Five things we like to do in Curaçao
WILLEMSTAD - Curaçao's warm waters are ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports. If reclining in a beach chair and sipping a daiquiri is more your speed, head to the oceanfront cafes several beaches on the island. Are you tired of sand and sun? Escape to Willemstad, a metropolitan city in the middle of paradise. There, you can visit the swinging Queen Emma Bridge and the fascinating Kurá Hulanda Museum (where our office is located), as well as plenty of rockin' beachfront nightclubs.
But let us tell you then ten things we like to do on the island;
If you really want to see some of Curaçao's best sights, you're going to have to get your hair wet. A fascinating world of delicate coral gardens, graceful spotted stingrays, playful dolphins and even sunken ships awaits you in the depths of the Caribbean. The best way to explore it is with a plastic mask strapped to your face and an oxygen tank strapped to your back.
Dating back to 1728, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest Jewish temple in continuous use in the New World. Commonly called the Snoa (short for the old Portuguese word for synagogue, esnoga), the temple was founded by Jews who were displaced during the Spanish Inquisition. Tourists may visit the adjoining Jewish Historical Cultural Museum, which houses a Torah scroll brought to Curaçao by the island's first Jewish settlers, along with other artifacts and Judaica.
On the Punda side of Willemstad is Handelskade, that picturesque stretch of pier you've seen on every Curaçao postcard. Colonial Dutch buildings painted in brilliant pinks, blues and yellows line the waters of St. Anna Bay. Grab a seat and a daiquiri at one of Handelskade's outdoor cafes and watch the Queen Emma Bridge swing open to let ships into the harbor or pop in to one of the shops along the water.
Christoffel National Park
In 1978, three plantations near the northwest tip of Curaçao merged to create Christoffel National Park. The park houses indigenous flora and fauna, such as barn owls, the rare and endangered Curaçao White Tailed deer and 450 species of plants, including wild orchids. While you can take a scenic drive through Curaçao's largest national park, hiking is the best way to experience Christoffel's rugged landscape. Recent visitors said the view from the top of Christoffel Mountain is unforgettable. You can climb the peak and back in two to three hours, but due to the high temperatures and lack of shade, the park doesn't allow people to start their hike after 11 a.m., so make sure to get there early. Past travelers stressed to bring at least two bottles of water and comfortable shoes, as the terrain gets more rocky the closer you get to the summit.
Kura Hulanda Museum
Built on what was once a mercantile square for slaves, the Kurá Hulanda Museum traces the history of the African slave trade on Curaçao. Using 18th-century artifacts and scale models to weave its tale, this museum delves into an ugly era in Curaçao's past with a deft hand. Along with exhibits about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the museum features collections of pre-Columbian gold, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art.
As you can see, Curaçao is not only about the beaches. There are many other places you can visit. We just mentioned five of them but there are lots more. Enjoy!
The Curaçao Chronicle staff