CURACAO UPDATE

Photo gallery

https://news.curacao.com/media-library-en/

 

Introduction

SAI University has established its executive administrative offices in Curacao, Dutch Caribbean.  At this location the SAI University has further established the SAI Institute of Management & Technology.

Curacao

Curacao is an island in the Southern Caribbean, located just 35 miles off the coast of South America.  This beautiful and well-developed island is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The weather is perfect.  It rains sometimes, but not too often. The temperature is 26 to 33 degrees Celsius, and there is a constant breeze.  Because Curacao is located far south in the Caribbean, it is outside the hurricane belt.  This ideal location and weather rates Curacao as one of the safest locations in the world.

The population of Curacao is just 150,000, and is considered a wonderful melting pot of cultures. People are friendly and most speak four languages: English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento (local dialect).  The economy is more diverse than other Caribbean islands.  Just like other islands tourism is an important source of income.  The beauty of Curacao is that tourism is from all over the world: Europe (50%), North America (25%) and South America (25%).  Besides tourism, other sectors that drive the economy are finance & banking, shopping & international trade, and oil refining.

Curacao has daily flights to North America (Miami, New York), Europe (Amsterdam), and many Caribbean and South American locations.

Life in curacao

Curacao is a pleasant, safe place for students and teachers with families. They'll find all the expected conveniences of home in a small town atmosphere with big city benefits nearby. The native population is very child-oriented.  Background of the population is 50% African American, 25% Latin American, 15% Caucasian, and 10% Rest of the World.

The tap water is pure and drinkable, and internationally rated among the best waters of the world.  Food purchased at roadside snack bars ("Snacks"), the market, or anywhere else is safe to eat.  Larger supermarkets are well stocked with familiar foods from the U.S., South America and Europe.  Restaurants reflect the cultural diversity of the island.

https://www.curacao.com/en/stories/people-and-culture/

EDUCATION

There are many public and private schools located on the island. Public schools are free, and attendance is required. The educational system on Curacao is based on the Dutch system, and schools on the island meet the high standards applicable to institutions in the Netherlands. Most primary schools teach the first years in Papiamentu and switch to Dutch when children reach 5th grade, when they are approximately 8 years old.

The Curacao educational system includes schools for elementary, secondary, technical, higher and limited university education, as well as schools for vocational training, in Dutch. Those attending the University of Curacao (UoC) can pursue degrees in Technical Engineering, Business Administration and law.

Day care for babies and toddlers, after school care, clubs and courses are available for all ages.  There are many courses available, such as language courses, technical training, and cookery classes.

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

The Curacao Carnival held every year in February is a large attraction that draws tourists and visitors from all parts of the world.  Carnival groups come up with unique and interesting themes, colorful costumes, and large floats that they display during the parade. The carnival is not government funded and groups have their own way of raising money. One of the main fund raisers every year are the so-called “Jump-Ups” that start in January. Bands on trucks playing carnival music followed by a dancing crowd move through the streets of the city and suburbs and party!  One of the main events before the Parades take place is the Tumba Festival. The Tumba Festival is a four-day musical event where the best local composers, singers and bands from all over the island compete for the honor of having their piece selected as the year's official Carnival road march Tumba song.  To view the most colorful photo gallery see, https://news.curacao.com/media-library-en/

The second most popular event on the island is the CURACAO NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL (CNSJF).  This event takes place at the beginning of September every year, and attracts major international artists.  For more information see, https://www.curacaonorthseajazz.com/en/

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

The following days are public holidays in Curacao,

 

Jan 1 - New Year’s Day
Feb 6 - Carnival Monday
Apr 14 - Good Friday
Apr 17 - Easter Monday
Apr 30 - Queen’s Birthday
May 1 - Labor Day

 

 

May 25 - Ascension
Jul 2 - Curaçao Flag Day
Oct 21 - Antillean Day
Dec 24 - Christmas Eve (half day)
Dec 25-26 - Christmas
Dec 31 - New Year’s Eve (half day).

SHOPPING & SERVICES

Anything an international student would need for living can be found on Curacao. Stores and supermarkets on the island are always well stocked with quality items from around the world. Shopping choices reflect the cultural diversity of the island.

SHOPPING

Curacao is a shopper's paradise. Some 200 shops line the major shopping streets of Willemstad as well as surrounding neighborhoods. Willemstad is separated in two parts: Punda and Otrobanda.  These two parts are connected by the Queen Emma-bridge, which may be the longest floating bridge in the world.

Punda, right in the heart of Willemstad, is a fashionable center with many upscale boutiques selling designer clothing, perfumes, and branded jewelry.  Most stores are open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 6pm. Punda is separated from Otrobanda where the cruise ships are docked.  Amongst attractions in Otrobanda are the Riffort Village mall, and a new world class Hospital.

