Gay Curacao

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Second only to Puerto Rico, Curacao is one of your best bets for an all-gay vacation in the Caribbean.

My first trip to Curacao was back in the last century and I knew little about the island with the exception of its part of the “ABC Islands” title along with Aruba and Bonaire. I also knew that Curacao was part of the Netherland Antilles which meant it was a Dutch Commonwealth and very similar to A&B. The other two’s economy is solely based on tourism while Curacao has a life and history all its own with a fascinating, somewhat shady past. Curacao describes itself as an 18th Century Village on an exotic Island. Curacao also remains as a natural harbor, a divers dream, a honeymooner’s paradise and a safe-haven for the LGBT Community. WHAT? Simply this: Curacao has been very aggressively seeking our business and that is a very good thing. “Just between we girls”, my definition of “aggressive” means walking the walk after all the talk. Gay Friendly sounds great but, show me what that means. I am seeing that now with Curacao. Their current “We Live and Let live” campaign, aimed at the world’s LGBT Market is fascinating to observe. Like other things in life, sometimes things are easy to “get up” when to me, it is much more important to “keep it up”. But, I digress!

Curacao will celebrate the first ever “Curacao Pride” this September 25-29. Parades, celebrations and masked street balls will highlight this year’s carefully evaluated events and the results will be presented to the International Pride Organization, INTERPRIDE. Other elements will include the first ever Gay Caribbean Carnival Festival this coming February and the “expected to be Huge” All Caribbean Pride planned for May 2014. I am beginning to “feel the love”.

If you recall from my blog about Gay Amsterdam, I mentioned the many protective laws giving same-sex partners the same rights as anyone else. Curacao falls under the same government and the same rules. Maybe “Going Dutch” can mean something other than splitting a check. I would prefer to think of it as just “being fair” and “Genuine”.


Curacao has created: Curacao Gay Pro, an association of professional organizations and in individuals working with or for the Curacao and international sexual diverse LGBT communities. Curacao is all about respect, sexual equality, and being the most “Gay-Friendly Island” in the Caribbean. One label that will be most deserved. Several years ago Curacao launched a gay and lesbian travel web-site and most of its best hotels are members of the Gay Tourism Association.   

The largest of the six islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is the most southern and just 35 miles north of Venezuela and 30 miles east of Aruba. (“cure-a-sow”) is not as easy to get to as are many other islands but as we all know, special effort is sometimes necessary to find someplace really special. Most flights connect in Miami and Curacao is 2 and ½ hours flight time from MIA. Tack on at least two hours layover with the additional 2 hour flight etc. from PHL and you have a full day of travel from our area but I think it is well worth it.

The island has a very unassuming feel to it. I have always found the island people shy at first and after the opening effort on my part, very warm and welcoming. I have found traveling anywhere, that a smile and soft approach to anyone you meet from Morocco to Anchorage generally works well for everything from buying shave cream to getting a better room at the hotel. Regardless of language, a friendly look/tone/approach will always get you much further than “The Ugly American” personality. While it is true that some people are simply assholes most are just “waiting to be loved” The general population of Curacao will match you in attitude. I think they are just wonderful.

One day, some buddies and I went out deep sea fishing, which was phenomenal! Ted actually caught a fairly good size Mahi Mahi which we raced back to the hotel with. I saw the hotel executive chef in the kitchen and asked if someone could help us out cooking our exciting catch of the day. Sun-burned, sweaty and still feeling the boat, we settled in for a beer or two. The chef and staff broiled, grilled and roasted our fish and served it with three sauces! I will never forget the absolute succulence of all three preparations but most of all the pride and desire to please his guests was clear.

Curacao offers the usual Caribbean splendors: ravishing sunsets, magnificent tropical scenery, soft-sugary beaches with crystalline water and the favorite and latest in water sports. The capital of Curacao, Willemstad, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a very interesting glimpse into early Spanish settlers and Dutch traders. A narrow strip of water, Saint Anna Bay runs through the heart of Willemstad and pedestrians can use Queen Emma Bridge. A pontoon bridge built in 1888; the bridge opens every half hour to allow the flow of water-craft through “the city” and is really one of the wonders of the world. Originally, one did not pay the toll if walking barefoot. Today, there is no toll either way. The “city” itself is colorful, architecturally fascinating and full of unique and memorable wonders. Not to mention great shopping. On Curacao just as with any island with a deep enough harbor that is a long time cruise stop, it pays to do your shopping when the ships are in as prices will be more competitive and stock will be more plentiful. The straw markets will not really change and generally the more crowded the market is; the less likely you will be to find spectacular deals. Shopping for better quality merchandise is another matter entirely. Personally I would never sacrifice pool/beach time for shopping and since airports any more are really shopping centers/food courts, my job is done. And, it’s all duty free!

At the end of this month The 20th Annual North Sea Jazz Festival will take place with stars like Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock and Prince. Usher just canceled for personal reasons. As if the performers were not eclectic enough add: Marc Anthony, Paul Anka and Philly’s own The Roots! There are others that I am not familiar with but it certainly sounds like a fun and wonderful two day series of concerts. The venue for the event is within walking distance of most major hotels.

Speaking of hotels, Curacao runs the gamut from small elegant boutique properties to “everything you could want” all inclusive resorts, guest houses and luxurious hotel and casino combinations. For my last event in Curacao I used the Sonesta which is now the Marriott and I loved the fact that I could walk out my glass doors directly onto the sand. Talk about an ocean view! It was a great hotel/Casino with wonderful amenities too.

THE BOTTOM LINE: More than just the place where Blue Curacao Liquor is made, (to be honest, blue drinks sort of creep me out) this island has a history and culture all its own. A bit out of the way and almost part of South America, Curacao is a very special place indeed. Great people, beaches, food, places to stay and relax create a genuine tropical paradise. The fact that Curacao goes out of its way to welcome the LGBT community is simply icing on the cake.

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