Punda, Willemstad taken from Otrobanda
Curacao is one of the sweetest island in the netherlands antilles, situated very close to venezuela and aruba.
It's paradise, always sunny, with amazing white beaches, tropical blue seas, perfect dining possibilities,
and also very for for tropical family holidays.
A summery of the island, its culture and the possibilities Curacao has to offer you are listed down here:
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.
The native language of Curaçao is Papiamentu, which is a richly unique mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, African 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, on the North side of the island, not far from the capital of Willemstad. Services most International and regional carriers. To contact the airport by phone, call 599-9-888-0101.
For car rentals and more info on curacao car renting options click here
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 has various marinas which seafaring travelers can dock their ships.
There are two types of buses on the island, BUS and Konvoi. The easiest way to ride is to go to one of the two bus stations in Willemstad. These include Otrobanda Station, located across the street from the Rif Fort (see Willemstad) and Punda Station, at the post office, across from the Circle Market. For the most part, the Punda bus station serves stops along the Eastern side of the ring, and to the East including Salina, Zelandia, Mambo, while the Otrobanda station serves destinations West of the Bay, to include the Airport, Piscadera and even Westpunt. The destinations do not typically overlap, so a 10-15 minute walk between stations may be necessary for cross island trips.
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.
Unlike taxis, the BUS prices are not negotiable (1-3 NAf), but the route is. A common practice with bus drivers is to negotiate how close the driver can take you to your destination. Be sure to ask the bus driver if the bus stops near your destination before entering. You can pay the driver while the BUS is en route, or before exiting the bus. You can board a bus anywhere on the island by waiting at one of the ubiquitous yellow 'Bushalte' signs and waiving at a coming BUS or Konvoi. Taxi drivers will also try to lure you in. So make sure to look at the sign in the window or a license plate (that says BUS) to avoid paying high taxi fares. The bus schedule varies, from about 6AM-8PM for most stops, and until 11pm or even midnight (and sometimes later) to Salina and Mambo. If you are ever lost during daylight hours, just find a yellow bushalte sign, and the bus should take you to either Punda or Otrobanda.
Ferries are a great way for shoppers to get to and from some of the island's main shopping areas.
Curaçao's beaches are concentrated on the southern coast, especially the western side. Find these from Rif St. Marie up to Westpunt.
The Dutch Antilles Guilder(also called Florin) is the official currency, but The Euro(€) and U.S. Dollar($) are readily accepted. Automatic teller machines are widely available throughout th island, and many machines will dispense Guilders and the U.S. Dollar. Currency can generally be exchanged at local hotels, casinos and places of business. The exchange rate is generally pegged to the U.S.D. and stable. It is unlikely for tourists to be taken advantage when changing currency, but it is best to be aware of the current rates prior to arrival.
There are a plethora of random shops and markets around Willemstad offering clothing, souvenirs, crafts, and other goods. These include a duty free "enclave" in the downtown area. Offerings emphasize European goods, to include excellent jewelry, timepieces/watches and linens, plus the usual collection of souvenir shops. A water front market lies nearby that's packed with fresh foods and flowers...best seen or shopped in the mornings.
On Sundays, however; most businesses except restaurants in the city are closed.
Waterfront Dining Willemstad
Local cuisine in Curaçao is a mixture of European, West-Indian and East Asian (particularly Indonesian) flavours. Dutch influences are found in the use of cheeses, bread and seafood, which are also important in Curaçaoan food. Indonesian cuisine, a migrant from Suriname, another of the Netherlands' former colonies, can be found on the island, and explains the widespread availability of Sate and Peanut sauce along with the islands more Caribbean fare. Also, Chinese "snacks" can be found all over the island serving cheap Chinese food. They cater mostly to locals, but most serve good food.
Curacao is littered with 'Snacks,' small bar restaurants which serve Chinese Food. These are typically inexpensive, double as convenience stores and bars, and are typically open later than most other restaurants which cater to local (rather than European) patrons.
Scultpure Garden Restaurant located in the Kura Hulanda Hotel one block West of the Governeur Restaurant, Sculpture Garden offers excellent international cuisine with some very innovative specials
Safety is not a big issue on Curacao. The locals are friendly, welcoming, and willing to give assistance. After all, a major part of their island's income comes from tourists. Just take normal precautions and use common sense.
By Sarah Valentine
The penultimate country in the archipelago of the Caribbean, Curaçao is not what you expect when you think tropical island. At first glimpse Curaçao seems a barren, desolate island - with little annual rainfall and no freshwater lakes or rivers, the lushness you expect from the tropics doesn't exist here.
Upon closer inspection, however, what at first seems to be a monotonous desert landscape is actually a stalwart country with enormous biodiversity.
Located 56 kilometres north of Venezuela, Curaçao is the "C" of the ABC Island set of the Netherlands Antilles, with Aruba and Bonaire being the "A" and "B." The country is a real miracle, with multiple cultures existing peacefully on a small, resource-restricted dot of dirt - there is only 444 square kilometers of land.
