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Curacao is part of the Dutch Netherlands and is the most heavily populated island of the Netherlands Antilles. It has many attractions for visitors, such as friendly people, duty-free shopping, casinos, watersports and a distinctive culture. It has been called a miniature tropical Holland and in the past it was the site of many Dutch forts. Many of these forts are now restaurants. Most of the architecture on the island has a European flavor and inland the land resembles the deserts of the Southwestern US. There are classic Dutch windmills scattered throughout.

When travelling by taxi in Curacao, you have to ask the taxi driver to quote you a price before you start. This is because there are no meters in the cabs and the drivers carry a local rate sheet. After 11 P.M. the prices rise by about 25%. Although you don?t have to give the driver a tip, a 10% tip is expected if the driver helps you with your luggage. Some of the hotels have a free shuttle bus to the shopping centers and there is a fleet of buses in Wilmstead to most parts of the island.

Attractions in Curacao

Wilmstead is noted for its brightly colored houses as well as African style mud and waffle huts. Visit the statue of Manuel Piar, a famous freedom fighter and two statues dedicated to the islanders that lost their lives in the two world wars. The church at Fort Amsterdam, built in the 17th century is still standing and is the favorite haunt of history buffs on vacation. See the cannonball still embedded in the wall of the church. The Governor?s Residence dates back to Colonial times and is also worthy of a visit just to get a look at the architecture of the time. The synagogue is the oldest in the Americas and at the museum you will see many historical displays.

There are two impressive bridges ? the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge and the Queen Julianna Bridge. There is a floating market in the harbor where you can see and buy local produce harvested on the island.

Outside Wilmstead, there are also many points of interest. The Landhuis Papaya is a country home and Ceru Grandis is a three-story plantation home. Visit the thundering waterfall at Boca Tabla and visit the scenic little village of Westpoint. St Christoffel National Park is a nature reserve where you will see the many different types of wildlife on the island and if you are so inclined you can climb to the top of the St. Christoffel Mountain. There are also caves where you can still see the petroglyphs left by the ancient Arawack Indians and at the base of the mountain you can visit the Savonet Museum.

Curacao offers excellent opportunities for diving and the Rancho Alsin offer horseback riding tours. Avid golfers can tee off at the Curacao Golf and Squash Club at a reasonable price and most of the hotels have deluxe tennis courts for their guests. If you prefer to stay dry while still seeing what the world is like under the sea, you can take a submarine tour in a semisubmersible to see the many submerged wrecks along the coast.

The beaches are pristine with nearly 40 of them on the island. These range from sandy beaches in front of resorts and hotels to secluded beaches where you can swim and snorkel to your heart?s delight.

Just about every part of this island offers attractions for visitors from the tiny Curacao Museum to the Museum Kura Hulanda, one of the largest and most unusual in the Caribbean.

Accommodations and Dining

There are several super inclusive resorts in Curacao, such as the breezes Curacao. It is adjacent to the Undersea National park and the Sea Aquarium and is located on one of the largest beaches on the island. The Avila beach Hotel is moderately priced and offers a charm that the large resorts just don?t have. If you would like to rent an apartment or a bungalow, the Chogogo Resort offers really good prices on accommodation and if you want everything in one place, the Hotel Holland has a bar and a casino on the premises.

Dine in the cockpit of an airplane when you eat at the Cockpit, with its Dutch and International cuisine. For Indonesian fare, the Rijsttafel Restaurant is the place for you and the Bella Terrace offers Danish cuisine on its menu.

Shopping and Nightlife

If you like shopping while on vacation, you will think you are in heaven in Curacao. This is truly a shopper?s paradise with almost 200 stores lining the streets of Wilmstead. Here you will also find the Punda shopping district, which takes up 5 blocks. No matter what you want to buy, you?ll find it here and more besides. Plus, it?s duty-free.

After the sun goes down, the casinos come to life. This is where most of the action takes place, but the neighborhood of Salinja is the nightlife capital of the island. The Blues bar in the Avila Beach Hotel is packed every night of the week. If you want disco, then Club Façade is the place for you and Hook?s Hut lets you party on the beach.




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