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5 Tropical Vacation Spots


Girl with Dolphin

Shimmering like a pirate king's bling in the sea just north of Venezuela, Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles, boasts hundreds of sherbet-tone buildings. Ballet pink, lime green, robin's egg blue, and lemon yellow color the capital town of Willemstad, where the Dutch West India Company set up shop in the early 1600s. Visitors will enjoy the steep roofs, winding streets, and colonial mansions, as well as the rows of fishing boats along the beach.

Alfresco family fun: Snorkelers and scuba divers can get up close to the coral reefs surrounding this island; they're accessible from almost any beach. The Curacao Underwater Marine Park extends 12 miles along the south coast, replete with sunken ships and colorful fish. Or take a walk on the wild side at Curacao Ostrich Farm (ostrichfarm.net), where more than 300 big birds strut their stuff.

Kid-friendly culture: Curacao's strong Jewish presence -- which dates back to the arrival of emigres from Amsterdam more than 350 years ago -- makes this area of the Caribbean unique. Today Willemstad's congregation Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue (snoa.com) showcases a Jewish Cultural Historical Museum with rare artifacts, such as intricate centuries-old coins, jewelry and stamps, and a Torah from 1492 -- fascinating to examine no matter what your faith or age. Families will also fawn over the wildlife at the Curacao Sea Aquarium (www.curacao-sea-aquarium.com), where you can view sharks and sea turtles, interact with sea lions and dolphins, and learn how to care for the environment.

Unpack your bags: At the all-inclusive Breezes Curacao (from $270 per room, kids under 13 stay free; breezes.com; 877-467-8737), kids can swing on a trapeze, climb a rock wall, windsurf, snorkel, and bike. Families who don't need round-the-clock entertainment might try the 72-unit Floris Suite Hotel -- with pool and tennis courts -- near Piscadera Bay for a low-key hideaway (from $250 per suite; florissuitehotel.com; 800-781-1011).

More trip tips: curacao.com