Tips for a Smooth Landing in Curaçao
As your jet begins to descend on its approach to Curacao, the first glimpse of your vacation island will be from about 20,000 feet. The turquoise ocean surrounding the island is enchanting. Your plane turns north for its final approach, lowers the landing gear and makes its descent into the warmth of your tropical home. We all hope for a smooth landing.
Arriving for the first time in a new country is exciting, and it can be a little stressful. To make your landing smoother, here are three tips:
1. Online Embarkation Cards
To enter the country, you are required to complete an Embarkation and Disembarkation card (ED-card) for immigration clearance. The majority of visitors receive and complete their ED-card on their flight to Curaçao, then have the pleasure of standing in a what may be a long line waiting for immigration processing. The great news is that you can avoid this time-consuming process. Travelers with an E-Passport are encouraged to complete an online version of the ED-card. Print a copy of your ED-Card and have it in hand as you come down the escalator into the arrival area, where you will be directed to the e-gates. Having said this, as more people use this option, the long line will shift.
Note: E-Passports contain an electronic chip containing the same information as the inside of the passport. Look for the E-Passport symbol to see if you are able to bypass the long immigration line.
If you are staying in any type of self-catering unit, (condo, home, etc.), preparing your own meals, we suggest that your first stop after picking up your rental car, is the grocery store. Though there are many supermarkets around the island, for the sake of convenience, our recommendation is to stop at the Centrum Supermarket.
As you leave the airport, you will be driving south on Weg narr Hato. The first sight of interest is a massive metal sculpture in the middle of a traffic circle (roundabout), accompanied by a metal iguana sculpture. Take the second exit and continue driving south. Please note that in this traffic circle, the vehicle entering the circle has the right of way. Drive with caution.
Follow the road through another traffic circle (where the vehicle in the circle has the right of way), continuing south until you arrive at the first set of traffic lights. At these lights turn right and immediately move into the left lane. Centrum is the first building on your left.
Centrum is open daily at 7:30am. The store closes at 7:30pm Monday through Friday and at 8:00pm on Saturdays and 5:00pm on Sunday. Guilders, USD, and major credit cards are accepted. Be aware that if you use USD, you will likely receive your change in Guilders.
If your condo is a distance away, or if you plan to pack lunches for excursions around Curaçao, buying an inexpensive cooler may be a good idea. They are towards the left back far corner of the store, on a top shelf.
3. Navigating the traffic circles and roundabouts.
We have found that driving around the island is generally simple and straightforward.
The one exception are the traffic circles. Part of the confusion is that Curaçao has both traffic circles and roundabouts – with different rules.
In most of the traffic circles, the vehicle in the circle has the right of way over vehicles waiting to enter. These traffic circles have a sign that includes a blue circle with three white arrows inside.
There are several roundabouts with different rules, including the first one you will come to after leaving the airport. In these circles, the vehicle on the right (the one entering the circle) has the right of way. Watch for a triangular sign with a thick arrow pointing ahead and a smaller line going across it.
Of course, even with these rules, you will always find both tourists and locals who drive different than the rest of us. Defensive driving is always recommended.
With these three tips, we hope your vacation gets off to a less stressful start.