The Punda Quarter of Willemstad, Curacao
This is one of the most charming areas of the Caribbean and I’ve been to most destinations in this region. The lovely little cafes along the bay in the photograph really make for great people and ship watching. And the food we had at our cafe was really quite good and reasonable. Have some fun and poke around the menus of all the locations – I don’t think you can go wrong at any of them. And if it is hot, they do have misting machines.
There are many nice streets with a lot of shops that you will recognize and many even have air conditioning which is very important here. Everyone in the shops was extremely friendly. I must admit that my impression of Willemstad was that the gorgeous Dutch buildings along the waterfront was all there was to the historic nice buildings – kind of like the restored Romerplatz in Frankfurt, Germany. But there is an entire town center of really nice historic structures with warrens of alleys to explore here.
And just when you think you won’t find another cute little area to sit and have a drink or shop some more, you round a corner and there is more to discover. And usually lots of shade which is very important. The above shot is of Gomezplein.
We spent some time oddly prowling around the Polo store, various stores selling all sorts of duty free items such as cologne, sunglasses and more. The shopping was really quite nice and not nearly as cruise line oriented (Tanzanite, Columbian Emeralds, those T shirts that change color with the sun, Little Switzerland, etc.) as many ports of call. It was really enjoyable.
Boolchand’s is across from Penha (at the corner of Heerenstraat and Breedestraat) and and while they are in other ports this is kind of ground zero for the shopping in this district. Once you find these – and they are easy to find – you will be able to easily spend hours meandering in and out of shops, resting with a drink, grabbing a soda from a street vendor and just generally people watching.
So overall, I would strongly suggest this destination for shopping, food, people watching, architecture and so much more. You can see in the above photograph that it is far more than just a facade, it is a town center filled with great experiences. Enjoy your own discoveries.