Curaçao, the largest island in the Netherlands Antilles, is part of the Dutch Leeward Islands, also known as the Dutch Antilles. Willemstad, the capital, is noted for its brightly colored, Dutch-style houses and Cunucu dwellings (based on African-style mud and wattle huts). It is one of the best shopping destinations in the Caribbean. The harbor has a floating market where colorful barges full of agricultural produce are moored. Nearby is the new market building, the design of which is very unusual.
Popular places to visit in Willemstad include Fort Amsterdam, now the seat of government of the Netherlands Antilles, the Queen Emma Pontoon bridge and the Queen Juliana Bridge. The latter spans the harbor at a height of 490m (1600ft). The architecture of the Scharloo area, reached by crossing the Wilhelmina Drawbridge, is fascinating, dating from as early as 1700. The Mikvé Israel Synagogue is the oldest in the Americas and, like the Jewish Beth Heim Cemetery, is worth a visit. Its courtyard museum has a fine collection of historical artifacts.
Things to See & Do
* Fort Amsterdam
* Scharloo area
* St Christoffel National Park
* Floating Market
* Statue of Manuel Piar
Cruise Season – Jan – Dec
Currency – Netherlands Antilles Guilder or Florin (NAG)
Language – Dutch, English & Spanish
Land Area – 444 sq km
Population – 128,000
Electricity – 2 round pins European style
Time – GMT minus four hours
International Country Telephone Code – + 1 – 599
Port Location – The Port of Willemstad is deep, wide and naturally sheltered. It has been recognized with the award: ‘Most Dependable Port 1997’ by the Caribbean Shipping Association. Many international cruise lines call at Curaçao.
Transport Links – Curaçao (CUR) (Hato) is 12km (7 miles) from Willemstad and is served by a number of airlines including KLM from Amsterdam and American Airlines. Windward Islands Air International operates to and from Willemstad to Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten.
Curacao has a good public bus service and taxis are readily available. Many hotel provide their own mini bus service to Willemstad.