What picture comes to mind when thinking of the Caribbean? Beautiful pristine beaches, rum, spectacular weather, maybe the fun accents of locals, and a general sense of relaxation, perhaps?
The Caribbean has all of those things, but you might be shocked at how many more “surprising” characteristics there are to know about the Caribbean, and particularly one specific, very unique, island way down South.
The Dutch Island of Curaçao is somewhat off the beaten path of traditional Caribbean haunts. Though it may be a small island, historically speaking Curaçao has played host to many nations, which has since turned it into a cultural melting pot.
Today Curaçao is most closely associated with the Dutch, but the last 500 years were full of invasions and immigrations. The Arawaks landed first, to then be displaced by the Spanish and Dutch explorers, then later, the French and English colonists took over.
Eventually Portuguese Jews escaped to Curaçao to avoid the Portuguese inquisition, thus adding a little more flavor to the cultural mix that was brewing. Over time, the island became a hub for the African slave trade, a regrettable fact, but one that’s central to the island’s rich and diverse culture today.
So yes, Curaçao is a spectacularly beautiful island, surrounded by turquoise waters, pristine sand, and enveloped in blissfully perfect weather year-round. Yet those features aren’t all the island has to offer, let’s just say it’s inside is as beautiful and unique as it’s outside. Here are a few fun facts that few people outside of the island are aware of, that you might enjoy experiencing next time you visit!
Where there’s warm weather, there are bugs. An unfortunate fact of vacation spots, but one that must be dealt with nonetheless. Curacaoans are extremely clever, and discovered that flies and mosquitoes detest white polka dots on red walls. The dots apparently make their heads spin, so you’ll fi
nd many traditional Curacaoan homes featuring kitchens with red walls and white dots.
The Real Curaçao Liqueur
Unfortunately, the original producers
of Curaçao liqeueur never got their creation patented. As a result, there are hundreds of imitations on the market, but few are the real deal. Of course, if you’re on the actual island the real, and most delicious, Curaçao can be found all over. It’s safe to say that you may not have actually tasted true Curaçao, and if you’d like to taste it, it’s recommended to visit the island!
Worshipping Done in Secret
Although not well know, Curaçao is home to the oldest Sephardic-Jewish synagogue in the western hemisphere, that’s still in use. Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue has a floor completely covered in sand. The sandy floor has nothing to do with bringing the theme of the beach to the synagogue, but rather it was a way for the early Jewish settlers on the island to practice Judaism in secrecy. The sand enabled them to enter and exit the synagogue without being heard.
Better Put a Dress on That Building
In Curaçao, locals make a distinction between buildings that are “dressed,” and building considered “naked.” A naked building features the original stones, and isn’t covered in any paint or plaster. On the other hand, a dressed building is painted and plastered and typically a bright, beautiful color. Curacaoan’s love their colorful buildings, just take a trip to the capital city Willemstad and you’ll be greeted with one of the prettiest and most colorful island-scapes you’ll ever see!
The All-Purpose Word
As noted earlier, Curaçao is a cultural melting pot. There are 65 different nationalities living on the small island, and as can be imagined, most natives speak several languages. The most widely spoken are Papiamento, Dutch, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. One Papiamento word in particular has somehow developed a variety of meanings. “Dushi” can mean sweetheart, tasty, beautiful, nice, or good. Quite the jack of all trades as far as words are concerned.
Fancy a Bit of Iguana For Dinner?
Iguanas are all over the place in Curaçao, and they’ve become a local favorite meal. Iguana soup or stewed Iguana, “stoba yoana,” can be tried at various restaurants and eating establishments throughout the island. Word on the street is it tastes like chicken.
Get a Taste of This Water
Curacaoans don’t just drink water, they drink purified sea water. All over the island the tap water is distilled directly from the sea, and is completely safe to drink. Do as the locals do and add a bit of flavor to your glass of water by asking for “awa di lamunchi,” which is water with lime and sugar. Totally refreshing and a Curaçao classic.
Don’t just take our word for it! Curaçao is the type of the place that needs to be experienced first-hand. The above seven facts are just the tip of the iceberg, Curaçao is filled with many more oddities, fun facts, and unique cultural offerings. The island features a myriad of museums as well, each one highlighting a different chapter of the island’s history. Curaçao is well-known for having extremely welcoming locals, that enjoy sharing their culture and way of life with visitors.
This Spring or Summer, add Curaçao to your vacation list, and you won’t be disappointed. To learn more about the island, and explore the luxurious accommodations offered, visit Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort’s site to get your planning started. Happy travels, and if you discover any other fun facts, please share!