Discover the Netherlands within the Caribbean

Sitting just below forty miles off the Venezuelan coast, the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao stretches near forty miles itself, from north to south. And though a lot of the motion occurs at beachfront resorts and sandy expanses crowded with cruise ship passengers, the isle provides myriad (and less-traveled) historical, inventive, and pure areas that will satisfy gourmands, nature lovers, and artwork and architecture aficionados alike.

Here’s the considerate traveler’s information to getting past the beach in Curaçao:

Nature

Curaçao’s green—and curacao luxury villas not-so-green—landscapes have been a bit of a mystery to me until my information, Terence, identified wonders that have been right underneath my nose. To make sure that locals and guests don’t miss these treasures, he works with Uniek Curaçao (Unique Curaçao), a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting and defending the island’s pure assets.

Rooi Rincon Park is littered with large limestone boulders, forming grottoes that after sheltered island natives in prehistoric times. The early dwellers left behind proof of their presence in the form of rocky shelves used to store items of value, such because the ocher they used to paint symbols on cave walls.

Dominated by mesquite and prickly pear, the wind-sculpted Hato Plains are perfect for mountain biking. Past a tangle of shrubbery, Kueba di Pachi (Old Man’s Cave) is inhabited by bats that flit above the cave’s most curious characteristic: zombie eggs, small globes formed from calcium-laden water runoff.

ENVIRONMENT

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The sprawling Jan Thiel Lagoon is ready in a panorama dominated by massive man-made salt flats and columnar cacti. Though the soil’s high saline content prevents most anything else from rising within the space, there may be one other sign of life: flamingos alighting on the waters to catch shrimp, the crustacean that lends the trademark pink hue to the birds’ naturally grey feathers.

And a cliff high fronting Ascension Bay supplies a really perfect platform for recognizing one other kind of wildlife, imperiled Hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, which swim into the cove to feed on seaweed.

For 30 years, architect Anko van der Woude has been leading strolling tours of Otrobanda, a pastel-hued neighborhood in Willemstad, Curaçao’s capital city. The colourful historic district is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site designated in the colonial city, along with neighboring Punda, the oldest a part of Willemstad.

Van der Woude defined that the twisty lanes and alleys of Otrabanda resulted from residents widening their properties, sacrificing backyard gardens to add quarters for maids or growing families. Small craftsmen made their shops in the smaller houses alongside the alleys, creating the idiosyncratic mix of mansions and humble stores and dwellings that typifies the neighborhood.

On my tour, van der Woude stopped in entrance of the 18th-century Sebastopol House to level out how the mansion illustrates the evolution of local architecture. Quite than costly brick, the facade was constructed of coral and dust, plastered over and painted ocher. (This building and most others in the metropolis were as soon as whitewashed, till the 1800s when Governor Kikkert declared the glare off the white visually unappealing, making colorful exteriors the new norm.)

Instead of counting on the sash windows brought over from Holland—hardly applicable for the Caribbean’s vibrant sunlight and wind-blown rain—a gallery porch with louver-like shutters was added later, offering entry to the cool trade winds plus higher shade and safety from the elements.