Lions Dive and Beach Resort in Curacao
It’s been a while since we wrote about a resort that we stayed at. We try to limit the frequency of hotel and resort reviews we share on this blog, but sometimes the travel experience is the actual resort. Our recent trip to Curacao would fall in this category.
Curacao is a small island nation in the southern Caribbean, located approximately 65 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast. It’s a Lesser Antilles island country that’s a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which includes the neighboring islands of Aruba and Bonarie. The trio is often referenced as the ABC Islands.
Before we get started, we feel it’s important to mention that we did NOT receive any form of compensation from this hotel. We did not get anything for free, nor did we get a discount.
Why did we choose Lions Dive & Beach Resort?
We only had 3 nights on the island, so we wanted a hotel that was located directly on the beach and close to amenities. Our research pointed us to the Lions Dive & Beach Resort.
This beach hotel is located on the southwest side of the island, about 7 kilometers south of the charming old town in Willemstad. It’s also within a stone’s throw of the Curacao Sea Aquarium, so that was definitely an added bonus. More on this aquarium in an upcoming blog post.
Our flight from Aruba arrived at the Curacao airport early in the afternoon. There is no ferry that connects the two islands, so you have to take a plane.
We jumped in a taxi that took about 30 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel. The cost was $40 USD. This is a standard rate. There was no meter in the vehicle. We tried to pay with our credit card, but the taxi driver’s machine was not working. Not surprising. We prepared for this by carrying $US cash with us.
We arrived at the hotel about an hour before the official check in time. It must have been a busy day because our room was not ready. We left our bags with the hotel porter and decided to visit the hotel restaurant to grab a late lunch and a cold beer (or two).
The resort has four restaurants on its property – Nemo Restaurant, Hemingway, Piazza Mediterranean and Chill Beach Bar & Grill.
The Hemingway Restaurant is perfectly situated on the water. It’s a comfortable restaurant that has a good menu. We ate lunch there 3 times during our stay and each time the food was really good and freshly prepared. We enjoyed the tasty baguette sandwiches and our boys ate chicken nuggets and french fries.
The breakfast was a different story. It’s a buffet style breakfast that is overpriced and the food is left sitting in the sun all morning. Not good. The food options and quality was not what we would have expected for the price they were charging. That said, the restaurant was always full at breakfast and other guests didn’t seem to mind. It just wasn’t for us.
You can’t get much closer to the water than this!
Part of the Hemingway restaurant is on a wooden deck and covered with palapa style thatched roofs. The rest of the tables are placed directly in the sand. It’s a true beach bar and restaurant.
Fact – cold beer tastes better when your feet are buried in soft sand.
This big guy can be found lounging on the rocks beside the restaurant or slowing roaming from table to table. Don’t get up too quickly, he might be sitting under your chair!
The Chill Beach Bar & Grill is a fun spot and definitely worth visiting. We spent every evening at this beach bar during our stay. We didn’t end up eating there, but the meat skewers looked pretty tasty.
We had a great time drinking cold beer and watching the sun set while sitting in those big comfy wooden chairs with our toes in the sand. Good times indeed!
The Nemo Restaurant is an upscale fine dining restaurant that serves fish and meat entrees. We did not eat there but it looks like a nice place. Reviews say that the food is great, service is questionable, and the price point is quite high.
The Piazza Mediterranean restaurant is located on the other opposite end of the property, near the 50 meter swimming pool. We did not eat here either but it looks very comfortable. It’s an open aired restaurant and bar that has a limited menu.
The grounds are lush and well kept and the property has several buildings and gardens. It appeared the resort was quite full, yet we didn’t see many people around the resort. Most people spent their time at the beach. Good move.
We didn’t see any elevators on the property, so if you have trouble with stairs it would be best to ask for a ground floor room.
Here’s a great aerial photo of the resort that gives a better perspective.
Banana trees just outside our room.
Look at the branches (roots?) on that tree!
The room we had was small but nice. It was newly renovated and the beds were comfy. The resort caters to Europeans, so the beds have European style bedding with thick duvets.
