Eclectic Paradise: 10 Things You Need to Experience in Curaçao
Caribbean with the kids By Yahoo! Travel
Curacao (Courtesy Curacao Tourist Board)
Part of the famed ABC islands, Curaçao is one of the most exciting destinations in the Caribbean — an island where multiple cultures meet, architectural history has been beautifully preserved, and unparalleled adventures await. Here is a list of 10 spots you can’t miss when you visit Curaçao.
1. (Venezuelan) Floating Market
Load up on fresh fruits and veggies from the Venezuelan vendors at the floating market. (Flickr: Boris Kasimov)
Curaçao is just 40 miles off the Venezuelan coast, and Venezuelan fishermen bring local fruit and fish to sell at this colorful and uniquely Caribbean market. The largely arid island depends on these deliveries for fresh produce and the market shows the diversity of this island, where various cultures and languages seamlessly blend into one.
2. Jazz Clubs
The island is famous for its jazz lounges and even has its own festival dedicated to the genre — Curaçao North Sea Jazz. Head to the Avila Hotel’s Blues Bar and Restaurant to get some great live jazz on the beach while the sun sets.
Related: Top 20 Beach Bars in the Caribbean
3. The Island Outback, a.k.a. West End
Playa Kalki Beach, Curacao (Flickr: Wouter Kiel)
Time to get off the beaten path — the West End is where many of the island’s best beaches and snorkeling are found. You may have to put in some work to access the best spots (we’re talking cacti and other prickly vegetation), but it’s all worth it once you witness the turquoise water and abundance of parrot fish when you put on your snorkel mask.
4. Plasa Bieu
This is where you want to go for lunch. Locals and tourists alike flock to this food market to dine on Curaçaon fare such as salted mackerel, beef stew, or pumpkin fritters. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try Iguana soup.
Diving at Playa Lagun in Curaçao (Flickr: LASZLO ILYES)
Whether you’re complete newbie or seasoned pro, definitely fit in time for a dive. The island has over 65 different dive sites; two notable spots are Mushroom Forest (where coral formations have taken on the shape of, you guessed it, mushrooms over time) and The Superior Producer which is considered to be one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. There’s also always a very good chance that you will see dolphins in Curaçao when you’re diving.
6. Klein Curaçao
Have you fallen in love with Curaçao yet? What if I told you that there’s a whole other island eight miles off the tip of the big island called Klein Curaçao (Little Curaçao). It’s uninhabited except for an abandoned lighthouse and a shipwreck. It’s also rumored to have the best beach on the island(s).
7. Den Paradera Herb Garden
Meet Dinah Veeris, a local healer and herbal expert who will give you a tour of her garden and explain the beneficial qualities of various plants. This is a multi-sensory experience; you’ll get to touch, taste, and hear traditions associated with the unique herbs on site and walk away with a greater knowledge of what nature has to offer.
8. The Chobolobo Factory
You can’t leave the island without trying its signature liqueur Blue Curaçao. Head to the Chobolo Factory to learn about the production process and, of course, sample the azure liqueur.
Christoffelpark (Flickr: Meindert van D)
If you’re looking for a healthy day to spend in nature (particularly after the Chobolo Factory Tour), you absolutely must visit Curaçao’s biggest national park, Christoffelpark. Challenge yourself to a hike to the top of Christoffel mountain or if you like a more relaxed pace keep an eye out for rare plant and animals species such as wild orchids, Curaçao white-tailed deer, or Palabrua, which are native barn owls.
10. Queen Juliana Bridge
At 185 feet tall Queen Juliana Bridge is the highest bridge in the Caribbean and also the perfect place to take pictures of the beautiful capital Willemstad. Snap up the brightly colored architecture to take home your very own postcard of this beautiful island.
By Rana Good
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