Diana, your personal guide, initially went to the island to swim and dive, but soon discovered that the ocean was but one of Curaçao's irresistible features. Take for example the island's capital Willemstad. The city and its architecture are so exceptional, that in 1997 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Another example of a UNESCO World Heritage Site? The Pyramids!)
Yes, its monumental architecture is impressive. Yet, without a guide, the average tourist might never appreciate it fully. If a visitor is absorbed looking at jewelry or clothing in a shop window, it's hard to notice that the shop itself is located in a unique building from the 1700's: a tall building in a beautiful tropical color, exemplifying the Dutch Baroque style.
The city was founded in 1634 on the fine natural harbour that literally bisects it, by the Dutch West India Company. Peter Stuyvesant was made its governor in 1642. It consists of several distinct historic districts with architectural styles from the Netherlands, as well as the Spanish and Portuguese colonies with which Willemstad engaged in trade. Country estates were established, and the slave trade to farm them flourished. The salt trade, too, was profitable. Jews came here to escape the Inquisition in Europe and in 1732 built the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere.
Curaçao has more to offer than architecture and beaches, however. Nature has carved out an unusual number of many-fingered bays all over the island, which make for unique landscapes. Beautiful wild flamingos have taken over the old salt pans.
The sea is quiet on the south side and picturesquely violent on the north. Tradewinds blow constantly, keeping the climate pleasant. Birds love the island, and are tame enough to photograph. And how many varieties of cactus and flowering trees are there on the island? Let's explore and find out!