Bargaining is not an accepted custom in Curaçao.
Dangers & Annoyances
Although Curaçao records relatively high crime rates, it is unlikely that tourists will be affected. The typical precautions are still valid: do not leave valuable unattended on the beach or in the car; do not buy or use illegal drugs etc.
110V, 60Hz. Generally, US-style two- and three-pin plugs are used; but some resorts have 220V EU-style sockets, so you may want to bring an adapter just in case.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Fire & police||911|
Entry & Exit Formalities
To enter Curaçao, all visitors need a passport and a return or onward ticket.
Not required for citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most EU countries
The following are allowed duty free:
- 1L of liquor
- 2L of wine
- 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars)
- 50g perfume
Curaçao is an extremely friendly, mostly informal place, with just a few guidelines to keep things pleasant:
- Always greet people upon arrival. Bon dia (good morning) or bon nochi (good evening) is perfect, though English is fine too.
- 'Island time' allows a 15- or 20-minute leeway for appointments.
- Bathing suits are for the beach or pool. Anywhere else, it's polite to don a cover-up or other proper clothing.
- Discrete topless sunbathing is okay at beaches but discouraged on the grounds of resorts. Nude sunbathing is prohibited.
- Don't forget to tip your servers (15% to 20%) unless a service charge is included in your bill. Tour guides, taxi drivers and housekeeping staff also appreciate tips.
'We live and let live!' claims the official Gay Curaçao website (www.gaycuracao.com). The fact that this website exists proves the point. While gay and lesbians tourists will likely receive a warm welcome on the island, the GLBT 'scene' is rather limited outside of the Floris Suite Hotel – sometimes called a 'straight-friendly hotel' – and its hotel bar, the Rainbow Lounge.
Some other resources for gay travelers:
Curaçao Pride (www.curacaopride.com) A weeklong celebration held in late September or early October.
Pink Curaçao (www.pinkcuracao.com) A gay-friendly travel website.
All hotels and resorts provide a wireless internet connection for their guests, and many offer computers in case you don't have your own.
Unlike in the Netherlands proper, all drugs are illegal. Violating these laws can lead to arrest and imprisonment.
Prostitution, on the other hand, is legal – but only at one designated adult-only resort. Outside this resort, prostitution is illegal and unsafe.
As always, if you get arrested, your embassy can help you notify your family and contact an attorney, but not much else.
- Magazine Curaçao Traveler is a free full-color magazine, complete with reviews, maps and more.
- Newspaper Curaçao Chronicle (www.curacaochronicle.com) is the island's weekly English-language newspaper, covering local and international news and events.
- Television Local television channels generally broadcast in Dutch and/or Papiamentu.
ATMs are widely available, dispensing US dollars (US$) and Netherlands Antillean guilders (NAf). Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants.
Although the island's official currency is the Netherland Antillean guilder (NAf), prices are often quoted in US dollars and you can pay for just about everything in US currency. You might get change back in guilders.
Bars & restaurants For good service, tip 15% to 20% (sometimes included in the bill).
Resorts Usually includes a 12% service charge on the bill.
Taxis A 10% tip is usual.
Tour Guides Tip US$10 for a half-day outing.
The following are standard business hours across the island. Outside of tourist areas, much is closed on Sunday.
Banks 9am–4pm Monday–Friday
Shops 9am–6pm Monday–Saturday
The postal service in Curaçao is reliable. Mail to the US will take about two weeks to arrive, while mail to Europe will take about three weeks. The most central post office is in Punda in Willemstad.
New Years Day January 1
Carnival Monday Monday before Ash Wednesday
Good Friday Friday before Easter
Easter Monday Monday after Easter
King’s Birthday April 27
Labour Day May 1
Ascension Day Sixth Thursday after Easter
Flag Day July 2
Curaçao Day October 10
Christmas December 25
Boxing Day December 26
Smoking is prohibited in all public places. Most hotels and resorts are smoke-free, though some may offer a designated smoking area.
Taxes & Refunds
The Curaçao sales tax (OB) ranges from 6% to 9%, depending on the purchase. Unfortunately, most things you pay for while on holiday – restaurants, tours, rental cars – are taxed at 9%. Hotel rooms are taxed at 7%.
Curaçao’s country code is 599; the area code is 9.
To call out from Curaçao to any country with a country code of 1, just dial 1 and the local number. To reach other countries, dial the international access code 00 + country code + the number.
To dial Curaçao from another country, dial the country’s international access code + 599 + 9 + the local number. Within Curaçao there is no need to dial any code.
GSM cell (mobile) phones are compatible with local SIM cards. There is also 3G service. The main operator is Digicel (www.digicelcuracao.com).
Curaçao is in the Atlantic time zone (AST), which is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight saving time is not observed.
There are no public restrooms on most public beaches. It's usually possible to use the facilities at nearby restaurants and snack shacks, though they may charge a fee. In case the snack shacks are closed (often the case if it's not the weekend), you're out of luck. Public restrooms in Willemstad are also limited.
The Tourist Information Kiosk in Willemstad has a wealth of information on museums, tours, shops and more. It's by the Queen Emma Bridge on the Punda side.
Travel with Children
Curaçao is an ideal destination for families, as there are sights and activities for kids of all ages. Many resorts, shopping malls and other facilities cater especially to families.
All of the beaches are along the tranquil west coast, which means they are protected from the strongest surf, making them ideal for kids to frolic, swim and build sand castles. The private beaches such as Mambo Beach and Jan Thiel Beach offer some kid-friendly beach activities, including an island of inflatable toys for kids to play on. Also, children as young as five can learn to snorkel, especially in calm, comfortable waters such as these. Playa Grandi is a surefire hit, with practically guaranteed sightings of sea turtles.
When they tire of sun and sand, take your kids to admire the power of the wind and waves at Shete Boka National Park. The Museum Kura Hulanda and the Savonet Museum do not have a lot of flash, but they are both interesting and educational for older children.
Some resorts are adults-only, but most are very family-friendly. Swimming pools are often designed with kids in mind. And most larger resorts offer kids clubs, game rooms and other kinds of programming to keep the little ones busy. Family-style rooms and suites are common, as are kitchenettes.
Many private developments are designed with families in mind, so you'll find that facilities are up to snuff in resorts, shopping malls and the like. The public facilities are a different story. Public restrooms are few and far between and practically nonexistent on public beaches. Changing tables are not common. Willemstad is an old city with narrow streets and some hills. Sidewalks are not always present, making it dangerous to walk with children or push a stroller.
Curaçao Cares maintains a large database of ongoing and one-time volunteer opportunities, from administrative support to sea turtle conservation.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Tourists are not permitted to work or engage in any business while in Curaçao. Finding work requires getting a work permit, normally only granted if there are no local people who are qualified for a position.
Curaçao has made strides in catering to travelers with disabilities, and it's getting better. Many resorts and rental units offer accessible rooms and zero-entry swimming pools, including the Avila Beach Hotel. Many restaurants and casinos around the island are also wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair-accessible sights include the Maritime Museum, the Savonet Museum, Landhuis Chobolobo and Jan Thiel Beach.
Some other companies catering specifically to travelers with disabilities:
Dushi Taxi Natasja Gibbs caters to cruise-ship passengers, offering tours and transportation in a wheelchair-accessible van.
Joseph Cares Joseph Cares is a company that specializes in taking care of travelers with special needs – particularly providing tours, transportation and other services for disabled travelers. It offers tours of some of the islands most remote spots, as well as airport transfers and rental of medical equipment.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.