkeling. Our first stop was at a local lake that attracts flamingoes from neighboring Aruba/Bonaire. We were fairly close to the birds and Chen explained that these birds can’t get food on the other islands and have begun to set up home there. They arrive as white birds and start getting more pink the more shrimp and fish they are able to get. It was really nice to be the only ones looking at these particular birds at the time. It was on the side of a road, but the road wasn’t excessively busy so it wasn’t bad. Our next stop took us into the underbrush on a less developed road that led to the top of one of the hills on the island. It afforded a beautiful view of the bays. Chen explained that the nearby oil storage tanks were no longer being used and were to be developed into other areas soon, though the environmental cleanup may take longer than expected. He knew a lot about the history of oil refining on the island and its contribution to the local economy.
Our third stop was a non-crowded beach in a cove that had some wonderful snorkeling. We were supposed to be denied entry, as one of the other cruise ships had “rented” the cove, but because our tour guide had a relationship with all the staff on that beach, we were able to get a spot too. He brought beach chairs, water, and modern snorkel masks for this. These masks cover the entire face so the nose can breathe too, and though it took a little getting used to (if you are used to the 2-piece snorkels), it ended up being a more pleasant experience. I would suggest they keep at least one 2-piece snorkel on hand because the single units would not seal with glasses, and one of our party had to keep on glasses to have a good experience. The fish and coral in this cove were smaller than other excursions we’ve done, but the variety was just as wide and the water was so pristine that it was still a great experience. The only downside to this beach was that the entry point is very rocky and can be hard to balance and walk (imagine large round pebbles piled up).
All that snorkeling worked up some hunger and they had prepared some delicious bruschetta as a snack (all local produce) along with an assortment of juices, sodas and water to complement.
We left the first beach and travelled to another. This beach was not nearly as rocky and had just as many and varied fish. It was located below a cliff and attracted other types of sea life. We enjoyed this one as much.
The next stop was on to lunch. Lunch was ordered in advance as one of our members has dietary restrictions. The restrictions were treated with utmost respect and did not impact the quality of the food. Each member who ordered seafood received a plate with no fewer than 4 seafood options all cooked with local spices and methods. The sides offered were traditional (fries) or local, and we opted for the local side which I can only describe as “if masa married refried beans”. It was quite tasty and more than enough food. The restaurant itself was on a cliff overlooking another cove where locals and tourists were “cliff jumping” into the water.
The last stop was a lovely surprise as we drove down to the cove we had been overlooking to discover that it had sea turtles. These turtles hang out in this cove because fisherman clean their catch and discard the remains into the cove. We saw at least 4 juvenile to adult sea turtles swimming right under the dock where we were standing. That was amazing!
In all, Curacao itself has more of a modern, developed vibe but Chen took us to the more authentic areas and helped us have a unique experience. I would highly recommend this tour if you want to learn about the island and experience its ruggedness and distinctions outside of the typical tourist experience.