Have you ever heard of Curacao? No? .....we don't blame you. Although the island has much more to offer than it's sister island Aruba, Curacao island yet has to be discovered as a vacation destination.
Curacao is located between the Dutch Caribbean islands, Bonaire and Aruba. Although the trio is collectively known as the “ABC Islands,” they actually plot ACB reading from left to right on a map. As the largest member of the ABC Islands, Curacao stretches for 38 miles east to west. It varies in width from 3 miles to 9 miles and totals 275 square miles in area.
For many, Curacao's location, its 500-year-old multicultural historic background and diversity, its colorful capital Willemstad, its beautiful beaches, underwater world & nature, and its stunning Dutch Caribbean architecture, are more than enough reasons to put Curacao island on their family vacation bucket list!
You're not sure yet? Read on, because we will give you the real inside scoop on why Curacao definitely should be on your vacation bucket list.
1. Curacao has the best weather
Did you ever go on a tropical vacation, only to have it ruined by storms or rain? The northern Caribbean and Florida face a real risk each year of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Why take a chance with the weather on your next family vacation? Curacao is one of the few places that have great weather year-around: dry, sunny, with refreshing trade winds.
The Dutch Caribbean islands are located just outside the hurricane belt, so your family can book summer & fall vacations without having to worry too much about your vacation being ruined by a hurricane or tropical storm.
In case you would like more detailed information on the Curacao weather, check our blog post 'Do you make these 5 wrong assumptions about the Curacao weather?'
2. Curacao has a strong local influence
Like its sister island Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The three islands are all very different and have their own vibe. Curacao is a true Dutch Caribbean island with lots of history. In many ways it's very European while very African too.
The island is not Americanized like Aruba, the Bahamas or the Grand Turks. It is a tourist destination for cruise ships and others, but only about 15% of its tourists come from America; it is not all chains and new and shiny and hollow. Tourists can easily mix with the locals, who are kind and friendly.
All this makes Curacao an unusual place compared to many other destinations.
3. Curacao has the most beautiful capital, Willemstad, of the Caribbean
Picture an Amsterdam street, with narrow buildings along a canal. Now redecorate in rainbow colors, and you have an idea of what Willemstad is like. Curacao's capital is a fascinating town with centuries of Dutch Caribbean history, first class photo ops, and a charmingly old pontoon footbridge that hinges open to let boats into the St. Anna Bay.
It's worthwhile for any family to explore the fascinating city center, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the Otrobanda site, west of the St. Anna Bay, it has the Kura Hulanda Museum, which traces the history of the slave trade in this area, the Rif Fort, originally used as a defense for the harbor entry and now housing shops and restaurants, and the Curacao Museum located in a renovated 1853 hospital.
In Punda, at the other side of the St. Anna Bay, you'll find the Western Hemisphere's oldest synagogue (1732), the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum (attached to the synagogue), the Curacao Maritime Museum with its unique maps, charts, and nautical equipment, and Fort Amsterdam, now used as the governor's home.
Of course we have much more information on Willemstad, which can be found in our blog post 'The best of Curacao in 7 days' (day 3) and 'The story behind Willemstads colorful buildings'.
4. Curacao's beaches are its best-kept secret.
Unlike most other Caribbean islands, Curacao does not have long stretched beaches. Curacao's beaches are smaller beaches, secluded between limestone cliffs. The nicest beaches can be found on the west side of the island.
Most visitors that have a vacation in Curacao don't know much about the beaches and therefore, are inclined to go to the most advertised beaches, which are not always the nicest beaches. That's why we have a blog post 'Curacao's beaches ......its best kept secret'. This blog post describes 14 out of Curacao's 38 beaches. If you are interested to learn more about the other 24 beaches, let us know, we will write another blog post about them.
Your family won't get bored on the Curacao island beaches, there are plenty of water activities for sports enthusiasts who can’t sit still. See our blog post 'Top 10 tips for water activities in Curacao' and 'Top 5 Curacao water activities for kids'.
5. Curacao is constantly ranked among the world’s best diving spots!
I'm not sure if your family likes diving. If yes, you should definitely put Curacao on your bucket list. While so many diving destinations require boat trips out to barrier reefs, almost all of the diving & snorkeling on Curacao is easily accessed from the beaches.