Salina is another important shopping area.  There are several shopping malls, including Salina Galleries, Promenade, Bloempot and Zuikertuin Mall.  On the west side of the island is the new Sambil Shopping Mall that is fully airconditioned and open late.  This has become a great meeting place for locals on the weekends.  There are several movie theaters on the island in Punda, Otrobanda and Sambil.

https://www.curacao.com/en/stories/shopping/

SUPERMARKETS & MINIMARKETS

The shelves of Curacao's supermarkets and specialty food shops are well stocked with a variety of goods from around the world and also some local products. Curacao imports virtually all the food that is consumed locally. Supermarkets carry European, American as well as Asian products.  There are numerous little grocery stores (called “Toko’s” or “Minimarkets”) which are usually run by Chinese or Portuguese families.  You will probably find a Minimarket close to your home where you can get food in an emergency. They often open late and on weekends.

RESTAURANTS

Curacao, with its cultural diversity, offers a large selection of flavorful restaurants. As is to be expected, they present a wide variety of international as well as local cuisine, and each and every restaurant will be sure to make you feel at home away from home.  There are many Indian and Chinese restaurants and food delivery services are widely available.

https://www.curacao.com/en/stories/food-and-nightlife/

SERVICES

Local government services include a top notch water and electricity company, which offers safe to drink tap water and reliable electricity.  Communication and medical facilities are also state a state, including dialysis centers.

The best quality of care is available in a friendly and modern environment. The government further provides many emergency services like:

  • Ambulance: 912
  • Police: 911
  • Fire Department: 911
  • Hospital: 910
  • Coast Guard: 913
  • Youth Telephone: 109
  • Animal Ambulance: 465 1616 (6.00 am - 11 pm)
  • Water/Power Outage: 0800-0135
  • Long Distance Operator: 021
  • Local Phone Numbers: 9221
  • International Phone Numbers: 022
  • Telegram: 0231

 Pharmacies
Drugstores and Pharmacies are called “BOTICAS” in Curacao.  They sell general drugstore items. However, remember that articles like toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo are usually cheaper in the supermarkets.

Most prescription medicines can be found on Curacao. Bring prescriptions from your home country if you need any special medicine.  Botikas are available 24/7, on a shift basis.  There is a complete list of pharmacies in the Yellow and Blue pages of the telephone directory.

Utilities
Curacao gets its water from the sea. The world's largest desalination plant is located here and produces delicious tap water that is rated among the top 5 best waters of the world (along with such first world class countries like Switzerland).

Electricity is 127/120 VAC at 50 hertz. This means that most appliances made in the USA (60 hertz) will work well, except for electrical devices with internal time mechanisms. For electrical appliances from the USA you do not need an adapter plug. We use the same two-pronged flat plugs as in the States.  Some appliances such as refrigerators need special transformers. Houses usually have the above current in addition to 220 volts, mainly used for air conditioners, washing machines, etc. Water and electricity may drop out on occasion. For cooking, every house has gas bottles to operate stove and oven.

INTERNET, DATA, TV & MOBILE

Internet is widely available in Curacao.  Most people have a mobile with data service.  There are several companies offering data and phone service.  WhatsApp is widely used to communicate.

Curacao's international code is 5999; there are no internal area codes. All local telephone numbers are seven digits, except for some special numbers, which are three or four digits.  International roaming is available on Curacao, so you will be able to make and receive calls outside the coverage area. Local companies are UTS (United Telecommunication Services) and Digicel.   If you have a SIM lock free mobile (cellular) phone, you can purchase a local prepaid SIM card and top up cards from most retail outlets.

COURIER & MAIL

DHL, FEDEX, UPS, TNT and regular POST is all ready available in Curacao.

There are several post offices on the island.  Stamps can also be purchased at bookstores and the front desk of many hotels. Some hotels also offer letter drop facilities. The postal services are generally reliable, but the time it takes a letter to reach its destination can vary.   For more info visit  https://www.cpostinternational.com/

ENTERTAINMENT

Curacao is a perfect place for diving, but as you will find, our island has so much more to offer. There are dozens of undiscovered adventures to be enjoyed. Ranging from practicing water sports to visiting 17th century architecture sites, from enjoying tennis to enjoying world-class cuisine, from playing golf in our sunny climate. Sun, sea, and sand lovers will find secluded bays that are ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and just relaxing. Nature enthusiasts can climb Mt. Christoffel and explore the world of natural cures.  Curacao has something out-of-the-ordinary for everybody.

