Curaçao is One of the Best Tropical Vacation Destinations
If you’re above the age of five, you likely learned your ABC’s. But what your teachers probably failed to mention is that the “ABC’s” also refers to a trio of islands in the Caribbean, situated just off the north coast of Venezuela. Together, these three islands--Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao--are a mecca for beach lovers from around the world. But as for most things, three’s a crowd for these island paradises, and Curacao is often overshadowed by its older island siblings.
Though Aruba and Bonaire are destinations in their own right, nothing says Caribbean like Curacao. From the history to the food and the 38 (that’s right, 38) pristine beaches, Curacao is unlike any other tropical vacation destination. Here, past meets present to embrace visitors with a distinct island charm you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
The people are kind. The blue waters are serene. And we can promise that the natural beauty is unlike anything you’ve ever seen--your Instagram feed included. Discover five more reasons why Curacao should hold a spot near the top of your travel bucket list now and forever.
The History and Culture
Curacao’s culture is long, rich, and varied. The Amerindian Arawaks first settled on the Caribbean islands 6,000 years ago, with one group making the long trek to Curacao: the Caiquetios, who also named the island. The Dutch West Indian Company later claimed Curacao in 1634, and it’s this claim that most heavily influences Curacao’s culture of today.
The island still belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and this heritage shines at every turn. Dutch snacks are sold throughout the island, and blue and white porcelain accents make many appearances. The capital of Willemstad also nods to its Dutch roots through architecture that is so unmistakably Amsterdam-esque you’ll wonder if you’re still in the Caribbean.
The ever strong presence of island natives also contributes to Curacao’s unique spirit. Many locals speak Papiamentu, Spanish, English, and Portuguese in addition to Dutch. And something else this culture brings to the island? Celebrations like Carnival.
Speaking of Willemstad...
Curacao’s capital, Willemstad, is as Dutch as its name, and for that reason it’s also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Caribbean, and for good reason. Willemstad is home to many architectural marvels other parts of the world have done away with. The first of these is Queen Emma Bridge, a floating pontoon bridge that can swing open to make way for seaward ships. As enchanting as the city’s European elements are, what really sets it apart are the attractions unique to its Caribbean setting.
The city welcomes a floating market stocked with produce like papayas, melons, tomatoes, and more. This market sails all the way from Venezuela to set up shop in Curacao. Willemstad is also home to the oldest synagogue in the Americas, and the tallest bridge in the Caribbean. Each of these features only solidify Willemstad’s reputation as a city unlike any other.
The Beaches Really Are That Beautiful
No Curacao vacation would be complete without a trip to the beautiful beaches. While you aren’t likely to see all 38 of them in one go, Curacao is small enough to beach hop to your heart’s content. And take it from us, you’ll want to move around. Each beach has something different to offer, yet they all offer breathtaking access to the turquoise waters the Caribbean is known for.
Find Blue Bay Beach northwest of Willemstad, a well-developed beach with all the facilities you’ll need. Small boats bob just off the beach on Boka St. Michel, known for its traditional fishing village. Try Caracasbaai for snorkeling, diving, and access to the underwater park. Stop by Cas Abao for the white sandy beach and gazebos you’ve seen in magazines.
It’s Foodie Scene Is Strong
Food is as good as it gets in Curacao. Willemstad is populated by quaint street cafes, and the rest of the island is frequented by truk di pan, or bread trucks. These trucks serve up meat and fries smothered in local sauces. Stop by after a night out and you’ll have never tasted anything better.
Many restaurants here also emphasize Caribbean cooking. Tapas-style restaurants are common here, and the seafood is among the best in the world. Pumpkins are grown on the island, so what is a fall flavor in other parts of the world makes a frequent appearance on Curacao menus. Another local favorite you have to try? Arepas, a soft corn pancake with flavorful fillings like plantains, black beans, and more.
It’s as Colorful as an Island Can Be
Willemstad’s architecture is otherworldly. Imagine transplanting Amsterdam, complete with waterways, to the Caribbean, and you’ll begin to see why Willemstad is so magical. But on Curacao, the architecture is only the beginning. Curacao is actually known for its colorful houses.
Though locals will tell a tale of a governor from the 1800’s who demanded that the houses be painted to reduce the glare off what were then white walls, the reality is that the governor owned a paint company and sought to increase his sales. His greed is today’s gain, as colorful buildings and homes have become a Curacao tradition. Street art has risen up in recent years in line with the colorful homes and buildings, filling Willemstad with murals of all kinds. Stroll through the streets to see these creations around every corner.
Curacao is the only tropical destination you need. There’s always Bora Bora, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and more, but none are equally rich in culture or as inspiring in scenery as the “C” in the ABC islands. Next time you consider planning a beach getaway, add Curacao to the list. You won’t regret it.