North as the Netherlands Antilles islands of Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten. And the island is, on another level, the birthplace of the famous liqueur, Curaçao, perhaps more well known in some circles than the island itself.
The history of Curaçao begins with Amerindian Arawaks. The Arawaks and their subgroups migrated from regions of South America some 6,000-years-ago, settling on various islands then discovered as they embarked on a centuries-long northward trek. The group that ended up in Curaçao was the Caiquetios, who gave the island its name.
In 1776, Sint Eustatius, "The Golden Rock," was the first foreign entity to formally recognize U.S. sovereignty when a foreign official saluted the U.S. flagged ship with a 13-gun salute, a salute bestowed only upon sovereign flags. Less than two decades later, the first U.S. Consulate in Curaçao opened in 1793, laying the foundation of what would become a centuries-old friendship.
Money: Cash, Debit and Credit
The official currency of Curaçao is the Netherlands Antilles guilder (also called the florin). The guilder is tied to the U.S. dollar at a rate of $1 (USD) to NAf1.75. Coins of the Netherlands Antilles guilder are issued in denominations of NAf0.01, NAf0.05, NAf0.10, NAf0.25, NAf0.50, NAf1, and Naf2.50. Notes are issued in denominations of NAf5, NAf10, NAf25, NAf50, NAf100, and Naf250. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted on the island by all sorts of vendors, although service vendors may have trouble changing large bills given in either U.S. dollars or the Netherlands Antilles guilders. There are no restrictions for bringing cash into the country.
Debit and Credit Cards are accepted in cities but elsewhere it is handy to have cash.
Visa and Eurocard/Mastercard are accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted, but American Express is not accepted everywhere. If you plan to use American Express, be sure to check if your card is accepted before racking up a hefty bill.
In Curaçao, the climate is tropical, hot all year round, with daytime temperatures ranging from around 28/29 degrees Celsius (82/84 °F) between December and February, to about 31 °C (88 °F) between May and October. The period from May to October is the most sultry, but the trade winds constantly blow, tempering the heat. Curaçao is an island, and together with the neighboring islands of Bonaire and Aruba, it's part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The climate is sunny and dry, in fact, about 550-millimeters (21.6-inches) of rainfall per-year.
The only relatively rainy period is from October to December, when, however, precipitation does not go beyond 80/100 mm (3.1/4 in) per-month. From November to January or mid-February, the northeast trade winds bring showers quite frequently, although usually not abundant. Curaçao is an almost entirely flat island: its highest point is located at 375-meters (1,200-feet) above sea level.
The amount of sunshine is good all year round. The sea in Curaçao is warm enough to swim in throughout the year: the water temperature reaches a low of 26 °C (79 °F) in February and March and a high of 29 °C (84 °F) in September and October. Here are the average sea temperatures.
Infrastructure and Transportation
The best way to get around Curaçao is by car. Some of Curaçao's hotels offer area shuttles, and the public buses cover the majority of the island, but service is infrequent, especially outside of Willemstad. If you want to explore the island on your own time, then you'll want your own set of wheels. Taxis are available from Curaçao's primary airport, Curaçao International Airport (CUR), about 8-miles northwest of Willemstad. However, cabs can be expensive, especially if you are planning to use them frequently.
Telecommunications is a critical element in the infrastructure of Curaçao. The privatization of this industry is a governmental priority, especially when one considers the fact that this industry is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. The privatization process allows the services being offered to improve in both price structures as well as in quality. The government has already taken several steps towards privatization, including the elimination of the governmental telecommunications services (Landsradiodienst) and replacing it with a corporate entity. This new organization is the first in many steps that will involve the gradual restructuring of the entire telecommunications market on Curaçao. Other measures already being introduced are deregulation and the introduction of competition. The process used to achieve these goals is based upon those similar to the United States and Great Britain.
The telecommunications infrastructure is equipped with telex, fax services, entrance to merconon, viditel and direct satellite connections. Communication with the rest of the world is of excellent quality without disturbances. Additional services are mobile communication, audio text, voice mail, and ISDN
By Rental Car -- Driving in Curaçao is easy. Valid U.S., British, Australian, and Canadian licenses are honored. The minimum age to rent for many companies is 25. Driving is on the right side, and road signs use international symbols. Avis (tel. 800/331-1084; www.avis.com), Budget (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S., or 599/9-839-1300; www.budget.com), and Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S., or 599/9-868-1182; www.hertz.com) have offices at the airport. Compact cars with manual transmissions start at about $40-per-day plus taxes and insurance.
By Taxi -- Most taxis are metered, but drivers in unmetered cabs carry an official rate sheet. Fares rise 20% after 8 pm, and some go up a few dollars more after 11 pm and on holidays. Drivers appreciate a 10% tip. The $20 trip from the airport to Willemstad can be split among four passengers. Each piece of oversize luggage is an extra $1. In town, taxis are easiest to get on the Otrobanda side of the floating bridge. You can also call tel. 599/9-869-0752. Taxi island tours are $50-per-hour for up to four passengers. Taber Tours (tel. 599/9-868-7012 or 567-6770; www.tabertours.com) specializes in hotel transfers and island tours for big groups.
By Bus -- Most of the large hotels operate a free shuttle to Willemstad's shopping districts, but public transportation is limited. Large yellow buses (also called "convoys") cover the most traveled urban routes, and bus terminals are outside the post office on the Waaigat inlet in Punda and next to the underpass in Otrobanda. Fares in town and east of Willemstad are $1 and maybe more to the western end of the island. Buses run most city routes hourly, every 2-hours for points west, and less frequently on Sunday. Shaded bus benches dot the main roads.
Curaçao is a great vacation destination by all standards. Beaches, accommodations, activities, culturally speaking, and much more. What sets Curaçao apart and makes it unique in the Caribbean is the "Biba i laga Biba!" mentality of our people. The "Live and let Live!" mentality is what makes the island such a LGBT welcoming travel destination. The people of Curaçao are friendly and tolerant, and the island does not have a history of gay violence towards LGBT locals or visitors.
It is true that the island still needs to make some progress in equality for the gay community and that Curaçao has its share of close-minded people. In general, however, you will by no means experience problems going to dinner in one of the many restaurants or enjoying a nice beach day or just walking around in our capital, Willemstad.
Curaçao has been embracing the LGBT Travel Community for a long time already. In 2004, the Curaçao Tourism Board launched GayCuracao.com. In addition, the CTB has created multiple LGBT marketing campaigns and continues in an effort to become one of the most welcoming destinations in the Caribbean.
Take in culture-filled capital
Stop by a historic synagogue
Explore natural landscapes
Sample rich cuisines
Eat from a food truck
View African artifacts
Swim the enchanting coastline
Attend Thursday Punda Vibes
Jumping off the 40-foot clifftop at Playa Forti
Check out street art
Buy Curaçaoan crafts
Visit the blue lizards
Knockback some green rum
Well, this blog post is a great resource for information on Curacao but there is SO.MUCH.MORE.
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