With its pastel-hued buildings, turquoise blue seas and white sand beaches, there are few places in this world as picturesque as Curacao.
It’s not as well-known as other Caribbean islands and we think it’s time for that to change. This island is blessed with year-round pleasant temperatures and unlike many other islands in the Caribbean, it lies south of the hurricane belt, which means that it is rarely hit by these destructive storms.
Need another reason to visit this tropical hot spot? It is also surprisingly affordable, according to Forbes, which named Curacao to its list of “The 30 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2017.”
You’ll also find a variety of activities and attractions on Curacao during your Princess Cruises port stop. Guided tours can be done on foot or by car or — even better — aboard a cute pink trolley. These tours are an excellent way to check out this city’s amazing Spanish- and Dutch-influenced colonial style architecture and to also learn about Curacao’s interesting past.
Forbes named Curacao to its list of ``The 30 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2017.``
There are, of course, the standard Caribbean Island options of shopping, sunbathing and swimming. Or you could choose to take a tour of Curacao’s capital city, Willemstad, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are some other often overlooked sites to include in your day near Willemstad:
Located in the historic Punda District, the floating market is a collection of boats selling colorful fruits, fresh fish, produce and other merchandise.
This market is a necessity because Curacao’s soil isn’t good for farming and water is expensive, thus most of its produce is brought in daily aboard small boats from nearby Venezuela and then sold directly to the public.
Hope of Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
This may surprise you, but the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas is located in Curacao.
The Hope of Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, commonly known as Snoa (short for esnoga, an old Portuguese word for synagogue), dates back to 1728 and was founded by Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.
One of the Snoa’s most striking features is its sand covered floor, which some say honors the 40 years that their Jewish ancestors wandered in the desert. The floor is also said to be a reminder of the way that Jews once had to muffle the sounds of their worship, which was prohibited during the Spanish Inquisition.
Marsche Bieuw (Old Market)
If you want to dive into the culture, its people and its food, you must visit the Old Market Food Court, where you can sample authentic local “krioyo” (creole) fare.
Located in an open-air shed with communal tables, the food court is where you can rub elbows with the locals while also getting a taste of the dishes that they love; such as goat stew, cactus soup or “yuana”, which is stewed iguana.
If you’re a fan of the electric blue liqueur named after the islands and also known as the “cream of heaven”, or are simply interested in the distilling process,, visit this beautiful 19th-century mansion, which is home to the Senior Co. distillery.
Landhuis Chobolobo is also one of the few publicly accessible mansions on Curacao. Although you must be 18 to sample the beverages made here, all ages are welcome and admission is free.
Of course, there are also many interesting places to visit outside of Willemstad. Don’t limit yourself to the city, expand your horizons with some more off the beaten path excursions.
Shete Boka National Park
Although the name Shete Boka means seven inlets, there are actually ten scenic coves in this beautiful national park. Its most famous feature is Boka Tabla, where large waves crash into an underground cave, causing dramatic plumes of foam to rise high up in the air. This park is also a nesting site for several different species of sea turtles.
Unlike typical chilly underground caves, these are located above ground level and are warm. The Hato Caves are filled with stalactites, stalagmites, ancient cave drawings, clear pools of water and even a waterfall. The Hato Caves are also home to long-nose fruit bats, so don’t be surprised if you have a chance encounter with some of these winged mammals during your visit.
If you’re interested in seeing tropical fish that call the waters of Curacao home, but don’t know how to swim or just don’t like to – then you are in luck in Curacao! Try a “semi-sub” boat tour.
What’s a semi-sub? When you step aboard the semi-sub for the first time you might think it’s a normal boat, but once you step to below deck you’ll discover a whole new way to explore the sea; you can sit comfortably and enjoy the sights through the large glass windows along the side walls. To attract fish and other sea creatures to the windows, the boat’s tour guide will don diving gear, swimming alongside the boat with fish food, providing you an up close look without wringing out any swim suits.
Curacao Ostrich Farm
Ready for something more unexpected? Visit the Curacao Ostrich Farm, to learn all about these giant birds and even feed them. This is a fun alternative for anyone who wants to take a break from the beaches, but come back with some memories and photos to show off your killer getaway. Kids will especially love seeing the baby ostriches and other animals, including miniature horses, on the farm.