Curaçao‘s 8th Annual Get Wet Weekend may have already come and gone but there’s never a bad time to fly south for a visit. And it’s not all about the beach: This exotic and vivacious 18th-century Dutch colony has plenty of cultural attractions to complement its many outdoor offerings.
Saturday is a great day for exploration, while still hitting a beach or three, if you set aside time to check out the village of Willemstad, which offers a glimpse into Caribbean life in the 17th century.
The Kura Hulanda Museum is perhaps the most popular cultural attraction there: The vision of Jacob Gelt Dekker, the museum focuses on the predominant cultures of Curaçao and offers a chronicle of the origin of man, the African slave trade, West African empires, pre-Columbian artifacts and regional art. The fifteen buildings of the Kura Hulanda Museum are nestled around a former slave yard and historic Dutch Colonial neighborhood that Dekker restored and turned into a five-star hotel & spa.
Just over Curaçao’s infamous Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge in downtown, the Punda neighborhood is the historic Jewish Cultural Historical Museum. It is part of the oldest synagogue in operation in the Western Hemisphere. A visit is an opportunity to take in the history of Curaçao’s prominent Jewish population. The museum itself occupies two buildings dating back to 1728.
The nearby postal and maritime museums are also worth a visit. If you have a little more time, head back “over the river and through the woods” to the Curaçao Museum in the western part of Otrobanda. Located in a building from 1853, it’s the perfect spot for an archaeology masterclass. Absorb the perfect blend of pre-Columbian Indian and contemporary Caribbean art work, mahogany furniture and rotating showcases of new artwork by local artisans.
Photos: JJ Keyes, Curacao Gay Plasa