In the southern Caribbean lies a unique gem called Curacao. Its uniqueness lies in the mix of rich European history and Afro-Caribbean roots. Once a well-kept secret of discerning travellers, this former colony of the Netherlands has recently popped up all over the travel radar. It has quickly become the new hot spot in the Caribbean.
Driving around the island you discover the topography isn’t typically Caribbean. In most places, the terrain is quite dry and the visual of large cacti creates an interesting juxtaposition between island and desert. In other ways, Curacao is typically Caribbean. The laid back feel and local smiles are found everywhere. In any one of the four official languages (Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamentu – a Creole mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and Arawak Indian) you are always made to feel at home. This small island has a lot to offer.
Curacao’s cuisine is spectacular at every level. At 2:00AM I ate grilled fish with bold and satisfying flavours from a truck-di-pan (local food truck). A day later, we had lunch at Jaanchie’s restaurant where I tasted iguana for the first time (yes, it does taste like chicken) while enjoying fantastic local entertainment. A few meals later, I dined on the blackened catch of the day at the award-winning Bistro Le Clochard. Curacao is definitely a place for the gastronomic traveller.
Then there is what most people flock to the Caribbean for, the pristine beaches. Some of the beaches in Curacao are on several publications’ Top 10 for the Caribbean. The white sandy beaches and crystal turquoise water have been attracting fans from around the world for several years. The island also offers world-class diving and snorkeling with more than 40 dive areas that cover over 65 individual sites.
For a vacation filled with nighttime activities, Curacao provides a vibrant scene of cafes and bars that serve the island excitement Curacao is quickly becoming known for. In only its second year, the North Sea Jazz Festival already attracts international superstars like Earth Wind and Fire and Sting, along with a huge group of jazz, funk, soul and Latin music fans.
Additionally, Curacao is a gay-friendly destination. Many hotels on the island are members of the International Gay & Lesbian travel association. Curacao offers many meeting spots for gay travellers and locals. Same sex couples looking to relax and be themselves find Curacao their new oasis in the Caribbean. In a region that is strongly conservative this island stands out as very welcoming of alternative lifestyles.
Curacao is not an island you visit once. There are too many activities, too many historic forts to explore and much colourful history to discover. The secret is out; experience the Curacao difference for yourself.