Journi Guide | There's Never Been a Better Time to See Curaçao

Ditch Aruba! Prices are down and surf's up in Curaçao.

When travelling to a famous international destination, we tend to have high expectations. Breathtaking views! Great food! Cultural exchanges with friendly locals! But too many times, our lofty aspirations are met with the harsh reality of dirty, overcrowded streets and pricey hotels. Local flavor? It's nearly impossible to find in many of the world's most touristy destinations. That's why we've created Journi Guides.

Journi Guides tell you where to beat the crowds, experience something authentic, and get the best 'gram of your life.

Check out this week's Journi Guide below to get our top recommendation of places you might not have heard of, but definitely should get to know.

Located safely outside the hurricane belt, there has never been a better time to visit the Netherland Antilles—Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, more commonly known as the ABC Islands.

Our bet is on Curaçao. Off the north coast of Venezuela you'll find the small, 170-square mile island rich hidden gem beaches, iguanas, and 150,000 friendly residents; the local concept of dushi (sweet or nice) isn't just a warm welcome for tourists, it's a way of life.

Need more incentive? Forbes reported Curaçao as one of the best bargain destinations of 2018, with an 11% dip in hotel prices. With luxe resorts, budget airbnbs, and everything in between, getting to this island paradise is easier than you might think: JetBlue flies nonstop from New York and American Airlines just added another route from Miami.

Consider this your guide to the best Curaçao has to offer.

Explore downtown Willemstad

With its candy colored row houses of Dutch and Portuguese-inspired architecture, Willemstad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Many of the historic houses are government-owned, meaning that a number of them are free and open for you to explore during the day.

Admire—and bring home—the work of local women artisans

Whether it's the marine-inspired aesthetic of jewelry designer and ceramicist Evelien Sipkes; the painted ceramic Chichi dolls at Serena's Art Factory; the cooperative SilvanyRoss, filled with a locally made arts and crafts; or a visit to Dinah Veeris tends a lush garden of tropical plants and medicinal herbs for use in to herbal lotions, oils, and other bath products.

Drink the eponymous liqueur

Tour Landhuis Chobolobo, the sunshiney yellow 19th-century mansion with a central courtyard cocktail bar. But this isn't just any luxe locale in which to day drink; it's the home to the Genuine Curaçao Liqueur made from the native laraha orange. They serve homemade ice cream too, so this one's a no-brainer for an afternoon cooldown.

Visit the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere

In use since 1732, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, known colloquially as "the snoa," is both house of worship to approximately 145 local families and a museum tracing Curaçao's Jewish heritage. Founded by Jews who fled Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century (the oldest tombstone in the cemetery dates back to the 1500s!). Be sure to also check out the floor. Made of sand imported from Israel, it is a reminder of ancestors who were forced to muffle the sounds of their worship.

Eat keshi yena

Don't miss the official dish of the Antilles: Gouda or Edam stuffed with chicken—often livers—olives, capers, pickled onions, and prunes. Keshi yena is served all over, but people rave about the ones served at Gouverneur de Rouville, a restaurant in a second-story colonial building in Otrobanda, that also serves panoramic views of Willemstad's waterfront.

Go out on a Thursday

One night a week, Willemstad transforms into an outdoor cultural festival called Punda Vibes. The city streets and squares fill with music—everything from a marching band to Latin and jazz—and on the main plaza at Gomezplein dancers demonstrate the Curaçaoan waltz. If you work up a thirst dancing, head to one of the many restaurants and bars offering happy hour specials. Just be sure to get back outside in time for the fireworks over St. Anna Bay.

Go wild

Head to the rugged northeast to see untamed Curaçao. Check out a sunrise safari at Christoffel National Park and see the island's endangered white-tailed deer and native barn owl or hike 1,239 foot Mount Christoffel. Sea turtles nest along the island's rockiest shoreline at Shete Boka National Park, whose name translates to "Seven Mouths" or "Seven Inlets." Picture waves crashing dramatically against the rocks like geysers. The deserted beaches are a popular scuba diving spot, or hike the trails on limestone bluffs that lead to viewing platforms above the surf.

Eat like a local

Curaçao's cuisine reflects its diverse history and heritage, with influences from the Creole, Dutch, and Indonesian. At the open-air food hall, Plasa Bieu, vendors cook up local specialties like goat, iguana stew, and pumpkin pancakes. Food trucks come out after 9pm in Caracasbaai area near Willemstad and serve grilled meats in a party bus atmosphere. Other local specialties to try include: red snapper and cod with rice and beans; ayaka, meat tamales wrapped in banana leaves; sult, pickled pigs ears and feet; funchi, a cornmeal mush similar to polenta; okra stew; plantains; and any dish with cactus. Wash it all down with awa di lamunchi, a freshly squeezed and sweetened lime juice.

Head to the Floating Market

Due to its dry climate, There is little agriculture on Curaçao so every morning boats from Venezuela dock on the water in downtown Willemstad. At the Floating Market, you'll find the freshest citrus fruits, avocados, honey, bananas, tuna, and mahi-mahi (often called "dorado"), and vendors negotiating in Dutch, English, and the native Papiamentu.

Knock back some green rum

At 8 a.m., the doors open to one of the island's oldest water holes, Netto Bar, which has been making, bottling and serving shots of rom berde (green rum) since 1954. Sample the sweet-bitter liquor, distilled with anise and the dried peels of the native Lahara orange, in a green rum cocktail or in a shot.

Waste a day at the beach

With its many coves and inlets, Curaçao boasts 35 powdery white sandy beaches. Many of the beaches charge a nominal entrance fee, but Playa Kenepa is a public stretch where coolers are welcome. Snack vendors line up at the entrance selling the local pastechi, a crunchy pastry stuffed with seasoned meats. Parking and admission is also free at Playa Knip, and the swimming is divine. After a dip in the electric blue water, cool off with the a visit to the batidos stand serving fresh-fruit smoothies.

If after you've eaten like a Curaçaon and soaked up the sun, surf, and culture, you find your suitcase too stuffed to bring momentos home with you, remember the island concept of dushi. Sweet memories and island kindness are imports that can fit in your seatback pocket.

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Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

Vacation VacationUniversity of Kentucky

Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!