Curacao is a frequently visited island in the Caribbean that cruise ships make a call to, alongside its sisters, the islands of Aruba and Bonaire and it’s easy to see why.
Geographically located only 35 miles from Venezuela, its weather cannot be matched. It promises sunny skies and warm climate that is never stiflingly hot, thanks to constant, breezy trade winds.
When you first arrive in Curacao, you may think that you have stepped into a glossy travel brochure with its crystal clear waters and tropical weather. Willemstad is its capital city and port and is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its importance in the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century. Curacao might have many charms to it but its biggest charm is this beautiful city.
When arriving, the island feels quite European despite its tropical appearance. Its melting pot and deep Dutch heritage becomes more apparent with other influences and culture including African, South American and Caribbean. The area outside of Willemstad offers wild and undeveloped expanses with cactus, aloe and exotic vegetation.
For those looking for more out of their day in Curacao other than sun and sea, there is enough to see and do in Willemstad to make it a full day visit. The city can be walked around with no problem. Start off the day by visiting the Queen Emma Bridge, sometimes called the ‘swinging old lady’.
This is an enormous structure that offers great views of the ocean with plenty of photo opportunities of the city entrance and its colourful facades on the local buildings.
The city is split into two districts and divided one on each side by a narrow but deep channel by the bridge. Captain Bligh was known in these parts. Built in 1635, the island’s first bastion of defence, Fort Amsterdam was crucial to protect the harbour.
Willemstad is home to several museums including the Kura Hulanda Museum, housed in an 18th century restored village. It details accounts of the slave trade. The Maritime Museum spans 500 years of Curacao’s maritime history. The Curacao Museum is filled with artefacts that cover the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
For those seeking plenty of flora and fauna, the biodiversity of Christoffel National Park will suffice. Once within, there are eight hiking trails to choose designated for different levels. You can get up close to the rare Curaçao White Tailed deer, take in the lovely fragrances of the wild orchids and get photos of the unique and stunning Kadushi cacti.
The national park also features some ancient artefacts such as the Amerindian petroglyphs carved into the limestone cliff and colonial era plantation homes.
For those that want an even more impressive adventure at the National Park, they can attempt to scale the 1,227 foot summit of Mount Christoffel. On sunny days, Bonaire is visible in the distance. The best bet is to start out early, as the midday heat can make it hard to reach the top of the mountain.
Beyond Willemstad, there are more than thirty five beaches that never get crowded.
Curacao is an ideal port of call for scuba divers. View the striking aquatic creatures in the water. The cafes of Cas Abao Beach or Playa Porto Marie allow you to sip a cool and refreshing drink while staring at the ocean in one of their enormous beach chairs.
Curacao has also made headlines in the cruising industry recently when the government announced that they are planning on setting up an additional berth.
Due to open in time for the 2017 cruising season, it will allow the latest megaships to have access to a new port and offer the opportunity for even more cruise passengers to get a sampling of this tropical island. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur are just a few of the cruise lines that are scheduled to head to Curacao this summer.
Written by Veronica Shine