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Secrets of the Caribbean

Whether it is Diving, Snorkeling or Bargain Hunting or just lapping up the sun, Curacao has it all.Famous for its fine liqueur made from the sweetened peel of bitter oranges and for its sunny climate and wonderful beaches, Curacao has a rich and diverse history,it is a mixture of Old and New World charm. The people of Curacao claim descent from over 50 different ethnic backgrounds.

Curacao, is not the most ideal spot for the disabled, the roads are narrow and bumpy, many beaches are impossible to get too,and the country is somewhat rug. Now saying all that you still should put Curacao on your must go places.If you need convenience then travel only in the States and Canada but if you want to experience a most delightful island, were people have "time to talk and time to listen" then go to Curacao. Though accessibility can be an inconvenience it certainly isnít all obstacles and somehow they seem to fade when you meet the people and enjoy the ambiance.

The largest and most populous of the Netherlands Antilles, located in between Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao lies 35 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela and 800 miles north of the equator. The island is 38 miles long and varies between 2 and 8 miles in width.

With a population only 144,000, this island has a small town atmosphere. People are very proud of the island's international flavor. The native language is Papiamentu, but Curacaoans are multi-lingual, having learned to speak English, Dutch, and Spanish at school from the third grade.

Curacao's position at the base of the Caribbean has made it a crossroads for global commerce.

Today however, it is mainly the sun and the natural beauty that attracts visitors. A hilly island of volcanic origin, Curacao supports a large variety of tropical flora and fauna, most of which may be found in Christoffel Park, a nature preserve.

The rainfall is less than 22 inches a year, the weather is guaranteed to be sunny.With 38 different beaches to choose from you have a option, some that are protected by towering cliffs, others with deep caves created by the beating surf, and still others with wide expanses.

The beautiful white sand beaches and secluded coves of Curacao are especially alluring to honeymooners, couples and others not looking for long, expanses of sand crowded with hotels. They all share the same clear turquoise water distinctive to this part of the world.

Westpunt Beach is best known for the huge cliffs and the divers who entertain beach goers by jumping from the cliffs into the ocean below.

Just south of Westpunt is Knip Bay Beach, one of the island's most photographed sites because of its picturesque setting and dazzling, bright blue water.

One of the largest and most spectacular beaches on the island, Blauw Bay.

Curacao also offers manmade beaches that give mother nature a good run for her money. Among the best are those at the Sonesta Beach Hote l& Casino, the Princess Beach Resort & Casino and the Curacao Sea Aquarium (a family-oriented complex that features enclosures containing every form of native sea life, as well as glass-bottom boat and semi-submersible submarine rides.)

Curacao has been overlooked by American divers, but with over 100 different dive-sites to choose from and attractions like the Curacao Wall, and the unspoiled beauty of the uninhabited island of Klein,Curacao is a divers paradise.

A 12.5 mile stretch of coral reef, known as the Underwater Park has been protected as a wildlife preserve,Sea-turtles, stingrays, sharks, moray eels and many other species of sea-creatures thrive in these waters.Dive operators are found at major hotels

For the more actively inclined, there are ample opportunities to experience the natural wonders up close. The marlin, sailfish,tuna, and wahoo in the offshore waters provide excellent Deep Sea Fishing, and the wildlife in the preserve at Christoffel Park should be of interest to anyone who prefers to encounter nature on dry land.

Curacao is also a great spot for bargain-hunters. The duty-free shopping makes for some of the best deals in the Caribbean on imported electronic equipment, china, crystal, jewelry, linens, and perfume. Willemstad, the capital city of has an active social life with music festivals all year long, dancing at the popular discotheques, and gambling in the hotel casinos

Curacao, the capital of the Netherlands Antilles mixes business with pleasure...all in a delightfully tropical Dutch setting. Curacao historic architecture is unique in all the Caribbean. An adaptation of Dutch design on the Caribbean landscape,

The Dutch gabled, candy-colored store facades fronted by the canal like Santa Anna Bay are undoubtedly one of the most unique sights in the Caribbean. Another landmark is the century old floating pontoon bridge, which stretches the harbor.

The fanciful architecture is "nice, but...." The real pull is the island's natural offerings.

Curacao greatest asset is its people, whose rainbow coloring, multinational cuisine, and rich language are proof of the Curacaoans' legendary racial and religious tolerance.

The people of Curacao host tourists from all over the world with cosmopolitan panache,language and nationality never a barrier.

There are 2 resorts I recommend, The Princess Beach Crowne , on the outskirts of Willemstad, next to the National Underwater park. The Princess Beach is found amid tropical gardens and offers all the facilities, pool, beach, casino, restaurants, bars and an on site Dive Operator. I found it most convenient to get around in my wheelchair, Though beach is not accessible , you can come to the beach edge with no problem, With 341 spacious rooms and great staff it is a Must Stay

The other resort is the 5 star, 248 room Sonesta Beach Resort. A wonderful resort with great open areas, easy access and a dramatic beach front. Though the beach is rocky the ability to get around the resort is excellent. The food and staff were superb!! The Sonesta Beach Resort boost, casino, 4 restaurants, water sports, tennis, golf and a children's playground as well as a "Just for Kids Childrenís program". As well as some fine in hotel shops.

So when you are considering you next trip to the Caribbean, find the secret - Curacoe.

The Princess Beach Resort - 1-800-2-Crowne Sonesta Int Hotels 1-617-421-5400 Curacao Tourism ( 599-9) 616000 ( ctdbcur@ibm.net) American Airlines 1-800-433-7300 Continental Airlines 1-800-525-0280



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