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Charming Curacao

I am so excited to share a little history, a few helpful bits of info and six fun things to see or do in the beautiful island of Curaçao.

Curaçao is a Southern Caribbean Island that is a sovereign country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  Curaçao and its sister islands of Aruba and Bonaire are often referenced together as the ABC islands. The rich history, alluring architecture, and breathtaking beaches make Curaçao a true hidden gem of the Caribbean worth adding to your list of islands to visit.

Island History
The history of Curaçao begins with Amerindian Arawaks. The Arawaks and their subgroups migrated from regions of South America some 6,000-years-ago, settling on various islands then discovered as they embarked on a centuries-long northward trek. The group that ended up in Curaçao was the Caiquetios, who gave the island its name.  Then the Spanish settled on the island around 1499AD before the Dutch set up the island for growth and success when they created a major trade center for the Dutch West India Company.  Despite numerous invasions and suffering through wars, the island has been under the Dutch since 1816.

In 1845, Curaçao became one of six islands to form the Netherlands Antilles and then further gained their autonomy in 1954. Despite still being known as the Netherlands Antilles by many across the globe, the islands and the Dutch government agreed to dissolve the collective administration in 2006.  Curaçao became its own independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands just in 2010.

Willemstad, the capital city, is divided into four quarters: Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo, and Pietermaai Smal.  The city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for is beautiful architecture, waterways, and tropical scenery.  The influence of Dutch culture on Curaçao is evident throughout the island, from the centuries-old colonial buildings to the remnants of plantation life seen in the landhuizen houses.

Climate
The climate of Curaçao is tropical and warm all year round, with year-round average daytime temperatures of about 84°F. The period from May to October is the muggiest, but the wind constantly blows which helps to temper the heat.  The island is geographically located in South America below the hurricane belt and sits about 90 miles north of Venezuela and only averages about 21.6-inches of rainfall per-year.  Be sure to pack your best sunscreen as you will be much closer to the equator than usual.

Language & Currency
In addition to English and Dutch, Papiamentu, a Portuguese-based Creol language, is an official language. 

The official currency of Curaçao is Netherlands Antilles guilder which is also referred to as florin.  The US Dollar is well accepted across the island but some vendors may have trouble making change for larger bills.

Things to See Or Do

Handelskade
While in Willemstad, take time to enjoy the very colorful Handelskade, the waterfront strip in Punda.  Find the perfect photo backdrop with the 18th century style buildings and colorful houses.  Enjoy a treat in an outdoor café as you watch the Queen Emma Bridge move for a passing ship. 

Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs while in town too.  Consider taking home a hand-made traditional chichi doll initially created by artist Serena Israel.  Chichi means older sister and the doll represents the proud and strong Caribbean woman.   You can also pick up your own bottle of Curacao, the orange liquor made from the Laraha orange. 

Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge

The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, lovingly called the “Swinging Old Lady,” was built in 1888 to connect Punda and Otrobanda in Willemstad.  It is now supported by 16 pontoon boats and two motors to swing the bridge out of the way for ships that move through the harbor.  Keep an ear open for the siren to sound and you may see her in action.   

Beaches and Water Sports
As expected, the more than 30 beaches of Curaçao are spectacular.  You can soak up the sun while looking out over the perfect turquoise water.  Snorkeling is very popular at many of the beaches too.  But the prime water sport to consider while visiting is scuba diving.  May of the best spots to see all kinds of fish, rays and turtles are easily accessible from shore such as Porto Mari and Playa Lagun.

Shete Boka National Park

Located on the rocky north coast of the island, Shete Boka is a wonder to behold with its seven pockets bays or bokas.  You can visit the park’s underground cavern called Boka Tabla and stroll along the natural bridge made of limestone. If you visit between May and December, you might catch a glimpse of sea turtles returning to lay their eggs.  The area is regularly monitored by the Carmabi Foundation to aid in sea turtle conservation.

Christoffel National Park
Christoffel is the largest national park in Curacao and offers something for everyone.  If you like to be active on vacation, you can enjoy one of eight hiking trails and the advanced hiker can climb the Christoffel Mountain.  Don’t worry if hiking isn’t your thing.  You can enjoy the mountain in your own car or on a guided jeep safari.  Families that visit the park can be part of a “Pirate Walk” to find treasure along the hiking paths that lead to the Pirate Beach, Boka Grandi.

Curaçao Ostrich Farm
Looking for something different than a typical hike or beach experience?  Then consider a visit to the Curaçao Ostrich Farm.  The farm offers a driven tour through the farm that shows you each stage of growth from new chicks to grown adults.  You may even get to feed them while you tour.

Final Thoughts

Whether you visit by air or cruise, this island has much to offer.  From the sight and sound of the Caribbean Sea to the national parks to the rich architecture and history, this gem of an island will not disappoint.

I can’t wait to see this charming island soon and share my highlights.

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Dell Adventures Travel Agency
PO Box 3651, Grapevine, TX 76051

817-291-7841

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