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INTRODUCTION

ABC eilanden Aruba en Bonaire stranden

Curaçao was chosen as the Favorite Caribbean Destination for 2012 by the readers of About.com, one of the Top 10 Destinations for 2012 by Frommer's and a 2012 Honeymoon Hot Spot by Condé Nast Traveler. As such, the small, yet bustling island of Curaçao, has become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean for discerning travelers. Curaçao is a paradise for scuba divers and lovers of nature. Its ruggedly beautiful landscape provides endless opportunities for fun. Conquer the island’s open spaces and enjoy exhilarating hiking, biking, and ATV tours. Immerse yourself in mysterious and colorful underwater worlds at over 60 diving locations. Relax on beaches, both intimate and secluded. Explore Curaçao’s crown jewel – the capital city, Willemstad – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a lively port full of high-end retailers, restaurants and nightlife spots. Whatever you’re looking for, Curaçao promises you a magnificent travel experience.

Curaçao is a Caribbean island, and is situated in between Aruba and Bonaire (the 3 together also known as the ABC Islands), just north of Venezuela, and is considered to be outside the Caribbean's so-called "hurricane zone" (meaning that vacations to the island are rarely disrupted by such tropical storms).

The Country of Curaçao, which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao ("Little Curaçao"), is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its capital is Willemstad (before October 10, 2010, when the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, Curaçao was administered as the Island Territory of Curaçao, one of five island territories of the former Netherlands Antilles).

One of the most remarkable aspects of the island is its culture. This Dutch island features building styles you would find in the Netherlands, but painted in beautiful pastel shades. However, the people of the island have developed a very unique culture, and a language of their own. Papiamentu is the island's native Creole. Papiamentu is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and it also has some Arawak Indian and African influences.

Those who want to travel by air can enter at Curaçao's airport, Hato International Airport (CUR). Cruise ships arrive at Curaçao Mega Pier or the Curaçao Cruise Terminal. Sailors can enter at ports in Willemstad and has various marinas where seafaring travelers can dock their ships.

The Dutch Antilles Guilder (ANG, f), also called Florin, is the official currency, but the Euro (EUR, €) and U.S. Dollar (USD, $) are readily accepted. Automatic teller machines are widely available throughout the island, and many machines will dispense both ANG and USD. Currency can generally be exchanged at local hotels, casinos and places of business. The exchange rate is pegged to the USD (USD 1 = ANG 1.78) and stable.

SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS

There are many random shops and markets around Willemstad offering clothing, souvenirs, crafts, and other goods. These include a commonly-termed "duty free enclave" in the downtown area. Offerings emphasize European goods, to include jewelry, timepieces/watches and linens, plus the usual collection of souvenir shops. Perhaps not noted for great bargains, you may find items at reasonable prices you'll see nowhere else in the Caribbean.

A water front market lies on the near north side of the main shopping area. It is packed with fresh foods and flowers, best seen or shopped in the mornings.

On Sundays most businesses, with exception of some larger supermarkets, are closed.

Local cuisine in Curaçao is a mixture of European, West-Indian and East Asian (particularly Indonesian) flavors. Dutch influences are found in the use of cheeses, bread and seafood, which are also important in Curaçao food. Also, Chinese "snacks" can be found all over the island serving cheap Chinese food. They cater mostly to locals, but the food is known to be tasty. These are typically inexpensive, and have a dual purpose as convenience store and a bar, and are typically open later than most other restaurants which cater to local (rather than European) patrons.

Tap Water, which comes from a large seawater desalination distillation plant, is excellent tasting and perfectly safe for consumption.

SAFETY

Safety is not a big issue in Curaçao. The locals are friendly, welcoming, and willing to give assistance. After all, a major part of their island's income comes from tourists. Just take normal precautions for a tropical island and use common sense.

TRAVEL BY AIR

Exiting Curacao will require you to pay exit tax not included in your flight ticket (Unless you are flying KLM), which is about USD 34 for international flights (Visa and Mastercard accepted) and USD 2 for connections (in cash only).

Another attractive feature of Curaçao is the ability to “island hop”. Due to its geographical proximity to a chain of islands, it is easy and virtually problem free to access the following islands from Curacao:

  • Aruba (approx. 20 minutes away by airplane through a direct flight)
  • Bonaire (A paradise for Divers and also approx. 20 minutes away by plane)
  • Saint Martin (A former member of the Netherlands Antilles, with many Gourmet, Shopping and Beach options, and approx. one hour by plane)