Curaçao – A little background
Curacao, also known as one of the ABC islands, is a Lesser Antilles Island located in the Southern Caribbean Sea and is owned by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is located just approximately 37 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The capital of Curacao is Willemstad and has a population of just under 175,000 and is about 170 square miles in size. 4 languages are spoken fluently on the island by most people native to Curacao. Dutch, English, Spanish and the native tongue unique to the Lesser Antilles Islands, Papiamento.
Curacao was originally settled by Arawak People from South America. Europeans first came to Curacao in 1499 by the Spanish, and later by the Dutch, who turned it into a trade center for the Dutch West India Company who founded the capital of Willemstad. Although lacking in gold and other treasured minerals, the harbor of Willemstad proved to be very valuable and eventually commerce, shipping, and piracy become Curacao’s economic lifeline. The Dutch West India Company made Curacao the Atlantic slave trade center often bringing slaves to Curacao for trade from elsewhere in the Caribbean. Many Dutch colonists grew rich from the slave trade and Curacao’s architecture and former plantations (called landhouses) are scattered throughout the island.
On July 9th, Curacao was to became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On this day, a new island council ratified a clarification memorandum and new agreement. On May 15th, 2009, Curacao became a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands with 52% of the vote and the dissolution of Netherlands Antilles was complete on October 10th, 2010.
Curacao has temperatures averaging between 80-85 degrees all year round. Rainfall on the island is minimal and the island is perfectly situated outside of the hurricane belt. The coolest month of the year is January where the temperature falls to a chilly 78 upon occasion. You simply could not ask for a more dependable climate. The cool sea breeze is present every day but the winds are rarely severe enough to call them anything other than pleasant.
Tropical storms do make appearances on occasion, and the worst one in recent history was in 2010 when tropical storm Tomas dropped over 10 inches of rain in a single day. This represented over 1/2 the annual rainfall in one day and ended up being one of the wettest events in the history of Curacao. Hurricanes on the island have occured, but are very rare. As far as islands go, Curacao is one of the most stable and dependable weather wise. Most rain events last less than 30 minutes.
The tropical climate of Curacao provides the ultimate vacation paradise. The waters average temperatures are 78-84 degrees all year round. September and October waters are the the warmest around the island. Light, loose fitting clothes are all that is needed on the island. Sandals, t-shirts, and lots of sunscreen should do the trick. Leave the coats and thick sweaters at home. You wont be needing them.
The currency used in Curacao is the Netherlands Antillean guilder or florin. It is wise to exchange some of your money at the airport to get the best rates of exchange on the island.
The flag of Curaçao incorporates two horizontal blue stripes: the upper and larger blue stripe symbolizes the sky, and the lower and smaller one represents the loyalty of the people and the sea that surrounds the island. The yellow (and smallest) stripe, situated between the two blue ones, is a reminder of the bright sunshine that characterizes the island and the happy nature of the people. The five points on the two stars suggest the five continents from which, over the years, people have immigrated to Curaçao. The white stars stand for peace and happiness, essential goals of the people of the island.
The Curacao Iguana!
The king of the animal kindom in Curacao is the iguana. Dont be fooled however. Although its impressive dragon-like dorsal crest gives iggy a ferocious look, the animal is, in fact, quite shy. Believe it or not, the iguana has a double penis! Its meat and eggs are in high demand due to the powerful aphrodisica powers they posses. Iguana soup is a local delicacy and of course the meat tastes somewhat like chicken.
Iguana’s oddly enough are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath underwater for as long as five minutes. The young are bright green; adults can change color from green to grey, blending in easily with the underbrush and rocky outcroppings. They can jump long distances in the air from tree to tree and they are very common throughout the island. Their tales are fairly dangerous so do not try and corner an iguana as they can bite and can leave a pretty good flesh wound if they catch you with their tale. For the most part, the iquana will shy away from you as long as it is not cornered.
None of the animals in curacao are poisonous, with the exception of two very rare scorpion species and a similarly rare centipede. However, bring or purchase insect repellent as the mosquitoes will definitely be the most aggravating to vacationers.
The islands most common animals are Whiptail lizards, geckos and several species of frogs. There are also two local species of brown snakes, including a blind one that lives under rocks and fallen leaves; both are totally harmless. Again, nothing dangerous.
Wild donkeys, white-tailed deer and many interesting species of bats that inhabit caves and rocky outcroppings along the coast. The insect-eating bats are actually our friends and keep the mosquitoes at bay. A single brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in an hour! Nectar-eating ones actually pollinate several of the night blooming cacti (whose fruit, in turn, feeds local birds during the dry months). Watch for the fish-eating bulldog bat skimming the surface of inner bays at dusk. Yes, the animal life on the island is beautiful and safe.
Water life in Curacao?
If you love the water and marine life, you are in for a treat! Curacao is a marine life lovers paradise! Dip your head and snorkel into the water and you will find Curacao waters to include: green sea turtles, stingrays, eagle rays, barracuda, grouper, angelfish, and more. There are no dangerous sharks off the coast of Curacao as the waters are too warm. All you Jaws fans will have to look elsewhere. The last known shark attack in Curacao was in 1939 and was not fatal. That is almost 100 years ago. There are sharks in Curacao but they are harmless and usually well off shore.
Curacao is Afro-Caribbean Cuisine. The variety on the island from exotic fish to fried Iguana (known as tree chickens) and everything in-between is yours for the asking. The varieties of fish from traditional salmons and Red Snapper are also plentiful and available. Delicious barbeque, chopped steaks and chicken with potatoes and beans are common throughout the island.
From upscale restaurants to street food stalls, there is something to satisfy every hungry tourist. Just about every taste of Curacao is a testament of its eventful past, with flavors so rich you’ll be saying “dushi” (local term for sweet) with every bite.
The people of Curacao are friendly, the fish are friendly, the weather is unbelievable, and the food is off the chain. What are you waiting for? Book your vacation now and pack your bag full of shorts, tank tops and suntan lotion. Leave the rest to us!