The All Inclusive Curacao Experience
Curacao, located just thirty-five miles north of the Venezuela coast, is the most populous island in the Netherlands Antilles, and also the largest at 37 miles long and 7 miles across at its widest. The distinctive culture of Curacao, its warm people, its lively casinos and Curacao all inclusive resorts, and its magnificent beaches and water sports attract visitors from all over the world. Curacao was first sited by Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. Spanish invaders exterminated the native Arawak Indians and they in turn were thrown out by the Dutch in 1634. The Dutch turned Curacao into a miniature tropical version of Holland. The threat of English and French invaders also forced the Dutch to turn the island into a fortress: the shelter’s thin entrance is guarded by thick ramparts, and many hilltop forts (some of which have been converted into restaurants) protected the approaches to the coast. Curacao remained a sleepy backwater until 1915 when Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company built one of the largest refineries in the world here in order to course of action Venezuelan crude oil. Workers from fifty countries poured into all inclusive Curacao, turning the island into a cosmopolitan multicultural community of 200,000 people.
The capital of Curacao, Willemstad, has some of the most remarkable architecture in the West Indies. Rows of red roofed, pastel-colored town houses decorate the area downtown, and from the Queen Emma Bridge there is a splendid view of Willemstad’s old colonial houses in bright pastel shades. These houses, three and four stories tall, are crowned with steep gables and roofs of orange Spanish tiles. The houses line thin streets and alleyways between the sea, canal, and inlet, and they give the town a storybook turn up. A great way to analyze Willenmstad is by taking an hour trolley tour in open sided cars pulled by a locomotive. The tours leave Fort Amsterdam near the Queen Emma Bridge at 10 am and cost $22.
At the north end of the Handelskade, just a short walk from the Bridge, is the Floating Market. Boats arrive here from Colombia and Venezuela bringing tropical fruits and produce in addition as handicrafts, and schooners tie up here along the canal. Another great place to visit is the Waterfort Arches, which are thirty foot high stone walls stretching for a quarter mile along the sea. Today Waterfort features boutiques, shops, ice cream parlors and it is a great place to sit on a breezy terrace by the sea and enjoy an Amstel beer. Also on the “must see” list is Fort Nassau, built on top of a high hill in 1797, which commands a spectacular view of the coast. Within and around the capital typical Dutch style windmills can nevertheless be seen. Much of the countryside surrounding resorts in Curacao is dry, like the Southwest U.S., and studded with divi-divi trees, three-pronged cactus, and spiny leafed aloe. Rolling hills are topped by plantation houses built over three centuries ago, which welcome visitors with guided tours.