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Curaçao Info

De Handelskade
De Handelskade in Willemstad

Sea Aquarium
Sea Aquarium & Dolphin Academy

Kura Hulanda
Kura Hulanda in Willemstad

Kura Hulanda
Kura Hulanda in Willemstad

Santa Martha Bay
Baai van Santa Martha

Ship Wreck
Ship Wreck in Curacao
Personal Impressions
Curaçao is part of the ABC islands, the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles. All three islands are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although they remain outside the European Union. Curaçao is the biggest and most industrialised of the three islands, located between Aruba and Bonaire. Aruba is perfect for beach holidays, Bonaire is perfect for scuba diving. In Curaçao you can do both, less good, but still on a high level. The crime rate is much higher than in Aruba and Bonaire, but no serious problem for tourists. I recommend to visit all three islands during one trip, if you have more than two weeks. Cruise ship passengers will enjoy Punda and Otrobanda.

= STRIEWA =

 
Attractions

Willemstad 
Curaçao gained autonomy from the Netherlands in 1954, but the Dutch influence is still very visible in Willemstad's architecture and culture. With the growth of the oil industry in Curaçao in the early 20th century, workers and their families came to the island from more than 50 countries, providing a varied and vibrant population.

The Historic Area of Willemstad is a European colonial ensemble in the Caribbean of outstanding value and integrity. The Punda District once fortified and walled along with its neighboring districts of Otrobanda, Pietermaai, Scharloo, preserve some 765 buildings as national monuments.

Fortifications
From the capture of Curaçao in 1634 until the end of World War II, the Dutch never felt completely safe on the island. So they build eight forts, one at each vulnerable spot on the island: Fort Amsterdam, Fort Beekenburg, Fort Nassau, Fort Piscadera, Fort Riffort, Fort Sint Michiel, Fort Waakzaamheid and Waterfort.

Fort Amsterdam is the most important and most visited of the eight forts on the island. It was built in 1635 on the point (Punda) of the eastern finger of land at the harbor entrance. It was site of the Governor's Palace and the 1769 Dutch Reformed Church, guards the waterfront. The church still has a British cannonball embedded in it, and the arches leading to the fort were tunneled under the official residence of the governor.

Sea Aquarium & Dolphin Academy  
The Sea Aquarium has one of the most extensive collections of Caribbean sea life. Some of the bigger animals include dolphins, seals, stingrays, sea turtles, sharks and even flamingos. Many big and small aquaria offer more than 400 specimens from around the waters of Curaçao. There is a big Touch Tank where you can touch the animals yourself. At the Dolphin Academy visitors get the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Highlight of the Dolphin Swim is the Dorsal Ride where two dolphins will pick up the swimmers and give them a ride by holding on to their dorsal fins.

Kura Hulanda Museum
Located in downtown Willemstad, the Kura Hulanda Hotel is a cluster of 62 Dutch colonial buildings that now house a hotel, restaurants and a museum. The restored 18th and 19th century Dutch Colonial Caribbean buildings spread amongst several glorious courtyards, multiple pools, and more. The Kura Hulanda Museum educates the visitor on the slave trade on Curaçao, but also on the culture the slaves were taken from and what the effects of the slave trade are in the current time.

Curaçao Liquor Factory
Shortly after the Spaniards discovered Curaçao in 1499, they started planning the agricultural development of Curaçao. One of the plants they carried with care on their long sea voyages from Spain was the Valencia Orange. The nutrient-poor soil and arid climate of Curaçao proved unsuitable to Valencia cultivation, resulting in small bitter fruit on the trees. The project was forgotten and the "misfits" of the Valencia Orange grew wild and abandoned, not even touched by goats. It was not until decades later, that someone discovered that the peels of this orange contained an ethereal oil with an extraordinary pleasing fragrance.

To create the liqueur the laraha peel is dried, bringing out the sweetly fragranced oils. After soaking in a still with alcohol and water for several days, the peel is removed and other spices are added. The liqueur has an orange-like flavor with varying degrees of bitterness. It is naturally colorless, but is often given artificial coloring, most commonly blue or orange.

