Curaçao

Capital Willemstad
Currency Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
Population 141,766 (2009 est.)
Electricity 110-130V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +599
Time zone UTC -4

Curaçao is an island in the Caribbean, among the group known as the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Bonaire. This trio is located near Venezuela, and are considered to be outside the Caribbean's so-called "hurricane zone." This means that vacations to the island are rarely disrupted by such tropical storms.

Cities

Understand

One of the most notable things about the island is its culture. This Dutch island features building styles you'd find in the Netherlands, but painted in beautiful pastel shades. However, the people of the island have developed a culture, and even a language, of their own. Papiamentu (also spelled Papiamento), is the island's native Creole. Papiamentu is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch, but with a very basic grammar. Official spelling has existed for only a few years.

Talk

The native language of Curaçao is Papiamentu, which is a richly unique mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, African and other languages. Most people from the island speak this language in addition to Dutch, English, and Spanish. Almost everyone speaks English.

Get in

Those who want to travel by air can enter at Curaçao's airport, Hato International Airport (IATA: CUR), located in Plaza Margareth Abraham, not far from the capital of Willemstad. It services most international and regional carriers. To contact the airport by phone, call +599 9 888-0101.

Cruise ships arrive at Curaçao Mega Pier or the Curaçao Cruise Terminal. From these ports it's just a short journey to many of the island's popular tourist destinations. Travelers can also enjoy nearby shopping at duty-free stores. Larger ships will arrive at the Mega Pier, and smaller ships will dock at the Cruise Terminal.

Sailors can enter at ports in Willemstad and has various marinas at which seafaring travelers can dock their ships.

Get around

By car

Cars can be rented for about USD45 per day, from a variety of hirers at the Hato Airport and across the island. Driving in Willemstad is pretty similar to most Caribbean locations, with aggressive drivers, loosely enforced traffic laws and driving on the right side. Signs will be in Dutch using a European style. If you are involved in an accident, local laws prohibit moving your car. You'll need to dial 199 for road service. Do watch out for road hazards, such as donkeys, goats, and iguanas. If you stay outside of Willemstad, renting a car might be a good option as the taxi fares can be quite expensive and public transport is not very reliable.

By taxi

If public transit isn't your style, and you don't want to rent your own car, taxis are another popular and easy-to-find option. They, too, are marked, and their plates read "TX." Some taxi drivers will even be your tour guide for the day, if you ask. But remember to agree on a fee before heading out.

By bus

There are two types of buses on the island, BUS. and Konvoi. The easiest way to ride is to go to one of the two bus stations in Willemstad. These include Otrobanda Station, located across the street from the Rif Fort (see Willemstad) and Punda Station, at the post office, across from the Circle Market. For the most part, the Punda bus station serves stops along the Eastern side of the ring, and to the East including Salina, Zelandia, Mambo, while the Otrobanda station serves destinations West of the Bay, to include the Airport, Piscadera and even Westpunt. The destinations do not typically overlap, so a 10-15 minute walk between stations may be necessary for cross island trips.

Unlike taxis, the BUS. prices are not negotiable (1-3 NAf), but the route is. A common practice with bus drivers is to negotiate how close the driver can take you to your destination. Be sure to ask the bus driver if the bus stops near your destination before entering. You can pay the driver while the BUS. is en route, or before exiting the bus. You can board a bus anywhere on the island by waiting at one of the ubiquitous yellow 'Bushalte' signs and waiving at a coming BUS. or Konvoi. Taxi drivers will also try to lure you in. So make sure to look at the sign in the window or a license plate (that says BUS.) to avoid paying high taxi fares. The bus schedule varies, from about 6AM-8PM for most stops, and until 11PM or even midnight (and sometimes later) to Salina and Mambo. If you are ever lost during daylight hours, just find a yellow bushalte sign, and the bus should take you to either Punda or Otrobanda.

By ferry

Willemstad

Ferries are a great way for shoppers to get to and from some of the island's main shopping areas.

See

Do

Beaches

Curaçao's beaches are concentrated on the southern coast, especially the western side. Find these from Rif St. Marie up to Westpunt.

