You may not think of the Caribbean as an arts-focused destination; but, spend a few days on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao — where residents span 55 ethnic groups, from Aruban to Dominican — and you’ll quickly see that this Lower Antilles island is teeming with innovation and artwork. From street art tours to painting classes (both led by artists, of course), here’s where to go to discover Curaçao's under-the-radar arty treasures.
1. Visit Serena's Art Factory. Serena’s Art Factory founder and Berlin native Serena Israel (along with her staff) will teach you how to paint a ceramic Chichi doll, which was created by Israel herself (workshops on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.; walk-ins welcome on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. and noon, respectively). After your class, be sure to stop by the onsite garden, which is filled with brightly painted sculptures. Hour-long painting classes from $28 per person.
2. Sign up for a Bed & Bike bicycle tour. Have you seen the classic images of multicolored Dutch-style homes on Willemstad waterfront? Visit the Instagram-worthy site up close and personal on a guided “Art & Bike” bicycle tour led by Bed & Bike Curacao, a budget-friendly hotel that opened in 2017 (tours from $14 per person). The tour lasts anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours, and departs and concludes at the striking orange-hued property, which is located in the heart of the Pietermaai District. Rates from $40 per night; includes a complimentary loaner bicycle.
3. Take a street art tour. If you love the graffiti and street art in Miami’s Wynwood District, you'll love exploring the streets of Willemstad. Here, the walls and buildings are loaded with seriously vibrant hues. If you're short on time, visit Francis Sling’s mural in Bitterstraat (next to Willemstad). Sling also invites visitors into his working studio tucked, which is located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Fleur de Marie. (You can purchase Sling's art directly from his studio, too.) Across the street from his mural, you'll find several muralists’ works in an empty lot. Artist Garrick Marchena, who has had many pieces commissioned in the city, leads walking tours around the city. If you're feeling adventurous, take a tuk-tuk tour with CurTukTuk to get up-close views of these intricate works ($25 for a one-hour tuk-tuk tour).
4. Visit the Nena Sanchez Gallery. Most art galleries are in urban settings, but not this one: Nena Sanchez's gallery is tucked into a rural garden setting within an 18th-century structure called Jan Kok, near St. Marie Bay (where you can view salt flats and flamingoes). Named for the Curacao-born painter Nena Sanchez, the gallery is not just a place to view her work — which depicts Curacao in its most vivid hues — it's also cool spot to pick up notecards, postcards, mini prints, and other souvenirs. There's also another gallery location in the Punda District of Willemstad, which is home to picture-perfect cobblestone streets, as well as an array of art galleries, shops, and restaurants (it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site).