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JoHo & Curaçao

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Why come to Curaçao?

Why to come?

  • Curaçao is part of the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean area which also consists of islands like Aruba and Bonaire.
  • It is a small island of just 10 miles across, compromising 160,000 inhabitants.
  • Curaçao has a rich history, albeit not a very positive one. The slave trade which was active until just a century ago, left behind many historical and cultural sights such as plantations and a cultural rich capital called Willemstad. Because of Curacao's colonial history it is culturally and demographically very diverse, boasting some typical Dutch cultural elements as well. Curaçao has a very constant climate, with temperatures of around 27 degrees the whole year round.
  • The island has one of the world's most beautiful beaches with pearly white sand and crystal clear water. You can go snorkelling and bask in the sun with a tropical cocktail next to you and some lounge music on the background. For the active visitor the island is a water sport paradise. In addition to beach and water activities there is lots of leisure to be found on land as well.

JoHighlights

  • Snorkeling and diving: Curaçao's maritime world possesses a great biodiversity, with stunning coral reefs to explore. It is one of the most popular locations for diving in the Caribbean. You can also dive and swim with wild dolphins and other sea creatures.
  • Night life: from the African Tumba to the South American Merengue, Curaçao’s rich heritage plays a big role in its energetic music scene and nightlife. There are beach parties on a regular basis, but there are also enough bars and clubs where you can dance and party.
  • In the evening everything comes to life! There are beach parties on a regular basis . But there are also enough bars and clubs to go wild on the newest tunes or for trying out some salsa.
  • Carnival: The annual carnival is the highlight of the year for many Curaçaoans. Streets are filled with vibrant colours and exotic music. The colourful event lasts for almost a month, and it is definitely a must-see!

JoHotspots

  • Willemstad: From the floating market in the old town of Punda to the colourful houses along the Handelskade and amazing Antillian food at Marshe Bieu (the old food market). The capital of Curaçao has a rich history, lots of museums, shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture.
  • Mambo-beach: This is probably one of the most popular beaches. As such it's pretty busy but also very well facilitated with cocktail bars, live music and an open air cinema.
  • Klein Curaçao: 25 kilometres southeast of Curaçao, lies its small sister Klein Curaçao. It is a very peaceful island where you can enjoy beautiful white beaches and stunning coral reefs.
  • Christoffelpark: For the adventurous types there are a lot of active opportunities at this park which includes a mountain you can explore by car, quad, mountain bike, horse or by foot.
  • Kura Hulanda: Impressive museum dedicated to Curaçao’s history as one of the biggest slave trade posts in the Caribbean.

JoHorribles

  • Mosquitoes love Curacao's climate too. So don't forget to pack your insect repellent!
  • Despite the village like feel, Curaçao has areas where vigilance is required.
  • The best way to get around the island is by car. Public transport is limited.

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How to stay healthy in Curaçao?

  • You might need some insect repellent because Curaçao isn't short of mosquitoes. This is particularly true during the rainy season.
  • Tap water in Curaçao is safe to drink, it falls within the World Health Organisation quality standards. The water supply consists of distilled seawater.

General

  • You will only need a vaccination when you have visited a yellow fever area.

Other

  • There is dengue and zika in Curaçao. Besides dengue and zika there aren't any risks to catch tropical diseases in Curaçao, so vaccination isn't necessary.

How to stay safe in Curaçao?

General safety

  • Generally speaking, Curaçao is considered to be safe, but robberies and petty crime happen on occasion.
  • Watch out for pickpockets. Don't show off your expensive jewellery and don't walk around with too much cash in your wallet. Keep valuable possessions in your bag or even better in a safe at the hotel.
  • Incidents of robbery are not uncommon so avoid alleys and other quiet or dark streets because these can be unsafe.
  • Serious crimes occur mostly in the organised criminal world, involving drugs or weapons trade. As an outsider you will usually not get caught up in this. Drug related crimes are punished severely.
  • In case of emergency you can call the tourist emergency number: 917.