Enjoy more than 60 dive sites, underwater visibility to 100 feet, mild currents, lush coral gardens, protected reefs, walls, wrecks, and shore dive options.
In case some of your family don't dive, no worries, there are also great snorkeling opportunities in Curacao, where you will encounter many fishes and find healthy coral reefs in the crystal clear water.
More information can be found in our blog post 'Diving and snorkelling in Curacao'.
6. Curacao has two wonderful National Parks
Curacao is not only about sun, sea and sand. If your family loves nature, a visit to the two National Parks of Curacao, Christoffel and Shete Boka, is a must and a great way to explore the variety of Curacao's flora and fauna.
The heart of the Christoffel National Park is the 1,230 ft. high Mt. Christoffel, the highest point on the island. There are plenty of things to do including; visiting the museum at the visitors center, the former plantation house Landhuis Savonet; exploring caves; 8 hiking trails, from easy to difficult, with one of them going to the top of the mountain.
You can access the park with you own car, go on a safari in a pickup car, or explore the park on a mountain bike. Of course, it’s also possible to go around with a park ranger, which will make the wildlife spotting significantly easier.
For more information on climbing Mt. Christoffel, see our blog post: 'The best of Curacao in 7 days '(day 5).
Shete Boka National Park is adjacent to the Christoffel Park and is located along the north coast of Curacao. Shete Boka literally means “Seven Inlets”. These inlets are located on the rough northern coastline of Curacao and are formed by an eternal game between water and wind. Officially, the park doesn't have 7, but 10 inlets, and all of them offer a different kind of natural attraction to its visitors.
The Bays of the National Park Shete Boka on Curacao are protected nesting areas for turtles. The park has two hiking trails; both routes are about an hour walk and will guide you to the best parts of the national park.
7. Curacaos rich history comes alive in its stunning architecture which can be seen all over the island
The Dutch West India Company (WIC) took possession of Curacao in 1634 and brought with it commerce, trading, and slavery.
Many Dutch colonists and Jewish settlers became wealthy and built impressive colonial buildings blending Dutch and Spanish colonial styles.
Plantation houses and West African style houses (former slave dwellings) are scattered all over the island. About 55 of these plantation houses can still be found, and many have been restored and can be visited.
Forts were also erected to protect the deep harbor and ports. Eight of these forts still remain, including Fort Amsterdam, Rif Fort, Fort Beekenburg, and Fort Nassau in Willemstad, the latter which resides on a hill overlooking the city, making it a great spot to enjoy outstanding views.
8. Taste from Curacaos 'melting pot'
It is certain that your family will never go hungry while being on vacation in Curacao. The island has so many different styles of cuisines with culinary influences from around the world that anyone is sure to find yummy dishes to satisfy their particular tastes. The island's culturally diverse restaurants range from sophisticated and expensive to cheap and tasty street vendors.
Restaurants on the island serve authentic Curacao dishes as well as some of the same foods that you can find in other countries like the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, and Indonesia, just to name a few. Where you decide to eat will probably be based on what you have a taste for at the time.
Many of our guests like to experience the Dutch Caribbean culture of the island and sample some of the local cuisines, which are a combination of international dishes with a local flair.
9. There are lots of other things to do on Curacao
In case your family is super active and the above will not fill your vacation days, there are many other things to do on Curacao island:
visit Curacao's Sea Aquarium and swim with the dolphins;
take a walking tour and listen to stories of days gone by in the Hato Caves;
plan an off the beaten path tour of the island on a mountain bike or go horseback riding;
enjoy Curacao's annual festivals and events, such as the carnival, salsa tours, drag racing, the regatta, or Curacao North Sea Jazz;
watch the flamingos;
visit Curacao's many talented artists and art Galleries to view and/or purchase some of their handiwork;
taste Curacaos' genuine Blue Curacao liqueur at Landhuis Chobolobo;
learn about the healing powers of Aloe Vera at Curacaos Aloe Vera Plantation;
or visit the Curacao Ostrich Farm and take the opportunity to meet these fascinating birds up-close and personal.
Curacao is soon to be a popular vacation destination for a lot of families. Be sure to put Curacao on your bucket list and check back often, as we regularly post blogs about things to do on the island.
Interested in staying on Curacao? Contact us for information about our oceanfront villa, one of the nicest Curacao vacation rentals.
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