TOP 15 Things To Do in Curacao, Attractions & Activities 2022
Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, is known for its beaches tucked into coves and expansive coral reefs rich with marine life. The capital, Willemstad, has pastel-colored colonial architecture, floating Queen Emma Bridge, and the sand-floored, 17th-century Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. It’s also a gateway to western beaches like Blue Bay, a popular diving site.
In this guide, we share with you a list of the best things to do and visit in Curaçao beyond visiting the picturesque city of Willemstad. The tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao is just 172 square miles (444 km2). Therefore, the best way to see the entire island of Curaçao is by renting a car. Depending on how much time you would like to spend at each attraction or beach, we suggest renting it for one, two or three days.
The island of Curaçao (also written as Curaçao or Curacao) is located 67 kilometers east of Aruba, and with Bonaire, they form the group of islands known as “ABC.” According to a local legend, the bright pastel colors typical of their houses come from one of the first governors of the island who suffered from migraines, and the white paint aggravated his pain. This unique display of intense colors will welcome the traveler who arrives at the port. However, Curacao hides a lot for the visitor who decides to explore it.
TOP 15 Things To Do in Curacao, Attractions & Activities 2022
Curaçao is an island discovered by the Spanish in 1499. However, it was taken by the Dutch crown in 1634, who established a naval base in its current capital. In any of its streets and squares, the traveler will feel the Dutch influence, especially in the historic buildings along the coast.
Its capital Willemstad, popularly known as the Amsterdam of the Caribbean, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with many shops and cafes, especially on its waterfront.
Friends, Its historic center is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its streets are easy to walk, and although the temperature is warm, it never feels suffocating thanks to the constant trade winds.
The city is divided into two districts located on both sides of a narrow and deep canal. You can cross it thanks to a famous and historic floating pedestrian bridge known as Queen Emma (Queen Emma).
The traveler who ventures beyond Willemstad will discover that Curaçao is full of great opportunities for diving and swimming, with more than 35 almost deserted beaches. One of the most popular activities is swimming with the dolphins.
ARRIVING AT CURACAO BY CRUISE
Cruise passengers arrive on the island at the different piers located in Willemstad along Santa Anna Bay. The main one is the Mega Pier, where most large ships arrive, located outside Santa Anna Bay, just a few minutes’ walk from the center.
The other pier is located within Santa Anna Bay, Mathey Wharf, on the Otrobanda side. The city is divided into two central districts: Punda to the east and Otrobanda to the west. Smaller ships dock at the Curaçao cruise terminal. Both are within walking distance of the Queen Emma Bridge, which connects the city’s two sides. (Punda, the side opposite the cruise ship docks, features the main commercial and business areas).
The port facilities in Curacao include ATMs, exchange offices, and tourist offices, where you can get free maps and advice for practical transportation. There are taxi ranks available outside the port.
The visitor arriving on this island of the Netherlands Antilles part of the Dutch overseas territories will explore its fascinating capital with the typical colored houses and its historic city center dating from the 17th century. You can also enjoy the paradisiacal beaches bathed by the Caribbean Sea, where you will find incredible places for diving or water sports.
Best beaches in Curacao
Almost all the beaches on Curaçao are located along the southern coast of the island. Unfortunately, for reasons of time, it is not advisable to try to visit them all. The most recommended for its proximity would be:
Mambo Beach: Located next to the door of the marine aquarium. It has all the services, palm trees, and beautiful white sand, and It is perfect for families who will find calm waters, shops, and several bars. It has all the water sports.
Blue Bay Beach: It is a large beach located northwest of Willemstad, near the town of San Michel. It has all the services and is suitable for families.
Caracasbaai: With denser sand and small pebbles, it is trendy for snorkeling and diving as part of the underwater park.
Cas Abao Beach is also called a White sand beach, crystal clear waters, and palm trees. It has all the services. It is ideal for a relaxed beach day.
Jan Thiel Beach: Beach is located in a new residential area to the east of the city. There is a semi-enclosed area for children with a pool and a small water park.
It has a snack and beverage service. It is the most popular beach on Curaçao.
You include it in UNESCO World Heritage Sites (like the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal). It is a pleasure for the traveler to get lost in its old streets and squares. A walking tour of the most representative places should include places such as:
Brion Square (Brionplein): the very heart of the city is open to the canal and the nerve center where you can contemplate the life of its citizens.
