Sometimes when you’re traveling for work and have no control over your own arrangements, it can be worrisome. I spend hours, if not days, researching every last bit of where we stay—more often than not, an Airbnb rental—when traveling on our own. So not having an itinerary until the night before and just showing up can be, well, a bit … nerve-wracking.
We should haven’t been at all concerned. Santa Barbara Beach Resort was perfect.
I get a lot of emails from readers or people who stumble upon my site via Google asking for Caribbean resort destinations: What’s a good place to go with kids? What about as a couple when you don’t want a cheesy tourist experience? How about somewhere that won’t totally blow the bank?
Santa Barbara hits all those points.
Our room itself was a pretty standard size with a clean, minimalist design, but man did I love that balcony that opened right up onto the Caribbean. And with rooms as low as $197 a night, you really can’t beat the price for the value you get either.
I loved how the resort was remote—a good 25 minutes from the capital of Willemstad and flanked by a private residential community—but also accessible (i.e. a short drive) to so many things we wanted to do, from a visit to the Chichi doll factory to a morning of boat diving.
Since we were there on assignment for AFAR, they kept us pretty booked to the hour the five days we were there. Had we had more time to chill? I can see both of us just hanging out at this spot all day long. I mean, wouldn’t you?
We stayed on-site for dinner one night—Santa Barbara has three restaurants—and like the rest of our time in Curaçao, the food was on point: a good mix of surf and turf, very fresh and accented by seasonal ingredients.
My fellow diners weren’t bad on the eyes either 😉
Unlike other islands, Curaçao isn’t chock full of sandy beaches—or at least, parts of its coastline are rocky and rugged, like the area around Santa Barbara. Like Bonaire, it’s a mostly desert island. For the sandy stretches, you drive north to the west coast for the afternoon.
Still, Santa Barbara does a great job of making do with what its got—and creating a roped-off lagoon along its one sandy spot.
But really what I loved the most was the sheer space; including the 18-hole golf course, the resort spans 3,000 acres. Since when have you visited an affordable, family-friendly hotel in the Caribbean (or anywhere really) and not been surrounded by screeching children? Sure, there were one or two sprinkled here and there, but for the most part, the ratio was in our favor.
So next time one of you writes me and asks where you should go on your next tropical vacay, don’t be surprised when I respond with just three words: Santa Barbara, Curaçao (stat!). I’ll make it one step easier for you: You can book your stay right here!