The Caribbean island of Curaçao
You might have seen the name Curaçao in your local liquor store. Blue Curaçao is a liquor and gets its name from the picturesque Caribbean island. Curaçao belongs to the ABC islands, alongside Aruba and Bonaire, close to the Venezuelan mainland. The island has much to offer. For example, the locals often speak three or four languages at once. This article will show you the variety of things to do in Curaçao – aside from relaxing in the Caribbean sun, of course.
Papiamento – an identity
Curaçao’s cultural diversity is reflected in the island’s most used language: Papiamento. This creole language is one of three official languages on the island. It is made up of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Afrikaans, and Dutch.
Papiamento formed during the second half of the 17th century. At that time, the Dutch were settling in Curaçao. Linguists and historians are still arguing about how exactly Papiamento came into existence. One theory is that the Dutch colonizers kidnapped slaves from Africa and brought them to this Caribbean island. The slaves came from different countries and lived separately from the plantation owners. They were not allowed to learn Dutch due to the Netherlands’ strict language policy. Therefore, the demand for a mutually understood language between slaves was very high.
Over time, Papiamento became the lingua franca, and Dutch was replaced as the primary language of public life. Papiamento is the only creole language that is spoken across the population in every social class.
Important Papiamento phrases
Papiamento forms an important part of the locals’ identity. When you travel to Curaçao, try learning some common phrases in Papiamento. Believe us, the locals will be happy even if you just know a few words! Here are some useful phrases and greetings you should know.
☼ Bon bini –Welcome
☼ Bon día – Good day
☼ Asta la vista – Goodbye
☼ Danki – Thank you
☼ Por favor – Please
☼ Ékskius – Excuse me / Sorry
☼ Kón ta bai? – How are you?
You will come across the word “Dushi” a lot on the island. It doesn’t have a direct translation because it has many different meanings, but all of them are positive. If you find something or someone cute, nice, or attractive, you can’t go wrong with the word “Dushi”. Your food can be “Dushi” as well, and it doesn’t have to be a sweet meal. In this case, it just means delicious! It also works as a term of endearment. Depending on the context, locals say “Dushi” to their partner, friend, children, or even strangers.
How to communicate in Curaçao
These few words of Papiamento may be sufficient for politeness, but they aren’t enough for everyday communication. However, you won’t be lost on Curaçao if you don’t speak Papiamento. Most locals grow up speaking three or four languages.
Curaçao belongs to the Caribbean Netherlands due to colonization. It is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The head of state is King Willem-Alexander – like in the Netherlands. However, Curaçao and the other two ABC islands are not part of the EU. Because of its history, the influence of Dutch culture and language is widespread in Curaçao. Dutch is spoken in administration and law and is the first language of 8% of the population.
The third official language on the island is English. That’s how you can communicate with the locals because they are used to travelers. English is widespread in the hotel and food service industry. Additionally, many locals speak Spanish. The reason for this is the island’s proximity to the South American mainland and the Spanish-speaking population’s influence. Locals often speak multiple languages, so you will surely be able to communicate with them easily.
Things to do in Curaçao
Curaçao’s beaches offer many fun and relaxing things to do; you can put your toes in the sand, take a nap under the palm trees and enjoy a cocktail or Mango Lassi in the evening sun. If you are interested in more exiting and adventurous activities, the 444-square-kilometer island provides numerous options for you to never get bored. The coast and often its small beaches are beautiful and diverse. Here is a list of outdoor activities you can do in Curaçao, as well as the places that are best suited for them.
Curaçao is a true paradise for scuba diving! Many diving schools on the island will teach you how to dive or, if you already have experience, they will lend you the equipment you need to go out on your own. Tugboat Beach is an incredible diving spot. Don’t miss out on it on your trip. There is a shipwreck only five meters deep in the sea there! In this spot, you will get a fascinating view of fish splashing around the barge.
You don’t have to go scuba diving to explore Curaçao’s underwater world. Just get your snorkeling gear and flippers, and you’re set. The clear water in the small bays is very calm, and the underwater world is incredibly vivid and colorful. It is a perfect place to go snorkeling and watch the shimmering fish and other sea life swim by. You might even get to see some sea turtles! Kokomo Beach and Playa Porto Mari are both perfect for snorkeling.
If you need more of an adrenaline rush, then cliff diving is perfect for you. We recommend taking a quick detour to Playa Forti. It is a popular spot to jump from 10-meter-high cliffs into crystal clear water. The jump is not for the faint of heart! Caution is advised. The beach and the cliffs are not public areas, and because of that, there are no safety measures. It’s best to take someone with you. They can keep an eye on you and take photos of the incredible scenery. The cliffs are surrounded by blooming trees, white beaches, and bright blue water.
There are many other things to do in Curaçao away from the beautiful beaches. On the most northern point of the island, you will find numerous hiking trails. When you walk along the trails, make sure to take a close look at the surrounding nature. You will discover many exotic plants and animals, and colorful lizards may even cross your path as you hike.
If you hike to the northern coast, you’ll see waves crashing into steep cliffs. The rough sea is almost unrecognizable from the previous beaches we’ve mentioned. The water at Watamula Hole happens to spray water into the air like a fountain, and the spray can create beautiful rainbows – it is magical and worth the trip. Not far from Watamula Hole is the hidden bay of Playa Guepi. This spot is better to look at than to swim in because of the rocky cliffs.
A good goal for your trip is to see a different beach each day. It’s best to rent a car to do this. The beaches aren’t that far from each other, so you won’t have to drive long.
Day trip to Willemstad
Exploring nature isn’t the only thing to do in Curaçao. Don’t miss out on a day trip to Willemstad on your journey. The Caribbean island’s capital is coined by colorful facades, winding alleys, and the Queen Emma Bridge (which connects two city districts). One feature of the bridge is that it’s not connected to the shore and can be rotated to one side. That way, large ships are still able to pass through.
You can also cross the water via boat instead of walking across the bridge. You’ll get a different view of the city’s colorful architecture from the water. The scene is photo-worthy!
Curaçao might be small, but it is versatile and beautiful. There is more to Curaçao than the blue liquor you may know it from.
Curaçao’s language is unique. For locals, Papiamento is not just a language. It is a part of their identity.
In addition to the unique, local culture, Curaçao is home to many sand beaches. You can relax in the shade of palm trees and enjoy the picturesque scenery of the turquoise water and the white sand. You can also explore the Caribbean Sea’s underwater world while diving or snorkeling. If this is not enough action for you, you can get your blood pumping while cliff diving. The island’s northern coast will show you the country’s rougher side. There, you can discover the island’s diverse nature on tropical hiking trails.