Curacao is in the Lesser Antilles islands. Commonly called the ABC islands, Curacao is the “C” with Aruba and Bonaire being the “A” and “B”, respectively. The ABC islands are often grouped in with Caribbean destinations because they offer a distinct island paradise kind of feel.
Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curacao sees a lot of visitors from the UK. The official language is Dutch but the most commonly spoken language is Papiamentu. However, English and Spanish are common. The weather varies from high 70s to mid-80s all year; the Wet Season runs from October to December and the Dry Season starts in January and lasts until September.
With 35 beaches, you won’t struggle to find any kind of water activity you want; however, as remarkable as the beaches are, Curacao is a must-see destination to history buffs and travelers who want something other than sand between their toes during a tropical vacation.
No trip to Curacao would be complete without a trip to Willemstad, an historic Dutch-Colonial city. This is the capital of Curacao and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Just about every postcard and any image search online will show you Handelskade, the picturesque pier of Willemstad. The brightly painted buildings create a wonderful backdrop for the multitude of murals that decorate the city.
Near where the cruise ships dock, you can find Rif Fort. This area is known for upscale shopping and a casino. It is busiest when a cruise ship is in dock.
There are two historic houses of worship in Willemstad. Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, built 1651, is the oldest synagogue of continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, built in 1870, is the active church for the Diocese of Willemstad and offers both the Roman and Latin Rite.
Serena’s Art Factory offers a walk-in art workshop on Fridays. Making your own souvenirs will certainly personalize mementos. In addition to art and shopping, Willemstad offers a few museums. One of the more popular ones is the slavery museum, The Museum of Kura Hulanda.
Curacao has six historic forts that are must-see places for any military history buff. Curacao had a few more forts, but these six are the best preserved and are open to the public. Fort Amsterdam (built in 1635), Fort Beekenburg (built in 1703), Fort Nassau (built in 1797), Piscadera Bay Fort (built between 1701–1704), Waterfort (built in 1826), Rif Fort, the shopping area mentioned earlier (built in 1828) and Piscadera Bay Fort (built between 1701–1704).
In addition to snorkeling, diving, and all manner of water activities, Curacao has two national parks that offer very different views of nature. Christoffel National Park has mountain, hiking, scenic roads, and the park office books tours. If you plan on climbing the mountain, you should allocate 2-3 hours (one way) to climbing. Climbers are urged to start very early in the day. If you plan on taking in the scenic roads, keep an eye out for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
On the other side of nature is Shete Boak National Park that offers a volcanic landscape that most Americans will never see in our own country.
From the water of the sea to the fire of the Earth’s core, Curacao is as varied as the many visitors it welcomes. Book your vacation today, and check out our Vacation Planning Resource Center for information to guide you on your next trip!
- Historic Willemstad
- Street Art
- Handelskade, iconic pier
- Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
- Queen of Most Holy Rosary Cathedral
- Serena’s Art Factory