CuracaoCuracao is an island in the in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea off the north-west coast of Venezuela. Curacao is the largest and the most populous of the three so-called ABC Islands (for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). The island belongs to the Netherlands Antilles, a self-governing part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curacao is situated about 60 km off the Venezuelan coast outside the hurricane belt. Willemstad is the capital of Curacao.
Curacao is semiarid island and most of the flora is of desert character. Oil refining is the main industry in Curacao and the island boasts one of the world’s largest refineries, receiving oil from the enormous reserves at nearby Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. Other main industries include tourism and ship repairing. The ship repairing dry dock of Curacao is one of the largest in the Americas.
Curacao was first visited in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci. At that time the island was inhabited by Arawak Amerindians. In 1527, Spaniards decimated the Arawak and settled in Curacao. The Dutch gained control of the island in 1634. The island remained in the possession of the Dutch except for a brief period of British rule during the Napoleonic Wars (1807–1815). The island gained limited self-government in 1954.
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Tourist Attractions in Curacao
Curacao is a perfect vacation destination in the Caribbean with heritage, culture, and shopping as the primary attractions. Curacao is well known for its abundant coral reefs which make it a perfect site for scuba diving. The unique feature of Curacao scuba diving is that the sea floor sinks steeply within a few hundred feet of the shore, and the reef can be reached easily without a boat. This drop off is called the “blue edge” by the local islanders.
Here is the list of the major tourist attraction in Curacao
Willemstad is one of the finest shopping centers in the Caribbean. The Historic Area of Willemstad was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site on December 1997. The capital is dotted with several Dutch-style houses, thatched cottages, cunucu houses (based on African-style mud and wattle huts), and country houses.
Situated at the center of the capital is the mustard-colored Fort Amsterdam was a fortified town from 1648 to 1861. It is now the seat of the government of the Netherlands Antilles. The present Governor’s Residence, situated nearby, dates back to the Dutch colonial days.
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
The Mikvé Israel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue of the Western Hemisphere, was founded in 1651 by 12 families from Amsterdam. The Jewish Cultural Historical Museum, part of the synagogue, exhibits an excellent collection of historical and religious artifacts such as Torah scrolls, Hanukkah lamps, and antique personal and household items.
Curacao Sea Aquarium
Curacao Sea Aquarium, one of the main tourist attractions in Curacao, consists of a large beach, a marina, a hotel, and the aquarium complex. The aquarium is situated next to the Curacao Underwater Park.
The Pontoon bridge links Punda and Otrabanda (the two sides of the capital). The bridge, working since 1939, opens up around 30 times a day to allow ships to enter the harbor and docking area. To walk across the bridge and enjoy the breeze is a memorable experience.
Hato Caves, situated just north of town, are old coral reefs exposed when the sea receded. One can see water dripping from the walls and huge stalactites which hang from the ceiling.
Kura Hulanda Museum
Kura Hulanda Museum displays trace Curacaoans African roots and the legacy of the slave trade in the region.
The Floating Market
The Floating Market is a unique marketplace within the Caribbean which offers fresh fruits and vegetables to its customers. The uniqueness of the marketplace is that Venezuelan farmers come to the marketplace by boat to sell their produces and spices to the public directly from their ships.
St Christoffel National Park
St Christoffel National Park, located on the most northwestern part of the island, is a natural reserve dominated by the St Christoffel Mountain. There are numerous caves adorned with Arawak Indian paintings. One can also find many unusual rock formation and several excellent views across the countryside.
St Christoffel National Park is rich in flora and fauna, including prickly pear cactus, exotic flowers, and divi divi trees. Protected wildlife includes white-tail Curacao deer, rabbits, iguanas, donkeys, and different avian species.
The area of Scharloo, about 100 years old, is a compilation of attractive mansions. The area holds the significance in Curacao’s history as the upper class society would have it.
Other points of tourist interest include Curacao Liqueur Distillery, Queen Juliana Bridge (the highest bridge in the Caribbean), Curacao Ostrich and Game Farm (one of the biggest ostrich ranching operations outside of Africa), and Boca Tabla (a sea cave situated on the north coast).
Hato International Airport, officially called Albert Plesman Luchthaven, is located at the capital city of Willemstad. Car rental are available from the airport.