Curacao is an island that masters the art of seduction. If it can't win you over with its modern luxuries, it'll get you with its natural simplicities.
It woos with its colourful Danish-style buildings, satisfies with a bustling shopping district, lures with its beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise or sapphire waters and delights with its lush emerald foliage. You could resist Curacao's call, but why would you? Surrender to this island's charms and get to know this tropical destination a bit better.
Where is Curacao?
Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean island in the Leeward Antilles, a 2-1/2 hour flight south of Miami and just 70 km north of Venezuela. It lies outside of the primary hurricane belt and gets only an average of 22 inches of rain each year.
The island has an average temperature of 27ºC and its land size is 444 square km. Oil refinery fuels Curacao's economy, as does banking and tourism. Locals may speak English, Dutch and Papiamento (a mix of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and English.)
Where to stay
The Kura Hulanda Hotel is the place to be for a palpable sense of history and enchanting beauty. Located in the capital city Willemstad, the 80-room hotel lies on the grounds of a historic village and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Today, a stroll on the Kura Hulanda Hotel's grounds is like something out of a fairytale storybook. Cobblestone streets, winding paths and a courtyard that's sheltered by magnificent mature trees are just a few of the delights you'll find here.
Kura Hulanda's past and present
Far from a typical holiday resort, the Kura Hulanda Hotel boasts a complex of 65 two- or three-story buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th century. Beautifully restored to their Dutch Colonial origins, some of these colourful homes have quaint shops below where you could just picture the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker setting up shop here once upon a time.
Today, you can find everything from woodwork decorations to insect repellent and souvenirs in the gift shops here. There's also a casino, spa, restaurants and cafés on site.
Hotel suites are furnished with gorgeous antiques and every room is unique and special. You'll feel like royalty in expertly appointed rooms, some with thick four-poster beds and wide plank hardwood floors. After a day of touring, you can return to your suite for sweet dreams as you fall asleep to the hypnotic songs of tree frogs and crickets outside.
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What to do in Curacao
Take a walking tour to see more of Otrobanda, the district Kura Hulanda calls home, and get to know Punda, Curacao's shopping district. Step onto the Queen Emma Bridge and make your way over the St. Anna Bay channel where shipping vessels flock to offload their wares from international vendors.
Tour Punda's vast selection of shops and when you've worked up an appetite, stop in at the Plasa Bien for tasty local fare that's light on your wallet.
Then walk along the waterfront, lined with colourful examples of Dutch architecture. Many of these buildings served as warehouses, ready to receive shipments from visiting boats. A stroll around Punda reveals the international trade that characterizes Curacao as a port with merchandise from such countries as Japan, France, and the U.S.
ATV island tour
See more of the island's diverse landscape and satisfy the adventurer in you while buzzing about on an ATV. You can drive or hop on the back of a two-seater all-terrain vehicle with Eric's ATV Adventures Island Tours.
You'll stop at an enchanting bat-filled cave and hike to a beautiful view of Curacao's cactus-lined landscape that leads to a rocky shore and the magnificent Caribbean Sea.
Kura Hulanda Museum
Don't leave for home without a visit to the Kura Hulanda Museum, dedicated to anthropology and Curacao's cultural history.
Filled with fascinating artifacts, historical documents and bone-chilling reproductions, a visit to this museum is a sobering, significant and memorable one. You'll see fossils, skulls and bone artifacts in the Origin of Man display and in the Slave Trade and Middle Passage display, you'll get a look at what life was like for African slaves who were brought to Curacao during the transatlantic slave trade (1441- 1863).
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