One of the biggest travel trends of 2017 was transformative travel. We’re living in a world of sensory overload where so much of the world is on display via social media and the internet. There are virtual reality apps that allow you to walk around the colosseum in Rome, and ski the Swiss Alps while staying in the comfort of your own home. Travel trends keep changing on the dime but there has been an emergence of people looking for a purpose while they travel, not merely traveling just because. Last year when I was going through a difficult time in my life and I was looking for a bit of perspective and direction. I decided it was best for me to get off the grid for a little while, and so began my solo venture to Curaçao.
My plan was to get out of my comfort zone, by getting under the water, and high above the clouds and experiencing all that local Curaçao had to offer.
While it’s one thing to ‘get off the grid’ when your experiencing turbulent times in life, choosing an island seemed even more appealing to me. Thousands of miles of ocean separating you from your problems back on the mainland, I was not running away- merely seeking an escape for a couple of days. I wanted to experience a different culture and slow down, which was tough to do when my brain was running 1,000 miles a minute. Curaçao is an incredible island which I didn’t know too much about. I did know about their resident liqueur, Blue Curaçao. The infamous blue liquid that mixes well into a Blue Lagoon, my favourite cocktail in university.
Flying overhead I was in awe of the turquoise waters below. I spent the next five days perusing local markets, eating my body weight in fresh fish and mingling with the locals. My biggest takeaway was the people of the island are just as warm as the temperatures.
The beach at Playa Knip
I stayed at Lions Dive & Beach Resort which is an eco resort, favourable among the scuba diving crowd. While I didn’t have any experience in diving (and being underwater scares me a bit) I explored ways to get deep below the sea without spending hours in the pool taking scuba lessons. I found a perfect balance when I signed up for a Sea Trek. This requires you to wear a large weighted pressurized helmet hooked up to air tanks above the water. I began this trek from the shore and walked into the water which got up to 40 feet deep. This was new to me, and even a bit scary as I don’t like the feeling of not being in control. I had a moment where I thought my helmet was going to fill with water and drown me on the ocean floor- what a way to go! The divers coached me though the course with basic sign language and I began to feel at ease. When I emerged back out of the water 40 minutes later I felt euphoric, I had conquered by fears and had a lot of fun doing it.
The remainder of the day I spent beaching it, with my toes in the sand and a book in my hand. The island has a number of private and public beaches which can be accessed for a couple of dollars a day. Playa Knip was my favourite of all. I grabbed a fruit batido from one of the local trucks before making my way down to the turquoise waters. Sitting in solitude hearing the ocean roar allowed me to better reconnect with myself. It’s funny how having noone to talk to used to terrify me, I was actually beginning to enjoy it.
Walking along the seafloor during the Sea Trek
I woke up first thing the next morning and laced up my running shoes. Today I would hike to the top of Mount Christoffel to stand high among the clouds at 1,220 feet. A sweaty two hours later I stood at the top and soaked in the panoramic 360 views of the island. There is something to be said about a hiking a mountain as opposed to a regular trail. A sense of accomplishment that goes along with seeing how high you climbed.
At the top of Mount Christoffel
Queen Emma Bridge
Fresh fruit at the floating market. Most of the produce is boated in from Venezuela.
My goal while exploring the land portion of the island was not so much about conquering fears, but more so about getting in touch with some natural healing practices. I had heard that there was a large Aloe Plantation just 30 minutes outside Willemstad. Before visiting this plantation aloe made me think of sunburns and the after sun treatment my mom used to rub on my shoulders after a long day at the pool. Now I have a whole new appreciation for this beautiful plant and all of its health benefits. After a quick demonstration on how the plant is cultivated and extracted, I tasted it (it’s edible, weird I know). I left the property with a full set of skin care products as I vowed to never use heavy chemicals on my skin ever again.
Next up was a visit with Dinah Veeris the island’s local holistic medicine guru. Dina was just as vibrant as the above picture suggests. She really listened to what I was saying and my health concerns. Like many, I suffer from anxiety and was thinking of going off my medication. Dina and I wandered through her garden where she let me touch smell and taste a variety of plants and explained how they would react with my body. I left the garden with a number of supplements, and herbal teas which would certainly help me continue on my healing journey when I headed back home.
It was only natural that my final step in self care involved a visit to the spa. I had heard great things about Santa Barbara Golf and Beach Resort. The resort hugs the coastline and sits on over 2,000 acres of land. I was told by locals that it’s the best place to catch the sunset so I had booked an appointment late in the afternoon. Along with a championship golf course, Santa Barbara is also home to the best spa on the island. I opted for a facial as the salt water and sun had dried out my face. My therapist explained to me that they customize each treatment based on your skin. Instead of selecting from a pamphlet I trusted the therapist to leave me with hydrated glowing skin. I was ready to brave the chilly temperatures back home.
At the end of the week I was feeling a lot lighter in body and mind. In the past, most of my tropical vacations consisted of all inclusives where the goal was to beat the rush at the swim up bar. This trip was so much more, I will forever be grateful for the experiences I had at a time when I needed it most.