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Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, a UNESCO World Heritage, is known for its colorful Handelskade backdrop. Its 18th-19th-century Dutch architecture makes it one of the most iconic capital city in the Caribbean for vacation.
When I saw the Willemstad Handelskade backdrop pictures on the Internet, I could not wait to see them myself. A more of a European feel than the laid-back and vibrant Caribbean vibes that I am accustomed to on my Caribbean trips. Meanwhile, I appreciate the uniqueness and history of the island.
Things to do to in Curacao
Not very familiar with Curacao, besides enjoying the pebbly and uncrowded beaches, I get a chance to know about the history and culture of Curacao on the “Island Tour”, a very popular excursion for tourists. The Tour bus picks you up at the hotel and drops you back.
The seven-hour bus tour goes through different parts of the island. The Western part is far remote, and it is cheaper. Without a car, it is hard to get around the island to get food and sightseeing. And there are fewer local buses that go there.
We tour the Eastern side of the island, where most of the hotels, resorts, and restaurants are located. It is easier to get around without a car, local buses run quite often, from there to downtown.
The tour also goes to the Bon Bini Liqueur Factor for tasting some of their popular liqueurs.
Interesting history of Curacao that I learn on the Tour:
- Curacao means the healing island because when slaves landed, they were nearly dead. They would be “cured” on the island and sold.
- After the emancipation, on July 1, 1863, the slaves received free land to build homes, which are called Kunuku houses. They are still standing today and in great shape.
- Many generations have lived on the land. Now, some of the lands have Kunuku houses and modern houses built.
- The majority of the people in Curacao speak four languages: Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish.
- It is called Little Amsterdam and Curacao was part of Kingdom of the Netherlands and that was officially dissolved on October 2010.
From this Tour, I have a better understanding of the history of Curacao.
The Willemstad’s Floating Market, where locals purchase their produce and seafood from vendors nearby Venezuela is worth visiting.
Walking on the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, also nicknamed, the swinging old lady, when it is opening to let boats pass through is an experience in itself.
Most Beautiful Public Beach
Kenepa Beach, the most beautiful public beach on the island, is in the western part. A great beach to go for a swim, to soak some sun, especially if you are not staying in a beachfront hotel.
After all these activities, I get to enjoy some live music and entertainment, while getting something to eat at the Rif Fort, located downtown.
Best Vegan Restaurant in Curacao:
Vita Vegetarian Cuisine, located in Pietermaai, is a 15-minute walk from downtown (Penha). It meets my dietary restrictions: gluten-free and vegan and vegetarian dishes. Curacao does not grow much food, most are imported. But the dishes are fresh, flavorful, and tasty.
The zucchini spaghetti has big chunks of tomatoes and mushrooms. The sauce is not watery and unseasoned. The sweet potato soup has the right consistency and amount of seasonings: no oil, no butter, and no flour. From the patio, the view of the Caribbean Sea and the boats passing by just enhances my dining experience – serene.
Hotel Stay in Curacao
The Hilton Curacao hotel, a 10-minute car ride or one-hour walk to downtown, is in a great location, but better suited for business clienteles. An older hotel, but well-kept and the rooms are fairly large.
The hotel has a shuttle that runs twice a day to and from downtown makes it convenient to get around. When I want to stay later in downtown, I take the local bus for $2 or a taxi for $15 back to the hotel.
Another option, the City Suites Hotel located within walking distance to downtown, but it is not on the beach.
How to get to Curacao
From Miami, you can get a cheap flight for less than $500 dollars to Curacao on American Airlines. It is a three-hour direct flight. A taxi from the airport to the Hilton Hotel is $30 dollars. Curacao is in the Atlantic Standard Time all year. There are no Daylight Saving Time clock changes.
Curacao for Honeymooners
Looking for a “happening” place for vacation, Curacao may not be the ideal. Friday and Saturday nights are dead – silent. The bar in my hotel closes around midnight. Although some of the resorts on the island have beach parties, you need transportation. A taxi can cost $30-45 dollars each way.
For a relaxing vacation – honeymoons and wedding anniversaries, – “hands-down” Curacao beats most Caribbean islands. With its idyllic beaches, various ethnic restaurants, and eclectic stores, it is the perfect place. On the other hand, for girls’ weekends and vacations, Jamaica and the Bahamas are the more suitable islands.
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