Curacao – A Perfect Island Getaway
Just 65 km north of Venezuela lies the small Caribbean island of Curacao. The origin of the name appears lost, but the name has been given to its famous liquor, Blue Curacao. But liquor is only one of its many attributes. Golf is another, beaches is yet another, and so is the iconic capital city, Willemstad – a World Heritage site.
Curaçao is one of the Dutch ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao. Once there, you’ll see the island is more desert than tropical. Dutch is spoken first before English. Papiamentu is the language of the locals – a mix of Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese. The Curacao currency is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder, which is still used on Curaçao and Saint Maarten. The Dutch Guilder was replaced by the Euro in 2002, so the Antillean Guilder is a little different. American dollars also work, but you’ll get Guilders as change.
The buildings downtown sport a dazzling array of colour because, as the story goes, King Willem I, who suffered from major headaches, thought that the sun reflecting off the white buildings was the cause of his headaches so he ordered that everyone paint their houses yellow, orange, blue, pink, or green and the shingles also had to be made out of clay and painted orange. The story also goes on to say that the King had a major share in the one and only paint store on the island. How convenient.
The waterfront, known as the Handelskade, is home to many of the multi-coloured buildings that remind one of the Dutch influence on this part of the Caribbean. While it’s a terrific island to visit, tourism is not its main industry. An oil refinery on the island and offshore banking rank one and two, with tourism in third place. This means that Curaçao is not overrun with tourists, which is another reason to go!
Speaking of the refinery, during our stay we noticed oil smells wafting occasionally on the breeze, so we recommend staying on the southeast side of the island if you think this might bother you.
When you arrive you’ll notice that there are no street signs so you need to download a Curacao maps app. The locals advised maps.me which operates offline. By the way, we suggest you rent a car to get around rather than depend on taxis or the bus.
What to see when you go
Flamingos inhabit the island in great numbers. You can see them if you drive towards Kokomo Beach – one of the islands 35 beaches – where hundreds of them gather.
Be sure to visit the abandoned Pietermaai Mansions. These mansions were the homes of the wealthy colonists within the area. Prior to the slave trade, the island of Curaçao was home to piracy. The area of Pietermaai was saved for the bankers and ships captains of the Dutch West India Company. After the Dutch abolished slavery in 1863 the fortunes began to fade and the mansions were abandoned. In the last 10 years the area is becoming more revitalized turning the mansions into new bed and breakfasts, restaurants and bars.
Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest in the Americas. Built in 1651, it is renowned for its sand floors. The sand is brought in from the Dead Sea.
We couldn’t resist getting a local T-shirt that read, “I’m Super Dushi!” In English that might cause a double take, but on Curaçao it’s a compliment. It means a number of things such as beautiful or wonderful, so when on the island, don’t be afraid to be a little Dushi!
Want to learn more?
Check several sources for flights, hotels, cars and the like from where you live. It’s amazing how different prices can be between them. For our trip we flew on Air Canada via Toronto direct to the island. While there we chose a resort through hotels.com. For other trips we’ve used Expedia, hotels.com and VRBO.
A Word About Our Partners
Curacao is a great place to spend time. To help you on your way, we’ve partnered with several top travel and resource companies. If you’re on a laptop, you’ll find them along the right side of the page. When travelling, we like to know there are resources at our fingertips that we can trust to keep our travels smooth and enjoyable.
We are very pleased to welcome Peter Millar golf apparel to our site. Peter Millar features a wide range of casual sportswear, tailored menswear, and luxury and performance golf apparel appropriate for the golf course, the office or a night on the town. Click their link here or (if you’re on a laptop) on the right side of the page.
Amazon has great deals on golf clubs and accessories. Check out their link here or on the right side of the page.
And while you’re searching, click on the eBay link for deals on new and used clubs and other golfing essentials.
Patagonia is known for their excellent outdoor clothing and accessories.
Have a look at our Cheap Flights page for some search suggestions, and if you’re on a laptop, check out our partners listed along the right side of the page who can help with flights, accommodation and travel resources.