by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

(Virtually) visit the island of Curaçao

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The island of Curaçao, one of the Caribbean’s ABC Islands (along with Aruba and Bonaire), feels like a corner of the Netherlands was dropped into the Caribbean.

Colorful Dutch colonial architecture, stunning beaches, underwater coral walls and a UNESCO-listed capital make this island a favorite in the Southern Caribbean. Here's a look at why it's so beloved.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

This green building in the Scharloo District, a neighborhood once inhabited by wealthy merchants, is known as the Wedding Cake House for its tiered structure and intricate architectural detail.

Sun seekers can choose from more than 35 beaches, including the popular Cas Abao. This white sand beach has calm, clear waters for swimming, plus a reef just offshore for snorkeling and diving.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

Dutch influence is evident throughout the island, including in its cuisine, where seafood is always a star.

Blue Curaçao has been distilled and bottled in Curaçao since 1896. Dried peels of Laraha oranges are mixed with eight different spices, and blue coloring is added, giving it its distinct look.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

Chill Beach Bar & Grill at LionsDive Resort is known for its tropical cocktails, beach barbecues and lively happy hours. Settle into a hammock to sip on a coconut-infused libation.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

Head to Playa Piskado, a tiny fishermen’s beach, to see the fishing boats haul in their catch. Once ashore, you can watch the fishermen clean the fish right on the beach.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

Locals and visitors gather at Playa Forti to experience the adrenaline rush of cliff jumping into the clear turquoise water. This 40-foot cliff gets particularly busy on weekends around sunset.

Handelskade, a stretch of pier in the Punda District of Willemstad, ranks among the most photographed spots on the island thanks to its brightly painted Colonial Dutch buildings.

St. Joris Bay, a natural lagoon in eastern Curaçao, attracts kitesurfers from around the Caribbean and the world. The lagoon’s sheer size makes it possible to kite for more than a mile nonstop.

Punda, Willemstad’s first colonial settlement, is also one of its most colorful. Many of the preserved colonial buildings now house art galleries and studios.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Gato / Curaçao Tourist Board

Curaçao enjoys one of the most colorful street art scenes in the Caribbean. For the best concentration of street art, take a stroll through Otrobanda.

While flamingos don’t breed in Curaçao, they do gather in the island’s salt ponds to feast on brine shrimp. You can often spot flocks of wild flamingos in the ponds of Jan Kok.

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