In the middle of the Caribbean Sea, 35 miles off the coast of Venezuela, lies the island of Curacao. Part of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is the largest and most populous of the three islands along with Aruba and Bonaire.
Discovered in 1499 by Spanish explorers Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci, Curacao remained colonised by the Spanish until 1634 when the Dutch founded the capital Willemstad. Today travellers on flights to Curacao will land in the capital which most visitors use as a base from which to explore other parts of the island. Stay for a while and walk along its canals and narrow streets lined with gabled houses, reminiscent of old Amsterdam. Spend an afternoon in the Floating Market where boats from Venezuela and Colombia dock and vendors come out to sell fruits, vegetables and handicrafts.
Visitors coming off their Curacao flights who are eager to hit the beaches should head to Westpunt, where fearless divers dive off the rock cliffs into the crystal-blue waters, or to Blauwbaai on the south coast which has a good selection of restaurants and bars.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Curacao
Curacao has a warm, sunny climate all year long. Temperatures average 81 F and are cooled by eastern trade winds. It’s outside the hurricane zones, but tropical storms can randomly cause foul weather. From October to February is considered the rainy season, but the little rain usually falls at night.
Public transport is available, though irregular and often slow. There is a bus network as well as taxis. When taking a taxi make sure you agree the fare before setting off.
Renting a car allows greater freedom to explore the island and will help you find your way to less crowded beaches.
What is good to know if travelling to Curaçao?
- Willemstad is the capital of the country, divided into two parts by St Anna Bay. The Queen Emma Bridge connects the town. To get between one and the other, or just for a good view of the harbour and town, take a stroll across the bridge. Be aware, however, that it opens up when large ships come into the harbour. If you find it open, a free ferry takes passengers across the bay.
- To explore the city, with its colourful Dutch houses, it is worth taking a guided tour. The Willemstad City Highlight Tour from the tourist office takes in the city as well as the lue curacao liquor factory and the Jewish quarters.
- Operating at Curaco’s “seaquarium”, the dolphin academy has various courses for interaction with dolphins. After some basic training, you can swim with the bottle-nosed dolphins in one of their pools. Very popular with children.
- The ostrich park is another spot for animal lovers, though you might prefer not to dwell on the fate of the ostriches, which are being grown for meat. Feed the birds, learn about them from the keepers, and even take a ride.
- The “Yellow Jeep Safari” from the tourist office is a trip exploring the interior of the island. The off-road vehicles visit the North Shore and Christoffel National Park, which contains landhouses – old plantation houses – and Mount Christoffel.
- Despite its name, the floating market of Punda isn’t actually afloat. The stalls are right on the waterfront and sell fruit and vegetables and, naturally, lots of fish. Arrive early in the morning to see the market in full swing and sample some wares for breakfast.
- There are a number of private resorts on the island, most of which offer special day passes. If you feel like getting away from it all, head to Breezes, the first “super-inclusive” resort in the area. A day pass will get you entrance to the casino, five swimming pools, breakfast and lunch buffet as well as free drinks from the bar. Sure, it’s not authentic, but sometimes it’s nice just to unwind…