Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao: A pleasantly unexpected diversion

Colorful buildings of Willemstad, Curaçao
Colorful buildings of Willemstad, Curaçao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

While island hopping in the Caribbean, we found ourselves in Aruba with an extra day before we were due in Bonaire. So, we did the logical thing – we decided to go to Curaçao!

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 of 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.

Pools at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, Curacao
Pools at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao

Fountains, Santa Barbara Beach Resort
Fountains, Santa Barbara Beach Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

White sand beach at Santa Barbara Beach Resort Curacao
White sand beach at Santa Barbara Beach Resort Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Santa Barbara Resort lobby in Curacao
Santa Barbara Resort lobby in Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The rooms and suites

Guest room, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Guest room, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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 hair dryer, a coffee maker and plush bathrobes.

Guest room bath, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Guest room bath, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort: The resort

Mango daiquiris at Splash pool bar, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Mango daiquiris at Splash pool bar, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort,Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Santa Barbara Beach Resort pools, Curacao
Santa Barbara Beach Resort pools, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Pools at the Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Pools at the Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hotel/ resort: Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao
Location: Curacao, Dutch Caribbean
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The beach

Standup paddle boarding in the beach lagoon, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao
Standup paddle boarding in the beach lagoon, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort in Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Just steps from the Santa Barbara’s white-sand beach, we eventually vacated our poolside oasis and ventured out for a stroll along the water’s edge.

Wildlife at Santa Barbara Resort in Curacao
Wildlife at Santa Barbara Resort in Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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 paddle boarding.

Relaxing on the beach at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, Curacao
Relaxing on the beach at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Marina activity at Santa Barbara Plantation, Curacao
Marina activity at Santa Barbara Plantation, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The marinas

The Marinas at Santa Barbara Plantation, Curacao
The Marinas at Santa Barbara Plantation, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Marina, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Marina, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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!

Welcome surprise from Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Welcome surprise from Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Lobby seating, Santa Barbara Beach Resort in Curacao
Lobby seating, Santa Barbara Beach Resort in Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

We grabbed a couple of chairs, watched the sun disappear for the day, and then our thoughts turned to dinner and drinks.

Sunset, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Sunset, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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

Splash Bar and Grill, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Splash Bar and Grill, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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

Shore Restaurant, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Shore Restaurant, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Medi – a popular spot open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Medi, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Medi, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Medi Veranda, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Medi Veranda, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Cappuccino at Bella Italia, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Cappuccino at Bella Italia, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Water sports

Ocean kayaking, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Ocean kayaking, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Kayaks, stand-up paddle boards 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.

Watersports, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Watersports, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Tennis

Santa Barbara’s Tafelberg Tennis Center features four Hydrogrid® clay courts which are automatically irrigated by an underground system. Court 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 day.

Walking, hiking, jogging & biking trails

Stroll the walking paths of Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
Stroll the walking paths of Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

With its sprawling design, there are plenty of walking paths throughout the resort, from oceanside walkways to strolls amidst the resort’s gorgeous landscaping.

Oceanside walking paths, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Oceanside walking paths, Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Bike rentals at Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Bike rentals at Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Fitness center

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.

Fitness center, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Fitness center, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Atabei Spa

Atabei Spa, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Atabei Spa, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Rugged coastline area, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Rugged coastline area, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Old Quarry Golf Course

Santa Barbara Golf Resort's Old Quarry Golf Course
Santa Barbara Golf Resort’s Old Quarry Golf Course
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

18th hole, Old Quarry Golf Course, Santa Barbara Golf Resort, Curacao
18th hole, Old Quarry Golf Course, Santa Barbara Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Santa Barbara Golf Resort's Old Quarry Golf Course in Curacao
Santa Barbara Golf Resort’s Old Quarry Golf Course in Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Santa Barbara Golf Resort's Old Quarry Golf Course Pro Shop
Santa Barbara Golf Resort’s Old Quarry Golf Course Pro Shop
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Old Quarry Golf Course at Santa Barbara Golf Resort, Curacao
Old Quarry Golf Course at Santa Barbara Golf Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Old Quarry Golf Course pro shop, Curaçao
Old Quarry Golf Course pro shop, Curaçao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Exploring Willemstad

Willemstad, Curaçao - awash in color
Willemstad, Curaçao – awash in color
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Curaçao sign, Willemstad
Curaçao sign, Willemstad
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Willemstad, Curaçao colorful buildings
Willemstad, Curaçao colorful buildings
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Queen Juliana Bridge, Willemstad, Curaçao
Queen Juliana Bridge, Willemstad, Curaçao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Getting to Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort

Lobby area, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Lobby area, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.

Beach lagoon, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Beach lagoon, Santa Barbara Resort, Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

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.”


Read what other travelers have to say about Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao at TripAdvisor


The content & opinions expressed in our Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao review are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used. Some posts on this website may contain links to our partners’ websites and Chasing Light Media may be compensated by those partners.

"Curacao, Wow, We love you" sign
“Curacao, Wow, We love you” sign
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Evening at Santa Barbara Resort in Curacao
Evening at Santa Barbara Resort in Curacao
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media