Important information

It is always good to have some important information at hand either if you are living on the island or is just visiting. We at Curacao Chronicle not only provide you with the local news but we want to assist in all your other inquiries of the island. Hopefully this information list will be helpful to you.

If you need more information you can always contact us at (005999) 523-4857. The Government has also an information line that is available during office hours, 0-800 1515.

Police 911
Ambulance 912
Fire Department 911
Hospital (St. Elisabeth) 910
Coast Guard 913
Taxi Service 561-3030 / 562-4444

 

General Information

Curacao is located in the southwestern Caribbean, at latitude 12’ north and longitude 68’ west. The island is just 60 km (35 miles) north of South America. It is about 2 ½ hours by air from Miami.

Size

472 square kilometers (180 square miles); 62 kilometers long, 5 to 14 kilometers wide.

Population

141.000 inhabitants. Willemstad is the island’s capital.

Government

Curacao is an autonomous part of the Dutch Kingdom. Locals are Dutch nationals and carry European Union passports. (for more information on our government and its services please see our Government page)

Religions

Curacao has a well-earned reputation for religious as well as ethnic harmony. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Mormons all have their own houses of worship and practice their religion freely. Over 60% of the population is catholic, largely people of African descent. The small Jewish and Dutch Protestant communities have considerable influence.

Climate

Located in the tropics, just 12’north of the Equator, Curacao has a warm, sunny climate year round. The average temperature is about 17’ C (in the mid 80s F). Cooling trade winds blow constantly from the east picking up in the spring months. The rainy season, October to February, is usually marked by short, occasional showers, mostly at night, and continued sunny weather by day. Total annual rainfall averages only 570 mm (22 inches). Curacao is outside the hurricane belt; only three hurricanes have come near the island this century. Occasionally, a tropical storm brewing elsewhere in the Caribbean can cause uncharacteristically cloudy weather for a day or two.

What time is it?

Curacao is on Atlantic Standard Time: One hour later than US Eastern Standard Time (the same time as Eastern Daylight Savings Time) and four hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time.

Say what?

Ninety percent of the local population speaks Papiamentu, a Creole language. Most official government documents and many signs are in Dutch. English and Spanish are widely spoken.

Money matters

Local currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called florin), abbreviated NAFl. or ANG. It is pegged to the US dollar at a stable rate of US$ 1 = NAFl. 1.77 for cash, 1.78 for travelers checks. Exchange rates may vary slightly at stores and hotels. There is no black market. Exchange rates for other currencies are posted at banks and listed in the daily papers. There are no restrictions on how much money you can bring into the country.

Bank are open nonstop from 8:00 am to 3.30 pm Monday till Friday. The airport bank is open for exchange rate service from Monday till Saturday and from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm and on Sunday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. Selected banks have ATM’s that disburse US dollars and Euros. The larger denominations of guilder bills (100 and 250) are hard to cash for small purchases. There are currently two versions of guilder coins in circulation.

The old square nickel and square fifty cent piece are some of the only square coins in the world; along with the 2,5 guilder coin they are popular souvenirs, particularly for children.

US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, travelers checks less so. Bills of US$ 50 and 100 can be hard to cash. International credit cards are accepted at most major commercial establishments.

Quenching your thirst

Tap water is distilled directly from the sea, tastes good and safe to drink.

The Media

The local television station, Tele Curacao (channel  8), is 24 hours on the air, with local and international programming in Papiamentu, Dutch, English and Spanish. Channel 11, from neighboring island Bonaire, has similar programming. Most hotels have cable television, including major US networks and CNN. Radio Paradise (103.1 FM) has English language news and a calendar of activities at the top of the hour (you can also visit our Events page). Curacao also receives several Venezuelan TV channels.

Post Office

There are four post offices, in Punda, Otrabanda, Sta Rosa and Groot Kwartier on Schottegatweg (Ring Road), as well as a small branch at the World Trade Center and the airport. Office hours are from 7:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm, Monday till Friday, except for Groot Kwartier opens from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays and 7:30 am to 11:30 pm on Saturdays and the Airport branch opens from 8:00 to 12:00 noon. Stamps can be purchased at books stores and the front desk of many hotels. Some hotels also have letter drops. The mails are generally reliable but the time it takes a letter to reach its destination can vary. Expect delays in December and January, when mail volume goes up.

