The Caribbean islands have taken on an identity all their own. But Curaçao transcends those preconceptions – it fuses elements of its European heritage with its island roots to create something wholly unique. The result is idyllic yet cosmopolitan: the relaxed energy one might expect, but with a clear influence from any number of other cultures.
The first thing a traveler might notice is that Curaçao has a culture of language to rival any major city in the world. Most native Curaçaoans speak four languages – English, Dutch, Spanish, and the native language Papiamentu – and the island is home to over 50 different nationalities.
The more you explore, the more you see the influence of each one. Locals most commonly speak Papiamentu – a centuries-old creole language that borrows from both European and African tongues – but are just as likely to slip into any of the other languages at a moment’s notice.
Similarly, the bright, colorful architecture is the island’s calling card – but while the energy may feel distinctly Caribbean, the design owes itself to Curaçao’s Dutch colonial history. Punda’s multicolored row of houses is actually a blend of Dutch and Portuguese architecture; you won’t find anything like them anywhere else outside of Europe.
The rest of Willemstad is even more cosmopolitan. Restaurants pride themselves on fusing traditional Caribbean fare into internationally inspired dishes, with an amalgam of flavors other cultures wouldn’t think to blend. The shopping scene never fails to surprise with imported goods from all over the world, and handmade treasures from the island. And naturally, every little bit of history manifests itself in Curaçao’s art, museums, and music, which range from unmistakably Caribbean to something you might expect in New York or Amsterdam.
Curaçao has a little bit of everything – at once tranquil and action-packed, Caribbean and European. But one taste of this “island culture” and you’ll know it’s the best of both worlds.