Curacao… just this name is an invitation to dream and the turquoise blue of its translucent waters. The fault with the eponymous liqueur certainly, the only reference to which the island of Curaçao clings so as not to be forgotten. But we, this little island unknown to the French, charmed us so much that we almost wanted to keep it secret. Just for you, we are going to share a whole series of articles on Curacao, the little pearl of the Caribbean. Before landing on its heavenly beaches, here are some tips to prepare a trip to Curacao.
Curacao Island, presentation
The island of Curacao is so little known that it deserves a little presentation before going further. Curacao is the largest island in the archipelago of ABC Islands, with his sisters Aruba (much more famous) and Bonnaire. Located about fifty kilometers from the Venezuelan coast, it is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although it has been independent since 2010. Its culture is a joyful mixture as only the Caribbean can do: a hint of Spanish privateers, a handful of Jewish and Protestant merchants from Antwerp and African slaves make it a mixed land where no less than 4 languages are spoken (English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento).
Now that the decor is set, it’s time to prepare your trip to Curacao!
How long for a trip to Curacao?
Curacao is a very small island some 50 km long, so it can be surveyed from start to finish in just one day by car. Nevertheless, what is characteristic of the Caribbean is to take your time, so we advise you not to hurry to appreciate the sweetness of life in the area. Between discovering the city of Willemstad (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), lazing on the beaches and scuba diving to meet turtles, it will take you at least 5 days to get a good overview of what the island has to offer. We spent 10 days there without getting bored, and we didn’t even have time to do everything we planned. A week is an adequate time to enjoy the island.
Choosing the best season to travel to Curacao
Curacao is located in the Caribbean Sea, just below the cyclone belt. It is therefore not subject to severe weather conditions like other islands in the region. The rainy season is much shorter and less intense, making it a ideal destination at any time of the year. A little paradise, we tell you!
However, if you had to choose the best time to go to Curacao, it would be between February and May, when it is not raining and the temperature is ideally around 28 degrees.
When planning your trip to Curacao, be sure to take a look at the events and festivals the island hosts throughout the year, such as the Tumba Festival in February. All information can be found on the Curacao Tourist Office website.
Passport and Visa for curacao
Entry to Curacao requires a valid passport, but no visa in particular for many countries (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, etc.). Some nationalities must have a visa. See details of entry formalities at Curacao.
All foreign visitors arriving in Curacao must complete an immigration form called the Embarkation Card or ED Card. It can be done online before departure, then printed for presentation on arrival, which significantly reduces the waiting time for immigration. The ED Card is free. If you have not done the online procedure before departure, a paper form is distributed on the plane. Complete your ED card online.
Travel Insurance for Curacao
Health insurance is not compulsory for traveling to Curacao. However, as with every trip outside of France we take out private travel insurance, Globe Partner from ACS with which we are fully satisfied. Curacao is an island where you will find good quality but very expensive pharmacies and hospitals, and the slightest glitch will cost you more than your insurance premium, so don’t think about it! Take out travel insurance.
Curacao vaccines and health risks
No special vaccine is required to travel to Curacao. However, check that your vaccination schedule is up to date.
As in the whole region, there is a risk of transmission of the chikungunya virus, zika or dengue fever via mosquitoes. It is therefore advisable to take all possible precautions to avoid bites. The Curacao Tourist Office offers a video explaining the measures to take to protect yourself effectively:
Sharone being allergic to mosquito bites, we were particularly careful, but it is clear that we were almost not bitten during the entire stay, an achievement!
Apart from mosquitoes, the two main health risks in Curacao are related to the weather: the sun and the wind.
The sun is strong on the island, we strongly advise you to protect yourself properly: water-resistant index 50 sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and even anti-UV t-shirt for snorkeling (such as this one) if you have sun-sensitive skin . Despite our precautions Maxime burned his back to the second degree after a single afternoon of snorkeling, you are warned!
Curacao did not steal its island name downwind, as it blows continuously throughout the day. It’s nice to cool off during the day, but also treacherous because you don’t feel the danger of the sun. Everything flies frequently, so forget the wallet dresses or you will soon find yourself undressed than anything else in the street (it’s real experience!).
Find information before traveling to Curacao
It was quite difficult to find information about Curacao before departure, as it is not a popular destination. Often, Curacao is nothing more than a stopover on a Caribbean cruise (and that’s a shame). Therefore, there is no travel guide available for this destination. We have gone so far as to leaf through the Lonely Planet world … which devotes a quarter of a page to it. Your best friend will therefore remain the site of the tourist office (in English), some English-speaking blogs … and of course all our articles on Curacao! But you know what ? This lack of information is not very serious, because on the spot the locals gave us lots of advice on the visits not to be missed, and everything went very well, leaving room for the unexpected!
Book accommodation in Curacao
As small as it is, the island of Curacao has everything you need to welcome tourists, and you will find all kinds of accommodation, from hostels to luxury hotels. However, during holidays in Europe or North America, the best addresses are taken by storm. We therefore advise you to book your accommodation in advance to find the best value for money. During our stay, we tested 4 hotels which we will tell you about very soon in a dedicated article!
Rent a car in Curacao
It is absolutely essential to rent a car if you want to discover Curacao for yourself, because the public transport network is almost nonexistent and the taxis excessively expensive. Car rental companies are plentiful and offer great services, such as the possibility of renting and dropping the car off directly at the airport or at your hotel. The first prices hover around $ 25/35 per day, but during peak periods and at the last minute we were unable to find this type of price. Also, it is difficult to make a reservation online, everything necessarily involves exchanging emails. We therefore advise you to go ahead in order to benefit from the most advantageous price. We talk about car rental in our article on the travel budget to Curacao (to come).
Internet and wifi in Curacao
You will find free public Wi-Fi networks in hotels and restaurants in the city, but if you want a fast and secure connection, we recommend that you hire a Wi-Fi box for the duration of your stay. For us, it’s the freedom to have internet at all times (which can be very useful when you’re lost in a car for example!).
Learn more about the internet while traveling
Some practical information to prepare a trip to Curacao
Travel time : Direct flight from Amsterdam (10h flight) or Miami (2h45 flight).
Jet lag : There is a time difference of – 5 hours with Europe (France, Belgium, Switzerland) and no time difference between Montreal and Curacao.
Change : In Curacao, we accept the American dollar and the West Indian guilder (guilders). Please note, it is almost impossible to change currency on the spot (As we understand, this service is only available for locals, in their bank). No need to arrive with your euros in cash, it is better to withdraw directly or use USD. We preferred to pay in local currency during our entire stay. A more detailed point on the budget is coming soon!
Electrical outlets : 127/120 Volts, either identical to the American or Canadian sockets. If you come from Europe, consider taking an adapter!
Water quality : The water in Curacao is good to drink and of very good quality! Be careful, this is desalinated water, so it tastes a little strange for the uninitiated. We advise you to take with you a bottle that keeps cool to be ready for a lazy day on the beach.
Security : Curacao is a little dangerous island, at no time did we feel insecure. However, you must be careful with business flights on the beaches, you are advised not to leave your personal belongings unattended.
Now you are ready to discover this little jewel of the Caribbean! If you have any questions to prepare for a Curacao trip, please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments and we will do our best to answer them.
Have a nice trip 🙂