A Ride on the Natural SideThe ride begins at the beach but soon turns inland, where resorts and homes are left behind. The undulating trail passes rock formations adorned with cactus and scrub, then turns into a wooded thicket. Ahead, sunlight sparkles on the surface of a hidden lagoon where flamingoes wade in the shallows. This is a side of the island of Curacao that can't be seen from the road and is reserved for those who are willing to travel under their own power, pedaling a modern mountain bike through a wild landscape. Also awaiting riders are historic sites and water views, followed by a refreshing dip in the Caribbean.
- Best for: Everyone, solos, couples and families looking for watersports and adventures from soft to rugged
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: Steady easterly trade winds, sunny and dry in the winter with temperature in the 70s. Summer sees mid 80s in the daytime, with occasional evening showers
Biking in Curacao Overview
The most popular location for off-road biking on Curacao is on the eastern end of the island, in low hills that surround the wetlands of the Jan Thiel Salt Pans. This area, which is now a nature reserve, is characterized by its rare vegetation and exceptional bird life. Trails of varying length wind through the reserve and extend to the shores of the adjacent lagoon known as the Spanish Waters.
Biking in Curacao Tips
Because the Jan Thiel Nature Reserve is home to many unique and rare plants and animals, riders are expected to follow posted routes to avoid disturbing any fragile breeding grounds. For this reason, it is best to join guided rides, as group leaders known the appropriate trails.
Best Places for Biking in Curacao
The Jan Thiel Trail passes through a nature reserve that is home to rare vegetation and numerous species of birds. A ride to the salt flats rewards with views of the island's largest flamingo colony. A peddle to the Caracas Bay Peninsula passes by the intact remains of historic Fort Beekenburg, the restored dwellings of Landhuis Jan Thiel and colonial-era salt pan structures.
What to Pack for Biking in Curacao
Specialty bike shorts add comfort but aren't required. Shoes with firm soles for peddling support. Sunscreen and sunglasses. A fanny pack for personal items such as cameras. A swimsuit and towel for beach time after the ride, and a credit card or cash for lunch and shopping.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required for U.S. Citizens with at least one blank page for passport entry stamp. No visa is required for entry.
Exit Requirements: There is a departure tax of $39(US) per person, which should be included in your International Airline Ticket taxes. If you are travelling to another island from Curacao, inter-island domestic departure taxes apply and should be included in your airline ticket
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Curaçao. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at www.cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
Blessed as one of the best natural harbors in the southern Caribbean, Curacao has long been a regional crossroads not only for goods but also for people. This has resulted in a cultural fusion that includes more than 40 ethnic groups, each enriching the mix. Though Dutch is the official language, English is widely spoken and many islanders converse in Papiamentu, a dialect created from mixing of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and several African languages. The capital city of Willemstad is one of the oldest settlements in the Caribbean, dating back to the Dutch capture of the island from the Spanish in the early 17th century. Thanks to the well-protected harbor of St. Anna Bay, the town quickly grew into a busy trading port, and the seat of government for the Netherland Antilles. Today, most of the original colonial-era architecture survives and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The oldest part of the city, known as the Punda district, has always been Willemstad’s main shopping area. Here, pedestrian-only streets and narrow alleys create a picturesque atmosphere, full of life and color. Unique boutiques offer a diverse selection of European clothing, French perfumes, Japanese electronics, Irish crystal, English china, fine Italian leathers and Chinese embroidery, while sidewalk cafes serve up a tasty mix of island favorites and international flavors. Noteworthy landmarks include Fort Amsterdam, the Mikve Israel- Emanuel synagogue, which is the oldest in the western hemisphere and the Queen Emma floating bridge, a pontoon bridge. The Museum Kura Hulanda focuses on the slave trade, while the Maritime Museum recounts the island's nautical traditions. No visit is complete without a stop off at the floating market, where a colorful array of fruits and vegetables make their way from the nearby shores of Venezuela aboard small island trading vessels.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Curaçao is 127/120 volts at 50 cycles and they use 2 prong plugs, so most appliances made in the USA will work well and should not require an adapter.
Curaçao's country code is 5999 with a 7 digit local phone number following the country code. UTS and CT are a few of the local companies providing phone and internet service. Check with your provider to see what plans are available or you will be subject to roaming charges. Many hotels and restaurants offer WiFi.
The water quality from the tap is safe to drink according to the ADC (Analytic Diagnostic Center). Bottled water is also readily available for purchase.
Language & Currency
Dutch is the official language, while Papiamentu is the most commonly spoken language. English and Spanish are all widely spoken and understood. Papiamentu is a form of Creole indigenous particularly to Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, where it is considered the national language. You'll sound like a pro if you say 'Bon Dia' (Good Morning) or "Danki" (Thank you) to the locals.
The local currency is the Antillean guilder, abbreviated as Nafl. or ANG (also called the florin.) The exchange rate is set at ANG 1.79 to USD $1. Credit cards are often accepted, so exchanging money is not necessary. ATM's are available for withdrawals in USD or local currency
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Curaçao is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Curaçao is an island located in the Southern Caribbean Sea. Curacao is 42 miles east of Aruba, 30 miles west of Bonaire and approximately 40 miles north of South Americ. The island of Curacao is 37 miles long and 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. The population of Curaçao is 158,635 (2016).