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This article was written on 06 Jul 2010, and is filled under To: Curaçao.

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Visit Curaçao

Curaçao

Curaçao

Welcome to Curaçao, a beautiful, sophisticated island rich in history and heritage. With 38 picture-perfect beaches, warm temperatures and crystal-clear waters, it is one of the most welcoming Caribbean islands. Religious tolerance is Curaçao’s trademark, and all people, including tourists, are warmly welcomed.


HISTORY AND CULTURE

The Arawak Indians were Curaçao’s first inhabitants, and probably landed here a few centuries before Alonzo de Ojeda explored the island in 1499. Twenty-eight years later the Spanish colonized the island, but the lack of gold and the unfavourable climate made them lose interest quickly. The government-backed Dutch West India Company took control of Curaçao in 1634, and Peter Stuyvesant became the island’s governor in 1642. The first Jewish settlers arrived in 1651, and a synagogue, the oldest still in use in the New World, was built in 1732. The Dutch established large-scaled plantations and built an important salt industry. Curaçao also became a major hub for slave trading: African slaves were housed in special quarters before being sold at the slave market and shipped off to their final destination.

In the early 19th century the British seized Curaçao from the Dutch, but eventually acknowledged the Dutch claim on the island in 1815. After the abolition of slavery in 1863, the island entered into a period of economic decline. It eventually recovered with the discovery of oil in 1920, and economic growth attracted immigrants from South America or other Caribbean islands, making Curaçao the rich blend of cultures it is today. Hotels have mushroomed since the 1980s, and tourism is fast becoming the country’s most important industry. Much has been invested to expand the tourism sector, and Curaçao is now a popular port of call for cruise ships.

Since 2007, Curaçao has been given the authority to govern itself while still maintaining political ties with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The capital city of Willemstad has a clearly Dutch feel, with houses built in a typical Dutch-colonial style lining up the streets. Much of the island, however, is covered by an arid landscape, giving it an American Southwest appearance. People of almost 60 different nationalities – such as Africans, Dutch, Venezuelans, and Pakistani – make up the country’s population, and the rich local cuisine and culture is the result of all these influences. Dutch is the official language, but locals usually talk to each other in Papiamento, and many people also speak English and Spanish.

SIGHTS

Discover the dark history of slave trading at the Kura Hulanda Museum, which has a frighteningly realistic replica of a slave-ship deck.

Take a tour to the Maritime Museum and uncover the island’s nautical history. Interesting items include historic maps, marine charts, and navigation gears.

Built in 1853, the Curaçao Museum has displays on Curaçao’s rich past such as paintings and ancient relics.

You can buy exotic fruits, vegetables, or craftworks – from South America and other Caribbean islands – at the Floating market.

Constructed in 1732, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue was the first synagogue built on the island. You’ll find interesting items on Curaçao’s Jewish heritage at the adjacent Jewish Cultural Museum.

Discover the island’s plants and animals at the Christoffel National Park, a natural sanctuary covering 1800 hectares (4450 acres). If you’re in a good shape, you can climb the 369-metres-high (1211-foot) Mt. Christoffel and enjoy the epic vista at the top.

Founded in 1984, the Curaçao Seaquarium is home to 400 species of seafaring animals, such as crabs, corals, fish, sharks, dolphins, and flamingos.

BEACHES

With 38 picture-perfect beaches and crystal-clear waters, it’s easy to understand why Curaçao attracts so many tourists. Some are good for honeymooners, others are great for snorkelling, and many are family-friendly. A good option is the Seaquarium Beach, a white-sand beach right next to the Curaçao Seaquarium. Playa Porto Mari, with its beautiful white sand and peaceful water, is also recommended. Other good beaches include Paya Knip, Daaibooi, Blaaibooi, and Playa Lagun.

ACTIVITIES

Many tourists come to Curaçao for the beautiful white-sand beaches on the western shores. The beaches on the island’s southeast are good too, but a bit rocky.

Fishing is also good in Curaçao.

Diving among the island’s protected reefs is great, and the underwater visibility is excellent.

Snorkel trips are available for non-divers who want to discover what Curaçao’s crystal-clear waters have to offer.

There are plenty of land-based activities as well, such as buggy trips, biking, horseback riding and golfing.

Don’t miss Willemstad’s many historic sites and great shopping opportunities.

Curaçao is known for its rich nightlife, and you can try your luck at one of the island’s casinos or enjoy a drink at a bar.

Gourmets should try the island’s superb cuisine.

For more information, visit Cheap All Inclusive Caribbean Vacation.

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