Sixty-five ethnic groups contribute their many flavours successfully to the stunning art and architecture of the country. There is something to be said about the ability of one country to create a Creole-type language, called Papiamento, which melds six different languages together: Dutch, Spanish, English, French and African tongues, with a Portuguese base. Eighty-five per cent of the people on the island speak Papiamentu, with many people able to speak four out of the six main languages.
Historically, Curaçao has been a refuge for its inhabitants. The population is largely people of African descent. Over 80 per cent of the population is Catholic - Curaçao is one of the few places outside of Africa with a majority black Catholic population - but the small Jewish and Dutch Protestant communities also have considerable influence. Each immigrant group has its own customs, religious practices and food, thereby creating a unique culture with a high percentage of inter-ethnic and interracial marriages.
However, this peaceful coexistence didn't always exist.
About 4,000 years ago the Caiquetios, an agricultural tribe of the Arawak natives, fled Venezuela to Curaçao and set up maize and manioc farms. They also hunted local rabbit and deer, believed to have been brought there by them from mainland South America.
They lived peacefully as hunter-gatherers/farmers until 1499, when Alonso de Ojeda, a lieutenant of Columbus, claimed the island for Spain. As there was no gold or other useful commodities found on the island to be traded, the Spanish sold a few thousand Arawaks as slaves to work in mines on other Caribbean islands. The few Indians who were not deported were forcibly relocated into two villages, one at present day Ascençion and the other at St. Annabaai.
The Spanish ruled the island until 1634, when the Dutch took over. The Dutch captured Curaçao relatively easily. On July 29, 1634, Johan van Walbeeck sailed into St. Annabaai with a small fleet and only a few hundred men. The Spaniards put up minimal resistance, poisoning wells and setting fire to the villages. The Dutch deported the Spaniards and most of the remaining Caiquetios to the mainland, fearing they would be spies for Spain.
As long as Holland and Spain were involved in the Eighty Years War, Curaçao remained first and foremost a Dutch naval base. It was one of their most valuable Caribbean outposts, with the picturesque deep-sea port of Willemstad, now the capital, on the banks of the inlet Schottegat.
Built in 1635, Fort Amsterdam, the bright yellow-walled square with white trim, located strategically in the middle of Punda in downtown Willemstad, was once used as the island's primary protecting structure. The imposing government building is currently one of the Caribbean's UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is home to the Governor, the island's Ministry and also features a historic museum which provides tours that showcase the unique structure, breathtaking views atop walls and even an embedded cannonball in the fort's southwestern wall.
Today, Willemstad is a bustling shopping haven with rows of tall, narrow pastel-coloured Baroque-style buildings towering over the small cobblestone streets and alleyways. Something like a cross between a gothic church and a Pueblo adobe, these historic buildings are crowned with steep gables and roofed with orange Spanish tiles, replicas of those that line the canals of Amsterdam.
The city has been developed on both sides of the deep canal, connected by a diesel-powered pedestrian walkway, the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, which swings open throughout the day to let ships pass. On one side of the harbour lies Punda with its Old World Dutch ambience and high-end shopping. On the other side sits Otrabanda (literally meaning "the other side").
Once you leave the capital and head into the cunucu, the countryside, you can see the contrasting beauty and harshness of the land. The waters around the island vary according to the prevailing winds and currents around the island. The north coast is pounded by high waves that roll in from the rough open seas and the ground is layered with coral skeletons, a jagged reminder of an ancient past. Dark royal blue, these waters differ from the sheltered southern seaboard, whose calm coastline is dotted with stunning bays, white sand shores and brilliant turquoise lagoons.
Taking advantage of the low rolling hills outside the capital, Dutch settlers established landhuizen, or plantations of corn, sugar cane and indigo in the 18th century. In order to increase the production capabilities of these plantations, Curaçao became one of the largest slave depots in the Caribbean, with Dutch merchants bringing slaves over from Africa under a contract with Spain called the Asiento. A trade relationship was established whereby a set of traders was given a monopoly over that route and/or product.
Today you can visit the abandoned landhuizen and see remnants of a harsher time. A common statue standing at these heritage sites is a giant raised fist with a broken chain link hanging from it.
By the time the last slave galleon arrived in the harbour in 1788, the Dutch West India Company had transported almost 500,000 Africans to slavery.
The island's largest slave uprising began on Aug. 17, 1795 when about 50 slaves on the Kenepa plantation took up arms. They were later joined by over a thousand more from neighboring plantations. This is despite the planning by plantation owners to be visually close enough to each other to see flags waving from neighboring plantations warning of possible uprisings. The revolt spread across the island and lasted several weeks.
When slavery itself was abolished in 1863, fewer than 7,000 people received their freedom, for many enslaved Curaçaoans freedom was only a declaration.
Following the abolition of the slave trade the island sunk into a century of relative economic decline, prompting many inhabitants to emigrate to other islands, such as to Cuba, to work in sugarcane plantations.
In 1914 the island assumed new importance with the discovery of oil in nearby Venezuela. Royal Dutch Shell and the Dutch Government had built an extensive oil refinery installation on the former site of the slave-trade market at Asiento, thereby establishing an abundant source of employment for the local population and fueling a wave of immigration from surrounding nations.
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