Curacao: a little European, a little South American, all Caribbean

The small island of Curacao sits just about 180 miles from Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas. Several languages are spoken here including Dutch, Spanish, Papiamentu, the local creole, and English. This diversity is also present throughout the culture including the local music scene and the cuisine.

One of the trademark sights of Curacao is the brightly colored Dutch colonial buildings in the capital city of Willemstad. The capital city has been designated an Unesco World Heritage site and is a tourist favorite for travelers from all over the world. While visiting Willemsted here are a few recommendations for things to do:

Sand covered floors of the Synagogue: Step on the soft, sand filled floors of the western hemispheres oldest and longest continually operated Synagogue. The sand-floor tradition is one of the last remaining traditions of Portuguese-Dutch Jewish life in the Caribbean.

Another cool find is the wreck of Air Aruba flight P4-YSA. You probably wont find this on the local travel brochure but it’s worth checking out. It reminds me of scenes in movies like Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone when the they stumble upon old wreckage of a plane crash from years past that is being taken over by the jungle overgrowth.

The Museum Kura Hulanda is dedicated to the brutal history of the slave trade, culture and abolition that was very prominent in this area from the 17th-19th centuries. It tells the complete story from their capture and trade in Africa, their inhumane transport overseas and their trade to the slave masters in the Americas and the Caribbean.

The Floating Market is an active market where boats from Venesuela dock. The market itself doesn’t float, it just appears that way because of the bobbing boats that are tied up to it. The vendors sell a variety of fresh caught fish, fruits and vegetables. The best time to shop here is in the mornings before the afternoon sun shines.

Find our why Curacao is blue by touring the Landhuis Chobolobo Distillery in Willemstad. The distillery has been making Curacao liquor of several different varieties for over 120 years.

Fort Amsterdam which sits in the mouth of the Sint Anna Bay was constructed in 1634 by the Dutch West India Company. It currently houses the governor, a museum and other political offices.

Beyond the confines of the city there are plenty of other exciting things to see and do.

Snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal blue waters is definitely tops on this list. Explore the sunken ships, vast variety of exotic fish, colorful gardens of coral, dolphins, sting rays and much more.

Handelskade is the quintessential postcard picture of Caribbean life. Brightly colored buildings that look like a painters pallet line the waterfront. Stop in one of the local cafe’s for a snack or a cup of coffee and watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. Come back at night to see the building lit up at night, many of the building use colored lights to light up the face of the already colorful buildings. It’s a true tourist experience.

Playa Porto Mari is a beautiful white sandy beach that also has amazing dive and snorkeling opportunities right off the coast. There is a restaurant right on the beach that serves some amazing food and has got some really good reviews from those who go there. When you get your fill of relaxing in the sun with your drink in hand there are several hiking trails right behind the beach. This beach is very popular so try to get there early for a prime seating location.


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