Curacao

One of the three ‘ABC’ islands of the Netherlands Antilles (the other two being Aruba and Bonaire), Curacao is one of the southern Caribbean’s most vibrant and attractive islands. Blessed with broad, sweeping beaches washed by a warm, year round tropical breeze, the island boasts rows of the famous, gnarled ‘divi divi’ trees native to the region. It has been a Dutch province since 1634.

You can still see the Waterfort, one of a series of ancient fortifications erected by the Dutch when they first arrived, at the entrance to the pretty, sun splashed little harbour of Willemstad. Not too far away- around three hundred yards each- are the battlements of Fort Amsterdam and the Riffort. All three of these are relatively easy to reach on foot from the centre of Willemstad itself.

Once a centre for the ancient slave trade, Curacao today offers nothing more menacing to visitors than a tropical tour de force; a pastel pretty little island, garnished with a warm welcome. The island is largely flat, so getting around isn’t too much of an issue at all.

You should make time to explore the pretty capital of Willemstad. The waterfront is lined with rows of tall, gabled houses in a riot of pastel shades that will immediately put you in mind of old Amsterdam, but with much more reliable weather.

This main waterfront area is lined with bars, restaurants and outdoor cafes that lead to a series of winding shopping streets. Don’t miss the amazing Queen Emma pontoon bridge, which actually swings open and shut to allow ships to enter and leave the bustling, vibrant little harbour. It is the only one of the kind in the entire Caribbean, and must be seen to be believed.

Crossing the bridge, you can see the 1828 built Riffort, one of the four sets of fortifications built to protect the harbour in earlier times. Today, it has been reconstructed as a shopping and dining complex, offering amazing views across the bay.

Out of town, you can visit a series of sublime, surf kissed beaches set against a backdrop of idly swaying palms and secluded, rocky inlets. Curacao is quintessential Caribbean magic, with tender sunsets and ice cold Daiquiris to hand.

Most cruise ships dock in the centre of Willemstad. Taxis are available at the dockside, but it is only a relatively short walk into the town itself.

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