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Compass T r av el CRUSHING ON CURAÇAO Perched just above South America — Venezuela to be exact — you’ll find the 3rd-largest of the Dutch colonized Caribbean islands, Curaçao, a tropical place as unique in its landscape as it is in its culture. TEX T BY FR ANCESCA CRUZ Imagine Curaçao as having the dry arid climate of Arizona or Nevada — yes, insert the cacti, lounging iguanas and nix the tumbleweed — but now introduce cliffs that drop to aqua-blue waters and year-round tradewinds that linger in your hair, caress your fingertips and shadow your shadow. Your first stop should be the Renaissance Curaçao — located in the center of the historic capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Willemstad. It’s the perfect spot to stay to be close to the heart of the city, and if you desire creature comforts. If you enjoy staying in a place that feels more authentic, the Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa consists of 82 meticulously restored 18th & 19th Century Dutch colonial buildings, with its own museum that recants the story of slavery on the island. But if sumptuous leisure beckons you — look to the Santa Barbara Resort, a golfer’s Eden close to Playa Porto Mari, just a half hour drive from downtown, and Playa Knip that sits on a cliff with breathtaking views of The Caribbean. The views and beaches of the island may be postcard-ready, but the food is truly what you’ll want to create a trifecta of hubbub on all your social media accounts. For the island’s noteworthy iguana soup in a quintessential place, Jaanchie’s is just a 35-minute drive west of the center. For dinner that includes leisure strolls, venture to Pietermaai and have a bite at Mundo Bizarro, with colonial buildings and cobblestone streets setting the scene. Curaçao is an island where flavors, colors, landscapes and experiences — both old and new — come together to create a place that’s singular in its appeal and plural in its pleasure. It is indeed, a curious case — this place called Curaçao. 42