Posted on 07/05/2023
The largest of the ABC islands, Curaçao lies between Aruba and Bonaire in the southern Caribbean Sea. The blend of European and Caribbean heritage is reflected in its forts, museums, vibrant pastel-colored historic buildings, and plantation houses. Autonomous within the Dutch Kingdom, Curaçao is a melting pot of 55 nationalities. Filled with energy, passion, and warmth, Afro-Caribbeans make up the majority of its 160,000 inhabitants, whose traditions like Tambú music (Curaçao Blues) shape the culture. Papiamentu is the most widely spoken language, developed as slaves arrived from different origins, but English, Dutch, and Spanish are also widely spoken.
Carnival is the island’s main event – a festive mix of music, theatre, street parties, art, and folklore. The season starts in early January and ends on Mardi Gras. The Grand Parade turns Willemstad into one big street party. The climax is the traditional burning of King Momo at midnight to wash away the past year’s negativity.
Visitors can see the highlights of the colorful capital city of Willemstad—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—on a city tour with Amstar™ DMC. St. Anna Bay divides the city in two parts with Punda in the East and Otrobanda to the West, linked by the Queen Emma Bridge. Built in 1828, the Rif waterfront fort in Otrobanda has been transformed into an entertainment center and shopping area. On Thursday evenings, Punda turns into a vibrant gathering place for all ages, with street theatre, live music, art, and fireworks over St. Anna Bay. Museums and art galleries are scattered around the island, while life-sized murals and vibrant art line the streets of the Sharloo area.
Bandabou is the rural, western part of the island, with some of its most beautiful beaches – as well as the national parks. Visitors can tour the Hato Caves, formed millions of years ago under the sea and home to limestone formations, the Madonna statue, a waterfall, and more. During the Ice Age, water levels dropped and Curaçao was born. Hike to the top of Christoffelberg, Curaçao’s highest peak, for stunning views of Shete Boka National Park. Salt Flats offer the chance to encounter colonies of majestic flamingos.
The population’s diversity is reflected in its cuisine, from Asian-Caribbean delicacies to Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Dutch dishes. Restaurants serve up fresh seafood, local stews, and international delicacies. For true authenticity, lunch like the locals at a food market like the Sunday market in Barber, or visit the Koredor area where fish is served fresh off the boat. Learn more about the island’s cuisine in this TravelBlogue article.
Climate, Beaches, and Watersports
Just 12° north of the Equator, Curaçao’s temperature averages in the mid-80°s all year long, with cooling trade winds. The rainy season (October –February) is marked by short, occasional showers at night. Curaçao is on the outer fringes of the Hurricane Belt, making it a year-round destination for outdoor adventures.
Most of the island’s 35 beaches are protected by peaceful cliffs and coves, like Playa Kenepa Grand and Playa Kenepa Chicki. The gentle sea and trade winds are ideal for watersports. Crystal-clear waters offer outstanding visibility, with easy shore access to most dive sites along the calm, southwest coast. Top snorkeling spots include Klein Curaçao, Tugboat, Shipwreck, Playa Kalki, and Playa Largu. For those who prefer to stay dry, the Curaçao Sea Aquarium in Bandarba features the island’s largest collection of marine life.
Amstar™ DMC offers a variety of exciting excursions including the Turtle Outback and Snorkel Safari, a catamaran snorkeling trip to uninhabited Klein Island, sunset cruises, and beach-hopping tours, as well as an excursion of Shete Boka National Park and Boka Tabla Cave.
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