About Curacao

Welcome to Curacao! A small piece of paradise where you will get to immerse yourself in a vibrant culture, walk in between historical monuments, and try delicious food while enjoying the Caribbean sun. The island of Curacao is a melting pot of fun, adventure, authenticity, and history that will surprise you throughout your stay. Are you ready to enjoy everything this Caribbean gem has to offer?

Before you travel to Curacao

The Digital Immigration Card
It is mandatory for all international visitors to fill out the Digital Immigration Card (DI card) in order to clear immigration on Curacao. You can complete the form up to 7 days before the date of your trip. There are no Covid-19 restrictions regarding any travels to Curacao since June 5th, 2022.

Time
Curacao is part of the Atlantic Standard Time -0400 UTC zone and does not have daylight savings time.

Electricity
It is recommended to travel with the Type A plug which is similar to the US and the standard European plug. Even though the most common electricity outlet is 110-130 volts AC (50 cycles), you can also find 220V outlets.

A lot of hotels have extra adaptors at the reception. Adaptors can also be easily bought at different stores around the island.

Drinking Water
The drinking water of Curacao comes from desalinized seawater, tap water is very safe to drink. So do not hesitate to bring your reusable bottle with you!

Shopping Hours
Most of the stores are open from 9 am until 6 pm, Monday through Saturday. If you wish to go shopping between noon and 2 pm, you should first look at the store’s schedule as they might be closed during this time period to allow their staff to go on break. Most stores are closed on Sundays and on holidays but might make exceptions and open if there are cruise ships in port. Almost all shopping centers are open from 10 am until 6 pm.

Safety
You will be happy to know that Curacao is a very safe island for both tourists and locals alike. While your visit to the island is most likely going to be trouble-free, just have in mind to be cautious with your valuables and not leave important belongings in your car while parked in remote places.

Climate

Curacao is located outside the hurricane belt, so rest assured that visiting the island will be pleasant no matter the time of year. There is a semi-arid tropical climate where the sun shines constantly with little precipitation. However, there is a very short rainy season, mainly from October to December, during which the rain is a bit more present, especially at night and very early in the morning. The total yearly average of rainfall is about only 22 inches.

From October to March, the heat is a little less intense with temperatures around 86°F (30°C) and this is also when the island is the most visited by tourists. From June to September, the climate is a bit drier with an average of 91°F (33°C). Although it is almost always above 86°F (30°C), there is a breeze coming from the northeast that crosses the island and reduces the heat. The highest temperature ever measured on the island is 100.94 °F (38.3°C) and the lowest is 68 °F (19.7°C). While the average annual temperature is about 82°F (27.8°C), the average water temperature is water 81°F (27.2°C).

When traveling to Curacao during the rainy season, you should always be careful if you decide to rent a car as the streets fill up with water very quickly. You should drive slowly to avoid slipping and falling into potholes that are not visible because of the water.

Culture

Religious Services
Curacao offers a variety of houses of worship to its visitors. For information on locations and hours of services, please inquire at your hotel’s front desk.

Population
The population of Curacao is roughly about 152 000 people and the majority of the people live within the capital of Willemstad located on the east side of the island. Everyone that is born on the island has a Dutch nationality and therefore also a Dutch European passport.

Languages
The two main languages spoken on the island of Curacao are Papiamentu and Dutch but almost everybody also speaks English and Spanish. Papiamento is a Portuguese-based language highly influenced by Spanish also spoken in Aruba and Bonaire. The citizens of Curacao are used to speak many languages and are very welcoming, it is really easy for a visitor to connect and communicate with the locals.

We invite you to join this basic course of Papiamentu, as a warm-up to get ready to immerse yourself in Curacao’s local culture! Bo ta kla pe? Are you ready for it?

Learning Papiamentu

Welcome to CuracaoBon bini na Kòrsou
Good morningBon dia
Good afternoonBon tardi
Good evening / Good nightBon nochi
Happy weekBon siman
How are you?Kon ta bai?
Really good!Hopi bon
I’m fine, how are you?Mi ta bon, kon ta ku bo?
I have a questionMi tin un pregunta
PleasePor fabor
Thank you very much!Masha danki
GoodbyeAyo
This is the most popular word on the island! You are dushi, the sun is dushi, the food is dushi!Dushi

 

Religions
The island is home to different religions and offers a variety of houses of worship to its visitors. The main religion is Roman Catholic (72%), followed by Pentecostal (6.6%), Protestant (3.2%), Adventist (3%), Jehovah’s Witness (2%), Evangelical (1.9%), and others (3.8%). If you are looking to partake in a religious ceremony during your stay, you should refer to your hotel’s front desk to know about the nearest locations and hours of service.

Geography & Location

Location
Located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea and part of the ABC islands, Curacao is about 44 miles (70 km) of distance from Venezuela and 1710 miles from New York (2751.97 km) and is a close neighbor of Aruba and Bonaire. On a clear day, you can even see the mountains of Venezuela from the downtown area.

