Curacao: A tropical Holland

Located 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Curacao is the largest island of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean. Offering visitors a unique Dutch atmosphere, outstanding underwater adventures, hospitable people and a warm charm, Curacao is without doubt one of the best vacation options for Canadians this winter.

The island name is derived from the Portuguese word for the “cure”. Discovered in 1499 when sailors who had developed scurvy, on route to South America. Were left on the island to die. The ship returned nearly a year later, the sailors were found alive and completely cured. Since this, the island has been known as Curacao. The Spaniards settled the island first in the early 1500’s then the Dutch in 1634.

A strong Dutch influence is apparent; the island is dotted with charming colonial architecture, which still stands today. Tiny pastel coloured cottages and century old plantation houses are nestled along the hilltops overlooking the town of Willemstad, the island’s capital. The official language is Dutch, but most people speak English and Spanish. The native tongue of Papiamento, a blend of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and African dialects, can bfound among the locals.

The island has a well-earned reputation for warmth and hospitality. People are glad to assist you an any way; you may even be invited into someone’s home for a meal. Curacao is home to approximately 160,000 people with as many as 55 different backgrounds from around the world. With the diverse mix of cultural backgrounds the island is known for racial and religious tolerance. The island is a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for Canadian vacationers.

Your days may be spent lounging by the pool or on the beach at a resort, taking advantage of bargains in Willemstad at the duty-free shops, or exploring the underwater world. Curacao is world-renowned for it’s breathtaking scuba diving and underwater sea life.

Evenings can be enjoyed at one of the island’s many restaurants where you can sample wide varieties of local seafood and island specialties such as Keshi Yena, which means “filled cheese” (the cheese is usually filled with chicken, raisins, beans and many other delicious things). You will find a wide variety of foods and restaurants to suit every taste, ranging from North American, Chinese, South American, French, Italian, Mexican and Dutch. Even fast food outlets can all be found on the island.

The nighttime brings out the neon lights and chiming machines of the casinos. The island is home to 11 hotel casinos. Generally the casinos are open from 2 pm to 5 pm daily and you must be a minimum of 21 years of age to gamble. For those who like the nightlife, but choose not to gamble, the island features many pubs, bars, discos and nightclubs.

The average temperature of this Caribbean island is 27C. A constant trade wind keeps the island breezy and cool. Curacao has a fairly dry climate compared to other Caribbean islands. You will find a variety of cactus trees in all shapes and sizes as well as Aloe plants in the natural landscape. You won’t encounter much rain in Curacao, the sun is pretty much guaranteed to shine. The average rainfall is a mere 22 inches per year with November and December being “the rainy season”.