THINGS TO KNOW
What visitors should know about Curaçao!
Curaçao is located in the southwestern Caribbean, at latitude 12° north and longitude 68° west.
The island is just 70 km (44 miles) north of South America. It is 2 1/2 hours by air from Miami.
The island is 56 km (35 miles) off the coast of Venezuela—a 45 minute flight from Caracas. It is a nine-hour flight to Amsterdam.
U.S. and Canadian citizens need either a valid passport, or proof of citizenship in the form of an original birth certificate accompanied by photo ID, and an onward or return ticket.
Most other nationals need only a passport.
Located in the tropics, just 12° north of the Equator – and outside of the hurricane belt – Curaçao has a warm, sunny climate year round. The average temperature is about 27° C (mid-80s F). Refreshing trade winds blow constantly from the east, picking up in the spring months. The rainy season which is between October and February is usually marked by short, occasional showers, mostly at night and continued sunny weather by day. Total annual rainfall averages only 570 mm (22 inches). Occasionally a tropical storm brewing elsewhere in the Caribbean can cause uncharacteristically cloudy weather for a day or two..
Dutch is the official language on the island but no need to worry as English, Dutch and Spanish are widely spoken. The Native language is a melodic blend of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and African dialects.
is 110 – 130 volts/50 cycles, similar but not identical to the U.S. standard. Most 60 cycle electrical appliances from the United States will function properly, although appliances that have internal time mechanisms will not keep the correct time and hairdryers and curling irons may overheat if used for too long. Although electrical current is generally reliable, consider using a surge regulator for sensitive electronic devices and computers.
U.S. currency is accepted everywhere, as are Travelers Checks and most major Credit Cards. Prices are quoted in the national currency, the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called the florin), abbreviated as NAFl. or ANG. It is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a stable rate of US$1 = NAFl. 1.77 for cash, 1.78 for traveler’s checks. Exchange rates may vary slightly at stores and hotels. Bills of US$ 50 and US$100 can be hard to cash. The larger denominations of guilder bills (100 and 250) are hard to cash for small purchases. Vendors can rarely supply change in U.S. currency. Euros are accepted at some hotels and restaurants, but unlike U.S. dollars, do not circulate freely. Exchange rates for other currencies are posted at banks and listed in the daily papers.
There are a lot of ATM‘s on the island. All midsized shopping centers have one. They are also frequently located at supermarkets and gas stations. See our map for more detailed information.
Not only is Curaçao water safe to drink, it is of the finest quality, too.
Curaçao has the world’s largest sea water distillation plant which supplies the island with pure refreshing water. It is soft, contains no chloride and little calcium, is tasteless and odorless and has a good bacteriological composition—so it is safe to drink.
It is possible to get around the island by bus but public transportation is somewhat limited. The public busses drive through most neighborhoods. They stop at all bus stops. There is another way to get around the island at low costs: collective private mini-busses, they indicate their route at the front-window.
Taxis are identified by their sign on top. There are taxi stands at the airport, in town and outside major hotels. Taxis have meters and it is advised to pay by the meter.
Driving in Curaçao is relatively easy. Driving is on the right side of the road. The road signs are clear and it is easy to find your way with a roadmap.
The speed limit is 45km/h in town and 60 – 80 km/h outside the city.
The island offers many shops, mostly concentrated in the downtown area of Willemstad, in the districts Punda and Otrobanda. Great shopping ambiance can be found in Punda. It’s the city’s commercial center, with several shops offering a variety of shopping items like clothing, footwear, cosmetics, jewelry, perfumes, electronics and souvenirs. Otrobanda’s main shopping street is the Breedestraat. There are also some small shopping centers scattered over the island, some even open on Sunday mornings.
The shops are normally open from Monday to Saturday, and the regular opening hours are 8:00am – 12:00pm, and from 2:00pm – 6:00pm. The shops at the Free zone are open from Monday to Saturday from 8:00am non stop to 6:30pm.
WHAT TO WEAR:
With Curaçao’s tropical climate, you will be comfortable in casual summer-wear plus some light evening wear for restaurants, nightclubs and casinos. Most indoor establishments are air-conditioned; you may need a lightweight jacket or long sleeves. Some restaurants prohibit shorts or sandals; some casinos also require jackets for men. Overly revealing clothes and bathing suits are not appropriate, except on the beach.
Giving a tip is something we do to show our appreciation and gratuity for rendered services. It is suggested to tip the porters at the airport Nafl.1 per bag. Taxi-drivers are usually tipped with 10% of the fare. Restaurants usually add 10% and most hotels a 12% service charge to the bill. Hotels charge an additional 5% sales tax. Please note that these are not tips. Of course, tipping is left to your own discretion at all times.
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time, one hour later than US Eastern Standard Time (the same time as Eastern Daylight Savings Time) and four hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time. During the summer, Curaçao has the same time as some of the cities in the U.S. but during winter, the time changes again to one hour later.
In summertime, in Amsterdam it’s 6 hours later than in Curaçao, but during winter it becomes 5 hours. So, during winter, when in New York it is 9:00 am, in Curaçao it is 10:00 am and in Amsterdam it is 3:00 pm.
The Visitor Information Desk of the Curaçao Tourist Board can provide you with information and assistance during regular work hours. Tel. (599-9) 434-8200