Imagining a vacation brings to mind many of the same destinations over and over again, right? Beautiful Hawaii, California, Florida, maybe an escape to the mountains of Colorado, the ancient beauty of Europe, dreamy Tahiti, and more.
Have you ever wondered what your other vacation destination options are? With 195 countries in the world, there are far more places to go than one can visit in a lifetime! With the holidays on the horizon and a new year filled with new possibilities, your chances to plan a getaway somewhere new are abundant!
It’s Time to Meet Curacao
Located in the southern portion of the Caribbean, below the Hurricane belt, to the east of Aruba, and a mere 40 miles north of Venezuela lies Curacao. Curacao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and is a lesser-known slice of Caribbean paradise!
Where the Turquoise Sea Meets the Desert
Just like its neighbor Aruba, Curacao does not have a tropical landscape, but rather a desert one. Curacao is comprised of eons-old volcanic rock and weather-swept terrain. The northern coast is characterized by rough limestone cliff formations. Expansive hilly landscapes grace the western end and on the east end wide-open flat plains. The highest point is Christoffel Peak, which towers at 375 meters. The total surface area of the island is 444 square kilometers, and the entire island is surrounded by sparkling turquoise water. Beautiful and unique forms of cacti make up much of the flora.
The climate is a tropical savannah climate with the dry season from January to September and the rainy season is from October to December. Keep in mind, it does not rain much on Curacao, and the temperature stays within the balmy range of 80-88 year round, with only slight increases or decreases. With dependable warm weather, Curacao is ready for visitors year-round.
Centuries of Culture
To say Curacao has one easily explainable culture would be false. Curacao’s first inhabitants were the Amerindian Arawaks, who migrated to various Caribbean islands from South America. Then, in the 15th century, Christopher Columbus put the Caribbean on the map, quite literally, for the first time.
For a while the Spanish laid claim to Curacao, then the Dutch West India Company in 1642 establishing plantations on the island. By this time the mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African dialects had mixed enough to form Papiamentu, which is still spoken on the island today. Also during the 1600s, Curacao became a safe-haven for Jewish people fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. The Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue was formed and is still in use today as one of the oldest synagogues in the western hemisphere. With so many cultures, languages, and layers of history, Curacao is quite the melting pot! There are many expressions of each culture throughout the year, a few example are:
- Carnival in February
- Independence Day on October 10th
- Koningsdag – King’s Day, a celebration of the birth of Netherlands King Willem Alexander
- Salsa Tour in August
- North Sea Jazz Festival
And so much more! To enjoy Curacao’s culture, one simply has to visit the island, though, no celebration or festival needed! There are dozens of museums explaining the different chapters of Curacao’s history, as well as the varied cuisines, architecture, and parts of the island that all paint a picture of who Curacao is today.
What to See and Do
Between the varied landscapes, the sea, and the culture, there’s an endless array of things to see and experience on the island. Lying around on an idyllic beach is always a great way to spend a day. Curacao is a world-renowned diving and snorkeling destination. Swimming, stand up paddling, kayaking, and every other water activity are readily available. Hiking, mountain biking, and caving are a few land activities to experience. The colorful capital of Willemstad is well-worth a visit and a photo or two! A few out of the ordinary offerings Curacao has to include:
- A trip to Klein Curacao
- Curacao Ostrich Farm
- Curacao Liqueur Tastings
- Visit the Floating Market
What to Eat?!
Curacao’s food is as varied as its history! The two main cultural influences as far as cuisine goes are Dutch and Creole. With so many rich and varied flavors, it’s quite the culinary experience! When you visit be sure to try:
- Piska Ku Funchi – Fish with polenta
- Arepa di Pampuna – Pumpkin Pancakes
- Kabritu – Goat Meat
- Keshi Yena – Gouda or Edam cheese stuffed with meat
- Stoba – Stews with different meats in them
Curacao offers the glistening Caribbean Sea, an interesting and layered history, rich cultural adventures, delicious cuisine, and plenty of luxury accommodations. The reasons to visit Curacao are many, and perhaps one of the best is its off-the-beaten-track feel. Sure, there are plenty of visitors each year, but it’s nothing compared to the level of tourism in Jamaica or The British Virgin Islands, for example. Curacao offers the chance to take a step back from the daily grind, a chance to reset, explore a new culture, and make lasting memories.
Seal the deal with a stay at the luxurious and expansive Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Located on 2,000 acres overlooking the sea, Santa Barbara is a slice of paradise.
We hope you get to enjoy all that Curacao has to offer someday!