Why: It’s the Caribbean island everyone-you-know hasn’t been to—yet. The largest of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao has turquoise waters and a rich heritage that are big draws for divers, snorkelers and history lovers. With a Hyatt scheduled to open its doors in 2008 and the new direct flights, this could be the next Aruba. So book now, and in 20 years tell the grandkids that you “discovered” the place.
Where to stay: The Marriott Curaçao offers a secluded private beach, beachside spa treatments, and a full-service dive shop (011-599-9-736-8800; marriottcuracao.com). Or split a week between the Kura Hulanda’s two luxe properties—the new Beach Club, and the award-winning resort in town (011-5999-839-3600; kurahulanda.com).
Where to eat: Fort Nassau, an 18th-century fort, features fresh local fish and a hilltop view of the island (011-599-9-461-3086). Or visit Angelica’s Kitchen, where chef Angelique Schoop guides private groups through preparing an authentic Caribbean meal (011-599-9-562-3699).
What to do: Spend an afternoon in the island’s only city, Willemstad; visit the slavery museum (at the Kura Hulanda Hotel) or the oldest still-functioning Jewish synagogue in the Americas (Mikvé Israel-Emanuel; 011-599-9-461-1067). And hire a guide from Yellow Tourism Solutions N.V. (tourism-curacao.com) to lead you to the lesser-known beaches.
Getting there: Continental flies direct from Newark airport in just under five hours; from Philadelphia, take American Airlines via Miami.