Geography
The size of Curacao is about 171 square miles (444 square km) which makes it the largest island in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Generally hilly, the island’s origin is mainly from volcanic activity which occurred beneath the ocean. As the island started to emerge from the sea, marine life started growing over the lava crust. This is why the island is known to be shaped by a volcanic interior and limestone caps. Its highest peak is Mount Christoffel with 1,220 ft of height (372 meters).

History
The island of Curacao was first settled by the Arawak people from South America followed by the Spanish people in 1499. It is in 1634 that the Dutch colony took over the island and kept it ever since. They were traveling to the Caribbean for their need of salt to preserve the herring and got attracted by the natural harbor which is formed by the Anna Bay channel connecting to Schottegat bay and separating the downtown area in two.

The Dutch quickly formed the Dutch West India Company which flourished with the slave trade. The port being the central point for trade and connecting various countries to the food and supplies coming from South America, made the harbor, one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean.

In 1795, the national hero of Curacao, Tula, started a one-month-long slave revolt with the goal to get better working conditions and emancipation. This first revolt was the start of the abolishment of slavery which occurred on the 1st of July, 1863. You can witness many statues represented by a hand holding a broken chain commemorating this historical event on the west side of the island.

As of the 10 of October 2010, Curacao became a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands following a referendum. Since then, the island has been having its own government and manages its own internal affairs with the exception of a few matters such as extradition, defense, and foreign relations.

Conservation
Please respect the environment by not littering, not touching marine life or wildlife, and leaving rocks and shells in their original spaces. Also ensure souvenirs are not made from protected species like sea turtles, black coral, and the lignum vitae tree. And please reuse and refill drinking containers to help reduce the plastic trash problem. Tap water is really good to drink here on the island.

Money & Currency

The currencies used on Curacao are the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (Florin) and/or the US dollar. There are no exchange offices on Curacao. It is therefore preferable to have American money on arrival or simply withdraw guilders from the bank upon arrival. To do so, you should have your passport with you as it is required to change money. While the conversion rate at the bank is between 1.78 to 1.80 ANG for 1 USD, the various shops and restaurants will convert at the rate of 1.75 ANG for 1 USD.

The banks are usually open from 8 am until 3:30 pm on weekdays. There are many ATMs around the city center accepting the major credit cards and debit cards worldwide and only a few on the west side of the island. While most places accept every credit card, American Express is not accepted everywhere. Don’t forget to let your bank know about your traveling plans so they don’t block your cards during your stay.

It is recommended to use florin on the island as you will be less affected by the conversion rate. If you choose to pay with American dollars, make sure to have small denominations as some places do not accept 50- and 100-dollar bills. Also, USD coins are not accepted and you might get your change back in Antillean Guilders as most places don’t keep change in American dollars.

Tipping
While tipping at restaurants and hotels is at your own discretion, an average between 10 to 15% is appreciated. The same goes for taxi drivers.

Medical & Health

Vaccination requirements
While there are no notices in effect currently for Curacao, you should always make sure to have your routine vaccines covered before traveling such as Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu (influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio and Shingles. Hepatitis A & B, Measles, Rabies, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever are also recommended depending on your age and where you are traveling from. You can get more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Avoid bug bites
Make sure to travel with a bug repellent or buy some once on the island to avoid any bug bites as Curacao is part of the area with frequent or continuous cases of Dengue and Zika. Mosquitos tempt to be more present during the rainy season.

Drugstores/Pharmacy
In case of illness, you can go to one of the pharmacies called “Botika di Servicio”. There are many locations around the island, especially near the city center. Based on a rotation schedule, some of them are open the whole night.

Open from Monday through Saturday
Closed on Sundays
Regular opening hours: 8 am – 7 pm
www.botikadiservisio.com

Benu Pharmacy also has 3 locations where you can go.

Dominguito, Caracasbaaiweg 164, +5999 461 7988
Otrobanda, Pater Euwensweg 46, +5999 462 5633
Palu Blanku, Frater Radulphusweg 1, +5999 735 2999

Open from Monday through Saturday
Closed on Sundays
Opening hours: 8 am – 7 pm
www.benucaribbean.com
info@benucaribbean.com

Emergency Numbers

  • Ambulance ………………………………………………………… 912
  • Coast Guard ………………………………………………………. 913
  • Fire Department…………………………………………………. 911
  • Hospital ………………………………………………………….….. 910
  • Police …………………………………………………………………. 911
  • SOS Line…………………………………………………………..…. 127
  • Tourist Emergency Line……………………………..…………917

Transportation

UPON ARRIVAL: From the airport, be aware that it is possible to take a local bus to the city center for only a few dollars. If you take a taxi to Punda or Pietermaai, the cost will be around 40 USD. Many hotels also offer a shuttle service from the airport to your accommodation.

