The guilder is a currency that has been in use in several countries around the world at one time or another. This version of the guilder is still used in Curacao – one of only two countries that still use the Netherlands Antilles version.
Virtually everyone knows the dollar is divided into cents, but this also applies to the Netherlands Antilles guilder. It’s a decimal currency too, with 100 cents per guilder. Most of the coins in use are denominated in cents – these are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins. Aside from these you can also use the coins worth 1, 2½ and 5 guilders.
Of the six banknotes around that are legal tender, only four of them are in regular use. The smallest note and the highest valued one are not often seen; these are the 5 guilder banknote and the 250 guilder banknote. The ones you will see and use are the 10, 25, 50 and 100 guilder banknotes.
We can date the use of the guilder in this part of the world for several centuries, since the 1700s. It wasn’t decimal then however – instead each guilder was divided into 20 units, each called a stuiver. It was eventually replaced by the reaal which almost made it to three decades-worth of use before being put aside in favour of the guilder once more.
Curacao is now one of only two countries that use the Netherlands Antilles guilder. The other is Sint Maarten. Furthermore this is one currency that could be consigned to history before too long. The Caribbean guilder has been created in theory to be used in Curacao and also in Sint Maarten, although the reality of it has yet to come to pass.
While this isn’t a currency you’ll be able to find before you get to Curacao, you shouldn’t have too many problems managing once you arrive. One of the most interesting things to know is that US dollars are actually quite welcome in Curacao. Some people actually turn up with US dollars and rarely exchange them for the local currency while they are there. The only thing you should remember is that if you pay in US dollars you will be very likely to get the guilder in change, so you’ll end up with some of their currency anyway.
Credit cards are welcomed in Curacao as well, so this provides you with another option to use for payment. You can also take traveller’s cheques with you to exchange once you get there. Once again the best option here is to get ones denominated in the US dollar so you don’t have any problems exchanging them once you’re in Curacao.
Finally there are plenty of cash machines around in various towns, so you can get cash this way as well. Check before you leave home to make sure your particular debit card will be accepted by the machines in Curacao. Although since there are different ways of getting hold of the currency this is just one more way to access cash while you’re there.
Any good currency converter will be able to provide the information you need. As we’ve seen above, it’s a good idea to get the rate between the guilder and the US dollar, even if the dollar isn’t your home currency. If you’re intending to take it into the country with you, maybe you should get an exchange rate between your currency and the dollar too. It might feel as if you’re going round the houses a bit but in all honesty it’s well worth it! It does make life easier when you know what the guilder is worth against the dollar as well as your currency. Of course, exchange rates will apply but at least you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect.
There doesn’t seem to be an embassy for Curacao in the UK; however there is a website for the Kingdom of the Netherlands here. There is a page that provides a link through to the representation in Curacao if you need it, and the link is at http://unitedkingdom.nlembassy.org/organization/faqs/curacao-sint-maarten-and-aruba.html.
When you are travelling to Curacao it is very important to keep a close eye on any bags or suitcases you have with you. Never leave them with anyone while you disappear to get food or go anywhere else; drug smuggling is big news here and anything can be slipped into your bags if you don’t take proper care of them. If found, this could leave you in prison. This is a serious problem but you can avoid it if you take care of your bags and do not entrust them to anyone else. In addition make sure you don’t carry anything through for anyone else, no matter what they might say.
Aside from this, Curacao is actually a pretty safe place to visit on holiday. There is the usual problem of petty theft but this is something that unfortunately blights many places around the world. You can reduce the odds of it involving you by making sure you keep an eye on your bags at all times. Don’t leave them hanging on the back of a chair where they could easily be taken or dipped into.
In addition you should try not to make yourself an attractive target. Thieves will go for opportunities, and that means people wearing visible jewellery that looks expensive. It also means looking for those who clearly carry plenty of cash and perhaps flaunt it a little as well. If you are sensible you shouldn’t have too many issues in Curacao.
Curacao is a Caribbean island – quite a long thin one – and you’ll find it sitting not far off the coastline of Venezuela. Its capital city is Willemstad and this has been recognised and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has a 300-year history and both the inner city area and the harbour bear closer examination. There is arguably no better activity than to wander along by the harbour, or even to see it from the water if you get the chance. One reason for this is that the buildings lining the harbour’s edge are brightly coloured – it definitely has the appearance of a Dutch town! From blue to yellow and through to pink, the mix of colours makes this area look charming, especially when the weather is fine.
There are plenty of other places you can visit on the island too. If you’re after a great beach holiday you could do a lot worse than to visit Seaquarium Beach, which has everything you could want from a beautiful Caribbean beach location. The waters are shallow for the most part and you can enjoy relaxing on a hired sun bed or simply lie back on the soft sands.
Another beach option is to visit Cas Abao Beach. This is a popular beach with families and the water makes it ideal for water sports too. There are good facilities here so you can happily come down for the day to sunbathe, have a dip in the sea and enjoy some snorkelling or diving if you wish.
Of course you may not want to relax on a beach all the time. If you’d like to get closer to nature you can also consider going to Christoffel National Park. It’s the biggest park the whole island can offer and there is plenty to do here to keep you busy for the day. There are several walking trails that have been laid out for visitors to use, one of which goes right up to the top of Christoffel Mountain. If you’re after some great views set off early, make sure you’re prepared and wait to receive your prize once you get to the top! The park is resplendent with flora and fauna of all kinds too, so even on the way up the mountain (or elsewhere in the park) you’ll find something amazing around every corner.
Curacao is the Caribbean island of choice for many people looking to have an amazing holiday in this part of the world. It may take a while to get used to the currency – especially if you pay in US dollars for the most part and get guilders as change – but you’ll soon get the hang of it. There are lots of ways to part with a guilder or two, especially if you want to take an organised day trip to one or two of the best sights the island has to offer.
Whatever you decide to do in Curacao, you’re sure to have a sensational time there.