HISTORY

Curacao was discovered in 1499 during the third voyage of Cristopher Columbus.  When the island was first discovered it was labeled a “useless island” because the arid climate made agriculture difficult.  So it was decided to leave the sick seamen behind on the island with the Arawak Indians (original inhabitants) expecting that they would die there.  Later, when returning to the island, Columbus’ crew found that most of the sickly seamen they left behind had recovered and were in good health.  They found that this island had many miracle cures, including red sand with healing properties.  This led to naming the island CURACAO, which means “Island of Cure”.  Until today many natural cures can be found from local plants.  For more information see,

https://www.dinahveeris.com/kruiden.html

http://curacao.for91days.com/den-paradera-of-dinah-veeris/

Willemstad was originally founded as Santa Anna by the Spanish in the 1500s. Dutch traders found a vast natural harbor, a perfect hideaway along the Spanish Main, and they renamed it Willemstad in the 17th century. It is recognized by its colorful buildings and red-roofed town houses in the downtown area. Willemstad is located around the island's natural harbor, Schottegat.  The city of Willemstad is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.  There are over 200 protected monuments on the island.  The colonial-style architecture, reflecting the Dutch influence, gives the town a storybook look. The houses, built three or four stories high, are crowned by steep gables and roofed with orange Spanish tiles. Hemmed in by the sea, a tiny canal, and an inlet, the streets are narrow.  The Waterfront originally guarded the mouth of the canal on the eastern or Punda side, but now it has been incorporated into the Plaza Hotel. The task of standing guard has been taken over by Fort Amsterdam, site of the Governor's Palace and the 1769 Dutch Reformed church. The church still has a British cannonball embedded in it. The arches leading to the fort were tunneled under the official residence of the governor.

https://www.curacao.com/en/stories/history-and-heritage/

MUSEUMS 
The Curaçao Museum is located in the western part of Otrobanda in an historic building dating from 1853. This spacious museum, Curaçao's largest, showcases works by traditional as well as contemporary local and foreign artists. A permanent collection of antique period furniture, including some exquisite mahogany pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries, antique maps of Curaçao and the Caribbean, and Indian art are also on display. Special exhibitions are organized regularly. The large shaded grounds are a pleasant place to stroll; children love the real locomotive.  In addition there are other museums including Maritime Museum, Jewish Cultural Historical Museum, Postal Museum, Fort Church Museum, Numismatic Museum and Tele Museum.

CURACAO SEAQUARIUM

Want to swim with dolphins or sharks?  Visit the Curacao Seaquarium and try it.  In 1984, the Curacao Seaquarium was developed. This unique complex, built on the oceanfront at Bapor Kibra next to Lions Dive hotel, with a healthy coral reef within no more than a stone’s throw from the entrance, makes a great family outing. This beautiful aquarium complex is one of the most unique in the world because of its "open-water-system," meaning that seawater is continuously pumped into the aquariums. During visiting hours, the aquariums, theater and museum are open for the public, and you can enjoy watching feeding shows. Part of the fun learning experience of Curacao’s underwater world is a big “touch tank“ for touching live animals.

During the feeding shows you can touch and learn about the animals. For some real fun, you can snorkel or scuba dive and hand feed stingrays, sea turtles, sharks and many other colorful tropical fish. After all that excitement, you can relax in the coolness of the museum and theater. Watch a feeding show, shop for souvenirs, have lunch in the restaurant, and swim off the sandy beach.  Visit www.curacao-sea-aquarium.com for more information on more than 400 species of fish, crabs, anemones, sponges, and coral on display in a natural environment.

NATURE & LANDSCAPE

At first glimpse Curacao may seem a rather barren island, and it's true-due to the scant rainfall, there is certainly a limit to the types of plants and animals that can survive here. But on closer inspection, you'll be amazed at the variety nature has to offer. What at first seems to be a monotonous desert landscape, turns out to be a scenery teeming with life. Curaçao's total surface area is 444 square km. The stretched northern coast of the island is characterized by rough limestone cliff formations set on top of eons-old volcanic rock, and weather-beaten terrain. At the western end of the island you will find expansive, hilly landscapes. The Christoffel Park encompasses most of the landscapes. Inside the park you will find the highest point on the island-the 375m high Mt. Christoffel. The east end of the island comprises flat and mostly barren plain, with few settlements and some secondary roads weaving to and from its coastal inlets.

Local plants have ingenious mechanisms allowing them to weather the dry, desert climate, scant rainfall and the ever-present trade winds. These include marvelous adaptations to their roots, leaves and stems. Total vascular flora amounts to about 450 species. Species composition differs significantly between the different geological formations. No group of plants is as well suited to the climate as the cacti, which are specially designed to reduce the amount of moisture lost to evaporation. Their nasty thorns are, in fact, modified leaves. The island hosts hundreds of species. Not all of the species on the Island are harmless.

Characteristic trees, is the Divi-divi tree-recognizable by its "wind form," caused by the trade winds.

https://www.curacao.com/en/stories/nature-and-wildlife/

TRANSPORTATION

Everything in Curacao is close, within a 5 to 10 minute car or bus drive.  Many places are within a walking distance from the campus and dormitories. To make students' life easier, Curacao offers many convenient options to commute. From public and university transportation to purchased or rented cars, mopeds or bikes, everyone will find a suitable way to move on the island.