Buy

The Dutch Antilles Guilder(also called Florin) is the official currency, but The Euro(€) and U.S. Dollar($) are readily accepted. Automatic teller machines are widely available throughout the island, and many machines will dispense Guilders and the U.S. Dollar. Currency can generally be exchanged at local hotels, casinos and places of business. The exchange rate is generally pegged to the USD and stable. It is unlikely for tourists to be taken advantage when changing currency, but it is best to be aware of the current rates prior to arrival.

There are a plethora of random shops and markets around Willemstad offering clothing, souvenirs, crafts, and other goods. These include a commonly-termed "duty free enclave" in the downtown area. Offerings emphasize European goods, to include jewelry, timepieces/watches and linens, plus the usual collection of souvenir shops. Perhaps not noted for great bargains, you may find items at decent prices you'll see nowhere else in the Caribbean.

A water front market lies on the near north side of the main shopping area. It's packed with fresh foods and flowers, best seen or shopped in the mornings.

On Sundays, however most businesses except restaurants in the city are closed.

Eat

Waterfront Dining Willemstad

Local cuisine in Curaçao is a mixture of European, West-Indian and East Asian (particularly Indonesian) flavours. Dutch influences are found in the use of cheeses, bread and seafood, which are also important in Curaçaoan food. Indonesian cuisine, a migrant from Suriname, another of the Netherlands' former colonies, can be found on the island, and explains the widespread availability of Sate and Peanut sauce along with the islands more Caribbean fare. Also, Chinese "snacks" can be found all over the island serving cheap Chinese food. They cater mostly to locals, but most serve good food.

If you are not staying close to the city center, buying groceries on one of the local supermarkets (Centrum supermarket, for example) might be cheaper than eating out.

Restaurants

Snacks

Curaçao is littered with 'Snacks,' small bar restaurants which serve Chinese Food. These are typically inexpensive, double as convenience stores and bars, and are typically open later than most other restaurants which cater to local (rather than European) patrons.

Budget

Mid-Range

Splurge

.

Drink

Tap water, which comes from a large seawater desalination distillation plant, is excellent tasting and perfectly safe for consumption.

Alcohol

Popular alcoholic drinks include:

Amstel Bright beer, which used to be locally brewed by Antillaanse Brouwerij, a subsidy of Heineken International. It is a pale style lager, usually served with a wedge of lime.

Polar Beer, which is brewed in neighbouring Venezuela. It is a 5% abv lager beer.

Brion beer is the offical local beer, though it is brewed on Barbados.

Curaçao is famous for the alcoholic beverage of the same name, Blue Curaçao, Orange Curaçao, Green Curaçao and White Curacao. It is made from bitter oranges grown on the island and, except for the white one, food coloring. It is mostly used in cocktails, though, rarely drunken on itself.

Sleep

Stay safe

Safety is not a big issue on Curaçao. The locals are friendly, welcoming, and willing to give assistance. After all, a major part of their island's income comes from tourists. Just take normal precautions for a tropical island and use common sense.

Car break-ins are a reoccurring problem so that some car rental agencies even prohibit parking rental cars at some specific places. In general it is a good idea to never ever leave valuables in a car.

Cope

Embassies

Go next

Leaving Curaçao will require you to pay an exit tax not included in your flight ticket (Unless you're flying KLM). As of 2016, it's USD39 for international flights (Visa and MasterCard accepted), USD10 to USD20 for flights to Aruba and Bonaire and USD5 for connections (in cash only). See the airport's website for the most up-to-date information.


Note that the main carrier, Insel Air, is notorious for its delays (easily a few hours even for the short flights to Aruba or Bonaire). Furthermore their check-in counters close 1h before scheduled departure, not 1h before actual departure. This is only relevant for flights that are booked out, since they give no-show tickets to passengers on the waiting list and for delayed flights in the evening since you might face deserted counters with no chance to check in at all.

Also note that airport security in the departure area stops working after the last scheduled departure - no matter whether some flights are delayed by hours. If you have not cleared security by then there is no way to board your plane. Thus, even for heavily delayed flights, checking in and then heading out to a beach or into town is not a viable option.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.