Insider’s Guide: Curacao by jewelry designer, Becky Zeijdel-Paz
Brooklyn-based jewelry designer, Becky Zeijdel-Paz of Beck Jewels has become a fashion favorite for her whimsy line of tropical pearl jewelry. Her collection is inspired by both her life in New York City, and her upbringing in the laid back, dutch caribbean island of Curaçao which you can see glimmers of in her wanderlust-induced instagram feed. Below, she shares her favorite local haunts and secret spots.
Baoase, a Balinese inspired boutique hotel for a true luxury and private experience. Santa Barbara with its vast grounds and proximity to the local yacht club makes for great boat watching while playing a round of golf. Pietermaai Boutique Hotel, modern apartments strategically located in one of the most lively neighborhoods on the island
Best brunch spot?
Koko’s, a laidback breakfast spot on the beach with delicious smoothies and healthy options. On Sundays a DJ spins chill tunes on their beach after brunch. Number 10, an Instagram-friendly local hotspot offering the best coffee on the island (open only weekdays) and on weekends, Hofi Cas Cora, a farm to table spot in a restored landhuis.
Best beach party?
The wildest party is Cabana on Wednesday nights with DJs and live performances. For a chill Reggae music on the beach Saturday evenings at Zanzibar or Sunday Happy Hour at Wet and Wild (on the same shore, just a few minutes walking you will also find Cuban live music at Hemingway for great dancing.)
Best untapped beach?
On the west side of the island there’s a treasure trove of untapped beaches, some have yet to be discovered. I always recommend renting a Jeep and taking the road less traveled. There are a few beaches you need to walk to or get to by boat like Santu Pretu (a black sand beach) and the Blue Room Cave (an underwater cave) however, some are easier to access by car like Playa Jeremí or Playa Forti with its famous cliff jumping. If you are looking for a beach with access to a restaurant then Porto Mari or Cas Abao.
Most scenic and beautiful beach?
On the west side, Kenepa Grandi/Grote Knip has the most impressive turquoise waters.
Best neighborhood to explore if you need a break from the beach?
Pietermaai, protected by UNESCO, is a bohemian neighborhood where Dutch colonial architecture thrives. Walk around the crumbling buildings and discover the restored gems that are quickly turning into restaurants, bars and boutique hotels. (Barber— a hipster hair salon frequented by the local youth located in a beautiful little alley way, a mojito at Mundo Bizarro, Beans for breakfast, Scuba Lodge for lunch on the ocean, or poolside lounging at St Tropez, be sure to order their famous Kaasballen, the best Dutch cheese balls on the island.)
Pictures by @sandandstilettos
Best local food joint?
De Visserij— freshest fish on the island, order a side of funchi hasa (our local fried polenta) on the Piscaderabaai bay (only open Friday through Sunday)
The Bikini Shop and Walk in Closet at the Papagayo beach club are two great boutiques for bikinis and tunics. Lot 1038, a cool furniture store with a mix of Dutch designers, local art and pieces by Kartell all duty-free, if you have space in your luggage I recommend a visit. And lastly, The Old Freeport Shop with branches throughout the island is my favorite for serious jewelry and leather goods duty-free shopping.
Best place to take in the sunset?
Zest on the Beach on one side of the island and Karakter if you find yourself beach hopping on the west side.. both by far the most beautiful sunsets and can enjoy with a drink in hand.
Best neighborhood for bar-hopping?
Pietermaai after hours is buzzing with restaurants and bars favorited by locals and tourists alike all in walking distance from each other. Start at St Tropez for a pre-sunset drink, dine at Fishalicious, Mosa, Serafina or Kome, then go to Miles Jazz bar for live music. My favorites for a drink in the area are Caña and Joy Wine Bar.
Best dinner spot to dress up for?
If you want to dress up in Curaçao, wedges or pretty flats are key as most of my favorite
places are on the sand :) Sunset drinks and dinner at Mood is a must.
Best dinner spot to dress down for?
Barbecue and fresh fish at Zest on the Beach still wearing your bathing suit after a day on their beach.
Curacao’s best kept secret?
A 30 minute boat ride will take you to our uninhabited little sister island Klein Curacao. Surrounded by the clearest waters in the Caribbean, the only structures on this island are a giant shipwreck site and an incredible abandoned lighthouse. I suggest chartering a boat or booking passage on a catamaran.
Best time to visit?
Because we are not in the Hurricane belt, it is always a good time to visit Curaçao. However my favorite time to visit is during the North Sea Jazz festival as the island feels electric during this time. Past performers include, Prince, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Wonder, Damian Marley, Christina Aguilera and countless others.
Tourist traps to avoid?
I honestly can’t think of one, I do find taxi rides expensive and strongly recommend renting a car when possible.
Any other tips only locals would know?
For the best local tips, follow Sand and Stilettos on Instagram, Gaby is in constant pursuit of the newest spots on the island.