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Both Jamaica and Curacao are extremely different but breath-taking Caribbean destinations. Jamaica 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.
Jamaica is the homeland of world renowned Reggae singer and songwriter, Bob Marley. Alternatively, Curacao is well known for Queen Emma’s Bridge which is perhaps one of the only permanent pontoon bridge in the world.
As a general rule, Jamaica is better for travelers who are interested in West Indian cuisine, a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Dunns river. Alternatively, Curacao is ideal for a visitor who is looking for a smaller and safer destination with interest in beaches and hiking.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. Contribution to this article was made by Caribbean national who visited both of these islands in excess of three times.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- How Does The Size & Landscape Differ
Jamaica is the bigger of the two islands having a landmass of 4,244 square miles. Alternatively, Curacao is much smaller being 171 square miles. Additionally, these two destinations are very dissimilar in topography and general look and feel.
Jamaica is hilly, mountainous, green and lush in appearance. If you have ever visited the Caribbean island of Grenada and love its topography, then you will love Jamaica as the appearance is similar.
On the other hand, Curacao is flat and dry in look and feel as the other Dutch Caribbean islands Aruba and Bonaire. This is due to the fact that the level of rainfall in Curacao is significantly lower than in Jamaica.
If you are deciding which island is better to visit and you prefer sunshine all the time, then Curacao will be the ideal choice. Curacao will also be the easier for driving due to its flatness. Driving is done on the right hand side of the road in Curacao.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- Which Island Has Greater Threat of Hurricanes
The hurricane season in the Caribbean starts on June 1st and ends November 30th annually. Nevertheless, Curacao is not in the hurricane belt whereas Jamaica is in the hurricane belt.
Therefore, there is a greater chance that you may experience delays or interruptions in your travel if you visit Jamaica during this time of the year compared to Curacao. It may be prudent to consider travel insurance if visiting the Caribbean during the hurricane season.
Jamaica 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.
Alternatively, the official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar since 1969. It is issued and managed by its own Central bank. The Bank of Jamaica which is the Central bank is responsible for the island’s monetary policy.
Unlike the Netherland Antillean Guilders, the Jamaican dollar is not pegged to the US dollar and hence there has been massive devaluation against the US dollar over the years. With this comes increased uncertainty when doing business on the island.
The US dollar however, is widely accepted by businesses in both countries. US bank notes that are worn, torn and impaired are usually rejected. Additionally, US coins cannot be used in these countries.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- Which Has The Better Cuisine
The cuisine in Curacao and Jamaica are very different. If you prefer authentic creole food such as curry goat and rice and peas then Jamaica is the perfect island for you.
Additionally, Jamaica is well known for jerk food, festival, ackee and salt fish as well as bammy. The jerk chicken as an example is specially cooked over pimento wood and has a unique flavor which you can only get in Jamaica.
Jerk food is prepared in other Caribbean islands but the Jamaica cuisine in this area is extraordinary. Festivals are served as a staple with many meals. There is packet festival mix which you can buy at local Jamaica supermarkets.
Island Grill is one of the local restaurants that you can visit for real Jamaican jerk experience. Devon’s House as well is a nice location to take in some history as well as delicious locally made ice cream.
Jamaica is also known international for track and field with Usain Bolt being the fastest man in the world. Usain Bolt co-founded a chain of restaurants on the island called Tracks and Records. I had the pleasure of eating there during one of my visits to the island. It is a great spot to check out for real authentic Jamaican cuisine and experience.
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 my favorite Dutch snacks that you should try in Curacao.
Due to the weather, Jamaica tends to have a variety of fresh fruit juices as they have more fruit trees than Curacao which is arid. As a result, juices are available based on what is in season at the time of the year.
Alternatively, in Curacao the main and popular fruit drink is Awa di lamunchi. This is a local Antillean drink made with lime that is served in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. This drink is not served in Dutch St Maarten.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- Which Island Is Safer
Curacao is the safer of the two destinations. The crime that exist on Curacao tends to be more petty crime and theft and care must be exercised as a visitor as in every other destination.
Valuables should be secured and avoid leaving laptops and electronic gadgets unattended. This makes Curacao an excellent choice for a solo female traveler as you can wander around the city and the island relatively freely.
Alternatively, Jamaica has a high crime rate. According to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory, there was an increase in shootings and murders from 2018 to 2019 by 7.8 % and 3.4%. Additionally, murders and robberies increased in the same period by 9.3 % and 3.1% respectively.
Visitors to Jamaica should exercise a higher degree of caution in Jamaica. Avoid wearing jewelery and expensive items in public places. Book tours and outings with businesses authorized by the hotel to ensure safety. Avoid crime hot spots such as in Kingston and Montego Bay where gang related crime levels are highest on the island.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- How Does The Culture Differ
The difference in the heritage of both islands is reflected in the culture of the island. In terms of sports, cricket is popular in Jamaica whereas baseball and softball in Curacao.
In the area of music, reggae and dance hall is loved by Jamaicans whereas in Curacao bachata and Latin style of music is prevalent.
The architecture of the British is seen in buildings today whereas Curacao has the Dutch colorful buildings in the city of Willemstad. Curacao celebrates Sinterklaas with distinct music to mark the festivities annually which is not a feature of the Jamaican culture.
Two amazing Caribbean islands with very distinct histories and cultures. If you have the opportunity it is worthwhile to experience them both.
Jamaica Vs Curacao: Which Has The Better Nightlife
Jamaica has a more bustling night life and entertainment options when compared to Curacao.
The nightlife in Jamaica is superior to Curacao with the island having countless restaurants, casinos, night clubs, theaters and beach bars.
Margaritaville is a one of the popular spots on the island which is built above the sea with a bar and restaurant. Pier1 is also a very well loved place for locals and visitors which feature an open restaurant which serves Jamaican cuisine with live music and dancing.
Nevertheless, 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.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands have stunning and magnificent beaches. There are 50 public beaches in Jamaica and 38 in Curacao respectively.
In Curacao, the sand is white and the water is blue and the view is breathtaking. Visit playa piskado which translates to fisherman’s beach where you get to swim with sea turtles. In addition, you can swim with dolphins at Jan Thiel beach.
Jamaica has a variety of beaches both black and white sand. Seven Mile Beach also knows as Negril beach is Jamaica’s most famous with white sand and beautiful water.
This location is excellent for snorkeling and water based activities. Doctor’s Cave beach and Frenchman’s Cove beach are also excellent and well-loved beach options in Jamaica.
Jamaica Vs Curacao- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Jamaica
Explore Dunn River Falls- this world renowned water fall is one of the most visited attractions on the island. Located near Ocho Rio, there are several activities that you can do at the falls and water park which includes zip lining, climbing the falls and purchasing souvenirs at the craft shop.
Visit Bob Marley Museum– for reggae enthusiasts and fans of the legendary singer site see at his former home. Bob Marley lived at this location in Kingston until his transition in 1981. A tour of his former home features his studio as well as several memorabilia. There is a theatre, record shop and café located at this premises.
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, Jamaica is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy authentic jerk food, reggae music, amazing nightlife and excellent beaches. Alternatively, Curacao is an exceptional choice for a solo female traveler whose priority is enjoying the beach, snorkeling and Dutch Snacks.
If you are contemplating traveling to Curacao, Jamaica or the rest of the Caribbean, cruising is an affordable option to consider. I have recently completed an informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less.
This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.
Need More Information?
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