If you’re looking for a tropical destination filled with Caribbean atmosphere, sandy white beaches, crystal clear blue water and a relaxed atmosphere, then Curaçao tips all the boxes. So here are 5 things to know if you want to tackle this little Caribbean island like a pro.
#1. Small is beautiful
Cuaraçao is a small island in the southern Caribbean, about thirty miles above Venezuela. The island is part of the Netherlands Antilles and a self-governing part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The island is only about 444 square meters large and barely measures 61 kilometers at its longest point.
The weather is next to perfect: Curacao had a tropical climate with temperatures that are mostly constant all year (26 °C/80°F – 29°C/84 °F), a dry season from January to September and a wet from October to December. However, rainfall during the wet season is short (and may be intense) and there’s always enough sunshine throughout the day to enjoy a perfect stay. Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt.
#2. Vibrant Willemstad, probably the cutest capital city in the world
Curaçao may be small & sweet, it’s capital city Willemstad is a bustling and vibrant place where you can easily fill your days. History of the city goes back to the 16th century, and with fascinating old historic buildings, lot’s of good shops and restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.
The brightly coloured houses look typical Dutch and cosy – making Willemstad one of the cutest capital cities in the world – , and many places in and around Willemstad are UNESCO World Heritage-protected.The city itself is divided into two parts, Punda and Otrobanda.
The two sides are by the Queen Emma Bridge, better known as the Swinging Lady; this floating bridge ‘swings’ back and forth to open and close.
With it’s historical and present connection to the Netherlands, Willemstad has a strong European/Dutch atmosphere, you might feel like you’re visiting Europe in the tropics.
Tip: Passionate about designers shops? On the quay where the cruise ships dock you find an upscale shopping district to satisfy your hunger for – tax-free – designer stuff.
#3. The beaches are picture perfect
Curacao has about 38 beaches, most of them situated along the southwest of the island. If you find it difficult to pick a beach, here’s our top 3:
1. Playa Kenepa (Knip Beach)
Very popular with the Curacaoan’s themselves, so great for a local vibe. A fun place to bake in the sun, do some snorkelling (right of the beach) or go cliff jumping (be careful, there is no lifeguard present). There’s a snack bar, but just in case it might be closed you should bring your own food and drinks (and leave no garbage behind).
2. Playa Forti
Playa Forti is also known as West Point and famous for it’s marvellous views. It’s also a well-known spot for cliff-jumping (again, be careful). The beach here is covered with dark sand, unlike the other, white sanded beaches of Curacao. There’s a snack and a restaurant present.
3. Jan Thiel Beach
Probably the most famous beach. It’s located in a luxurious residential area with little sand but a there is a semi-closed wading (fun for the kids!) and a small water park.
The diving and snorkeling-facilities are great. Very touristic, but a good place to relax in luxury, and there are lot’s of restaurants present. We spent some time on Papagayo beach, part of the Jan Thiel area, and loved it.
During the weekends the most popular once can be crowded, but there are lot’s of hidden beaches tucked away in little inlets.
#4. You’ll have to kiss your diet goodbye
Culinary Curaçao is a melting pot of different cultures and it tastes fantastic. Think: Dutch, Spanish, Creole and Indonesian dishes with a twist of Curaçao.
Looking for a famous dish?
The most famous dish on the island is probably Keshi Yena, or stuffed cheese! It is an old slave dish consisting of slices of Edam cheese stuffed with chicken and vegetables. As rich and heavy as it sounds, but very tasteful.
Looking for authenticity?
Rush over to Marshe Bieu, the old covered market in the heart of Willemstad. The place is crammed with small food stalls and is very popular with locals. Just choose a seat, order a meal and enjoy. Very basic and very nice (if you’re in for a culinary adventure: try the stewed goat).
Looking for luxury?
Put on a smart suit and have dinner at Le Clochard. This location is a winner: in the historic Rif Fort (at the Otrobanda side of Willemstad), right at the waterfront and overlooking the Caribbean sea. Menu is French-Swiss with a twist of Curacao.
#5. The jet set loves Curaçao too
Curaçao is a tropical paradise and with it’s Dutch background it’s no surprise you’ll have to share the island with the (Dutch) jet set and royalty.
Hotel Avila (above) is a popular place to spot the Dutch royal family, and if you’re into golf and spa, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort (pictures below) might be your place to be. This 5-star hotel is located on Barbara Beach’s private beach and an absolute ‘must stay’ for luxury lovers. Have some me-time in the Atabei Spa or try the 18 holes of the ‘Old Quarry’, a golf course designed by the legendary Pete Dye. Although it’s kind of hard to concentrate on the game with a view like that.
Tip: Feel the love? Not only for Curaçao but also (mostly) for each other? Why not get married on the island? Lots of hotels offer special wedding arrangement and there are personal wedding planners available to make sure you’ll have the best wedding party ever. All you have to do is say ‘yes’ of course.