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CARIBBEAN TRAVEL GUIDE
There Is Always Something to Do in Curacao   by Justin Burch

As one of the Caribbean's less-crowded resort destinations, many travelers might think that Curacao lacks the excitement of the region's more popular islands. However, even if you visit Curacao in the tourist off-season, you will find plenty of events and activities throughout the island. Here you will find not only a description of some events taking place in upcoming months, but also an overview of activities available year-round.

The month of April features several small festivals and events throughout the island, each devoted to elements of Curacao's uniquely Caribbean culture. The 9th of April features the Harvest Parade - a celebration of the island's folkloric groups in the town of Otrobanda. The following week boasts a four-day celebration in honor of the Snoa synagogue, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. This year, a full schedule of events and performances have been planned to mark the structure's 275th birthday.

Buildings at the Waterfront, Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Buildings at the Waterfront, Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
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At the end of April, visitors can participate in the 41st annual International Blue Marlin Release Tournament - a unique fishing competition devoted to the preservation of this treasured species. Meanwhile, the fishing village of Boca Sami hosts a two-day sailing regatta event complete with live music, local food and plenty of Caribbean fun. If sailing and fishing don't excite you, take part in the island-wide celebration on April 30th - also known as Queen's Birthday. On this holiday, you can't beat the festivities located in the Punda Market region of Curacao's capital Willemstad. During the same week, you can also find plenty of live entertainment and great cuisine at the International Food and Family Festival.

The month of May might be one of the best times to visit Curacao. From great resort deals to some of the best events anywhere in the region, Curacao is one of the Caribbean's best early summer destinations. Celebrating its 20th year on the island, the Curacao Jazz Festival has drawn visitors and performers from throughout the world. The two-day festival puts a unique island spin on the traditional jazz festival, offering some of the best live music anywhere in the Caribbean. The final week of May also features the popular Curacao Dive Festival, a favorite of experienced divers and amateurs alike. With event sites throughout the island featuring guest speakers, presentations, film viewings and once-in-a-lifetime dive opportunities - the Curacao Dive Festival is a must for anyone interested in exploring the majestic underwater treasures of the Caribbean.

Playa Lagun, Curacao, Caribbean
Playa Lagun, Curacao, Caribbean Premium Photographic Print
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Whether you plan to travel to Curacao in the next few months or later in the year, there are always plenty of activities for any type of tourist to enjoy. One of the island's most popular attractions is the Curacao Seaquarium, a sprawling oceanfront complex famous for its open-water system that constantly pumps seawater into the holding tanks. Another family favorite is the Dolphin Academy Curacao, a truly distinctive program that allows guests of all ages to swim and interact with dolphins.

As Curacao is known worldwide for its excellent scuba diving and snorkeling sites, you will certainly want to spend some time underwater. Equipment rentals and dive operators are available year-round, so you don't have to worry about finding a tour during the off-season. Furthermore, the weather always seems to be perfect. You can enjoy Curacao's sunny, sandy beaches nearly every day of the year!

Curacao is also an excellent shopping destination, regardless of season. The capital of Willemstad is full of quaint shops selling everything from jewelry and handmade souvenirs to exquisite Caribbean artwork. Like the island's more crowded neighbors, Curacao also has a number of luxury shops and high-end duty free shops. The most impressive of these is the renowned Harbor Duty Free Zone, the largest duty free shopping area in the Caribbean. This 57-acre complex houses an incredible display of clothing, perfume, jewelry and much more - all at prices far below American outlets. When you make a purchase in the Harbor Duty Free Zone, you don't even have to worry about carrying it around for the rest of your trip - your goods will be transferred directly to your flight or shipped to your home!

When planning their Caribbean vacations, many travelers seem to forget about Curacao. However, if you want to escape the crowds and visit some of the best events, find the most picturesque dives and uncover the finest shopping in the Caribbean - just remember that there is always plenty to see and do in Curacao.

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About the Author - Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Curacao for the Marriott Resorts.
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WILLEMSTAD FEATURED VACATION RENTALS
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Habitat Curacao, St Marie
This St. Marie property is situated on the beach. Habitat Curacao has a private beach, an outdoor pool, a fitness facility, and a children's pool. Habitat Curacao features a full-service spa. Business amenities include wireless Internet access, meeting rooms for small groups, and business services. Habitat Curacao has a restaurant, a bar/lounge, and a poolside bar. Event facilities consist of a ballroom, exhibit space, conference rooms, and banquet facilities. This property is self-catering. Amenities featured in guestrooms include air conditioning, coffee/tea makers, and clock radios. Guestrooms have satellite television with pay movies. Rollaway beds are available on request. 
Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club
The Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club is perched on cliffs overlooking sugary white-sand beaches on 350 acres of the western tip of the island of Curacao. A natural coral reef just off the beach is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Boka Tabla, the largest of clusters of limestone grottos carved by the sea, is four kilometers from the resort. Daily complimentary shuttle service is provided to downtown Willemstad and the Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino, the resort's partner property, located 32 kilometers away.  Guestrooms and suites at the Lodge Kura Hulanda are located in two-story pastel-colored buildings on rugged cliffs between eight and nine meters high.
Papagayo Beach & Lounge Resort, Willemstad
At the Papagayo Beach Resort, guests will find top-notch service and comfortable accommodations in a luxurious atmosphere. The resort consists of 50 spacious villas, each with two-bed and bathrooms, tastefully decorated in colonial style by architect Jan Des Bouvrie. Just steps away from your luxurious bungalow you will find the pearly white sand beach waiting for you. This resort offers you a fine restaurant where you can dine for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There is also a bar near the restaurant, perfect for cocktails and relaxing.  The hotel features a traditional Dutch breakfast that includes baguettes, brown and white bread from the bakery; several salads.
The Sea Aquarium Resort, Willemstad
The Sea Aquarium Resort is romantically set on a private island surrounded by dolphins, a white sandy beach and adjacent to Curacao's world-famous Sea Aquarium, where guests also enjoy complimentary admission. The resort features two swimming pools, a separate children's pool, an outdoor jacuzzi and "Blue Oceans", a waterfront outdoor-dining restaurant. Some of the activities on-site or right next door include scuba diving at "Ocean Encounters" (for a fee), snorkelling (with complimentary snorkel gear), limited children's activities, and a variety of beach activities including volleyball and soccer. The one bedroom suites and two bedroom villas come equipped with a full size kitchen, living and dining area, TV/VCR/CD player, stereo and a large terrace.
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WILLEMSTAD AND SURROUNDS FEATURED HOTELS

