According to many sources, Curacao was first discovered in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda, a lieutenant of Christopher Columbus. De Ojeda's navigator on this expedition was Amerigo Vespucci. Curacao's native inhabitants were an Indian tribe whose members were reportedly extremely tall, leading the Spanish to name the island "Isla de los Gigantes" or "The Island of Giants." Two decades passed before the island was noted on a Portuguese map and the name had changed to Curacao.
The island underwent occupation and capture many times over during the next 400-plus years. The Spanish ruled until 1634 when Dutch travelers conquered the island. But by the late 1600s, the island became a battle ground between the Dutch, British and the French -- a battle that lasted until 1816 when the Dutch regained control.
In 1954, the island became a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Having more than 50 individual cultures including Dutch, Spanish, British, French, Indian, African and more recently Asian and Arabic cultures -- Curacao is definitely a melting pot of many influences. For more information about Curacao's history, check out curacao.com and curalink.com.
Curacao is fortunate to be located just outside of the recognized hurricane belt of the Caribbean. And, although the island is small, it's home to a variety of terrains and ecologically diverse environments. There are more than 30 beaches, wild, outback-style parks, fields of cacti, interesting caves to explore, bustling downtown areas with shopping and nightlife and more.
Check out curacao-travelguide.com and curacao.com for more on Curacao's weather and climate.
Some of the things to keep in mind:
- Temperatures hardly vary from the average of 82 degrees
- Rainfall is a mere 22 inches a year, making the climate semi-arid
- There is a rainy season between October and February
- Water temperatures stay around 80 degrees year-round
- Underwater visibility can be up to 150 feet