The room was equipped with a small fridge, TV, WIFI and a pod coffee machine. We suggest you be careful the first time you make a cup of coffee. We couldn’t figure out how to use the coffee machine and lost one of the coffee pods (each room only gets two coffee pods). We asked for another one and the hotel actually charged us for it. A small charge, but SUPER annoying. Short sighted, really. We can’t seem to tell our story about the hotel without bringing up this unnecessary charge for a coffee pod.
The above photo was captured from the ‘balcony’ of our room. I’m using italics for the word balcony because it was actually just an open-aired walkway with a chair. See photo below – our room was in the middle, on the second floor.
We did not like this shared balcony. It was not very private and other guests would often walk past our glass door, which meant we had to keep the curtains and door closed at night. We would have enjoyed sitting on the balcony at night but it was not very inviting and we felt like we were disturbing the other guests.
Not a big deal, but we felt like we were stuffed in the back of the hotel in the less desirable rooms. We paid $300+ per night, so we would have expected better for that price.
The Swimming Pools
The hotel has 3 pools. There is a 50 meter pool for swimming laps, a wading pool for kids (pictured above) and a regular size pool beside the Nemo Restaruant (pictured below).
The pools are not very big, like some of the other big resorts you find in the Caribbean, but we didn’t mind the smaller sized pools.
Surprisingly, we were the only people at the pool most times. In the evenings, the 50 meter pool is used by residents and expats from the community. Many of the swimmers wore branded swim suits that were sponsored by the hotel, so we assume that outside guests are allowed to use the pool if they are a part of the swim team.
Alright, let’s get to the real reason we came all the way to Curacao. The beach!
The beach at the resort is awesome. The beach is protected by a row of rocks, so the water is always calm. The water is warm and clear, so it was an ideal spot to swim and snorkel. We spotted a few fish but there is no reef in the section in front of the hotel.
There are plenty of beach chairs available for guests of the hotel, so we did not have to worry about reserving chairs. No matter what time of day, there was always chairs available. We liked that. It’s annoying when people get up early and put a towel on a chair to reserve it, only to disappear for hours. We were happy to always have a good place to sit and lounge.
The sand is so silky and soft. We loved it. More importantly, our boys loved it. We spent hours playing on the beach and swimming in the protected cove. It was perfect.
How great is this spot?! That’s the Hemingway beach bar to the left.
Fun times at beach in front of the Chill Bar and Grill.
A few more things to know…
- The resort offers a free shuttle to the Old Town in Willemstad. The return shuttle departs two hours later, which really isn’t enough time to explore the town. You can take a taxi back to the hotel or spend the whole day in the city and wait for the evening shuttle to bring you back.
- Rooms are equipped with fridges but there are no grocery stores on the property. We were told that the closest store would be a 45 minute walk. They do offer a shuttle to the grocery store, but the shuttle times are limited.
- There is a large shopping mall beside the resort. The area is called Mambo Beach Boulevard. It has several outdoor restaurants, bars, cafes and shops (but no grocery store). We had dinner there twice and would recommend it. We really enjoyed the food at the Indian restaurant.
- Alcoholic drinks are expensive at the hotel and restaurants. Small bottles of beer cost US$5-6. When we went into town we purchased beer from a convenience store for US$2. If you like to drink beer on the beach at sunset like we do, you’re best to stock up!
- The Curacao Aquarium, said to be one of the most popular attractions in Curacao, is literally right next door to the resort. It’s a 2 minute walk from the Hemingway Restaurant to the aquarium entrance. Our boys enjoyed spending a few hours at the aquarium. It’s a fun activity to break up the day.
- Lions Dive & Beach Resort is known for it’s Scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. We did not go scuba diving on this trip but the facility, boats and equipment look very good. It looks like a professional outfit.
- We booked this hotel using Hotels.com. We paid approx. $300 per night. This was during peak season, so it was an expensive time to visit. Here’s a link to more hotels in Curacao.
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