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Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

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Curacao
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Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Researching Caribbean destinations? I thought I'd share some info about this beautiful island where I was born.

Curaçao

Curaçao’s best kept secret are its beautiful white sandy beaches and secluded coves but the island has a lot more to offer than sun, sea and sand.

Curaçao is part of a federal monarchy with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at the head of the monarchy. Curaçao as a partner in this federation has its own government, parliament and monetary currency. The Netherlands, as many European countries with colonies, owes much of its success to the exploitation of Curaçao during the Dutch Golden Age (1584-1702). Arguably the Dutch evaluate their former colonies as being a ‘less equal’ partner due to their demographic and economic superiority, which they ironically achieved thru their colonization.

For most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Dutch were active participants in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades. For brief spells during the seventeenth century they even dominated the Atlantic slave trade. Curaçao emerged as centre of Slave trade during this period. The Dutch conquered Curaçao during their war against Spain in 1634 and shipped all its inhabitants to the Netherlands as prisoners. Whatever Curaçao has become is a direct result of its colonization, Curaçao’s present is deeply rooted in its past. Long lasting colonial dominance, looting, pillaging, plundering, busy slave trade, slave riots, prosperous times, Dutch trade spirit, feuds and invasions all a part of Curaçao’s lively history. Curaçao’s rich history is clearly visible in for instance its architecture. Large plantation houses are set on the islands’ highest grounds, from which they dominate the landscape visually, and can profit from the northeast Passat wind. This wind makes the tropical heat bearable and even very pleasant; it also makes the island an El Dorado for windsurfers. Curaçao also has some of the best diving locations in the Caribbean, with six of its more than 80 dive locations ranked amongst the best in the world e.g. Watamula and Klein Curaçao, with historical ship wrecks and a 12,5 mile coral reef which has protected status as a national park. Curaçao offers a busy and exciting nightlife, from traditional music festivals to casinos, Curaçao has something for everyone!

Willington...
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1. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

The reasons we are coming back for a third trip.

Curacao
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2. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Good for you Ralph! Hope you have a wonderful time.

I’ve just read a negative review of Curacao, and I have to say that I understand the basis of the problem. Curacao Seaquarium has the worst beach on the island, stating opinion here, not fact. The Water is not clear, not suitable for snorkeling to Curacao’s standards. But there is a reason for that. The beach was created by man, not by nature. It is also a hot spot at night. They have several wild parties along the beach, the crowd usually not older than 23. Friends of mine stayed at Lions Dive (hotel along Seaquarium beach) and they loved it, because at night there aren’t any restrictions for walking from hot spot to hot spot along the beach. They were absolutely amazed when I took them to a couple of the other beaches on the island. Beaches they would not have visited if it had been up to them. They are hard to get to if you don’t rent a car. And finding some of them and ending up being the only one there is an adventure on its own. You don’t need ‘water shoes’ for every beach either. ‘Grote Knip’ and ‘Kleine Knip’ are just examples of beautiful white sandy beaches. I’ve been to many Caribbean islands and European Countries and Canada USA, could go on and on, and there is one thing fact that is inevitable, a review is the sum of the experiences of the person that wrote it. And if the experiences are limited on that specific island/country, the review is limited. For instance my experiences and review of Barbados; I truly disliked Barbados, the people I met were rude to me, the place I’d seen were uninteresting. But those are my limited experiences and my limited review. If you’ve been to my island and liked it let me know, ok? Any questions are welcome too!

Willington...
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3. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Love your island, we stay at the Hilton, rent a car for the week .This January we will go to all the beaches we briefly visited last April. Porto Marie is fabulous as is Big Knip. My husband enjoys the diving and me the snorkling. He even went to 8Ball and got another tattoo, I'm thinking about one this next time. Wonderful people there, made you feel at home. We have been to Grand Cayman, before Ivan and after,nice , but expensive, pretty island. Both islands are so different, we prefer Curacao. One question I have, can you drive to those big windmills by the airport?

Laurie

Curacao
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4. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

The windmills of San Pedro! If you haven't been out there yet, an adventure awaits you! There are many caves the're not just windmills, beautiful caves, big and small. The good thing about them is that they are hard to find so they don't get destroyed. It is also the north coast where the ocean really beats down on the coast, breathtaking. The earth is red, because of the high iron content, and curiously flat in contrast to the high cliff opposite the ocean. Sometimes when the sea has been very rough you can find some beatiful sea urchin shells in the protected coves, or many other finds, in between, I'm sorry to say, some trash that also washes ashore there.

