Hammocks on the beach and live musical performances help create a laid-back vibe at Lions Dive and Beach Resort in Curacao. // © 2014 Lions Dive and Beach Resort
Feature image (above): Hemingway is one of four on-site beach bar and grills. // © 2014 Lions Dive and Beach Resort
When you drive up to Curacao’s Lions Dive & Beach Resort, you know you’re not in the U.S. any more — far from it. This beachy and sporty hotel, adjacent to Curacao Underwater Park (also known as Curacao Marine Park), is the place to go if you love to scuba dive, drink fruity drinks and lie on the beach underneath thatched huts.
We’re not talking high-end luxury here, but quiet comfort with a Dutch-Caribbean twist. From the hammocks on the beach and live island music to the presence of locals (not just tourists), everything about Lions Dive feels authentic. That’s its charm.
Most of the 102 hotel guestrooms have an ocean view, but clients who want to splurge just a little should consider one of the oceanfront Lions Suites, with one or two bedrooms. The Penthouse, priced lower than similar rooms in the U.S., has a full kitchen and dining room, a deck with 180-degree views and a slipper tub in which guests can soak while looking out at the turquoise waters a few feet away. There are also 24 luxury Lions Apartments available, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a balcony.
Besides the private, palm-studded beach, the resort has three pools, including a lap pool and a separate kids’ pool. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors Ocean Encounters dive shop can also arrange dive trips to the nearby reef.
At the on-site Santai Spa, clients can request beachside massages. Indoors, the spa boasts an extensive workout facility.
As for dining, clients won’t even need to leave the resort (although they certainly will want to check out the fascinating island that is Curacao). Restaurant Piazza serves thin-crust pizza that rivals New York's pies. Hemingway offers a buffet breakfast with strong coffee and tiny, tasty croissants; and the Chill Beach Bar & Grill is one of the best places on the island to sit, drink a cocktail and watch the sun set over the ocean.
Exploring the island from Lions Dive is easy. The resort offers a free shuttle into Willemstad, Curacao’s historic main town. In town, visitors should not miss the oldest synagogue in the Western hemisphere where, with any luck, they will see the rabbi bring out the Torah for a daily reading. There’s also the floating produce market where vendors sail from Venezuela to sell their wares and the government square with cannonballs still embedded in the stone.
For a variety of island experiences, suggest that clients spend three or four nights at Lions Dive and then another three or four nights at a hotel on another part of the island.