Curaçao liqueur was first developed and marketed by the Senior family in the 19th century. The factory is located in the Chobolobo Mansion, a Country House from the early 1800's. It is close to Schottegat to the north-east of Punda.

Hato Caves
The Hato Caves are the biggest and prominent caves of the islandare located on the north side. They were formed below the sea level millions of years ago. With the Ice Ages the water level droped down and Curaçao was born. The Hato cave is the home to the beatiful limestone formations, romantic pools and a waterfall. Also inside the Cave is a colony of Seldon seen long nose fruit bats.

Aloe Vera Plantation
Curacao is gifted with abundant natural Aloe Vera plants. This world famous plant with it's natural healing power has been in use for ages as a natural remedy for various diseases. The aloe vera plantation in Curaçao cultivates over 100,000 specimens of aloe vera (Barbadensis Miller). The plantation concentrates on producing in the most ecological way possible and does not use any chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizer. The aloe vera gel is extracted from the leaves, filtered, stabilized and processed to concentrate in their production plant. The plantation specializes in the production of natural skincare products that contain a high level of aloe vera extracted from their crop, and sold under the name CurAloe.

The Beaches
Curaçao has 38 gorgeous white-sand beaches. Some of the beaches have changing and picnic facilities, while others are wide open and free of facilities. Most beaches on Curaçao that charge an admittance fee have restaurant establishments as well as other traveler-friendly amenities.

Even though it is not common, nor acceptable practice at all beaches, you may see European visitors sunbathing topless. Please note that this is not permitted by law, but is tolerated at a few of the beaches.

Boca Santa Cruz is one of Curacao's quirkiest beaches, with a wide beach and palm trees. Surrounding this beach is the mangrove swamp, which means this beach is not the best for snorkeling. Boca Santa Cruz is noted for the quirky array of birds that flock to the beach. This beach offers unique opportunities for animal lovers to enjoy the diverse bird-watching.

Jan Thiel Beach is located in a new upscale residential area east of town, also making it a safe location. There is littlle sand, but children enjoy the semi-closed wading area that resembles a swimming pool. It offers great snorkeling opportunities.

Knip Beach is very popular with the Curacaoan's themselves. Halfway down the beach is a gorgeous cliff. For the well trained swimmers, the reef can be reached from the beach. Snorkeling can be done much closer to the shore near the rocks on either side of Knip Beach.

The Blue Bay Beach is Curaçao's largest and most spectacular beach, with lots of facilities. The white sand of this beach is one of its biggest attractions. The sea floor slopes gently from the beach, so children enjoy playing here. Families can find a children's playground for kids and weekly Sunday barbecues. Parents can find lounge chairs provided by the beach, making it comfortable to relax and watch the kids play on the beach.

Another great beach for kids is Playa Lagun. The water is very calm and shallow and children can watch the fish swimming in the water. Fishing is also a popular activity at this beach. A cluster of fishing boats gives this narrow cove a picturesque air.

The National Parks
Curaçao has several National Parks, the best are Christoffelberg National Park and Sheta Boka National Park.

Christoffelpark is the largest national park of Curaçao. The park has a rich variety of local flora and fauna. Nature lovers will find the park teeming with local birds and plants, including species, which are not easily seen elsewhere on the island. For example wild orchids, the Palabrua, the rare native barn owl. The Curaçao White Tailed deer and much more.

The Sheta Boka National Park has some of the most spectacular scenes as the ocean crashes into the rugged north-coast of the island. The most well-known and favorite inlet for visitors is Boka Tabla.


Flora

The flora of Curaçao differs from the typical tropical island vegetation. Xeric scrublands are common, with various forms of cacti, thorny shrubs, evergreens, and the island's national tree, divi-divis. 

Cactus
Curaçao's most prevalent plant is the cactus, and the island hosts hundreds of species. The towering Kadushi Cactus is more like a multi-trunk tree with thousands of needles. The Yatu Cactus is also tall, but has fewer needles, and is often used to make fences. You'll find both these species in abundance all over the island, sometimes so tall they fall over from their own weight.