Kura Hulanda Museum: This interesting anthropological museum is focused on the culture of Curaçao and the Netherlands Antilles.
Rif Fort in Otrobanda is one of the eight forts that protected the island.
Governor’s Palace: it is the current official residence of the governor of the island.
Floating Market: it is a recommended, picturesque and colorful market next to the canal. It is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
Maritime Museum: An extensive collection of nautical artifacts presenting the history of the islands throughout the centuries.WEB: maritimemuseum.com
Jojo Correa Square: One of the best places to observe the typical European colonial architecture.
Mikvé Synagogue: it is considered one of the oldest synagogues in the American continent.
Wilhelmina Park Square is a picturesque little park in the Jewish quarter with a unique atmosphere and must be visited.
Forts Waterfront and Fort Amsterdam in Punda: these are the two other defensive forts on the island built by the Dutch.
Mambo Beach Located next to the door of the marine aquarium. It has all the services, palm trees, and beautiful white sand, and it is perfect for families who will find calm waters, shops, and several bars. It has all the water sports.
Queen Emma floating bridge
The Queen Emma Bridge is one of the symbols and icons of Curacao and its capital Willemstad. This curious bridge over boats in the Bay of Santa Ana joins the neighborhoods of Punda and Otrobanda. It was originally a toll bridge, being built in 1888.
friends, It is known to the locals as Swinging Old Lady. It is opened (sometimes 30 times a day) to allow the passage of boats. If the bridge is open, you can take a free ride back and forth on a passenger ferry located right next door.
Hato Caves and the Indian trail walk
This cave has spectacular limestone formations, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. A guided tour of this underground world allows you to hear the legends of Curacao and see the iguanas and bats. You can stroll along the Indian Trail Walk in the same area to observe the island’s vegetation and the 1,500-years-old carvings.
HOURS: Open every day, from 8:30 am to 4 pm
Curacao Sea Aquarium
In the Curaçao marine aquarium, you will be able to see all the species of native marine life in the waters that surround the island. The different spices are displayed in natural seawater. There you can see 6-meter sharks, giant tortoises, or giant eels face to face.
At the Aquarium, it is possible to have a close encounter with marine animals. Thus, it is possible to swim with rays and angelfish or feed lemon, nurse, and reef sharks.
This popular attraction on the island consists of a submersible, self-propelled and ecological scooter with which you can observe a variety of beautiful fish swimming among the colorful reefs. It is an authentic underwater safari. No previous diving experience is required.
PRACTICAL ADVICE: WHEN VISITING CURACAO
Is Curaçao safe for tourists? One feels safe on the island, especially as a tourist. However, you have to take standard precautions in a city. Do not leave your valuables in plain sight or unattended.
Do I need mosquito repellent in Curacao? During the rainier seasons, it is advisable to have insect repellent. You can buy it on the island itself if you need it.
Do not forget to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses; the sun and heat can be intense.
In addition to the shops in the different streets of Willemstad, there are some shopping centers for your purchases. You can visit the Renaissance Mall & RIF Fort or take a bus to the new Sambil Mall.
Visitors arriving at any of the cruise terminals can walk to the most significant places without a problem.
When using a taxi, passengers must agree on a fare with the driver before the trip. You will find taxi ranks in both ports. For sightseeing, the rate is around $ 20 per hour.
If you want to explore the island by bus, you can get on a “collective” car or van. (Make sure it says “Bus” on the plate.) You can find a “Buki di Bus” (bus schedules and routes) at the port tourist office. The fees are around $ 2.
Although it is a small island, if we are going to leave the capital, it is highly recommended to carry the contact number of the Shipping Company’s Consignee in the port. We can find it in the daily program or ask at the cruise assistance desk onboard.
Map to drive in Curaçao:
The most important thing is that you never leave anything in the car; the island has a lot of robberies, especially if there is something visible. The island’s roads are in relatively good condition; watch out for a few potholes along the way.
Top sights in Curaçao
- Art & Culture
Top things to do in Curacao:
Curaçao is the largest island in the Netherlands Antilles and is known for its blend of African and European culture and its colorful capital, Willemstad. Now I share with you my favorite things to do in Curaçao.
