i was lucky enough to get sent to curacao for work. but rather than stay in a big fancy typical hotel, i decided i wanted something more low-key, where i could really get a feel for the island, and most importantly, i didn't want to have to eat out every night. i came across the Limestone Holiday in Spanish Water which is a bunch of little waterside bungalows run by a very friendly couple, Roel and Sylvia - who made my weeklong stay truly excellent. they arranged a taxi for me from the airport and welcomed me at my 1 bedroom bungalow. (see photo!)
Spanish Water is just west of the main town, a quiet bay on the south side of the island with lots of fancy houses, marinas, sailboats and beautiful little inlets. At Sarifundi marina you can eat and drink on funky floating docks, and go on a snorkel cruise on a beautiful restored schooner. There's also Pro-Sail Curacao, where you can rent a sunfish or sailboat.
the Limestone Holiday Resort is awesome. it's on its own little beach on a small inlet lined with mangroves, across from a little marina. my 1 bedroom apartment was super cheap to rent ($80 a night) and had a separate bedroom with AC, a little front porch, a big clean bathroom, mosquito nets, TV, couch/day bed and a full kitchen. i even had an outside patio with a bbq, couch and chairs and there's a thatch covered patio right on the beach. you can also rent scuba gear and kayaks. Roel and Sylvia and their kids were always around to chat, answer any questions, recommend dive spots, restaurants etc...and for $35 a day i used one of their cars - which i think is much better than renting from some big company. the best part was that when i planned a dive excursion with some friends, Roel let me use a station wagon, which had tons of room for the tanks i rented from the Limestone - which are a steal at $6 each!
Curacao is best known for its shore diving. Roel sells a drive and dive map, which has every dive spot in curacao labeled with a number. you load your gear and drive until you see a red and white rock on the side of the road that is labeled with the number of the dive spot on the map, and that's it. gear up and swim out. it's so easy, and so much better than arranging an expensive boat dive. though i would only recommend this for more experienced divers...
my other favorite spot was Santa Cruz beach, on the west side of the island. here, we arrived with our scuba gear and paid a water taxi $10 each to bring us out to a dive spot known as the mushroom forest. he left us there for an hour and returned to pick us up, and brought us to the blue cave, where we jumped out and snorkeled around a bit. upon our return, captain eric greeted us at his great little seaside house where we were served some of the freshest and most delicious seafood i had during my entire stay. had a few amstels, watched the sunset on my last night on the island...a perfect end to a perfect trip!
so there's curacao, from a traveller, not a tourist.
feel free to ask me any questions!