There is no doubt that Curacao Island is gorgeous, and it is becoming a popular destination for international tourists. But there are things you should know before traveling to this beautiful island. This article will cover the essential things you should consider as you plan to travel to Curacao.
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Curacao 101: Important Thing To Know About Curacao Island
This was the first time Amber and I visited Curacao. I can’t say Curacao has been on our “travel wish list”. That said, there’s something intriguing about Curacao that made us fly all the way from Amsterdam to see for ourselves.
The Island of Curacao is a perfect destination for anybody seeking to bask at the beach. Curacao weather is nice and warm year-round. The island rarely has a rainy season except for sporadic showers from September to February.
Tourists from colder climates should carry lightweight clothing. Besides the weather in Curaçao being pretty conducive, you also don’t have to worry about hurricanes because the island is outside the hurricane belt.
More About Curaçao Island
The capital of Curacao is Willemstad, and it consists of four quarters: Punda, Otrobanda, Pietermaai Smal, and Scharloo. An inlet, the Sint Anna Bay, which drains into Schottegat, separates Otrobanda and Punda. Pietermaai Smal and Scharloo are across each other on Waaigat harbor.
The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its harbor entry and unique architecture. Willemstad is also home to the oldest synagogue in the Americas, the Curaçao synagogue.
Curacao’s population is approximately 165,650 and mostly consists of Curacaoans at 75.4 percent. The Dutch are at 6 percent, the Dominicans at 3.6 percent, and the Colombians at three percent.
Where Is Curacao Located?
The Island of Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is approximately 44 miles north, off the coast of Venezuela, in a lesser Antilles country in the southern Caribbean. The Curacao map covers a total area of 171 square miles and borders the Aruba and Bonaire Islands.
Curacao Island is 2,385 miles from the United States and 1,718 miles from South America. This island is also 4,572 miles from the United Kingdom. Curacao is only 40 miles from Bonaire and 67 miles from Aruba.
How To Get To Curacao
You can travel to Curacao either by air or sea. There is only one airport in Curacao, with direct flights from South America, North America, and Europe. You can also use a yacht or a cruise ship.
JetBlue, American Airlines, and United offer direct flights from various cities in the United States to Curacao. United Airlines flies twice daily from Miami to Curacao. The flight takes around three hours.
JetBlue Airlines offers three direct weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The flight takes about four and a half hours from Newyork to Curacao airport.
United flights from Newark are available once a week, on Saturdays, and take five hours. American Airlines also flies from Charlotte to the island every Saturday. The flight takes four hours.
Flights From Outside The United States
Air Canada has direct flights from Montreal and Toronto to Curacao. The airline has four weekly, five-hour direct flights from Toronto on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Friday. Air Canada also offers two direct, seven-and-a-half-hour flights from Montreal every Sunday and Thursday.
Copa Airlines, FlyAlways, Avianca, and Surinam Airways offer direct flights from South America to Curacao. These airlines fly from Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, Panama City, and Paramaribo. All flights from South America take less than three hours.
As I mentioned before, we flew from Amsterdam to Curacao. We cashed in a bunch of Chase Sapphire Reward points to fly KLM Business Class. After all, it’s nearly a 10-hour flight so why not fly in comfort! In addition to the KLM flight from Amsterdam, European visitors can fly from Brussels on TUI Airlines. Two flights are available daily from Amsterdam, and the trip takes nine hours and forty-five minutes. You can travel from Brussels to the island on Sundays or Fridays on a nine-hour, twenty minutes flight.
If you love traveling by sea, several cruise companies sail to Curacao. These companies include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Norweigan. Cruise ships travel between each of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) calling in for the day. Given how small Curacao is, when one of the cruise ships comes into port, it dominates the skyline.
What Is The Curacao Currency
The Antillean guilder (ANG) is the local currency of Curacao Island. The US Dollar also circulates and is widely accepted on the island. ATMs that offer access to the ANG and USD are spread throughout the island. Most restaurant menus also display food prices in both currencies. However, it can be challenging to access the US Dollar.
We quickly discovered that most shops and restaurants accept credit cards. However, many shops and restaurants told us cash only. Amber and I found this a bit frustrating because we don’t like to carry much cash with us. At the end of the day, it really didn’t make much difference but thought it was good information to share.
What Is The Curacao Language
Papiamentu is the native language of Curacao. It is a Portuguese-based creole blend of Africa, Dutch, Spanish, English, French, and Arawak Indian. Curacao has three official languages, Dutch, English, and Papiamentu. However, Papiamentu is the most used on the streets, in parliament, and on local TV shows.
Historians believe that Papiamentu originated during the colonial era. Enslaved Africans from various regions and their Portuguese masters used Papiamentu to communicate during the 17th century. This language grew and was influenced by other languages to become a key feature of the Island’s identity. Today, it is widely used at all levels of society.
