Discovered in 1499, Curacao is a small island, 38 miles long and between 2 and 7 miles wide. Its name derives from the Spanish word Corazon for heart and most likely changed by Portuguese map makers. It is known locally as Dushi Korsou, Sweet Curacao.Together with Bonaire, Saba, St. Martin, & St. Eustatius, Curacao is part of the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao make up the ABC islands just 35 miles north of the coast of Venezuela, well out of the hurricane belt. With its 140,000 residents, Curacao is the most populated as well as the most Dutch of the Netherlands Antilles. Tourists not only flock to the island because of its year round temperatures in the mid 80s but to enjoy the colorful mansions of Willemstad, duty free shopping, exciting casinos, tourist attractions, and a myriad of watersports. While primarily Dutch, the warm and friendly locals have their own culture and even language, Papiamentu, a combination of French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch and Arawak Indian.

With its red roofs and pastel buildings, the capital of Willemstad is a picture perfect Dutch town. The Queen Emma Pontoon Pedestrian Bridge connects the two sides; Punda, and Otroband (literally “the other side”). The capital is also the hub of most hotels, entertainment, casinos, culture & history. Restaurant cuisine is strongly influenced by Dutch and West Indies flavors. The island is also known for the unique liquor that bears its name.

Whether you are the type of traveler who likes to relax on vacation with a rum drink and a book or an adventurer, Curacao has something to offer everyone. There are over 35 beaches on the island, some secluded, some with full bars and restaurants. Since the beaches have been formed in part by coral, it is advised to bring water shoes. The constant trade winds make it comfortable no matter what the temperature. The pristine reef, teaming with fish life and a variety of colorful coral runs parallel to the island. Diving in Curacao is rated among the best in the Caribbean by magazines and the diving community. Most of the more acclaimed dive sites are on the western coast and are accessible by shore. Visibility is over 100 feet and the water temp is about 80 degrees. This also makes snorkeling a favorite pastime with all visitors. There are other ways to enjoy the crystal blue sea from boating, sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing to deep sea fishing. There are also programs to swim with the dolphins and sea lions or feed the turtles at the Curacao Sea Aquarium.

There is just as much available to do on dry land. Not only is Willemstad chocked full of boutiques and stores, but there is a daily floating market where boats from Venezuela dock with produce to sell and to provide a colorful picture reminder of the city.For the active traveler Curacao golf courses are beginning to attract golfers worldwide. It’s almost surreal to golf between high cliffs and a turquoise sea. The constant breeze can make you unaware of the strength of the sun. It would be wise to wear sunscreen or a hat on the course. Biking has also evolved on the island. There are a few trails in Christoffel National Park that will take you to unspoiled vistas of the wilder North coast and down to the beach to cool off with a swim. In 2006, Curacao hosted not only the World Cup Mountain Bike Race but its annual Amstel Road Race. There are a number of other parks on the island; Den Dunki National Park, Midden Seinpost Hill, and Shete Boka National Park. Here you can enjoy hiking, bird watching, and viewing wildlife in their natural habitat. At Hato Caves you can explore the caves carved out by the power of the ocean and then etched with petroglyphs over a thousand years ago.

 

You can swim with schools of parrot fish, turtles, or dolphins on Curacao. You can ride a horse or an ostrich. You can visit nature, the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Caribbean since 1732, The Swinging Old Lady, the oldest and longest floating bridge, one of the Curacao Landhuizens, renovated plantation homes, and the Curacao Liquor Factory. You can time your visit with Carnival a month long celebration before Lent, the Jazz or Salsa Festival, the Blue Marlin Release tournament, the Sailing Regatta, or the International Drag Racing Competition. Curacao has always been a premiere destination for honeymooners but others are now discovering that there is a lot to explore and enjoy on this picturesque serene Caribbean island. We hope you will too.

Links of Interest:

Read Sunshine’s notes about the West End (Banda Bou)

 

See Sunshine’s list of useful links

 

David’s Westpunt Riders youth club