SCHOOL SHUTTLE

The main form of travel is by the Campus Shuttle. It transports students between the main campus and the student dorms.  There is no charge to take the University bus but a Student ID must be shown to board. The round trip between school and the dorms should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

CITY BUSES &  MINI BUSES

Curacao has two different types of busses which are both available for use by students who want commute via public transportation. The major bus system is actually a van or shuttle bus system, and the secondary bus system is made up of more traditional busses. This latter form of City Bus is referred to as a "KONVOY" by locals on Curacao.

The public transport network of buses covers the whole island. There are two major bus terminals on Curacao, both of which are used by both type of bus. The first is located in Punda, near the post office. The other is located in Otrobanda.

One of Curacao’s more useful ways of transportation and certainly worth a mention are the "mini-buses" which carry up to nine passengers. They are recognizable by the word BUS displayed on the registration plates. The mini buses run regularly throughout the day until 23.00. Although the mini bus fares are higher than the scheduled bus service, they are safe to travel on and most are air conditioned, making it good value for money. Mini bus journeys start from the bus depot in Punda and Otrobanda and like the scheduled public buses, they cover the whole island. The destination of the mini bus is displayed on a board on the front and rear windscreens. The mini buses do not operate to a fixed timetable. At peak times the buses are very full which makes for an uncomfortable journey and journeys take much longer because of the frequent stops to allow passengers to get on and off.

AUTOMOBILES

In Curacao every family is a "2 car" family.  There are many cars on the isalnd.  If you plan on driving on Curacao, you must have a valid US, Canadian or International Driver’s License. Students usually purchase used cars along with other colleges to split the costs and then sell them to freshmen upon completion of Basic Science.  Car Rental is another way to have a car while staying on the island and sometimes students use also taxi service for quick and easy method of transportation.

CAR PURCHASE

Used cars can be purchases for approximately $1000 to $3000 at local dealers or through newspaper advertisement.  To cover all unexpected incidents, damages and avoid further complications, you will also need to purchase a car insurance.

CAR RENTAL

There are several car rental agencies on the island. Rates can vary considerably. Expect to pay between US$ 40 and US$ 60 per day. An international credit card or cash deposit is required. Inquire for special rates for rentals of a week or longer. Available vehicles include standard cars with both manual and automatic transmissions, jeep-like four-wheel-drive vehicles

TAXI CABS

Some students living on Curacao opt to use taxi service from time to time as a supplement to either public transportation or car rental during their stay.   There are many ways to recognize a taxi, they are easily identifiable with the taxi-sign on top of the cab and the letters TX on the license plate. All taxi-drivers carry a badge to identify themselves, and inside the taxi you will also see a label, identifying the driver. Every taxi has a taxi meter with fixed rates for your journey. There are taxi stands at the airport, in Punda and Otrobanda, and outside major hotels.  Taxis are generally the transportation of choice when coming or going to the airport or when stranded at night. Taxi rates are standardized for all cab companies. $10 is enough to get you to most places although $25 is the standard charge to or from the airport.

DORMITORIES & APARTMENTS

The University arranges housing for its students in apartment complexes near the campus. Most students spend their first few semesters at the University arranged housing.   The apartment complexes are located near campus.  All rooms are fully furnished one and two bed units featuring a study desk, TV, closet, and chairs. High Speed wired Internet connection as well as TV.  They include a bathroom and are air-conditioned. Cooking is allowed in certain rooms.  Food services and central eating facilities are available.  There is paid on-site laundry service, nearby fitness center and nearby restaurants.

Rent is payable in advance for each semester and includes metered utilities, such as electricity, water, A/C, TV, Internet and a monthly room cleaning service. Assignments are on a first-come-first-serve basis.  Cost ranges

from $300 to $600 per month, depending on the proximity of the apartment to the campus and the amenities offered.

HOTELS & RESORTS

Students' families, friends or other short-term visitors can be offered a wide variety of accommodations to suit everyone's preference, with the island's century long tradition of warm hospitality.

Curacao is a place that gives very good value for money. In Curacao there are hotels and resorts that cater to any size of wallet, great or small.  Curacao offers an irresistible array of appealing and affordable midsize hotel accommodations. You will find plenty of large and luxurious beach front resorts, with a wide choice of “Air BnB” type apartments.  Whether you decide upon a secluded seaside resort, or opt for an international hotel, you will be sure to enjoy your stay on the island.  Majority of the hotels and resorts are located along the south coast, the beach areas, and in Willemstad. The room rates vary depending on the quality of the complex and location. On average a night at a standard hotel would cost between $50 and $150 and some include daily breakfast.