Curacao OverviewCuracao, a popular Caribbean Island, is one of the "ABC Islands" that is located near Venezuela. These also include Aruba and Bonaire. Curacao has an interesting, personalized culture. The architectural style of the buildings offer a unique atmosphere filled with pastel colors. The culture found on the island is uniquely its own. Even the island's native language of Papiamentu is one of a kind. It is a richly unique mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, African and other languages. Most people from the island speak this language in addition to Dutch, English, and Spanish. Despite the diversity of languages, almost everyone speaks English so communication is generally straightforward.
The island's beaches are concentrated on the southern and western sides. Many of them spread betwen Rif St. Marie and Westpunt. Hato International Airport is the main airport on the island. It can be found in Plaza Marqareth Abraham, which is on the northern side of the island just outside of the capital city of Willemstad.
Curacao also lies conveniently outside of the "Hurricane Zone" so you can visit throughout the year without a serious threat from a major storm. Although rare, it is occasionally hit by a hurricane however. It has a tropical savannah climate that has a dry season between January and September and a wet season between October and December. Air temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year with a slight drop during the month of January.
It is generally easy to get around the island with a variety of travel options available to visitors. Public buses are the most affordable option, but taxis are readily available and convenient for those looking to get off the beaten path. Rental cars are also reasonably prices and quite convenient.
At A Glance
- There are a variety of hotel and resort options available throughout Curacao. You will find everything from all inclusive resorts to furnished apartments, or simple hotels. Regardless of the style preference, you are likely to find something appropriate for you.
- If you're interested in shopping, there are no shortage of options available to you. Throughout Willemstad there are a variety of shops that sell everything from clothing, souvenirs, crafts, and more. There is also an interesting waterfront market that is located to the north of the main shopping area. It's a great place to visit in the morning and sells fresh fruit and flowers. Do take note that many places are closed on Sundays.
- Curacao offers two different types of bus travel. BUS. provides small passenger vans that are similar to taxis in appearance. It can be identified by the cardboard cutout in the front windshield that shows the number of stops. Konvoi provides large, metro-style buses that are less frequent and travel between major points in the city.
- There are two bus stations located in Willemstad. The Otrobanda Station is just across the street from the Rif Fort and Punda Station is across from the Circle Market. Punda Station provides buses along the Eastern side of the ring and to the East including Salina, Zelandia, and Mambo. The Otrobanda Station services the west including the airport, Piscadera, and Westpunt.
- Rental cars are available for about US$45 a day. There are places to pick up cars at the Hato Airport as well as elsewhere on the island. Many of the drivers in cities can be aggressive and the traffic laws are poorly enforced. Driving is done on the right side of the road. Road service can be reached by dialing 199.
- Many people visit Curacao as part of a cruise. Cruise ships dock at either the Curacao Mega Pier or the Curacao Cruise Terminal. The Mega Pier is designed for the larger ships and the Cruise Terminal caters to the smaller ships. It's a short trip from these areas to many of the country's most popular tourist attractions. As with many ports of call in the Caribbean, there are also many different duty-free shops for visitors.
Top Tourist AttractionsChristoffel National Park: This national park is operated by the Carmabi Foundation. In the park you will find Boca Grandi, Indian caves where you can see paintings created by the Arawak Indians. Mount Christoffel is also located within the park. This is the highest point in the country at 1292 feet high.
Jewish Cultural Historical Museum: Visit both the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue and the museum adjacent to it. The museum does a nice job of preserving the religious and cultural artifacts of the island. The pieces have been collected over the 350 years of Jewish life in Curacao.
Museum Kura Hulanda: This anthropological museum is one of the best museums in the Caribbean. It chronicles the African slave trade along with the cultures of the country.
Popular FoodsFood in Curacao is a combination of European, West-Indian and East Asian cuisines. In particular, Indonesian food has heavily influenced the area and explains the high prevalence of sate and peanut sauce throughout the country. There are also many local Chinese options available throughout.
Stoba: This is a popular stew like dish that is made with various ingredients such as papaya, beef or goat. It's a popular option with the locals, and is available in many restaurants as well.
Guiambo: This okra and seafood soup can have a somewhat slimy consistency. It's flavor can vary based on who makes it and what seasons are used. Some soups are sweet and tangy while others are salty and spicy
Kadushi: This is a unique form of cactus soup that is available in a variety of small restaurants. Many people consider it an acquired flavor.