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7 reasons why Curaçao should be your next Caribbean vacation

Bailey Johnson - Lonely Planet


If you head to Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad, you’ll find a larger-than-life installation spelling out the local expression dushi, meaning ‘sweet’ or ‘nice’. It’s safe to say that the word has become the unofficial slogan of the island.

Head on down, grab yourself a blue drink (tinted by Curaçao’s signature liqueur, of course) and enjoy the dushi life of sun and sand.

Curaçao’s diverse cultural heritage
Curaçao harbors one of the most multifaceted cultures in the Caribbean, thanks to its long, varied history and its close proximity to South America. Originally settled by the Arawaks nearly 6,000 years ago, the island came under Spanish rule in the early 16th century, but was abandoned due to its perceived lack of riches. The Dutch West India Company picked up where the Spanish left off, and Curaçao became a major hub for the slave trade.

In the mid-1600s, large numbers of Jewish refugees settled in Curaçao to escape the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. The island was later shuffled back and forth between the Dutch and the British Empire before the Netherlands finally claimed ownership in 1815. Today, Curaçao exists as an independent state, but citizens carry Dutch passports.

It’s not uncommon to hear Curaçaoans ping pong between languages, as most people speak multiple: Dutch, Spanish, Papiamentu, the local creole, and English. These diverse cultural influences also manifest in the country’s music – radios blast bachata, reggaetón, American pop, tumba and ritmo kombina, the island’s own genre of tunes – as well as in its food scene. Iguana stew with a side of bitterballen, anyone?

Historic downtown Willemstad
First established in 1634 with the construction of Fort Amsterdam, Willemstad is the feather in Curaçao’s historical cap. Its downtown, an Unesco World Heritage site filled with candy-colored Dutch colonial buildings, simultaneously exudes European and tropical vibes, and is a port favorite for cruise goers. Just as fascinating as the well-preserved buildings are the not-so-preserved ones, perfect in their crumbling grandeur.

Read the full post, originally published October 2016, on lonelyplanet.com.
Cover picture © Bailey Johnson / Lonely Planet