History and Heritage, with a Splash of Color
One of the most historic cities in the Caribbean is also one of the most contemporary and cosmopolitan. Curaçao's capital city of Willemstad dates back to the early 1600s, and much of the historic downtown is preserved as a World Heritage site. But this is no museum. Pastel-painted row houses on pedestrian-only streets house eclectic galleries, boutiques and cafes. Artists, chefs and performers from around the Caribbean and beyond have made this district home, and visitors will discover a vibrant creative scene that honors the past while also setting new trends. A guided walking tour provides an ideal introduction to the island's historic and contemporary cultures.
- 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
Cultural Activities in Curaçao Overview
In the heart of Curaçao's capital city of Willemstad, a pair of historic districts overlook St. Anna Bay. Neighborhoods with cobblestone streets and colonial-era architecture date back more than 300 years, and are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The city center also hosts a thriving arts community.
Cultural Activities in Curaçao Tips
Don't hesitate to ask directions or just strike up a conversation with the locals. The people of Curaçao are among the friendliest in the Caribbean. They take pride in their island's culture and history, and will often take the time to share their stories with visitors who show an interest.
Best Places for Cultural Activities in Curaçao
The Punda District is one of the oldest European settlements in the Caribbean, and Mikve Israel-Emanuel is the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. The Museum Kura Hulanda focuses on the slave trade, while the Maritime Museum recounts the island's nautical traditions. Embedded in the southwest wall of Fort Amsterdam is a cannonball fired by Captain Bligh's ship.
What to Pack for Cultural Activities in Curaçao
Bring a spare shopping bag, as the streets of the Punda district, are filled with unique shops. Save space for some fresh fruit at the floating market, where island sloops loaded with fresh produce tie up at the town wharf. Tasteful beachwear is acceptable, but you might want to add something a bit nicer for the evenings.
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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 Curaçao, 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, Curaçao 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. Curaçao is 42 miles east of Aruba, 30 miles west of Bonaire and approximately 40 miles north of South America. The island of Curaçao is 37 miles long and 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. The population of Curaçao is 158,635 (2016).