With that, I kicked into overdrive finding all the spots we needed to cover in the 24 hours we’d be on the ground on our first visit back to Curaçao in over a decade. Following a quick 35-minute flight from Aruba that landed mid-day, our plan was to head to the hotel we’d found, drop the bags, and set out on a whirlwind visit to the island.
Arriving at the gate of the resort, we looked at each other and said, “Wow, this place is nice.” A change of plans was in the air.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao
Located on the southeast side of Curaçao, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao is a fabulous resort with a great staff, a beautiful sprawling hotel, a spa, seven restaurants & bars, a golf course, a long private beach, three pools, a fitness center, two marinas, a dive and water sports center, and hiking trails.
With 350 rooms and suites, there are numerous room options. In addition to standard room plans, the resort also offers various levels of inclusive plans including a bed and breakfast option, a plan that includes all meals and beverages, an activity plan that includes water sports, tennis, and the kids’ club, and one that combines the meal and the activity plan.
The rooms and suites
Our room was a standard, garden view room. Decorated in upscale Caribbean with wood accents, the room was spacious and quiet, with a large, private balcony overlooking the garden.
The bath was modern, with plenty of towels and locally-sourced shampoo & conditioners supplemented with The Spa Collection toiletries. The room also had large closets, a large safe, a hairdryer, a coffee maker, and plush bathrobes.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort: The resort
We did end up dropping our bags as soon as we checked in, but instead of roaming around the island, we headed straight out to the Splash pool bar, ordered a couple of mango daiquiris and some fish tacos, and lounged by the pool.
With two large main pools and a third in the exclusive Sea Traditions area of the resort, there was plenty of space to relax and enjoy a Caribbean afternoon in the sun.
Just steps from Santa Barbara’s white-sand beach, we eventually vacated our poolside oasis and ventured out for a stroll along the water’s edge.
Our journey took us along the long private beach that borders the resort’s lagoon. Set against the natural backdrop of Curacao, the lagoon’s crystal clear waters are a tranquil spot for swimming or perhaps some standup paddleboarding.
Finding a lounge chair and shady spot under an umbrella, we lingered, watching the sailboats and yachts pass and occasionally taking a dip in the warm Caribbean waters.
The boat traffic captured our attention, so we decided to take a walk down the long, floating pier toward the marina.
The resort is actually home to two marinas, Barbara Beach Marina and Seru Boca Marina, enabling watercraft up to 180 feet to dock in the same waters where the Spanish Armada set down anchor years ago when they first discovered Curacao.
As the afternoon wound to an end, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner and, upon reaching our room, we found a surprise welcome greeting from the hotel!
After devouring the sweet treat, we made our way to the lobby – a beautifully designed, open-air great room with magnificent views looking out over the property.
We grabbed a couple of chairs, watched the sun disappear for the day, and then our thoughts turned to dinner and drinks.
The restaurants, bars, and cafés
Santa Barbara has several dining options on the property…
Splash Bar & Grill – near the pool, serving drinks and casual fare throughout the day and evening
Jun’s Sushi Bar – located in the great room, offering specialty cocktails and fresh sushi in a casual atmosphere
Shore – Caribbean fine dining with stunning views
Medi – a popular spot open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
We selected Medi for the evening and dined on the veranda, where we enjoyed a vast selection of buffet offerings.
The following morning, we had a lovely cappuccino and croissant at Bella Italia, which operates a small store and restaurant on-site at the property.
Things to do at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara has countless things to do, from aquatic adventures to hitting the links on one of the best courses in the Caribbean.
Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling equipment can be rented at the Beach Activity Center near Splash Bar & Grill. Scuba diving and boating excursions with an outside tour operator can also be arranged at the hotel.
Santa Barbara’s Tafelberg Tennis Center features four Hydrogrid® clay courts which are automatically irrigated by an underground system. Courts are available for play throughout the day and into the night, with lighted courts available for those who prefer to get their game in during cooler times of the day.
Walking, hiking, jogging & biking trails
With its sprawling design, there are plenty of walking paths throughout the resort, from oceanside walkways to strolls amidst the resort’s gorgeous landscaping.
For those seeking a bit more adventure, Santa Barbara Plantation includes 2,000 acres of natural landscape beckoning to be roamed, with rock formations, caves, caverns, and incredible plants and flowers. Guided hikes provide the opportunity to learn more about the plantation and Curacao’s rich history or trail maps are available on the Santa Barbara website for those seeking some peaceful solitude.
Bikes are available for rent at the resort for use on the trails.
Keeping up with your gym routine is a snap at the Santa Barbara, whose 24-hour fitness center has a wide selection of cardio equipment, free weights, and other fitness equipment.
A tranquil day at the spa is a peaceful escape and time of rejuvenation. The Atebi Spa at the Santa Barbara offers a full menu of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps.
Old Quarry Golf Course
Designed by Pete Dye, Santa Barbara’s Old Quarry Golf Course delivers 18 holes of golfing paradise that has earned the distinction of being named one of Golf Week’s best courses in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Named after the Santa Barbara plantation’s 19th-century limestone quarry, the par 72 golf course meanders through the rugged terrain, winding its way from the sea, through the hills and valleys near Tafelberg Mountain, and back to the Spanish Water Bay.
Tee times can be arranged at the Old Quarry Pro Shop, which also offers equipment rentals, lessons and has a great selection of golfing attire – worth a visit for golfers and non-golfers alike.
We stopped by the charming capital of Curaçao, Willemstad, on the way to the airport.
Whether visiting for a morning or a full day, Willemstad’s markets, winding streets, narrow passageways, and charming neighborhoods are fun to explore and a delight to photograph.
Known for its brightly colored buildings that line the harbor, Willemstad’s two districts of Punda and Otrobanda are separated by the Sint Anna Bay, with the beautiful Queen Juliana Bridge spanning the bay and connecting Punda on the east side and Otrobanda on the west.
Getting to Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is located at the Santa Barbara Plantation, Porta Blancu, Nieuwpoort about 40 minutes from the Curaçao airport.
Consider taking a shuttle, which can be arranged from the hotel website and is available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. We rented a car and only used it getting to and from the airport, with only our stop in Willemstad.
Should you want to venture out during your stay for a day, cars can be rented at the hotel.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort and the island of Curaçao – Wow! We love you!
We loved our, albeit brief, time at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. The resort was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the staff at the Santa Barbara were exceptionally nice and helpful, from the restaurants to the bars to the pro shop.
We must agree with the sign that sits on the opposite side of the harbor across from the beach at Santa Barbara – “Curaçao. Wow! We love you.”
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