Text and photos: Demian Colman
Our first impression of Curaçao is that of being dropped onto a painter’s palette. This Caribbean island —located just 31 miles off the northwestern coast of Venezuela, but part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands— delights our eyes and lifts our souls with the azure and turquoise of the sea, the blue of the sky blending into purple, red, orange, and yellow at sunset, and the colors of the houses and murals.
As we stroll the narrow alleyways and admire the Colonial architecture of Willemstad’s lovely buildings, it is obvious why the historic district was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The oldest neighborhood is Punda, home to Fort Amsterdam, now the seat of government and the governor’s house. Across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge on the other side of Sint Anna Bay lies Otrobanda and Rif Fort, now a shopping center. Further along is Scharloo, the country’s artistic and Bohemian quarter.
The murals of Curaçao are hypnotic; they explode with color and cover so many themes, from realistic landscapes and perfectly sketched faces to animals and abstract drawings. The artists’ works invite us to linger in front of the murals, turning the island into a giant outdoor museum.
Christoffel National Park
An ideal excursion, the park offers eight trails of varying lengths and difficulty. The most challenging is certainly the 3-hour hike to the summit. The sun and the extreme heat make it a good idea to set out by 6 a.m; you’ll need plenty of water and sturdy footwear.
Shete Boka National Park
Located on the island’s northern coast, this spot features steep cliffs with wonders hidden at the bottom. We begin our tour at the Boka Tabla cave where, overflowing with adrenalin, we await the rush of water into the bowels of the earth; we then trek across lava fields toward the natural bridge, our ears echoing with the insistent roar of waves pounding the shore.
Color in the sky, color in the sea, color on the houses, color everywhere. One color stands out the most: the blue of the island’s classic liquor. We visit the historic Chobolobo plantation to learn how the world-famous Blue Curaçao is produced. Chobolobo has been making the time-honored ingredient of our favorite cocktails since 1896 (chobolobo.com).
Di Jan Kok salt lake
At the Di Jan Kok salt lake, the green of the plants and the gleam of the water are unexpectedly tinted pink, reminding us we are on the island of color. The flamingos stride by on their long, elegant legs, twisting their necks in pretzel fashion and dipping their heads into the water in search of food as we happily watch from the side of the road.
A safari day! In Curaçao? Yes, a safari. A jeep, tour takes us around the Curaçao ostrich farm, where we learn about these giant African birds. We get to feed them and even stand on a real ostrich egg (curacaoostrichfarm.com).
This tour of the rainbow would not be complete without one last stop. White sand beckons to us from afar, offsetting a perfect blue and turquoise sea. It invites us to indulge in our favorite water sports or plunge under the waves to discover the world of life and color below the surface. The blue of the sea shades into the blue of the sky. Everything around us soon begins to glow an orange hue that intensifies as a reddish sun bids us farewell, giving way to a night sky that unfurls its own colors.
– Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
– Its official currency is the Florin, but dollars are accepted all over the island.
– Three official languages are spoken: Dutch, English, and Papiamento, although many people speak Spanish and/or Portuguese as well.
– Watch for the opening of the island to tourists and other information at www.curacao.com