Telecommunications

Curacao’s international code is 599-9; there are no internal area codes. All local telephone numbers are seven digits; except for some special numbers which are three digits. To reach another country from Curacao dial 00, the country’s international code the area code and the telephone number. Hotels commonly add a surcharge to international calls. Most major hotels offer fax services with optional fax hookups in your room. United States 1-800 numbers can be reached from Curacao by dialing 1-300 and the number. But note that these calls are not toll free; they are billed at the applicable international rate. Some international credit cards can be used by dialing the long distance operator.  You can also purchase local telephone cards at several locations for use at public phone, hotel phones or with mobile phones. These locations are airport, gas stations, mini- or supermarkets and UTS stores (stores of the local telecommunications company)

By Car

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. At intersections and traffic circles yield to traffic from your right unless signs indicate otherwise. At all T-crossings through traffic has priority. The speed limit is 45 km/h in town and residential areas and 60-80 km/h outside the city and on the four lanes Ring Road. Most gas stations re full service and are open late at night and on Sundays. Ask your car rental agency what you should do in case of an accident; usual procedure is to immediately notify the agency and wait for them to arrive at the scene. You may have to file a police report.

By Bus

It’s possible to get around the island by bus, but the public transportation is somewhat limited. Curacao has two types of public transportation; the large busses are called “konvoi” and, on the most traveled urban routes, collective vans called bus (you can recognize them by the BUS on the license plates). Major bus terminals are located outside the post office on the Waaigat inlet in Punda and beside the underpass in Otrabanda.  Busses run most city routs hourly, every two hours for points west, and less frequently on Sundays. The vans and cars run more frequently, but with no fixed schedules.

By Taxi

Taxis easily identified by their sign and the TX on the license plate. There are taxi stands at the airport, in Punda and Otrabanda, and outside major hotels. Taxis have no meters, but fares are standard, confirm these before setting out. Expect to pay about US$ 30 from the airport to town, US$ 30-45 to hotels and US$ 14 from Otrabanda to Punda. Fares from the airport to the Western side of the island are US$ 60. To get a taxi, call Thirty Steps at 561-3030 or Taxi For You at 562-4444.

Health

Although Curacao is less humid than many Caribbean islands; mosquito’s can be a problem in the rainy season and at night. Repellent can be purchased at pharmacies and supermarkets. Curacao has no malaria or other such tropical diseases and no vaccinations are needed to visit. Due to the high level of overall hygiene and cleanliness, gastrointestinal complaints are very uncommon. Eat and drink safely.

Take sensible precautions against the tropical sun especially between 10 am and 3 pm. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended, as well as a light beach cover-up. Neither the trade winds nor clouds will protect you from sunburn. For minor ailments, standard US and European over-the-counter medicines are available at local pharmacies called “botika”. For more serious problems please see the numbers on top of this page.

Passports & Visas

US and Canadian citizens need only proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and a return ticket home. Most other nationals only need a passport. Visitors from the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Haiti require a visa but if you have a US Visa you can enter without any problem.

Arriving by Sea

The cruise ship terminals are located in the Otrabanda section of Willemstad, a short walk from many city attractions.

Arriving by Air

The airport is located on the north coast, a 15 minute drive from the city center and many hotels. It is recommended that you confirm all return flights. Foreign visitors pay a US$ 32 departure tax for international flights. The taxes are payable at the airport after check-in.

Customs

Visitors should generally not have a problem bringing items for personal use and gifts into Curacao. Prescription drugs, particularly if they contain narcotics, should be clearly marked. Unlike Holland, possession of even a small amount of marijuana or other illegal drug is a serious offense. If you are traveling with expensive jewelry, you may want to bring proof of purchase to avoid paying duties on it when you return home.