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Neatly tucked in the southern Caribbean Sea, Curacao is the “C” of the ABC islands (with Aruba Bonaire). A part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao is a desert island offering Dutch and Caribbean culture, pristine beaches, and a myriad of water sports and boating activities.
Willemstad, Curacao’s vibrant Dutch capital, can easily be reached with non-stop air service from most major cities in the U.S. It’s famous for its century-old pontoon walking bridge, Queen Emma, or as the locals like to call it, the Swinging Old Lady because it swings open to make way for ship traffic.
18th-century architecture and candy-colored buildings painted pink, lemon yellow, and turquoise boast UNESCO World Heritage status and greet visitors as they make their way across the bridge. This charming water-front town is filled with cafes, small shops, and a thriving art scene. Look for the signs that say “Uitverkoop” meaning “sale” in Dutch. It’s also where one can find an assortment of restaurants with local delicacies such as goat stew, fresh snapper, and a traditional Dutch treat, stroopwafels. These amazing Dutch cookies consist of a thin layer of caramel-like syrup between two tasty waffles.
Curacao, however, isn’t just about its Easter egg colored town. It’s also about clear Caribbean waters. One eco-friendly way to explore the natural beauty surrounding the island is by kayak. No motors, no huge groups, just nature, and the open Caribbean Sea.
Our group was fitted with life jackets and given snorkeling equipment and a safety briefing. Off we went, paddles splashing as we rode the waves through the deep aqua water of Caracas Bay. It was here we experienced the sun changing the ocean’s color from turquoise – to teal – to emerald green, a beauty unique to the Caribbean.
High on a rocky outcrop, we were met with views of the monument of Fort Beekenburg. In 1703 the fort was used to protect Caracas Bay and has proven its service several times by keeping the British and pirates out of Curacao in the early 19th century.
Our group gathered at Baya Beach, a once private area for the directors of Shell Oil Company. With an oil rig looming in full view, the rocky coral beach provided respite in preparation for the next leg of the trip, snorkeling to a sunken tugboat. The underwater world yielded views of big healthy elkhorn corals, sea fans, and sponges. As if in our own personal aquarium, blue tang, trumpetfish, and angelfish swam in and out of the tug boat below us.
There are plenty of other activities to check out on land. Chobolobo, a 17th-century plantation house, is where visitors can experience the production and distillation of the famous orange flavored liquor, Blue Curaçao. A hike through Hato Caves, with its limestone formations and waterfalls, makes a nice day-trip. At the Curacao Ostrich Farm visitors can learn all about the ostrich from egg to adult with informative guided tours.
In Curacao, there’s something for everyone and with over 40 beaches visitors have no problem finding their own personal space. Discover your perfect place to stay and let the sweet reverie of the waves and the swishing of palms lull you to sweet relaxation.