There are more than three dozen quiet, secluded public beaches on the island. Photos by Cynthia Calvert

Paradise. There's simply no better word to describe Curacao than paradise. Brightly colored buildings boast a European flair; the clear blue water is their backdrop. As we arrived on the island, a wave of calm washed over us much like soft waves washed along the white sandy shore. As we gave way to the peace, serenity and sheer beauty that is Curacao, I was transported to place where my worries were far away.

Curacao can be found off the Venezuelan coast an island in the south Caribbean with both Dutch and African influence. This vibrant island provides superb snorkeling and diving, old world charm, rich history, sandy beaches, music, art and so much more.

The floating market offers many local fruits, vegetables and colorful souvenirs.

VISIT

Willemstad
Willemstad's historic city center is one of the few Caribbean locations selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inducted in 1997, Willemstad was chosen for their success in growing a diverse community for more than three centuries and for preserving value and integrity. Other noteworthy Willemstad UNESCO sites include the Scharloo and Pietermaai mansions as well as the Curacaoan neighborhoods which all originated during the 1700s.

The beach has a restaurant, bar and offers beach massages.

Floating market
Stroll alongside the floating market as Venezuelan merchants offer fresh produce and fish for sale straight from their small boats. The floating market is one of the most well-known, picture-perfect sights in all of Curacao. The floating market can be found in Punda along the Sha.

Renaissance Mall & Rif Fort
The Renaissance Mall and Rif Fort is your our one-stop, shopping spot. Grab a souvenir, pick out a new perfume, stop for coffee or even plan a romantic dinner for two. At Renaissance Mall and Rif Fort, the options are endless.

Curaçao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island.

Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
A perfect example of the diverse culture found in Curacao, the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue still serves the Jewish community who has been ingrained in Curacao since their arrival in 1659. The synagogue has been in continuous use since 1732 and serves as the Western Hemispheres oldest, active Jewish congregation.

Chobolobo Liquor Factory
Open Monday thru Friday, admission to Chobolobo Liquor Factory is free. Come witness how Blue Curacao liqueur is made the traditional way. Tour includes a tasting and a walk through one of the only free accessible country houses on the island.

EXPLORE

Shete Boka
Witness the unblemished beauty of Curacao at Shete Boka National Park, home to rocky coastline, underground caverns and limestone bluffs. Watch the waves crash onto the rocks or take a Jeep down the dirt road to try and catch a glimpse of the sea turtles that make their home on the inlets. There are also two hiking trails accessible to visitors. Become one with nature at Shete Boka as you venture off the beaten path.

A Chichi is a sensual, well rounded Caribbean figure who represents the smart, strong, happy and caring elder sister everyone deserves. Local artists hand paint her in many sizes and bright Caribbean colors.

Hato Caves
A trip to Hato Caves offers a breathtaking look at life under sea level. A walking path winds its way through limestone formations and water pools that make their home in the caves. Also making their home in the Hato Caves are the long-nosed bats that can be seen from time to time. Take a walk on the wild side as you experience yet another facet of Curacaos natural beauty.

Playa Porto Mari
Beaches abound in Curacao often found no further than a short walk from your hotel room. But if it's an excellent snorkeling or diving spot you're looking for; look no further than Playa Porto Mari. The double reef is found only footsteps off the shore a natural feature that is unique to Playa Porto Mari. The clear, calm waters invite you to come explore.

Definitely visit Dinah Veeris’ Botanic and Historic Garden to see what nature can do.

Dinah's Botanic and Historic Garden
Influenced by previous generations, it was in 1981 that Dinah Veeris began her research. Studying herbal studies in California and gathering information for her elders, Dinah began her herb garden 10 years later. Today, she is the owner of Dinah's Botanic and Historic Garden where she offers her products and services to the public. Specializing in herbal treatments, Dinah is a master on the subject of healing herbs. Serena's Art Factory You will find unique are at Serena's Art Factory where colorful, handmade Chichis can be found. These Chichis, representative of the oldest sister, are brightly colored figurines made by Curacaoan artists. A visit to the factory is free of charge.

 

Fresh seafood such as a fresh fish sandwich and shrimp are on every menu.

DINE

Kome
Meaning "eat" in Papiamentu, Kome offers delicious island fare. They are perhaps best known for their tasty sandwiches and traditional stew. Swing by the historic district of Petermaai to see what Kome is all about eating!

Jaanchies
A visit to the island isn't complete without a stop at Jaanchies. Family owned and operated, Jaanchies has been in business for more than 60 years! Youll find Jaanchies in Westpunt where the scenery is just as good as the hospitality and the dishes they serve up daily.

The colorful buildings of Curacao are known throughout the world.

Bistro le Clochard
This fine dining, French restaurant can be found at Rif Fort. Watch the boats sail into the sunset as you enjoy a glass of wine and delectable seafood the perfect place for a romantic meal.

Hemingway
Looking for someplace to grab a bite seaside? Look no further than Hemingway. Here you can dine in the open air as you watch the palm trees sway and the waves crash against the shore. Not far from your table you will also find a nice cove for swimming and beach chairs for rent.

STAY

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
Perched on 27 acres of natural preserve and serving as the premier resort on the island is the amazing, gorgeous and serene Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Along with an air of sophistication and superior service, the resort offers four on-site restaurants, a superb spa, tennis, bike rentals, beachside cabanas, a dive shop, and so much more. With all of the amenities offered at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, it's clear to see how one might easily find themselves making it their new home away from home.

St. Willibrordus Church is one of the many stunning sights on the island.

Curacao, a hidden jewel, has something to offer everyone. Oozing beauty and culture, this happy place is one youll want to come back to time and time again. It is said that Curacao is the Portuguese word for heart which seems fitting as this natural oasis certainly stole mine. To learn more or to start planning your trip today, visit .