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|−|Go to Wet & Wild Beach Club on the Seaquarium Beach on a Sunday evening around 6 to see the sun set and see the Dutch marines stationed on Curaçao partying together with the numerous interns from Holland. |+|
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Revision as of 00:55, 15 November 2007
Curaçao  is an island in the Netherlands Antilles, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea - one includes Curaçao and Bonaire, north of Venezuela; the other is east of the Virgin Islands. Curaçao is among the group known as the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Bonaire. This trio is located near Venezuela, and are considered to be outside the Caribbean's so-called "hurricane zone." This means that vacations to the island are rarely disrupted by such tropical storms.
One of the most notable things about the island is its culture. This Dutch island features the pastel colors and building styles you'd find in the Netherlands. However, the people of the island have developed a culture, and even a language, of their own. Papiamentu (often spelled Papiamento) is the island's native Creole.
Punda, Willemstad taken from Otrobanda
The island has two main parts: the south-eastern part called Banda Riba and the north-western end of the island called Banda Bou. The names literally mean the upside and the downside. They take their names from the direction of the tradewinds that blow from top to bottom (East to West.)
Banda Riba has the capital city of Willemstad and most of the population of the island. The port inside the island is a great natural harbor called Schottegat. There is an old fort there with a good view of the entire region. The channel leading from the ocean to the bay is the best part of town to visit. The east side is called Punda and the west side is called Otrabanda. They are connected by a famous moving foot bridge called the Queen Emma Brug (Bridge.) The buildings on the Punda side are very picturesque. They are of Dutch architecture and are painted with pretty pastel colors.
Banda Bou is the end of the island with most of the beaches and natural attractions. The water at the beaches is a light turquoise and the weather is unparalleled. Other attractions are the east side of the island's rocky shores and grottos. The highest point on the island is Mount Christoffel at 1,239 feet (377 meters.)
The capital, Willemstad, is reminiscent of a Dutch town; with its architecture, red roofs, and pastel colors. It is also divided into two sides, Punda (East)and Otrobanda (literally "other side" on the West of the canal). This is where you'll find much of the island's culture, dining, entertainment, and history.
Curaçao's beaches are concentrated on the southern coast, especially the western side. Find these from Kaap St. Marie up to Westpunt.
The native language of Curaçao is Papiamentu, which is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and other languages. Most people from the island speak this language in addition to Dutch, English, and Spanish. Almost everyone speaks English.
Those who want to travel by air can enter at Curaçao's airport, Hato International Airport (CUR). It is located in Plaza Margareth Abraham, not far from the capital of Willemstad, and accepts flights from many regional carriers, but has recently expanded to accept international flights from North and South America. To contact the airport by phone, call 599-9-888-0101.
Cruise ships arrive at Curaçao Mega Pier or the Curaçao Cruise Terminal. From these ports it's just a short journey to many of the island's popular tourist destinations. Travelers can also enjoy nearby shopping at duty-free stores. Larger ships will arrive at the Mega Pier, and smaller ships will dock at the Cruise Terminal.
Sailors can enter at ports in Willemstad and Spanish Water. While there is a Members-only Yacht Club at the latter, both have marinas at which seafaring travelers can dock their ships.
As the largest island in the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao offers visitors plenty of ways to get around. Rental cars are available at rates of about $50 per day. However, buses costing under $1 per ride are another great way for visitors to get around. Better yet, they're easily recognizable by their plate marked "BUS."
If public transit isn't your style, and you don't want to rent your own car, taxis are another popular and easy-to-find option. They, too, are marked, and their plates read "TX." Some taxi drivers will even be your tour guide for the day, if you ask. But remember to agree on a fee before heading out. Active travelers can rent bikes and mopeds, or motorcycles.
Ferries are a great way for shoppers to get to and from some of the island's main shopping areas.
- Museum Kura Hulanda, Willemstad. Phone: +5999 434 7765 . Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. This anthropological museum chronicles the African slave trade as well as the cultures of Curacao. Entry: $9
- Postal Museum, Willemstad.
- Maritime Museum, Willemstad.
- Queen Emma Bridge (a.k.a "The Swinging Old Lady"), Willemstad. A floating pontoon bridge that links the "Punda" (Point Side) and the "Otrobanda" (Other Side) of the Willemstad across the Sint Annabaai Channel. You get to see the bridge open and close to away marine traffic into St. Anna Bay. (In the event the bridge is open for a prolonged time, there is a ferry service across the channel as well.)
- Queen Juliana Bridge, Willemstad. At 185 feet, this is highest bridge in the Caribbean (and 1 of the tallest bridges in the world.) The bridge overlooks St. Anna Bay as well as Willemstad. Note: The observation platform has been closed to pedestrian traffic.
- Christoffel National Park, West Point , Phone: +(5999)/864-0363, . A national park that is run by the by the Carmabi Foundation. Christoffel National Park is home to Boca Grandi, Indian caves where you can see paintings left by the Arawak Indians and Mount Christoffel. (At 1292 feet high, Mount Christoffel is the highest point in Curacao.)
- Shete Boka National Park, West Point, Phone +(5999)/864-0444, . A national park also run by the by the Carmabi Foundation, Shete Boka is home to the "7 boca's" including Boca Tabla and Boca Pistol (also known as "The Shooting Pistol") In season, some of the boca's serve as sea turtle breeding grounds.
- Curacao Sea Aquarium, Bapor Kibra Z/N, Phone: +(5999)/461-6666, . Home of the Dolphin Academy. This is one of the most popular attractions in Curacao. If you wish to do a Dolphin activity book as early as possible! $entry price (depends on activity you choose BUT paying for an activity (such as something at the Dolphin Academy) gets you entry to all of the Aquarium.
- Hato Caves, F.D. Rooseveltweg Z/N, Phone: +(5999)/868-0379. Open 7 days a week, with tours 2 times a day. Coral and limestone caves that was carved out below the sea and born when the sea level dropped. There are beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations as well as water pools and a waterfall. The cave is also home to a colony long nose fruit bats. (Because of the colony, photography is limited and not allowed in certain chambers.)
- Curacao Ostrich & Game Farm, Santa Catharina. Phone: +(5999)/747-2777. . The Curacao Ostrich Farm is one of the biggest Ostrich farms outside Africa. The tour takes you around the ostrich pens and incubator. Meat from this farm is shipped to Aruba (Ostrich is a red meat, which is high in protein and low in fat.)
- Fort Amsterdam, Punda Side, Willemstad. The seat of the Netherlands Antilles, Fort Amsterdam sits at the mouth of the harbor at the end of the Sint Annabaai Channel on the point. The complex has restaurants, shops as well as the Governors Palace.
- Fort Nassau, Willemstad. Fort Nassau was built on the hill to defend both St. Anna Bay as well as part of the city of Willemstad. The fort is open for tours and there is also a restaurant that overlooks the bay.
- The Floating Market, Punda Side, Willemstad. The "floating market" is actually a mini boat fleet that comes in from Venezuela and sells ultra fresh fish and fruit at the best prices.
Local cuisine in Curaçao is Dutch-influenced. However, some flavors of the West Indies are also found. Cheeses and seafood are both important in Curaçaoan food. The island is also known from the liqueur which bears its name.
- Marriott luxury Caribbean beach resort has excellent restaurants is available at the Portofino Restaurant and the Seabreeze Bar and Grill, which specialize in local dishes and fresh seafood.
To Aruba ( A few minutes aways by airplane)
To Bonaire (A paradise for Divers)