At no point during our week in Curacao did we experience any real language issues. One day at Plasa Bieu we had difficulty communicating our lunch order. However, a very nice local couple stepped in and acted as translators. Just one of the many wonderful encounters we had in Curacao.
Types of Curacao Accommodations
There are numerous accommodation options for anybody planning to travel to Curacao. These options include Airbnb, hotels, and apartment rentals.
Airbnb in Curacao offers a wide variety, from vacation rentals and villas to cabins and condos. Accommodation should be your least worry if you plan an exotic Curacao trip. Airbnb will offer various amenities, such as private pools, beach access, and rooftop terraces.
Whether traveling solo or with friends and family, you don’t have to worry about the size. Apartments in Curacao will satisfy your needs, whether a single room or a luxurious three-bedroomed villa for the entire family. There are also international hotels in Curacao, including Marriott and Sandals.
Is Curacao Safe To Visit
Curacao island is generally safe with a low crime rate. It has some similarities to the United States, and its motto is “Biba i laga biba,” which means “live and let live.” It is one of the most friendly Caribbean islands that doesn’t discriminate against race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
However, just like any other travel destination, it is critical to follow the basic safety rules. Keeping your valuables safe is a travel safety tip common to all locations. Ensure you get all the routine vaccinations before the trip. These vaccines include flu, chickenpox, measles, and polio. Also, avoid mosquito bites because they may cause malaria or dengue fever.
Things To Do In Curacao
There are numerous sites and fun activities in Curacao for tourists. Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, is a historic center worth visiting. Besides the fascinating old town, you will also be treated to stunning street art in Scharloo.
Though beaches in Curacao are not long, you will find lagoons and coves hidden among sandstone cliffs. These beaches are attractive, with sky-blue water and white sand.
Some beaches like Playa Forti have ragged sandstone cliffs that you can dive off if you have the guts. Scuba diving in Curacao is popular because of its pristine beaches. You can also visit Kenepa Grandi and swim with turtles, which are friendly to humans.
The Christoffel National Park in west Curacao is an excellent destination for hikers. It is Curacao’s largest national park, spanning over 2,300 hectares. You might also get the opportunity to view unique species like the white-tailed deer, the green iguana, and the columnar cacti.
Curacao has numerous sites, including Boka Pistola, one of the seven inlets at Shete Boka. This inlet is popular with tourists because it has the largest waves. The Santa Martha viewpoint provides a picturesque view of winding waterways and undulating hills.
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge
The Queen Emma Bridge, popularly called the “Swinging Old Lady,” is a floating bridge that connects Otrobanda and Punda in the capital of Curacao. The bridge has hinges that enable it to open, providing a passage for vessels. The operator’s cabin sits on one end of the bridge. It contains two diesel engines that operate the bridge.
Sixteen pontoon boats support the bridge, which spans St. Anna Bay and was built in 1888. Visitors enjoy having coffee or a meal while gazing at vessels as they sail through the bridge’s open arm. Queen Emma Bridge becomes gorgeous at night when it is lit up.
The historic neighborhood of Punda is full of life with fantastic colorful buildings that every visitor will fall in love with. It is also home to the world-famous Handleskade, a waterfall collection of fantastic murals and multicolored buildings. There is no doubt that the Handelskade has become one of the most iconic images of Curacao.
Besides the colorful buildings, Punda also has vibrant pedestrian streets that create a charming scene with numerous cafes, shops, and terraces. These streets create the best photos for memories that will last a lifetime. The stores offer men’s and women’s fashion, jewelry, and local souvenirs.
A trip to Klein Curacao will provide access to some of the best beaches with turquoise waters and fine white sand. Klein Curacao, also known as Little Curacao, is a small uninhabited island located 6.2 miles southeast of Curacao. This tiny island has a desert climate.
Klein Curacao has a few structures, including a beach house, an old lighthouse, and a few huts. Underwater caves and coral make it an excellent diving spot. The windward side has remains of boats that lost power.
Old Market – Plasa Bieu
Curacao has hosted numerous cultures that have influenced its cuisine. Curacao food is a flavorful blend of mainly Caribbean with Indonesian, Dutch, and Venezuelan nuances. The Old Market Food Court is the perfect place to find this special blend of flavors.
Though you shouldn’t expect much ambiance when you visit Plasa Bieu, the local cuisine will not disappoint. It resembles a large court with stalls serving food and picnic tables. Krioyo is the local food, but there are other local cuisines to enjoy.
During our week in Curacao, Amber and I ate lunch at Plasa Bieu three times. Inside the food market, you can sample famous Curacao dishes including local iguana soup, goat curry, and Surinamese chicken. Lunch typically cost $3-5 excluding drink. The one downside to the market is not all the food vendors are open every day. This just means you can try them all.
While Curacao Island has been under the radar for some time, it has emerged as a top Caribbean destination. This charming island is ideal for a romantic getaway. This guide provides you with important facts about Curacao that you should know before planning your trip.