- Money Matters:: top
U.S. currency is accepted everywhere, as are Travelers Checks and most major Credit Cards. Debit Cards are accepted at a few large shops and supermarkets. Prices are quoted in the national currency, the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called the florin), abbreviated NAFl. or ANG. It is pegged to the US dollar at a stable rate of US$ 1 = NAFl. 1.77 for cash, 1.78 for traveler's checks. Exchange rates may vary slightly at stores and hotels. Bills of US$50 and US$100 can be hard to cash. The larger denominations of guilder bills (100 and 250) are hard to cash for small purchases. There are currently two versions of guilder coins in circulation. The old square nickel and the newer square fifty cent piece are among the few square coins in the world; along with the 2 1/2 guilder coin they are popular souvenirs, particularly for children. There is no black market and there are no restrictions on how much money you can bring into the country.
- Government:: top
Curaçao, along with neighboring Bonaire and three islands in the north eastern Caribbean (St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba), form the Netherlands Antilles, an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curaçaoans are Dutch nationals and carry European Union passports.
- Banking Hours:: top
Banks are open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The airport bank is open Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Selected banks branches have ATMs that disburse US dollars.
US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, traveler's checks less so. Bills of US$ 50 and 100 can be hard to cash. International credit cards are accepted at most major commercial establishments. Debit Cards are accepted at a few large shops and supermarkets.
The larger denominations of guilder bills (100 and 250) are hard to cash for small purchases. There are currently two versions of guilder coins in circulation. The old square nickel and the newer square fifty cent piece are some of the only square coins in the world; along with the 21/2 guilder coin they are popular souvenirs, particularly for children.
- Airlines and Flight Times:: top
DCA, American Airlines, Avianca Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Servivensa Airlines, Aeropostal and Air Jamaica.
Miami: 2-1/2 hours, Amsterdam: 9 hours,
Caracas: 45 minutes and Montego Bay: 1-1/2 hours.
- Religions:: top
Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims all have their own houses of worship and practice their religions freely. Over 80% of the population is Catholic, largely people of African descent. Curaçao has a well earned reputation for religious and ethnic harmony. Adventists, Anglican/Episcopal, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Methodists are all represented and practice their religions freely.
- Health:: top
Take sensible precautions against the tropical sun, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM. Sun screen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended, as well as a light beach cover-up. Neither the trade winds nor clouds will protect you from sunburn. In case of serious sunburn, drink plenty of fluids, take cool baths, use a body lotion containing Aloe Vera, and take it easy for a day or two. Sunstroke can be dangerous, especially for children, people who are overweight and the elderly; watch for dizziness, fever, headaches and nausea.
Although Curaçao is less humid than many Caribbean islands, mosquitoes can occasionally be a problem in the rainy season and at night. Repellent can be purchased at pharmacies and supermarkets. Curaçao has no malaria or similar tropical diseases, and no vaccinations are needed to visit. Due to the high level of overall hygiene and cleanliness, gastro-intestinal complaints ("travelers' tummy") are very uncommon. Eat and drink freely. For minor ailments, standard US and European over-the-counter medicines are available at the local pharmacies, called "Botica's".There are a number of medical centers on the island. The St. Elisabeth Hospital is the most modern and well equipped in the region. In can be reached within 20 minutes from almost anywhere on the island.
- Population:: top
The population of 130,000 is made up of 55 nationalities. Willemstad is the island's capital and only city.
- What to Bring:: top
Film and video cassettes, batteries, sunscreen, disposable diapers, sporting goods and books are all generally more expensive in Curaçao. Local stores carry a good selection of most items. It is advisable to bring mosquito repellent as this is often in short supply, especially during the rainy season.
- Electricity:: top
Electricity is 110 - 130 volts/50 cycles, similar but not identical to the US standard. Most 60 cycle electrical appliances from the United States will function properly, although appliances that have internal time mechanisms will not keep the correct time and hairdryers and curling irons may overheat if used for too long. Dual voltage appliances from Europe and South America will need an adapter plug, readily available on the island. Although electrical current is generally reliable, consider using a surge regulator for sensitive electronic devices and computers. It's a good idea to charge underwater strobes and videos on the regulated systems at dive shops and photo centers.
- Tipping:: top
It is customary to tip porters NAFl. 1 per bag, and taxi drivers 10% of the fare. Restaurants usually add a 10% service charge to the bill; you can leave a couple more guilders change if you like. Most hotels add a 12% service charge to the bill. All this beside the 5% Government sales tax.
- Cruise Lines:: top
Air Tours/Sun Cruise, Deutsche Sectouristik, Carnival Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Royal Cruise Line.
- What Time Is It?: top
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time: one hour earlier than US Eastern Standard Time (the same time as Eastern Daylight Savings Time) and four hours later than Greenwich Mean Time.
- Taxi hints:: top
Taxi's are easy to recognize by their signs and the TX on their registration plates. The prices are based for 1-4 people from 6 am-11pm. A fifth person costs 25% more. After 11pm there is 25% surcharge. Passengers should agree on a price for the journey with the driver first. There are taxi stands at the airport, hotels and Sha Caprileskade in Punda.
Taxi Main Office: tel: 869-0747 Complaints: 869-0747.
- Say What?: top
Dutch is the official language, but Curaçaoans also speak English, Spanish and their own unique blend, Papiamento.
- Entry Requirements:: top
US and Canadian citizens need either a valid passport, or proof of citizenship in the form of an original birth certificate accompanied by photo ID, and an onward or return ticket. Most other nationals need only a passport. Visitors from the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Haiti require a visa. You will need to apply for a resident permit if you plan to stay for longer than three months. You are not allowed to work or live on Curacao without a work permit.
- : top
Tourist Assistance: The Visitor Information Desk of the Tourism Development Bureau (CTB) can provide you with information and assistance during regular work hours (Tel: 4348200).
- What to Wear:: top
Since temperatures are warm throughout the year, light, casual tropical wear is in order. Outside, protect yourself from the sun. Most indoor establishments are air conditioned; you may need a lightweight jacket or long sleeves. Locals dress fashionably, particularly for indoor evening events; dress for outdoor festivals is decidedly casual. The strong trade winds may make wraparound and billowing skirts a problem. Some restaurants prohibit shorts or sandals; some casinos also require jackets for men. Overly revealing clothes and bathing suits are not appropriate, except on the beach. If you plan to walk in the countryside, wear sturdy shoes and long pants to protect your legs from the cacti.
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|Caribbean Travel Tips|
Bringing Your Own Boat or Plane
If you plan to arrive in the Caribbean in your own boat or plane, contact the embassy, consulate, or tourist office of each country you plan to visit to learn what is required for entry and exit. Besides title of ownership, most ports of entry will require proof of insurance coverage for the country you are entering. Some countries require a temporary import permit for your boat or plane.
Authorities in the Caribbean are familiar with U.S. regulations for documentation of air and sea craft. ... more
Driving in the Caribbean
If you plan to rent a car, be aware that most jurisdictions of the Caribbean drive on the left. The only places where you drive on the right are Aruba, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, and the Netherlands Antilles. In other places, if you are not used to driving on the left, proceed slowly and with utmost caution. You may wish to ride as a passenger for a while before trying to drive yourself.
Driving conditions and local driving patterns are different from the U.S. ... more
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