DURING YOUR STAY: It is very easy and economical to discover the east side of the island by public transportation and more particularly the following districts: Punda, Pietermaai, Piscadera, Jan Thiel, and Otrobanda. You can expect to pay around $2 per trip. There is a bus station located in Punda which will allow you to move around the city center and the east side of the island. There is another bus station located in Otrobanda for you to go to the west of the island.

Regarding the west of the island, you will need to rent a car or use the services of a local guide to fully discover this region. It is possible to go there by bus, but you will have to limit yourself to one or two places for the day as the buses are less frequent and have many stops along the way.

Here are some tips if you choose to drive during your stay on Curacao:

  • Foreign driver’s licenses are accepted on Curacao. Even though an international driver’s licenses aren’t mandatory, it is highly recommended especially if your driver’s license isn’t written in the Roman alphabet.
  • While we drive on the right side of the road on Curacao with left-hand driving cars, right-hand driving cars have become very popular to use. It is not allowed to be used as a car rental.
  • European rules of the road and signs are used.
  • The urban speed limit is 40 km/h and the rural speed limit is 60 km/h unless indicated otherwise.
  • Before getting behind the wheel, you should familiarize yourself with the most important road signs such as: Round about approaching, the turn right and turn left arrows, no U-turn, and no parking allowed.
  • It is not allowed to turn right at a red light. When at an intersection not regulated with a priority sign, the driver on the right has priority.
  • On T-junctions traffic on the dead-end road must give right of way to all traffic from left and right.
  • While there are not many places where you need to pay for parking on the island, within the city center you might have to pay at a parking machine. Make sure to look at the signs so you don’t get a tire boot.
  • In case of an accident, DON’T MOVE YOUR CAR! Notify the police immediately by calling 911.

Here are some links that will help you optimize travel during your stay on the island:

Car rental – ALAMO
www.alamo.cw
+5999 869-4433

Bus transportation – ABC Busbedrijf
www.autobusbedrijf.com
+5999 724-4222

 

Covid-19

There haven’t been any measures put in place for incoming travelers regarding Covid-19 since the 5th of June 2022. So, there is no covid-19 testing required to enter Curacao, and most places do not require to wear masks with the exception of some health centers.

If you start showing symptoms during your stay on Curacao, you should immediately contact GGD which is the health authority of the island at the following number: 9345.

If you happen to test positive for Covid-19 during your stay, you will be responsible for any cost regarding health consultations and quarantine. You should therefore make sure your insurance has enough coverage for this matter.

If you are traveling from Curacao to a destination that requires a negative Covid-19 test, here are the different places you can go to:

ADC
www.adcnv.com
Phone: +5999 434-5100

Lab de Med
www.labdemed.org
Phone: +5999 736-1030

MLS
www.mlscuracao.com
Phone: +5999 736-8455

Frequently Asked Questions

While Curacao is an ideal destination to travel all year round thanks to its great location in the southern Caribbean, the best time to visit the island would be from May to November. Since this period is considered the off-peak season, the airfares are lower as well as the hotel rates. There are also fewer visitors on the island and it almost never rains.

Curacao is a very safe island to visit and its population is very friendly regarding its visitors. While your stay should go smoothly, you should always be aware of petty crimes, pickpockets, and robberies.

You can easily travel around Willemstad with the small buses (minivan) or “Konvooi” which are traditional buses. While the small buses are more frequent, the “Konvooi” runs every hour. If you wish to explore the west side of the island, you should therefore consider renting a car or joining an excursion as public transportations are limited.

Curacao isn’t as expensive as other islands in the Caribbean. Depending on the type of traveler you are, you could spend an average of 85$ USD to 265$ USD a day. They are of course much more expensive options if you wish to treat yourself to a very luxurious stay. Know that they are different types of accommodations such as hostels, Airbnb, Boutique Hotels, Resorts, etc. They are also food trucks at night offering cheap meal options as well as numerous choices of local and international delicious restaurants around Willemstad.

There are so many things to do on the island of Curacao. Whether you like to spend time walking in the city to look at the beautiful architecture and artistic murals or wish to spend time in the wilderness snorkeling or hiking, you will most certainly appreciate the options available to you. They are 3 national parks to explore (Christoffel National Park, Shete Boka, and Den Dunki), many museums regarding the history of Curacao, the famous Blue Curacao Liquor Factory, the dynamic beaches of Mambo and Jan Thiel where you can dance and enjoy different happy hours as well as the secluded beaches of the west side of the island. Why not join in on an ATV tour or scuba diving excursion for an exciting outdoor adventure? As you can see, it is impossible to get bored while on Curacao!

There is no ferry service between Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire. Unless you book a private charter, traveling to these islands is limited by air travel.

There is no ferry service between the mainland of Curacao and Klein Curacao. You should join in on a boat excursion to the island or have a private charter for the day.

While Curacao is free of dog rabies, you should always be careful approaching an animal you don’t know or any wildlife species.