Curacao attractions

Curacao island is a popular holiday destination all year round, because of the climate. It's always summer and the blue sea offers a nice cooling down. Everyone and everything between its beautiful beaches make it a perfect destination for the whole family - or those traveling without..

Downtown Willemstad, with its Dutch and Portuguese-inspired structures, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The colorful rows of houses in bright blues, yellows, and reds are being restored piecemeal, so a walk down any given block will give you both treasures and diamonds in the rough. Most of the historic houses are now government-owned and house municipal offices, meaning that quite a few are free and open to explore during the day. The capital is divided into two main sections on opposite sides of St. Anna Bay: Punda ("The Point") and Otrabanda ("The Other Side"). The Queen Emma bridge (the three main bridges in Willemstad are named for Dutch queens, owing to its colonial legacy) connects the halves, then "floats" to one side several times a day in order to let ships pass through. Grab a beer at the waterfront Iguana Cafe and watch the boats pass by. If you're lucky and the bridge is only going to be closed for a few minutes, you might be allowed to stay on it as it moves.

Attraction in Curacao , what to see

Market Bazar

Curaçao is such an arid island that most of the fruit and vegetables need to be imported. The floating market conists of dozens of Venezuelan schooners laden with tropical fruits and vegetables that dock to sell their wares on the Punda side of the city. Mangoes, papayas, and exotic vegetables vie for space with freshly caught fish and herbs and spices. The buying is best at 6:30 am—too early for many people on vacation—but there's plenty of action throughout the afternoon. Vendors will stay on island for months away from their families—forming their own little community—awaiting fresh supplies each day, until they have enough to bring adequate money home to Venezeuala

Kura Hura Museum

Pet project of Dutch billionaire philanthropist Jacob Gelt-Dekker who brought the Otrabanda neighborgood back to life in the '90s, this fascinating anthropological museum reveals the island's diverse roots. Housed in a restored 18th-century village, the museum is built around a former mercantile square (Kura Hulanda means "Holland courtyard"), where the Dutch once housed slaves mostly before they were sold and exported. Somber exhibits of the transatlantic slave trade are tempered by sections that highlight the origins of the diaspora, including relics from West African empires, examples of pre-Columbian gold, and Antillean art. Call ahead for guided tours or rent an audio guide.

Martitime Museum

The museum—designed to resemble the interior of a ship—gives you a sense of Curaçao's maritime history that spans some 500 years using model ships, historic maps, nautical charts, navigational equipment, and audiovisual displays. Topics explored in the exhibits include the development of Willemstad as a trading city, Curaçao's role as a contraband hub, the remains of De Alphen (a Dutch marine freighter that exploded and sank in St. Anna Bay in 1778 and was excavated in 1984), the slave trade, the development of steam navigation, and the role of the Dutch navy on the island. The museum also offers a two-hour guided tour (Wednesday and Saturday, 1 pm) on its "water bus" through Curaçao's harbor—a route familiar to traders, smugglers, and pirates. The museum is wheelchair accessible. Bar/restaurant Sails on-site open for lunch.

Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

The temple—the oldest in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere—is one of Curaçao's most important sights and draws thousands of visitors per year. The synagogue was dedicated in 1732 by the Jewish community, which had already grown from the original 12 families who came from Amsterdam in 1651. They were later joined by Jews from Portugal and Spain fleeing persecution from the Inquisition. White sand covers the synagogue floor for two symbolic reasons: a remembrance of the 40 years Jews spent wandering the desert, and a re-creation of the sand used by secret Jews, or conversos, to muffle sounds from their houses of worship during the Inquisition. English and Hebrew services are held Friday at 6:30 pm and Saturday at 10 am. Men who attend should wear a jacket and tie. Yarmulkes are provided to men for services and tours.

Queen Emma Brige

Affectionately called the Swinging Old Lady by locals, this bridge connects the two sides of Willemstad—Punda and Otrobanda—across the Santa Anna Bay. The bridge swings open at least 30 times a day to allow passage of ships to and from the sea. The original bridge, built in 1888, was the brainchild of the American consul Leonard Burlington Smith, who made a mint off the tolls he charged for using it: 2¢ per person for those wearing shoes, free to those crossing barefoot. But though that toll distinction was meant to help the poor, the rich often saved money by crossing barefoot, and the poor would often borrow shoes to cross because they were too proud to admit they could not afford the toll! Today it's free to everyone. The bridge was dismantled and completely repaired and restored in 2005.

Queen Julianna Brige

This 1,625-foot-long bridge is the highest bridge in the Caribbean. It stands 200 feet above the water to accomodate the large ships crossing beneath it. It also allows for the motor traffic between Punda and Otrobanda. Panoramic views of the city below make it a popular spot to take photos from.

Shete Boka National Park

Lying beachside or poolside is a great way to relax, but if you want a fuller sense of Curaçao's natural beauty, head to Shete Boka, whose name translates to "Seven Mouths" or "Seven Inlets." The word "dramatic" seems insufficient to describe this park, where waves crash into the rocky, angular volcano-formed inlets so grandly that they look like geysers. It's a popular spot for scuba divers, who can check out the detailed coral formations just below the surface.

Punda Museum

As Curaçao changes and grows, some locals want to make sure they preserve the island's heritage. The new Punda Museum, which opened in December 2014, is a one-room repository of old photos and memorabilia alongside a scale model of Willemstad dating from the 1960s. The collection is lovingly maintained, but it's hard to appreciate without context—ask the chatty owner/operator to show you around.

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