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Curaçao: More Than Just White, Sandy Beaches and Turquoise Waters

Jessica Padykula, S/ Magazine


Walking the pedestrian-only cobbled streets and alleys of Curaçao’s capital Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage City, it’s easy to forget you’re in the Caribbean and not a small town somewhere in the Netherlands. 

Buildings here, showcasing well-preserved Dutch colonial architecture, are painted a palette plucked straight out of a basket of Easter eggs. Pops of pink, lavender, teal, and yellow blend to create a candy-coated rainbow that was made for photo ops.

Aside from its Instagram-worthy architecture, Curaçao is the Caribbean with a distinct European flavour. Sure, there are beaches (35 in fact), but the tiny island 60 kilometres off the coast of Venezuela is a destination on the rise thanks to its burgeoning art scene, upmarket shopping, European influence, and eclectic mix of neighbourhoods, each with their own personality and historical significance. The “C” of the ABC Islands (which also include Aruba and Bonaire), Curaçao has a population of roughly 150,000, comprised of more than 55 different cultures, including African, Dutch, German, Indian, Spanish, and Portuguese – which shapes the unique look and feel of the island.

A colorful and eclectic capital
Willemstad is divided by St. Anna Bay into two distinct districts: Punda (known as “the point”) to the east and Otrobanda (or “the other side”) to the west. The east side also encompasses the districts of Scharloo and Pietermaai. Punda is by far the busier side of the island, with Otrobanda offering a quieter, more local vibe. The winding, vibrant streets of Punda were made to be explored without an agenda. You’ll want to linger, allowing time to slowly discover what’s around each corner, stopping when something catches your eye, be it a shop, café, swath of street art, or a particularly photo-worthy building.

Read the full story, originally published May 30, 2017, on S/ Magazine.