Criminality

  • Most serious crimes are part of the organised criminal world involving drugs or weapons trade. As a visitor it is unlikely you will be dealing with these kind of crimes.
  • Keep an eye on your luggage at all times – especially at the airport and busy tourist spots – don't accept packages from anyone and ensure nothing can be placed in your luggage.

Forces of nature

  • From June to November hurricanes can occur in the Caribbean area. Yet they rarely reach Curaçao.

Traffic

  • The traffic is mostly safe in Curaçao. Yet Curaçaoans often don't take traffic rules too seriously. For example, sometimes drivers will overtake on the right side instead of on the left. Frequently the rule of giving way to traffic from the right is also put into practice differently.
  • Watch out for scooters and cars without lights at night.
  • Be aware that drunk driving is not uncommon in Curaçao.
  • Curaçaoans drive on the right side of the road.

Legislation

  • All drugs, hard and soft, are illegal. Possessing or using drugs, any drugs including marihuana or prescription drugs for which you can’t provide the prescription, is punished severely. Bring a Medical Passport or an official prescription when using medication, especially any sedatives and strong painkillers containing codeine.

Dangerous areas

  • Check what areas are deemed unsafe before arriving in Curaçao so you don't accidentally end up somewhere dangerous.
  • Do keep in mind these areas change so always check the up to date safety information.
  • Areas that are traditionally considered unsafe (especially at night) are: Koredor, Punda, Otrabanda, the Mambo Beach parking lot, the neighbourhoods of Scharloo, Fleur de Marie, Seru Fortuna, Marchena, Seru di Kandela, Souax, Koraalspecht, Seru Loraweg, Dein, Kanga, and most beach areas.
  • Avoid remote and unpopulated areas and unpatrolled beaches after dark.

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St. Augustine

Visa or permits for Curaçao

Do you need visa or permits?

  • When you're staying fewer than 90 days as a visitor or tourist and you have a Dutch nationality you don't need a visa.
  • If you're staying over 90 days as a visitor or tourist you should apply for a Caribbean visa. This visa expires within six months.

Work permit (also for interns and volunteers)

  • For temporary work or internships in Curaçao you will need a (temporary) work permit. Before requesting this permit you're not allowed to work. Once the application is filed, you are allowed to work, pending the decision of the embassy.
  • For the most up to date information, please check the requirements with the embassy or the Curacao Ministry of General Affairs

Requirements for a work permit:

  • a valid passport
  • a return ticket or a ticket to another country
  • sufficient financial resources for the stay

If you're going to Curaçao for an internship you will need these additional documents:

  • copy of your birth certificate
  • certificate of good conduct
  • internship agreement certification from your university the internship is a required part of your studies

What are payment options in Curaçao?

The currency in Curaçao is the Antillean Guilder (Nafl). It is pegged to the US dollar. The US Dollar and the Euro are also accepted.

Cash

  • Cash is accepted almost everywhere on the island.
  • Exchanging money from Euros to Antillean guilders or US dollars is cheaper in Curaçao, rather than prior to departure.

Cashpoint / ATM

  • Most places (restaurants, hotels, shops) accept payment by card.
  • There are plenty of cashpoints / ATM on the island where you can take out Antillean Guilders and US Dollars.

Credit cards

  • Most places (restaurants, hotels, shops) accept credit cards.

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How to get around in Curaçao?

Local transport

  • Public transport in Curaçao is fairly limited. Buses don't adhere to a strict timetable but are nonetheless a cheap option.
  • The two major bus stations are at Punda and Otrabanda.
  • Apart from the standard big buses, there also smaller vans that offer public transport. They don’t have a timetable.

By car

  • Due to the limited public transport options, it is definitely recommended to rent a car to explore the island. The roads are mostly paved and well maintained.
  • There can be age restrictions to rent a car. Check with your chosen rental company beforehand.
  • If you want something smaller and cheaper, you can also rent a scooter or quad.