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Avila Hotel Willemstad
Positioned directly on the beach, the European-style Avila Hotel on Curacao Island is within a five minute walk of historic Willemstad. Curacao is located in the southwestern Caribbean and is just 35 miles north of Venezuela and a two-and-one-half hour flight from Miami. Shopping in Punda, Curacao Museum and Maritime Museum are within one-half mile of the hotel. Seaquarium Beach is within one-and-one-half miles, and Caracasbay Island, an eco-resort, is within 10 miles of the hotel. The unique Simon Bolivar Museum, placed in the former Errementarikua farmhouse, a traditional place linked to the forefathers of the Liberator, is located on the premises. Hato International Airport and Hato Caves are 15 miles from the hotel. 
Breezes Curacao Resort Spa & Casino All Inclusive
Breezes Curacao Spa & Casino is a AAA 4-Diamond Rated all-inclusive resort located on the beach near Willemsted. Breezes Curacao is the first Super-inclusive Resort in the southern Caribbean. The Dutch flavor of this island will add a new twist to the active Breezes vacation its guests have enjoyed for years. Only a 90-minute flight from Montego Bay, this divers' paradise is located off the coast of Venezuela. The hotel is adjacent to both the pristine Undersea National Park and entertaining Sea Aquarium. Catering to couples and singles with its glittering on-site casino, Breezes Curacao also welcomes families, with its camp breezes for children. Enjoy a variety of land and water-sports and 3 fabulous restaurants. 
Curacao Marriott, Willemstad
The Curacao Marriott Beach Resort and Emerald Casino is located on a private beach on Piscadera Bay, on the island of Curacao, Netherland Antilles, world-renowned for its white sand beaches and extraordinary coral reefs. located across the street from the Curacao International Trade Center, This resort offers a green oasis three miles north of Willemstad, Curacao's capital city. With colonial architecture and a beautiful harbor entry, Willemstad has been made a Unesco World Heritage Site. Other attractions near the resort are the Museum Kurá Hulanda, the floating market, Christoffel National Park and the Amstel Brewery.
Hilton Curacao, Willemstad
Set on two private beaches on historic Piscadera Bay, the laid-back ambiance of the Caribbean meets the casual elegance of a deluxe resort at this Resort. With wide-open spaces, hidden nooks, and tucked-away places, this resort offers the ideal setting for vacationers looking to relax and be pampered. This luxurious resort offers a state-of-the-art fitness center, two tennis courts, a PADI certified five-star dive center, a water sports center, and two outdoor pools. Rooms have balconies furnished with chairs and cocktail tables. Furnishings and decor include warm-toned furniture, including a desk/dining table with cushioned rattan chairs and upholstered reading chairs; carpeted floors; pale walls with terra-cotta-accent walls; and 27-inch televisions.
Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino
The Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino in Willemstad, Curacao, is set in a village-style setting with sculpture gardens, waterfalls and winding cobblestone walkways. The hotel is located within six kilometers of the beach and the Curacao sea aquarium, and within eight kilometers of Curacao Hato International Airport. The boutique-style Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa and Casino is blanketed in an atmosphere of pure paradise. Four unique restaurants, three bars, a fitness center and two pools populate the property. In addition, guests can enjoy preferential golf privileges at a nearby course. Additional amenities include business services, meeting space, tour assistance, dry cleaning and concierge services.
Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino
Set amidst the color and beauty of the historic Dutch Caribbean city of Willemstad is the all-new Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino. From our elevated Infinity Beach Club to boutique shops and unique international restaurants housed in a once-active fort, Renaissance Curacao is a resort experience like no other. Exclusively for guests and uniquely poised just above the Caribbean Sea, the Infinity Beach Club features an elevated beach experience, infinity pool, spa cabanas, sweeping views and a beachside bar & grill. Guestrooms feature flat-screen televisions and resort, island or ocean views. 
The Plaza Hotel Curacao And Casino
This Willemstad hotel is close to Fort Amsterdam, Governors Palace, and Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. The Plaza Hotel Curacao and Casino has an outdoor pool. This 3.0-star Willemstad property features a hair salon. Business amenities at this 3.0-star property include wireless Internet access and meeting rooms for small groups. The Plaza Hotel Curacao and Casino has a restaurant and a bar/lounge. Room service is available during limited hours. The staff can arrange translation services and car rentals on site. Additional amenities include a casino, laundry facilities, and air conditioning in public areas. 
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