Chanelle de Lau, crowned Miss Universe Curaçao in 2016, hosted our recent Facebook Live broadcast—showing us around her native island in three video segments. Here, she shares more of her local favorites as well as her travel style and rituals.
What do you love most about living in Curaçao?
What I enjoy most about living in Curaçao is definitely the lifestyle. There’s a common sense of “Don’t worry, be happy.” Locals tend to take on their days one step at a time, and the sunny weather all year round makes for perfect beach days every day of the week!
What advice would you give to someone visiting Curaçao for the first time?
Be open minded. Not just in Curaçao, but any place you visit. Soak up the cultural experience anywhere you go for the first time—the food, scenery, nature, history. Curaçao has a lot to offer, so make sure you have a local guide who can give you the real-deal experience of what it’s like living here.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in Curaçao?
I love the Plaza Bieu food court; they offer you local cuisine prepped by women who know authentic recipes by heart. Another favorite of mine are the “TrukiPan” food trucks that come out at party hours. You have to try their typical Curaçaoean hangover food: Grilled meats with french fries drenched in peanut sauce, influenced by the Dutch culture. Jan Thiel Beach has nice restaurants near Papagayo resort where you can dine underneath the stars and wiggle your toes in the sand while enjoying your dinner. Any restaurant at that beach is a great choice.
What are some lesser-known experiences you’d recommend in Curaçao?
There’s a place called “Chill Hill” in the Jan Thiel neighborhood. Locals tend to go there because of its amazing view at night. You can simply park your car and gaze at all the lights. It’s a perfect view for a romantic evening.
If you happen to be in town for the first Sunday in January, Fuik Dag is a very special experience—the biggest boat party of the year where all boat and yacht owners come out for some fun. There are also plenty of all-inclusive party boats that can take you to the beach area where music, floats, barbecues, and plenty of splashing takes place.
What’s a custom from Curaçao that you’d love to export to other places too?
It’s a custom in Curaçao to wish each other a “bon siman” every Monday; even to strangers we say “bon siman” as a greeting. It means “Have a great week!” It’s a second form of greeting on our Mondays and puts a smile on anyone’s face. I’d love to export this to other places.
Do you have any travel rituals?
I always bring back a souvenir! Preferably one with a specific memory bound to it. I visited the Cayman Islands most recently and had my very first raw conch dip with tortilla chips. At first I wasn’t sure what I was eating, and when I saw beautiful (empty) conch shells sitting in a bucket in front of me, I pieced it together. It was my first time eating conch like that so I had to take a shell back home.
Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
Definitely goes out the window. I try to maintain my workout routine, but 9 out of 10 times that fails miserably! After all, it would take some fun out of things to be worrying about weight gain and work when you can soak up every second of being somewhere new.
Describe your travel personality in three words.
Adventurous, unforgettable, authentic.
Adventurous. To be a “yes man” on a trip. Want to go out? Yes! Want to visit the beach? Yes! I like being open to new things and going on adventures that take me outside of my comfort zone.
Unforgettable. I love to experience new things that make great stories I can tell my children someday—the out-of-this-world stuff that only happens once. Something you can’t imagine experiencing the same elsewhere.
Authentic. When I go somewhere new, I don’t want a commercialized experience. Whether it’s going out where the locals have fun, sightseeing in historic places, or eating the traditional cuisine, I want a sense of authenticity.