By taxi

  • Official taxis are easily recognized by having a license plate that is marked with the letters "TX".
  • Taxis are generally cheap and reliable in Curaçao. However, taxis fares are unmetered; drivers may have fare-sheets available. Agree on a price beforehand.

How to communicate in Curaçao?

What about communication?

  • Papiamento, Dutch and English are the official languages in Curaçao. Of these three Papiamento is the most widely spoken. It is a language created by the slaves from West-Africa who were brought to the island to work. Later this language was enriched by other immigrants such as the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and English.
  • In addition to these three official languages, Spanish and French are regularly spoken because of Curacao's colonial background.

Words in Papiamento

  • hello/hey: Bon dia/ Halo
  • Good morning: Morru
  • Good afternoon: Bon tardi
  • Good evening: Bon nochi
  • Bye: Ayó
  • Yes: Si
  • No: No
  • Please: Por fabor
  • Thank you: Danki
  • You're welcome: Di nada
  • Sorry: Sor

Communicating with home

  • Mobile/ Landline: You can use your mobile phone for international calls. However, a local prepaid or sim card could work out a lot cheaper. Shop around a bit online for the best deals as tariffs can differ quite a bit.
  • Internet: Many public places provide free Wi-Fi, this includes restaurants, beaches and hotels. You can also find internet cafes in Willemstad centre. Costs for using internet or calling internationally are generally low.

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Prepare for your trip to Curaçao and orientate on emigration to the sunny island!

Where to stay and what to eat in Curaçao?

Where to sleep?

  • Accommodation in Curaçao mainly consists of luxurious hotels and resorts. These are generally expensive.
  • There are some cheaper options like bed & breakfasts, simple apartments and Airbnb. Hostels are very rare in Curaçao.
  • Camping is also an option. There are several camp sites where you can pitch a tent or rent a caravan.

 

What to eat and drink?

Food

  • Curaçao has a very diverse cuisine. From typical Dutch to Japanese, Argentinean, Italian, Brazilian and more.
  • There are also a lot of possibilities to eat local Antilles food. Typical local food uses lots of meat and fish. Some of the best local food is found at Marshe Bieu.
  • Local specialties are: grilled iguana or ostrich, karni stoba (beef stew) and kabritu (goat stew), Sopi di banana (a soup made of bananas) and Pastechi (a savoury pie)

Drinks

  • Awa di Lamunchi: a typical Curaçaoan drink made with lime syrup. Can be made alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
  • Liquors like rum and Blue Curaçao, sometimes simply referred to as Curaçao. This liqueur is made with the dried peels of the Laraha, the bitter orange native to Curaçao meaning Golden Orange of Curaçao.
  • Amstel Bright (which tastes a bit like Corona) is a very popular beer in the Antilles.
  • Happy Hour: a lot restaurants and beach clubs offer drinks at half price during happy hour. You can drink different alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails like Piña colada, fruit punch and Awa di Lamunchi.

What to do in Curaçao?

Entertainment & Activities

  • At the Antilles people really like to party. So whenever an opportunity arises to celebrate, Curaçaoans will arrange a huge party.
  • Keep in mind that companies and governmental offices are often closed on these days.

Public holidays & traditional celebrations

  • Carnival is one of the most outspoken and wild celebrations in Curaçao. Colourful parades and dancers fill the streets in February.
  • Another typical celebration is Seú Parade (harvest festival), a festival dedicated to the remembrance of the slavery resistance.
  • Curaçaoans also celebrate New Year, Christmas and, due to its link to the Netherlands, Dutch celebrations like King’s Day and Sinterklaas.

Activities

Besides diving, there are plenty of other activities in Curaçao:

  • Kite surfing. The prevailing winds make Curaçao a popular kite surf destination. The season starts around March or April.
  • Sailing. Curaçao is home to several international sailing competitions and is a very good sailing destination.
  • Book a Papiamento course, the most commonly spoken language in Curaçao apart from Dutch and English.

Music

  • One of the biggest music festivals of Curaçao is the International Jazz festival in September.

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