Curaçao, a small island just 40 miles North of Venezuela, is one of the least-travelled but highest-rated destinations in the Southern Caribbean. Located a mere 12 degrees north of the equator, the average temperature on the island rarely dips below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cruise Critic – an online guide to cruises, cruise lines and exclusive cruise deals – just recently named the island the top South Caribbean Cruise destination in 2017. And in case you didn’t know, Curaçao is home to the famous Willemstad Harbor – a UNESCO World Heritage site that features colorful Dutch colonial architecture directly on the shore.
Cuisine Infused with International Flavor
Foodies will appreciate the island’s Krioyo (or Criollo) cuisine (Spanish for “Creole”). Enjoy the island’s famous fried plantains or try a traditional Stobá – a savory stew pairing unexpected ingredients like tender pork loin with spiced pumpkin or sweet papaya.
In addition to Krioyo food, the cuisine here also has a flavorful blend of Dutch and Indonesian fare, which include food, such as Ayaka (meat tamales wrapped in banana leaves), kabritu (stewed goat) and sult (pickled pig’s ears and feet) – some of the most popular dishes on the island.
The Origin of Curaçao Liqueur
And if you need a cocktail to pair with this delicious cuisine, you can’t leave the island without trying an adult beverage infused with Curaçao liqueur. The tropical spirit originated on the island when Spanish explorers tried to cultivate Valencia oranges. They found out that the arid climate wouldn’t support the fruit, and produced Laraha – a small, bitter orange with an aromatic peel. Two Jewish friends, Senior and Chumacairo, later incorporated the essence of the unripe Laraha peel in their recipe for the original Senior’s Curaçao tonic, first sold as an aperitif in their drugstore in 1896.
Today, Senior & Co. holds the distinction of being the only genuine Curaçao distillery in the world. Let a Vacation travel agent arrange a visit to the distillery, which operates in the historic Landhuis Chobolobo estate near downtown Willemstad. Indulge in tropical drinks – like a Blue Lagoon, Midnight Kiss or Margarita – in the lush courtyard or stroll through the historic 19th century mansion on a free distillery tour.
Keep Your Spirits High at Carnival
One of the best times to experience the full spread of Caribbean flavor is during Carnival, a vibrant festival of Tumba (music form native to the Aruba and Curaçao). In February, the island’s vibrant and largest cultural celebration features parades, Caribbean street food and music festivals with an emphasis on Tumba and other island music styles like calypso. And many cruise ships make special trips to the island for Carnival. As soon as passengers step off the boat, they are greeted at the port with lively Bon Bini (welcome) festivals held all throughout the Punda shopping district. Space fills up fast! Get a Vacation travel agent to book your Curaçao trip early in the fall if you want to join the party.
Commune with Nature
Looking for a more relaxing vibe on the island? Nature lovers will appreciate hiking on the island which includes sightings of colorful tree frogs, iguanas, and over 168 species of birds… well, if you can stay focused and keep your eyes open to spot them all. But the primary allure of Curaçao is the island’s 50-plus beaches.
Surf, Sand, Sun and Fun in Curaçao
From the sugar-white sands of Playa Kenepa Grandi to the famous double reefs of Playa Porto Mari, there are several options to bask in the sun, swim in the sea or snorkel in the saltwater. And kayakers can venture to the tucked-away cove of Playa Lagun, a sea turtle habitat and Instagram-worthy wonderland where aquamarine waters sparkle beneath the rocky cliffs.
From its delicious food and Curaçao-infused cocktails to its exciting Carnival and calming white sand beaches… get ready to embrace in the palapable spirit of this fun Southern Caribbean island!
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an amazing trip to Curaçao? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a Caribbean specialist to plan your next vacay.