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From the outside lens, it’s understandable that there are existing reservations within the queer community on whether it’s safe to step foot onto the Caribbean shores. After all, safety and relaxation are the key pillars to ensure any pleasurable travel experience. But to our pleasant surprise, Curaçao reveals itself as a breath of fresh, queer air. Within our first few moments of soaking in the warm Caribbean sun rays, it was clear this colourful island was going to be quite the transformative experience.

The island itself is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, about 40 miles north of Venezuela and is famously known for its vibrant culture, kaleidoscopic carnivals, gorgeous cuisine, crystal waters and friendly natives. It’s these exact pillars that made our visit a feast for the senses.

The trip started with a whistle stop tour of the capital, Willemstad. With a balance of history and architecture to digest, there was only one way to hit the streets: electric motorcycles. Quite the thrilling start! We hopped onto the vehicles, ours being a pretty pastel pink, and under the warm supervision of our guide Cliff, away we went into the district of Punda.

The neighbourhood revealed itself to be a residential area like no other. It became apparent that experiencing Curaçao is essentially like strolling across a real-life colouring book. Each corner is more vibrant than the last, with the most gorgeous memorial art decorating every wall. Even the trees are given a lick of fuschia or turquoise paint by the local neighbourhood. Sculptured art installations ranging from clay busts to recycled plastic arrangements are scattered throughout the streets, elevating the feeling that you are immersed inside an utopian painting. Think Dr. Suess meets the Tate Modern.

Colour and art are an integral part of the Curaçao tradition. With artists being revered and commissioned by the government to bring vitality and energy into the island’s city quarters. Natives are actively encouraged to paint their homes with the boldest colours of canary yellow and lime, to name a few. This colourful explosion, combined with the sunny temperature, had an immediate and uplifting effect on our spirits. It’s impossible to feel grey in such a rainbow infused landscape.

The tour – on its final lap – took us to the second district of the city, Otrobanda. With a more modern feel, the area promised ideal retail therapy for the fashion enthusiast, complete with fresh fruit juice vendors providing the perfect refreshments to enjoy when catching the scenic views from the Queen Emma Bridge.

For those after a more thrill seeking experience, GAY TIMES highly recommends Eric’s ATV Adventures, where you can rent a quad bike to take in the scenery with more power and charge.

Once land was conquered, the second day was dedicated to the sea. Chic transportation is the key when in Curaçao, as a floating catamaran from BlueFinn Charters whisked us away from the lively beach club Mood Beach, and onto a voyage of aquatic excellence. When cruising the waves, admiring the mountains, cliffs and crystal sea was one thing from afar, but the adventure increased tenfold as we plunged into the waters to snorkel in the blue lagoons. One glance down and we were greeted with the most vibrant coral views, energetic fish and sunken ships felt like visuals straight from The Little Mermaid.

With land and sea conquered, sustenance was required, and Curaçao did not disappoint on the cuisine front. Whether it’s strolling into Plasa Bieu for traditional authentic delicacies or stepping into the local restaurants for a bite of freshest seafood, there is variety to suit all taste buds. Our personal favourite dining experiences took place in the Papagayo Beach Club at Sunbuns Beach. The ambiance, sunset views and music were the perfect tonic to accompany the feast that awaited us, while the beach club’s spa and pool made for the most ideal spot for those after a calm, luxurious rest and pamper.

Once all the sights, tastes and sounds were sampled, it was time for the main event, Pride. Assembling together at Rif Fort Village, a glittering assembly of 300 people gathered to begin the march through St Anna Bay. Led by a full brass band and the fiercest drag queen on staggering 7ft tall stilts, a sea of beautiful queer faces hit the streets. The energy was nothing short of infectious and warm. With not one commercial float in sight, it was clear the walk was entrenched in authentic community and love. Many hands grabbed onto the gigantic Pride flag as it floated high and proud in the island wind.

The feeling left us moved and grounded. The stand out of the trip, and the true reason why you should book a flight to Curaçao immediately, is to meet the host of energetic and beautiful people that await to make you feel seen and cared for.

Pride at Curaçao was a pure celebration of love, friendship and solidarity. We can’t wait to see it go from strength to strength each year. Here’s to Curaçao.

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