A Ride on the Island's Wilder SideThe adventure begins when you mount your all-terrain vehicle, or buckle up and start your offroad buggy. You soon leave the pavement and civilization behind to discover a sun-swept landscape of cactus and rock that seems more Wild West than the Caribbean—except the West has no salt ponds filled with pink flamingos, and cliff faces don't give way to crashing surf and the endless blue of the Caribbean Sea. There are hidden beaches to discover, caves decorated with aboriginal artwork to explore, and hilltop views to take in. The ride is exhilarating but never dangerous, and there are plenty of chances to stop for photo ops or even a swim.
- 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
Offroading in Curacao Overview
Many areas of Curacao's north coast and the island’s east end are accessible only by offroad vehicle. Inland trails running through landscapes of scrub brush and cactus give access to hidden caves and hilltop views. Rides across flatter coastal plains lead to shorelines where surf crashes against jagged limestone bluffs. Indentions in the cliffs known as Bokas may hold small beaches or open into an interior bay that provides habitat for wading birds.
Offroading in Curacao Tips
When selecting an east-end tour, look for one that stops at St. Joris Lake, which is the site of the largest ostrich in the western hemisphere. Routes that pass by Cas Abou or Great Knip Beach give riders a chance to stop and take a refreshing swim.
Best Places for Offroading in Curacao
Flocks of flamingos wade in the shallow waters of Jan Kok salt pond. The rugged coastline at Shete Boka National Park hides pocket beaches between rugged limestone bluffs. The Hato Caves contain Arawak petroglyphs and once sheltered fugitive slaves. Hilltop views from Jan Thiel take in Table Mountain and Spanish Water, while the summit of Seru Cocori provides expansive island views. A descent into the Boke Tabla sea cave leads to an underground ledge washed by crashing surf.
What to Pack for Offroading in Curacao
Sturdy shoes not only provide protection when riding but also comfort for sight-seeing hikes around caves and cliffs during tour stops. Helmets are usually supplied for ATV riders, but buggy drivers and passengers will want to bring a hat and sunglasses. If filming the ride with a compact video camera, use a clamp mount to keep hands free.
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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).