This island at the south end of the Caribbean is hip and hospitable, hot and happening.
Overview: Outside the hurricane belt and blessed with trade winds that make it seem not quite so hot, Curaçao has a heritage comprising 55 different cultures (including Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese).
Crowd: Thousands of Dutch tourists flock here year-round, including a large number of students. Ditto the scuba divers, who hit the southwest coastline in droves.
Agenda: Take in as many of the 35 white-sand beaches as you can. Nicknamed the Soho of Curaçao, Willemstad’s Pietermaai district is home to the bulk of the island’s top restaurants and boutique beach clubs. Duck into the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. And don’t leave town without inhaling a bowl of goat stew from the Plasa Bieu Market.
Essential: Museum Kurá Hulanda houses the largest collection of African artifacts in the Caribbean and includes a massive and very moving exhibit on the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Timing: Curaçao is great year-round, but—October through January is both busy and rainy, February to May brings milder temps and less rain, while June to October is very hot.