Barbados and Curacao are extremely dissimilar when thinking about Caribbean destinations.
Barbados is an English speaking Caribbean island with British Heritage whereas Curacao is a Dutch speaking Caribbean island with a Dutch heritage.
Despite Dutch being the official language of Curacao, English is widely spoken around the island. Spanish and Papiamentu are also spoken in Curacao.
In this article, we compare and contrast these two breath-taking Caribbean islands to help you decide which is better for your upcoming vacation.
As a general rule, Barbados is better for travelers who are interested in West Indian cuisine, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Harrison caves. Alternatively, Curacao is ideal for a visitor who is looking for unique Dutch cuisine with interest in beaches and hiking.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean National who visited both of these islands in excess of five times.
Barbados Vs Curacao: Which Island Is Bigger
Curacao is the bigger of the two islands but only marginally. Barbados is 166 square miles while Curacao is 171 square miles.
Curacao also has the highest point of elevation with Mt Christoffel being 1,220 ft.
On the other hand, Mt Hillaby is the highest point in Barbados which stands at 1,120 feet.
Both islands are flat in topography and as such visitors will find it easy to adapt to driving on the islands.
Barbados Vs Curacao: Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands have beautiful white sand beaches. Oistins and Miami beaches are well loved by visitors to Barbados.
In Curacao, the sand is white and the water is blue.
Playa piskado which translates to fisherman’s beach is one where you get to swim with sea turtles. In addition, you can swim with dolphins at Jan Thiel beach.
However, if diving is your priority, then Curacao is the better option.
Barbados Vs Curacao: How Does The Currency Differ
The official currency of both of these islands differs. The official currency of Curacao is the Netherland Antillean Guilders or Florins.
The Netherland Antillean Guilder is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of USD $1 to $1.79 ANG.
This currency is also used by St Maarten and there is a Central bank for Curacao and St Maarten responsible for managing the stability of the currency.
The local currency is available in bank notes and coins.
Bank notes are available in $10, $25, $50, $100 Guilders. Coins are available $1 Guilder, $5 Guilders, 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents pieces.
Contrastingly, the official currency of Barbados is the Barbadian dollar. USD $1 is equivalent to BBD$2 and is also pegged to the US Dollar.
The Barbadian currency is managed by its own local central bank.
The US dollar however, is widely accepted by businesses in both countries. US bank notes that are worn, torn and impaired are usually rejected.
Barbados Vs Curacao- Which Has The Better Cuisine
The cuisine in Curacao and Barbados are very different. If you prefer authentic West Indian cuisine, then Barbados is the better destination.
The national dish of Barbados is cou cou and flying fish. Cou cou is made with corn flour which is allowed to simmer in coconut milk.
One needs to ensure and stir consistently to avoid lumps. Fish is usually featured in many Barbadian dishes.
Contrastingly, if your food preferences are more around finger foods and snacks, then Curacao may be your preferred destination.
The Dutch snacks and finger foods are unique to the Dutch Caribbean and you would not find these in the Eastern Caribbean islands.
Frikandel and bitterballen are two of delicious finger foods that you should try.
Barbados Vs Curacao: Which Has The Better Nightlife
Both islands have a vibrant nightlife atmosphere. However, Barbados has the slight edge when it comes to nightlife.
There are a broader range of restaurants, golf courses, clubs, casinos and other forms of entertainment especially on the South Coast.
Additionally, in Barbados, Oistins also provides a lively venue for visitors and locals to meet and relax on the beachfront every Friday evening.
Curacao has a fantastic choice of night life and as a result many expats enjoy living on the island.
There are many restaurants and casinos that visitors and locals on the island enjoy such as Mambo Beach Boulevard for restaurants and beach clubs.
Another favorite of visitors and locals alike is St Tropez.
Barbados Vs Curacao: Which Island Has The Greater Threat of Hurricanes
The hurricane season in the Caribbean starts from June 1 and ends November 30 annually.
Fortunately, both islands are located outside of the hurricane belt.
However, with Curacao being further South, its chances of experiencing the effects of a hurricane is lesser than Barbados.
The last storm that made landfall in Barbados was Harvey in 2017.
Tropical storm Gonzalo in July 2020 passed 12 miles to the southwest while hurricane Elsa passed south of the island in July 2nd, 2021.
Barbados Vs Curacao- How Does The Culture Differ
The culture of both islands differs greatly. In terms of sports, cricket is popular in Barbados whereas baseball and softball in Curacao.
In the area of music, soca and reggae genres are huge in Barbados. On the other hand, in Curacao bachata and Latin style of music is popular.
Additionally, Curacao celebrates Sinterklaas with distinct music to mark the festivities annually which is not a tradition in Barbados.
Both islands have picturesque capital cities named Bridgetown and Willemstad respectively with areas designated as UNESCO heritage sites.
Due to the distinct differences in the heritage of both islands, Bridgetown has a British colonial look and feel while Willemstad is has colorful Dutch architecture.
These islands have two completely different traditions, histories and cultures. If you have the opportunity, they are both beautiful and well worth a visit.
Barbados Vs Curacao- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Barbados
Harrison Caves- This is a must visit attraction to Barbados. Visitors can view stalactite and stalagmite formations.
There is a bar and a gift shop on the property for added entertainment. Be sure and wear clothes that are comfortable and walk with a change of clothing if you want to go elsewhere.
UNESCO Heritage Site- Both islands have picturesque cities but Bridgetown and its Garrison has been designated as a UNESCO Heritage site due to its excellent architecture.
These buildings were constructed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were well preserved until today. Some of the 30 sites and attractions include:-
- Barbados Museum & Historical Society
- National Heroes Gallery & Museum of Parliament
- George Washington House & Museum
Unique Things To Do In Curacao
Visit Christoffel National Park– if you love nature, then this park is a must visit on the island. There are several species of flora and fauna at the park as well as birds.
There are eight hiking trails which you can explore as well as the Savonet Museum is located at park where you can learn more about the history of Curacao.
Explore Klein Curacao- this is a small island 15 miles from the mainland where you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in some of the clearest waters on the island.
While over in Klein Curacao, do not forget to visit the pink lighthouse and dive into the history of the island.
On a whole, Barbados is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy reggae and soca music, amazing nightlife atmosphere and excellent beaches. Alternatively, Curacao is an exceptional choice for a traveler whose priority is enjoying the beach, snorkeling and Dutch Snacks.
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