Today we’re going to explore the beaches, diving excitement and authentic architecture of Curacao. Part three of our four part series was especially exciting because of our love for diving in the blue waters and relaxing on the sandy beaches of this beautiful island.
Last time we discussed the blue and green libations (aka Curacao liqueur) as well as the wonderful weather and culture you’ll find when you experience Curacao. Let’s get right into it today with beaches, scuba diving, and architecture!
The Spectacular Hidden Beaches
At first glance, you might probably think that this rocky windswept island doesn’t have much to offer in terms of beaches. However, with a closer look, you’ll discover hidden coves tucked between the headlands of fossilized coral, with the soft, golden sands beckoning you to lay down and spend the day.
Curacao has over 38 beaches scattered all around the island. Much of the Southwestern coast is flanked with the majority of the calm, crystal-clear water beaches that are great for snorkeling. there’s really something for everyone, from the small deserted beaches where if you’re lucky you can have the beach all to yourself, to the more popular beaches where there are restaurants and other services and you can rent a beach chair.
Many of the resorts in the island have great beaches, such as the Aquarium Beach and Cas Abao, and the Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa, and Casino, which has a peaceful, wave-breaking, gently sloping beach that’s perfect if you have kids. For a livelier day and a more expansive strand, be sure to follow the crowds to the hotspot of the island, the Mambo beach. This is the most popular, and longest stretch of sand on the island, and is flanked by a variety of seaside eateries and taverns.
If you’re looking for the whitest powder-like sand beach, head down to the Klein Curacao island, which is a tiny island off the southeast coast. It has one of the longest and the most beautiful beaches around.
As a tip, it’s recommended that you bring water shoes when going into the water. The beautiful reefs on these beaches means there will probably be coral pieces in the water.
Incredible Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Experience
The Curacao island has a shallow coral shelf that soon drops into the deep waters along the coral covered walls. The underwater landscape around the island provides a great snorkeling and diving sites, which are essentially very close to the shore, especially along the southern coast. Moreover, the southern coast is sheltered from trade winds and prevailing swells. This is probably why Curacao is regarded as one of the best places in the world for scuba diving.
Many coral reefs are within swimming distance from the beach, or at most, a short boat ride away. This is unlike most destinations, where snorkeling and diving require boat trips to the barrier reefs. There are countless diving experiences to choose from in Curacao, from the healthy reefs and beautiful coral gardens to shipwrecks. The currents are relatively mild while the crystal blue waters will give you underwater visibility of up to 100ft.
And for those that don’t dive, there are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, and you’ll be able to see many fish and sea turtles. Fishermen will appreciate the proximity to the blue waters, since you’ll be able to drop a line and begin your search for excitement shortly after you depart the harbor.
Curacao has such an authentic architecture. Picture an average Amsterdam street, with narrow building on a canal. The key giveaways of this are the vibrantly colored, multi-hued paints on the walls along with the predominant red tile roofs. The architecture ideally combines both the Spanish and Dutch colonial style with the fun Caribbean colors and influence.
The tradition of building up instead of out originated from the first wave of Dutch builders into the island, which is based on the idea of taxing buildings based on their street front width rather than height. Presently, these century-old structures of this authentic and extensive historic district as actually recognized by as a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Walk on the cobblestone streets of Punda District in Willemstad with the narrow building looming ahead and you’ll probably think you’ve gone back in time to the old century. Willemstad has a rich history and such a unique architecture, and you can explore its six different historical neighborhoods, as well as the oldest synagogues in the Americas: The Hope of Israel Emmanuel Synagogue. It dates back to 1728.
West African style houses that were former slave dwellings and plantation houses can be found all over the island. About 55 of these plantation houses exist today, and many of them have been restored to a condition in which they can be visited.
On the other side of the St. Anna Bay, in Punda, you’ll find the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere (1732): The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue; Fort Amsterdam, which is now used as the home to the governor; the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum, which is attached to the synagogue; and the Curacao Maritime Museum with all its unique charts, maps, and nautical equipment.
On the West of St. Anna Bay, at the Otrobanda site, is the Kura Hulanda Museum, which can trace the history of slave trade that occurred in this area. There’s also the Curacao Museum, which is located in a renovated hospital (1853), and the Rift Fort, which was originally used for defense for the entry to the harbor, and now houses shops and restaurants.
There’s a famous Queen Emma bridge (a floating pontoon) that swings open to let boats pass. This bridge essentially connects both the Otrobando and Punda districts. It lights up at night with a beautiful display of colors.
Forts were mainly erected to help protect the deep ports and harbor. 8 forts remain, including Rift Fort, Fort Amsterdam, Fort Nassau, and Fort Beekenburg. Fort Nassau resides on a hill that overlooks the city, which is a great place to enjoy a breathtaking view.
You Are So Close to Your Curacao Vacation
By now you’re almost convinced that your next vacation should be to Curacao. We are as excited as you are. When we write these blogs it gets us more stoked than ever to book our next trip. If you’re interested in taking a trip to this beautiful Caribbean island, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more!