Curacao Travel Guide
Well-known throughout the Caribbean for their pastel coloured buildings and underrated beaches, Curacao is the most easterly of the islands in the ABC archipelago.
Mostly self-governing but part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, there is a mix of Dutch and Afro-Caribbean culture that surprises many first-time visitors. The beaches may draw you here, but the people will keep bringing you back for more.
Currency: Antillean guilders
Languages: Dutch, Papiamento, English
What To Do
Travellers will want to begin their sight seeing in Curacao by visiting the Historic Centre of Willemstad. Recognized by UNESCO for its long history as a centre of trade in the Caribbean, Willemstad stands out more for its colorful buildings.
Boasting a variety of European and Caribbean architectural styles, it is possible to spend hours walking along its streets. When you get tired, have a seat at one of many sidewalk cafes, restaurants and bars, and simply soak up the electric atmosphere surrounding you.
If you want to learn more about the history of Curacao, spend some time exploring the Kura Hulanda Museum. This institution’s primary mission is to shed light on the African origins of Curacao’s citizenry. Centuries ago, slaves arrived on its shores to work for their Dutch masters. Once freed, their culture evolved to the point where they became the people that they are today.
In addition to that, you will also find art produced in Curacao, Pre-Colombian gold artifacts, and relics from Mesopotamia in its exhibit halls. All these things makes this museum a great place to escape the tropical sun for a few hours.
The Hato Caves is another historically significant place in Curacao that shouldn’t be missed. It was here where escaped slaves hid from their masters, often for months at a time. The rocks in this cavern are also home to cave paintings and petroglyphs created by Arawak natives; with some works dated at over 1,500 years old, these caverns are arguably Curacao’s top cultural attraction.
If the violent beauty of crashing ocean waves interest you, then be sure to pay a visit to Shete Boka National Park. With many kilometers of hiking trails strung along some of the rawest coastline in Curacao, this is not a place you’ll want to come without a camera in tow.
Even when you aren’t snapping photos, the sight of the powerful Caribbean Sea smashing into the rocks will be one of those soul-restoring moments that we all dream about when we plan trips.
There are many outstanding beaches on Curacao where one can soak up the sun and swim in spectacular surroundings. Knip Beach is one of these, as its powder blue waters and secluded surroundings make for a perfect place to spend a day in paradise.
Due to the inconsistent nature of services here though, it is a good idea to bring water and snacks before heading out to this particular beach.
If your idea of the perfect Caribbean beach include thatch-roofed bars, massage huts and other tourist services, then Playa Cas Abao is where you will want to go.
It is perfect for those that want to lazily snorkel along the bottom, as well as those looking to participate in water sports. Not only can you rent jet skis, but you can also board a banana boat, or jump on a water trampoline.
Playa Porto Marie is another good bet for those looking for quiet and calm water. A coral reef is located a short swim offshore, while two short nature trails will give those on land something to do when they want to take a break from sunbathing. An on-site bar and restaurant offer a variety of full meals and drink specials throughout the day, making it well-suited to those seeking these amenities.
What to Eat
If you are looking for a starter that is a popular among locals, then order up a bowl of Okra soup. Drawing close comparisons to gumbo, this dish consists of okra that has been cooked together with fish and salted meat. Be sure to look for at restaurants at Plasa Bieu, one of the oldest markets in Willemstad.
The colonial history of the Netherlands is a rich and varied one. Having carried out conquests from the Caribbean to Indonesia, they adopted many of the culinary traditions of their vassal states. Inevitably, the Dutch took some of the dishes they found in the East Indies and brought them over to the West Indies.
As a result, it is possible to find Indonesian meals such as Chicken Satay on the menus of many restaurants in Curacao.
If you find yourself in Curacao around the Christmas holidays, then you will have the opportunity to try some Ayaka. This dish traces its origins back to the days of slavery, when masters would take remains of their Christmas feast and give it to their slaves.
They wrapped these leftovers in cornmeal, creating a tamale-like treat. Many people in Curacao continue to enjoy these addictive bite-sized morsels during the holidays, so don’t be afraid to ask a local where you can get your hands on them.