Part of the Netherlands Antilles group along with St Maarten, Curaçao is the largest island in the archipelago, an arid and largely flat island stretching about 40 miles (64km) in length. The southern coastline is scattered with spectacular bays, beaches and secluded coves and is more inhabited than the rough northern shore where the weather-beaten terrain takes the brunt of the wind, and cliffs are pounded by the rough surf. The best beaches are scattered along the southwest coast where the calm, crystal clear water also makes it a tropical paradise for divers, snorkellers and swimmers; towards the east are the largest bays, where the main port and historic capital city, Willemstad, is situated.
Curaçao is an ideal holiday destination for underwater lovers, as the excellent visibility, warm water, active reef conservation and variety of diving and snorkelling sites ranks the island among the most popular dive locations in the Caribbean. On land there are also several interesting sites to visit, including the 'living' Hato Caves where centuries-old stalagmites and stalactites are still being formed; the protected wildlife preserve of Christoffel Park, encompassing Mount Christoffel, the highest point on the island, with fantastic views over the island from among the park's exotic flowers, bent divi divi trees and blue iguanas; and the dramatic caverns carved out of the limestone cliffs by the crashing waves within Shete Boka National Park.
The capital city and seat of government for the Netherlands Antilles, Willemstad, has been a major international trading centre for centuries, its society a mixture of different nationalities, races and cultures and its shops filled with goods from around the world. Old Willemstad dates from the 18th and 19th centuries and is one of the most remarkable historic areas in the Caribbean with charming alleys and superb Dutch colonial architecture housing restaurants, museums, shops and hotels. Many of the beautiful Dutch buildings have been adapted to life in a hot and breezy climate and sport Caribbean-style shutters, porches and verandas, lending further charm to the cheerfully painted historic structures.
Whether the days are spent in sun-soaked relaxation or by taking advantage of the endless activities on offer, on land or in the water, when the sun begins to set the trend is to slip into one of the bars, where happy hour is just the beginning of the night to come.
The official currency is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder or
Florin (ANG or NAFl), which is divided into 100 cents. US currency
is accepted everywhere and the guilder is tied to the US dollar.
Large notes in US dollars and guilders may be hard to cash or find
change for. Most major credit cards are widely accepted and
travellers cheques in US Dollars is advised to avoid additional
charges. Banks and exchange bureaux will change foreign currency
and ATMs are available.
|ANG 1 =||US$ 0.55||Â£ 0.36||C$ 0.56||A$ 0.53||R 4.65||EUR 0.43||NZ$ 0.69|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
CuraÃ§ao has no tropical diseases like malaria (although mosquitoes can be a problem), and no vaccinations are necessary. Sunburn is common. A high standard of cleanliness means that gastro-intestinal complaints are rare; tap water is distilled from the sea and is safe to drink. There are a number of medical centres on the island and a modern and well-equipped hospital, but medical insurance is still recommended. All in all, Curacao is a very safe place to visit from a health point of view - just stay well hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
For travel within the Netherlands Antilles, all passengers of 14 years and older must hold proof of identity, if possible with photo. All visitors must demonstrate, on arrival, sufficient means of support while in CuraÃ§ao (US$500 a week, or equivalent in convertible currency). Travellers are required to have a return or onward ticket to a destination outside the Netherlands Antilles, and all the documentation required for that journey. Visa extensions are possible. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers going between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region, are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Foreign Embassies in Curacao
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