Curacao is arguably the most culture-rich and colorful of the three Dutch-Caribbean tropical islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (ABC). Curacao is fringed with about 38 beaches. It is ringed with coral walls that are full of stunning marine life. This, combined with the mouth-watering cuisine of the creole, the colonial architecture of the Dutch, and the natural beauty of an island. Curacao is a real gem worthy of discovery. So how is this really unusual? To me it’s because of the fact that unlike other “promising islands” out there, Curacao really delivers on all of the greatness advertised.
For too long, the island has been often overlooked by travelers who thought of it as a regional commercial center. Today, Curacao has reinvented itself as a premier travel destination, which now competes with the Caribbean’s best. In this series of blogs, we’ll start to explore many reasons why Curacao is the very best Caribbean island you can visit.
It’s an Unusual Place With a Touch of Dutch
Just like the rest of the ABC tropical island group, Curacao has had a longstanding relationship with Holland. The three islands are all unique in their own right. Each has its own different vibe. Although the Curacao island gained autonomy in 2010 as a constituent country, the Dutch culture is still an integral part of its history, heritage, and lifestyle. In a lot of ways, it’s very European while being quite African too.
The open-air cafes are full of chic patrons rocking the latest European fashions. The stores are filled with imports from the Netherlands. The street signs are displayed in Dutch. You might think you’re in Amsterdam – were it not for the warm sunshine and the blue skies.
The Curacao island is not Americanized like say the Bahamas, Aruba and the Grand Turks. It’s ideally a tourist destination for cruise ships and others, but only about 15% of the tourists come from America. Plus, tourists can easily mingle with the locals, who are usually kind and friendly.
All of these aspects make Curacao an unusual place in comparison to many other destinations.
The Free Trade and Floating Market
The emergence of Curacao as a commercial hub can be traced back to the Colonial era, when the Dutch West India Company stimulated trade between the Caribbean and the home country. In the more recent years, the progressive attitude of Holland towards has transformed the Curacao island into the commercial center that it is today.
The storefronts along the Breedestraat and Heerenstraat street feature designer clothes, Holland’s famous blue Delft Pottery, and Italian silk. The rather swanky new shopping district located in Otrobanda is now the place to load up on perfumes, linens, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies. Remember to buy a wheel of Edam cheese – a 5-pound delicacy that will last you till your next trip.
Although the arid landscape of the island isn’t conducive for farming, fresh vegetables and fruits are abundantly available, thanks to a fleet of trading vessels from Venezuela that make the 36-mile crossing with fresh produce. In the past, sailors would sell their cargo right from the decks of their vessels. Now, most offload their goods at the adjacent open-air markets along the wharf, which provides a constant supply of fresh food.
There’s More to Love About Curacao
Stay tuned for our next part of this series. There we we will look at even more reasons why the unusual Curacao should become a usual destination for your travel. Reach out anytime with any questions you have about Curacao as your next destination.