Know as the pearl of the Caribbean, tucked away in the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the southwestern basin, Curacao is known for its vibrant culture represented in the old Dutch architecture and lively music, colorful carnival and white sandy beaches. A beautiful blend of African and Dutch culture, over the years evolved into diversity of its people, languages and authentic cuisine. Continued to be part of the Dutch heritage, Curacao is a independent colony as part of the Dutch Caribbean known as the ABC-Islands.
Blessedly out of reach of seasonal hurricanes, the island’s centuries-old city is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Just 40 miles off Venezuela this tiny gem of the Caribbean is widely known for its authentic variety of island food, former plantation homes, its unique goat-burger, its own locally made Blue Curacao liqueur and foremost it’s colorful Carnival.
Our Capaci mates Welles and Melissa share their travel story with us as they cruise the island to explore the island’s most secluded beaches, the deeply rooted nationalism of the Korsow people and experience firsthand the celebration of culture, tradition, unity and harmony.
Ruben and Melissa traveled to Curacao on February 4th, 2018 from Paramaribo, Suriname. Just little over two hours the steep rocky shores of the island became visible. What a sight! …where the deep blue waters of the Atlantic splashed roughly against the uneven rocks. Once landed, the tiny airport provides quick and easy access to the thirty degree weather. If not travelling light, you might want to arrange airport transfers before hand, as it’s extremely challenging and expensive to roll up a cab for $20.00 for 10 minute ride to town. If you’re lucky you’ll be paying the ‘cheapest rate’, which is anywhere above $50.00.
Cruising down from the airport, you’ll pass the famous HATO Caves. Located on the north side of the island, the caves are more than 200.000 years old. Turned into one of the scenic touristic attraction of the island, the Caves are accessible by foot and a great representation of the island’s nature. Catch the guided tours every hour between 9.00am and 4.00pm and enjoy the historic scenery.
Curacao is laid-back and comes across to be very relaxed, which is a fair description of island-life; until you hit traffic around 12pm. Curacao’s peak hours are measurable based on its traffic, no doubt about that, you might want to consider public transport if you need to cruise through the main-business district on either Punda and Otrabanda, during rush hours. Typically traffic jams occur between 7.30 and 8.30pm, between 12.00-2pm and 4.00-5.00pm. Public transport takes you everywhere on the island, from city to beaches. Just make sure you’ll back in town before the break of dawn, as the last buses generally cease their routes around 5pm, always easier if you get a rental to move around.
From Otro Banda, which literally means the other side, head north towards Piscadera. Here’s is where you’ll find the major hotel supply chains and the major Golf Course. Peek into the Trade Centre, the island’s Expo, Conference and Exhibition Centre. Head down the road to Sint Michiel and turn left to make the first beach stop at Bullenbaai. Travel a bit further and turn left towards Grote Berg, one of the newest villa communities, you’ll find the scenery quite extraordinary: a mix of branded villa’s and old school communities of Kunuku’s. Make a few stops to enjoy the local variety of foods and drinks in places like Daniel, Jan Kok and Barber. Being one of the oldest neighborhoods of Curacao, Barber holds a distinct memory of the old colonial days. When at Barber you can either head straight down to the beach area, road to the left, or travel on through Christoffel Park.
Christoffel Park, now a National Park, is the largest nature reserve on the island, home to the rare white-tailed deer, native barn owl and some of the rarest orchids. The park consists of eight hiking trails, leading up to Mount Christoffel, a steep, strenuous climb that it’s worth the view once completed. It generally takes two to three hours which will take you along the geological formations, dry river beds, lichens, beard moss, bromeliads and end in a wonderful rewarding view of the island, once on top!
Road left from Barber takes you along the big yellow church all the way down to the white sandy and breathtaking beaches, Shete Boka, Klein Knip and Groot Knip, just to name a few. These beaches are compared to the ones closer to the city accessible for the general public. Be conscious of the beaches you visit, the majority are private beaches, especially the ones down by the hotels. Most beaches will charge you Naf 5-10 entrance fee and parking fees, a sustainable way to make sure the beaches are kept clean, neat and pollution free. Curacao is popular for it’s festivities such as the North Sea Jazz Festival in September but also for sporting events such as Cycling Week and Sailing Fest (Regatta).
Carnival time! Curacao Carnival is is celebrated in February, weeks before ash Wednesday. the festivities kick off with the Tumba festival, the King and Queen of Tumba! Tumba origins in Africa and is native to Korsow. Carnival began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of “Carne Levale,” or giving up meat for Lent. In the 19th century, Curaçao continued the tradition by organizing masquerade parties and marches in private clubs. The main marches, Gran Marcha, the product of weeks of enthusiastic preparation, take place in February or March. They feature hordes of fantastic floats, costumes, and characters. It wasn’t until 1969 that Curaçao Carnival! started to gain the popularity it enjoys today.You won’ find this to be a scarcely dressed fest but a traditional blend of its colonial and folkloric heritage presented in a variety of blinding colors, glitter, feathers and sparkle. Put on on your best and enjoy the folkloric music celebrations during Carnival where the streets lit up with the beats of drums.
If not for its vibrant Carnival, relaxing white sandy beaches, calming deep blue waters or steaming nightlife, Curacao is a great place for the family to just ‘hang out’. Thirty degree weather all year long makes it worthwhile to head down to the tiny jewel of the Caribbean and sail off to the Atlantic. Put it in your calendar for….whenever! The sun in Curacao shines 360 days a year!
Bon Bini di Dushi Korsow!
Until our next Destination….Melissa, Welles and
Capaci send their love….