A tiny island in front of Venezuela, Curaçao is a colorful Caribbean destination with a warm and sunny climate all year round. The island is a melting pot of international expats and several thousand Dutch have made Curaçao their permanent home. The educational and political system is Dutch-inspired, and Dutch is the official language with Papiamentu. The African-Caribbean traditions, mixed with the Dutch culture which was introduced in the late 1600s, continue to have an influence on food, lifestyle and architecture.
Curaçao was discovered in 1499 by The Spanish who named the island as “Isla de los Gigantes” referring to the dimensions of the original population. Curaçao remained under Spanish control until the Dutch occupation in 1634. Then continued to be a target of conquest until the final control of the Dutch in 1815. There are several theories about the name “Curaçao” and most likely is that it originates from the Portuguese word “curação” meaning cured or heart.
Willemstad, the only city and the capital of the island, has maintained its historic European architecture. The port town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with fascinating restored buildings and fortified walls. Punda, one of the districts of the city, has narrow perpendicular streets and pedestrian areas with many boutiques, crafts markets and galleries with vibrant colored paintings. In the floating Market, also located in Punda, Venezuelan vendors sell fresh produce from their small fishing boats. Otrobanda, another district of Willemstad, has colorful buildings twisting streets, passages and the Rif Fort, built in 1828 to protect the city, today it is a shopping center with a panoramic terrace. Visitors can stop by the different cozy cafés or try the cuisine, a French Caribbean-Asian fusion with diverse flavors.
Curaçao is famous for its beautiful hidden bays with crystal clear water and reef life including seahorses, nurse sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and dolphins. Klein Curaçao is the longest and whitest beach with soft white sand and calm water. The island has stunning reefs, caves and ruins that can be discovered by snorkeling and diving. The Mushroom Forest is a unique site with unusual vertical coral structures in the shape of mushrooms.
The climate and the environment of Curaçao are perfect for different activities such as surfing, kite surfing, fishing, sailing around the island, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and playing golf. Visitors can also enjoy body treatments, massages or attend yoga studios for a course or meditation.
Photo Credit: ©Curaçao Tourist Board