Divi Divi Tree
The island is also home to the Divi Divi Tree, the famous leaning tree of the ABC Islands that looks like a cartoon rendition of a stretched tree bowing to an audience. Indeed, the tree is bent by years of exposure to the trade winds that blow from east to west across the island. For that reason, the tree always "points" to the west.


Fauna

The island is subtropical and semiarid and the vegetation is characterised by its adaptation to the dry and windy climatic conditions. Total vascular flora amounts to about 450 species.

Mammals
A total of 11 native mammals are found on Curaçao. These are the Curaçao White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus curassavicus, the mouse Baiomys hummelincki, the cotton-tail Silvilagus floridensis nigronuchalis and eight species of bats.

Land snails
A total of 26 land and freshwater molluscs have been reported, two of which are endemic to Curaçao (Guppya molengraaffi, Tudora rupis) and six of which are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles and adjacent Venezuelan islands (Brachipodella raveni, Cerion uva, Cistulops raveni, Gastrocopta octonaria, Microceramus banairiensis, Tudora megacheilos).

Most species are associated with calcareous geological formations and several show significant morphological shell variation between different parts of the island.

Birds
More than a 168 bird species have been recorded from Curaçao. Birders will not be disappointed by the dozens of species of hummingbirds, bananaquits, orioles, and the larger terns, herons, egrets, and even flamingos that make their homes near ponds or in coastal areas.

Endangered breeding birds include the Barn Owl, the Caracara, Polyborus plancus, the White-tailed Hawk, Buteo albicaudatus, the Scaly-naped Pigeon, Columba squamosa, and several species of tern (Sterna spp.).

Reptiles
Nine species of native reptiles are found on Curaçao, two of which are snakes and seven of which are lizards. You'll also find several species of iguana, light green in color with shimmering shades of aqua along the belly and sides, lounging in the sun here and there. 

Four types of sea turtles are common in our waters: the Green Turtle, the Hawksbil turtle, the Loggerhead and the Leatherback turtle. 

Activities

Scuba Diving
Curaçao offers a wide variety of diving adventures with wall dives, wreck dives, reef dives and shore dives. There are over 60 dive sites and more than 40 permanent mooring buoys. Manta rays, stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, octopi and even seahorses are frequent. Among the more popular dive sites is the Mushroom Forest in the San Nicolas area. It got its name because of the large number of mountainous star coral growing vertical on an sandy plateau for a "Forrest of mushrooms". The mushroom shapes occurred because the the coral heads have been bio-eroded at their base to narrow columns by boring clams and sponges. The Superior Producer site is in the top 10 on Curaçao and one of the finest wrecks in the Caribbean.

Bird Watching
Curaçao is home to a colorful diversity of bird species. More than 168 bird species have been registered on Curaçao. At least 51 of these species are breeding birds, 71 are migrants from North America, 19 are visitors from South America, and 19 are seabirds. The most common of the native birds include the Trupial, a black bird with a bright orange underbelly and white swatches on its wings, and the Cuchubi, the Caribbean mocking bird. Christoffel Park is an excellent place to view the many birds that inhabit the island's countryside. The Jan Kok salt pans are home to Curaçao's small flamingo colony. Sometimes they congregate by the dozens in the shallow waters quite close to the road. 

Hiking 
Curaçao is full of nice trails, many unreachable by car and hardly ever visited. A hike gives you the pleasure of many different flowers, trees, birds and other animals. You can walk along the rugged northern coast, or walk around one of the saltpans, where large colonies of flamingos are still to be found. There are forests, lagunas, old plantation gardens, dams and ruins. The Christoffel National Park has eight hiking trails, allowing visitors the choice between an easy stroll, or for instance, a challenging hike to the top of Christoffel Mountain. It is advisable to do this early in the morning; otherwise the sun will be relentless.

Sunset at the South Coast of Curacao

Curacao Cat
Cat relaxing on a rope

Knip Beach
Knip Beach Curacao

The North Coast
The North Coast of Curacao

Christoffelpark
Curacao Cacti in the Christoffel National Park

Boca Tabla Blowhole
Boca Tabla Blowhole

Cocktails
Cocktails with Blue Curacao