There are two ways to get there. One way is just past the airport take a right at the freezone and then just follow a dirt road past the parking lot. It will take you right along side the airstrip. Just keep on going and the dirt road sometimes hardly distinguishable leads your right to the windmills. Once you reach there take any dirt road leading you to the cliff, there will be several, and each can take you to caves. At a certain point when you can go no further walk towards the cliffs, that's where you will find the caves. The second way to get there is when you go on your exploration of West point, go past the exit that leads you to Porto Marie. Keep going straight. After a 'snack' (local small shop to load up on beer, ice, drinks) you will see a sign "Sand Pedro", take it. It will lead you to a cow farm where you take a right, if you can, sometimes they close the access and a Haitian (probably an illegal) asks you $5 to open it. I always tell them I will pay the day they give me a receipt. The owner who puts him up to it argues that it is his road and his property you are passing thru but Dutch law does not agree with him completely. That's another story.

If you really want to explore West Point please don't pass up "Siete Boca" this is protected area with turtle nestling grounds, seven coves, natural bridges, Boca Pistol (cove where the ocean beats against the rocks so that it resembles a pistol shot, simply breathtaking. Hard to explain you have to see it. When you get there you pay I think $2 per person and they give you a map of the area. Be prepared to spend at least half a day there. And on sundays they have a great BBQ with local treats like Pancakes made out of pumpkin etc. Really good! Seem to be rambling on and on, sorry. Any other questions don't hesitate to ask.

By the way I have a membership at the Hilton resort, so you will probably see me there with my kids.

Teaneck, New Jersey
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5. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

what kind of membership can locals get? How much does it cost, and what does it include. I saw many locals by the San Juan Hilton and by the Curacao Hilton and we were wondering about it. Does the Hilton have memberships in the US whereby you can use their facilities?

Willington...
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6. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Thanks for the info, you aren't rambling, I love reading your answers. Can a car do all this dirt road driving?I hang at the pool while my husband does the morning dive, we'll pack up the car and head out to explore for the afternoon. I was reading in a dive magazine that there is a ranch that serves a bbq on friday nights, do you know about it? We are coming Jan.21-28. Those little snack stops are cool, been to a couple of them.

We drove up to see the lighthouse, interseting landscape up there and the ocean is different also. We even saw a donkey in the middle of the road.Got pics of him. I'll definately ask you more questions. Thanks

Laurie

Curacao
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7. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Yoshapman, I go to the Hilton quite frequently and don't see as many locals there as you have. There are exceptions in July or X-mas, when there is no school here. During that time if the Hilton is not full they sell day passes during the week. Membership for one year cost 4 to 5 times the minimum wage here in Curacao. I'm guessing but I think that approximately 30 - 40% of the people here have to make do with minimum wage. I don't work at the Hilton so I don't know their policies on memberships in other countries, I suggest you contact them.

Laurie, yes, most of the time you can use a regular car on the dirt road at Hato/San Pedro. Only when we've had a lot of rain, and that doesn't happen as much as I would like, the terrain is flooded. If you rent a car the only suggestion I have is make sure it has airconditioning! But maybe that's just me. Some people prefer the open Jeeps.

Yes, the snacks alongside the road are really great. Even at night if and when I go out I prefer a 'snack' with some friends than the hyped up bars. If and when you do go touring during the day, make sure you take along a cooler or insulated bag for water or drinks. When I take friends and family on tour we ussually load a cooler with lots of drinks and beer and even sandwiches and chips, which we get along with the ice at the snacks. And sometimes we even take the BBQ and find some secluded beach and have our own 'party'.

I come accross donkeys goats flamingos and beautiful Iguanas every day, and I love it, still cannot get enough of it!

As for the BBQ you mentioned, I'm not sure which one or where , does the magazine say where the ranch is? If it does I can tell you if it is any good. Hope this was of some help.

Willington...
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8. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Hi, I'll look for the magazine. We reserved a toyota yaris,automatic and AC.This past April it was hot and humid. What is the weather like in January? Also,is there a carnival of sorts going on then?

Thanks again

laurie

Curacao
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9. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Hi Laurie,

Weather in January. Don't sue me if I'm wrong, lol, but the weather in January is ussually cooler than in the rest of the year. As for humidity, we have been having such strange weather lately it is hard for me to say something sensible. This is supposed to be the hottest month of the year, and it isn't.

Carnaval. The official openingsceremony is Januari 6th I believe. That rings in eight weeks of activities and carnaval celebrations. I don't know when the most popular carnaval activity the 'Gran Marcha' is, but if you email info@curacao.com. and ask them they can probably help you. Just ask them what are the activities and when. I'm not a great fan of Carnaval, been there done that, kind of feeling, but my husband who is European Dutch, still loves it, and he takes the kids and I sometimes get dragged along, lol.

By the way, you're welcome Laurie!

Willington...
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10. Re: Curaçao, the Caribbean's best kept secret!

Hi,is January weather nice enough to get a tan?

The ranch is called Ye-I Ranch, every friday night when it's known as Equus. Opens at 6pm.Caracasbaaiweg 338, does this help.Can I ask what your first name is? Is the carnival worth the trip to see by a tourist/

Thanks, Laurie