Last updated: 08:37 AM ET, Wed August 24 2016

Going Dutch

Curaçao is known for its pristine beaches, superb diving sites and picturesque architecture.

Agent@Home | Destination & Tourism | Diana Kelly

Going Dutch

PHOTO: Curacao's Playa Knip Beach.

If your clients are discerning travelers who want to try a Caribbean getaway with a rich history and culture, near-perfect weather, sun-bleached beaches, superb diving sites and a European ambiance, consider recommending the Dutch island of Curaçao. This tiny island, located just 35 miles north of Venezuela, became an independent country in October 2010 but still operates under Dutch sovereignty.


Curaçao features 35-plus pristine white-sand beaches. Kokomo Beach is a relaxing spot for visitors interested in people-watching in Willemstad, the country’s capital and only city. Known for its monthly “full moon parties,” Kokomo is a mellow place during the day. Playa Knip (also known as Kenapa) is another great beach. While admission is free, tell your clients to bring money to rent lounge chairs and use the bathrooms. The Jan Thiel beach area east of Willemstad caters to families and tourists during the day and has a vibrant nightlife scene.


The island’s 200 restaurants showcase the ethnic diversity of the people. For local cuisine in a casual environment, recommend Plasa Bieu in downtown Willemstad, where diners sit on picnic benches in front of various stalls that prepare local dishes. You can also recommend the Floating Market in Punda, where vendors sell fresh produce and fish along the waterfront.

For a romantic evening out, recommend Karakter (, a beachfront restaurant located a short drive from Willemstad. The downtown Pietermaai District offers plenty of al fresco restaurants, great nightlife and music. The Saint Tropez Ocean Club ( features an oceanfront bar and restaurant with a sophisticated Miami vibe.

For clients interested in fresh fish and local dishes like cactus soup and iguana (often prepared as a stew), recommend Jaanchies Restaurant in Curaçao’s West End. Your clients may also want to visit the Curaçao Winery ( on the Hato Estate en route to the airport. It is the first large commercial vineyard on the island and offers tours and tastings.

Visitors may also want to stop at the Genuine Curaçao Liqueur factory ( in Willemstad, where liquor is made with the peels of the laraha, the bitter orange native to Curaçao.


Suggest a self-guided walk or guided tour through downtown Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelers can take pictures of historic Handelskade, a collection of stunning multi-colored buildings along the waterfront, from the Queen Emma Bridge.

READ MORE: A Beginners' Guide to Curacao's Christoffel National Park 

Willemstad’s historic buildings include Fort Amsterdam, constructed in 1634 to protect the island from pirates approaching Santa Anna Bay, and the Mikvé Emmanuel-Israel Synagogue, which dates to 1728 and is considered the oldest synagogue in continued use in the New World.


At Christoffel Mountain travelers can opt for hikes that range from 20 minutes to three hours if they want to reach the mountain’s summit.

Shete Boka National Park is a favorite among travelers who want to see and hear huge waves violently crash against the rocks. Visitors can also hike the trails and check out the beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs.

On the way to and from the airport, travelers may want to check out the Hato Caves. For a small admission fee, a guide will take them on a tour through the park and the 1,500-year-old caves, which opened to the public in 1991.

The island is also home to many dive sites. One of the more popular ones is the Curaçao Underwater Park on the southeast side of the island.


Curaçao offers a range of accommodations from budget-friendly to luxury five-star properties. Only a passport is needed for entry and it’s a seamless flight from Miami and New York. English, Spanish and Dutch are widely spoken. While the country’s currency is the florin, U.S. dollars are widely accepted.

For a dry, hot climate (less than 22 inches of rain a year!) and beauty similar to that found in nearby Aruba, we found room rates, food, beverages and activities to be more affordable in Curaçao than its neighboring island.


Curaçao’s main tourism markets in North America are from south Florida, the New York tri-state area and Toronto. American Airlines and Insel Air operate daily flights from Miami. JetBlue operates two weekly flights from New York with a third starting later this year and Air Canada flies in weekly from Toronto.

North American visitors tend to be affluent travelers between 25 and 65, who are well educated and have vacationed in the Caribbean before. The island also welcomes an average of 400,000 cruise passengers annually.


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Agent@Home Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the August 2016 issue of Agent@Home Magazine.