Curaçao: Dutch and Caribbean at the same time
Here on the island the Dutch influence is at its peak. You can feel it everywhere you look, from the buildings that make you think you are in Amsterdam, to the language and the accent of the locals. Even the street names. Reason for a Great Tourism Industry.
The capital Willemstad
The capital and center of culture is the port of Willemstad, a bustling city which is divided in two different sections Punda and Otrobanda.
The two parts are united by the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge built over the St Annabaai Canal.
Punda’s Waterfront has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture is proudly Dutch with colorful houses that have been restored many times since originally built in the 1600s.
Punda is a busy pedestrian-friendly downtown with narrow streets and many Duty-Free shops and boutiques as well as terrace cafes, a people watching experience for anyone to enjoy.
Otrobanda, which literally means “The other side”, is tropically relaxed, with modern roads and great beaches. It is home to the famous Five Star Hotel Kura Hulanda sitting on eight square blocks of the original colonial city. It is a living museum besides offering all amenities, like spa and casino.
Blend of European flair with a Tropical flavor
The blend of European flair and tropical lifestyle makes this beautiful island a unique place to visit. The tourists come here for the beautiful beaches, the colorful coral reefs, the Cuisine and the culture. Any of the locals speak three to four languages easily: Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamentu.
This island offers a world of undersea marvels
Something sometimes overlooked is that this island offers a wealth of undersea treasures. As a matter of fact about one third of the waters surrounding the island are protected by law against potentially harmful actions by locals and visitors alike.
A site called Superior Producer, one of the island’s most popular spots, hosts an ecosystem with coral reefs, grouper and barracuda.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The tiny isle of Klein Curacao is according to divers the best spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. It is located an hour and a half boat ride from the mainland.
Also across the waters of Sunset Waters Resort is “Airplane Wreck”, a site where divers can see the remains of an aircraft resting there.
Christoffel National park is an exhilarating and unique place great for hiking and horseback riding. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to see the mountain peaks of neighboring Venezuela.
Oldest Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere
The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel , in Willemstad, is the oldest synagogue in the Americas. It is commonly known as the Snoa (short for esnoga, an Old Portuguese word for synagogue).
The community (congregation Mikvé Israel) dates from the 1650's, and consisted of Spanish and Portuguese Jews from the Netherlands and Brazil.
In the nineteenth century there was a breakaway Reform community, Emanuel; the two merged to form the present community in 1964.
The community is now affiliated to Reconstructionist Judaism. The first synagogue building was purchased in 1674; the current building dates from 1730.