35 miles of coastline protected from prevailing trade winds An elongated oval, Curacao is arid and flat with divi-divi trees, cacti and spiny-leafed aloes dotting its rocky landscape. It has more than 35 miles of coastline protected from prevailing trade winds. Notched with bays and coves that are lined with many undeveloped beaches, the lee side of Curacao offers easy access and largely smooth seas for divers. Shore diving is nearly as popular here as it is on sister island Bonaire. There is little rainfall and no rivers so near-shore reefs usually have excellent visibility. Shallow reefs are dominated by fields of star, brain and pillar corals punctuated by a variety of soft corals such as sea whips and sea rods. Klein Curacao, about an hour's boat ride to the south, is virtually untouched and a worthwhile time investment.The capital and only city Willemstad is divided by a narrow channel spanned by two unique bridges: the Queen Juliana, the highest bridge in the Caribbean, and the Queen Emma Pontoon, which swings open to allow ship access. The city is decorated with narrow, gabled buildings crowned with red-tiled roofs that reveal the island's Dutch heritage.Not to be missed is the Mikvi Israel-Emanuel synagogue. Erected in 1732, it is the oldest continuously used synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Also, Curacao's Amstel beer is locally brewed with desalinated seawater and is a unique treat.American and ALM offer non-stop flights from Miami, and there is connecting service through Aruba and Puerto Rico. Money is the Netherlands Antilles florin (or guilder), US$1 = NAfl$1.80. There is a $12.50 departure tax. For more information about visiting and diving Curacao, click on the home page below.