When people think of the Caribbean, Curaçao often floats under the radar. This artsy, colorful former Dutch colony boasts perennially sunny skies, turquoise waters and pristine beaches. We guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it! We’ve partnered with travel blogger and photographer Sher of Sher She Goes to share everything you need to know about this multifaceted Dutch Caribbean island.
Where is Curaçao?
Curaçao is located on the outer fringes of the ‘hurricane belt’ in the Southern Caribbean sea, just north of Venezuela. Sheltered by gentle, temperate trade wins, the island offers year round sunny temperatures in the 80s!
Curaçao is often grouped with its neighbors Aruba and Bonaire in the nickname ‘ABC Islands’ as all three were colonies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and formed the ‘Dutch Caribbean’. Today, Curaçao is an independent state, but citizens carry Dutch passports.
Curaçao’s Diverse History
Curaçao was settled by the Arawak Indians nearly 6,000 years ago. In the early 16th century, Spain colonized Curaçao as part of its New World acquisition but eventually abandoned the island due to its perceived lack of riches – namely, gold.
By the mid-1600s, large numbers of Sephardic Jews arrived to Curacao, escaping the Spanish and Portugese Inquisitions. Soon other European powers sought to establish bases in the Caribbean. The Dutch West India Company founded the capital of Willemstad on the banks of an inlet and soon the natural harbor became a crucial trade port for shipping, piracy and the slave trade.
Today you’ll find stunning, Old World Dutch architecture in the capital, painted in pretty candy colored pastels. Curaçaoans are fluent in a mix of languages, including Dutch, Spanish, English and the local creole – which combines all of these! Everything from reggaetón, bachata and American pop are regularly played on airwaves while local dishes on the menu include Iguana stew with bitterballen. You’ll also find plenty of Indonesia cuisine due to the islands’ shared history as former Dutch colonies.
Curaçao is unlike any other Caribbean island you may have visited!
Where to Stay
The Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort (recently featured as a pit stop prize in the Amazing Race) is the place to stay in Curaçao. Check out the stunning lobby, on site restaurants, expansive pools and property in the photos below!
With 2,000 acres to explore, Santa Barbara is a destination of its own!
What to See & Do
Tee-off at Pete Dye’s Old Quarry, ranked among the best courses in the Caribbean. The course’s first two holes run along the ocean. Be careful or the trade winds will carry your ball out to sea!
Handelskade (Merchant’s Wharf)
Hang out in the winding streets of historic Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll love the dual European & tropical atmosphere as well as the district’s fun bars and thriving art scene.
Schedule a day at sea with a trip to Klein Curacao, an uninhabited island featuring pristine beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. Swim with sea turtles, explore a deserted lighthouse and even discover an old shipwreck! Just mind the waves heading out – they can be rocky.
Explore the expansive 2,000 acre plantation at Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort by going on a guided hike or mountain bike tour. Make sure to stay on the trail! Curacao is famous for its many cacti and while they are beautiful to look at, they hurt to touch!
Santa Barbara offers a variety of stunning locales to take-in the sunset, but none better than Shore restaurant. Make dinner reservations and get there early to savor a delicious cocktail as the sun dips below the horizon. Don’t forget to try Curacao’s famous blue liquor!
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