1. The Caves of Hato
Just south of the airport are the Cuevas de Hato, a 240-meter-long cave formed in coral limestone by karst processes. You can access the caves from the surface with a 45-minute guided tour.
Tickets are $ 8 for adults and $ 6 for children.
2. The Christoffel National Park
Christoffel National Park is the largest and rich in flora, fauna, culture, and history. It is home to the highest peak, Christoffel Mountain, and one of the island’s first plantation houses, which now houses a museum.
The national park offers multiple trails designed to hike or explore from your safari-style car. In the park, you can find the white-tailed deer and the native owl.
3. Shete Boka Park
The Park Shete Boka National is famous for its craggy limestone cliffs, which create huge waves that shoot into the air. From the main entrance, there are three different areas to explore. While the entire park is passable, it is better to drive from point to point, as it is boiling.
- Boka Tabla: In front of the main parking lot is Boka Tabla and a small cave.
- Boka Pistol: On the right, there is a 30-minute walk to get to Boka Pistol, passing through Boka Kalki. There is also an entire cycle that takes two hours to complete.
- Boka Wandomi: On the left is a 30-minute walk to reach Boka Wandomi and a natural bridge formation.
The entrance fee is $ 5.50 per person.
4. The Watamula Hole
Also known as the “Breath of the Island,” the Watamula Hole is an exciting place to explore on the island’s northwestern tip. The waves and the sounds of the waterhole will leave you mesmerized.
5. La Grote Knip (Kenepa Grandi Beach)
Our favorite beach has to be Grote Knip, with its white sand and crystal clear waters. Put on your bathing suit and get ready to relax! There are also some areas for snorkeling along the rocks on both sides of the beach.
6. The Klein Knip
Klein Knip Beach is one of the smallest and quietest beaches we visit on the island. Provides a more relaxing environment to sit back and relax.
7. Lagun Beach
Playa Lagun is one of the most recommended beaches by the locals on the island. The small, relaxing beach is not crowded with tourists, which gives it a pleasant atmosphere. In addition, at the entrance you will find the most delicious fruit smoothies to refresh yourself.
8. PortoMari Beach
If you are looking for a more comfortable beach, with more beach chairs to rent and better facilities, look no further than Playa Porto Mari. If you just want to relax on the beach or enjoy a meal in the restaurant, admission is free. However, if you want to go swimming, it costs $ 3 per person.
9. Cas Abao Beach
If you want a beach with a bar, restaurant, lockers, massage service, and dive shop, Playa Cas Abao is for you. It has crystal clear waters and a raft moored to the beach. However, the best facilities come at a cost. Monday through Saturday costs $ 6 per car; Sundays and holidays cost $ 7.
10. The Flamingos
Driving back to Willemstad, make sure you don’t miss the flamingo sanctuary. You can get on a small observation deck in the water for a closer view of the flamingos. If you have a telephoto lens, now is the time to use it!
11. Learn about aloe at the CurALoe plantation
The CurAloe plantation has 10 hectares with more than 100,000 aloe plants, a factory, and a store. You can visit the aloe fields, watch an informative video about the aloe production process and visit their shop.
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm every day.
Entrance fee: it is accessible to the public.
12. Visit Curaçao Ostrich Farm
If you are in Curacao, you must go on a safari through the Curacao Ostrich Farm. The farm opened in 1995 with the idea of exporting ostrich meat and eggs to South America. It was later that they started offering food tours and experiences. On tour, you will learn about the African ostrich and the emu. You will also have the opportunity to feed and ride an ostrich.
13. Get the best panoramic photo of Curacao at Fort Beekenburg
On the east side of Willemstad sits Fort Beekenburg on a rocky cliff above Caracas Bay. It was built in 1703 under the orders of Governor Van Beek to keep the island safe from pirates and the French and English fleets during the 18th century.
14. Relax on Mambo Beach
Mambo Beach is a 900 meter long beach that ends with an aquarium, where you can swim with dolphins. Along the beach there is a two-story shopping center, with restaurants and bars.
Hours: 8:30 am to 5 pm every day.
Entrance fee : ANG 8 (approximately $ 4.50 USD) per person
15. Curaçao Liquor Distillery
The Curaçao Liquor Distillery is famous for its Blue Curaçao liquor. There is a brief tour through the history of the company along with an in-depth look at the distillation process, followed by a tasting of three different flavors of liquor. There is also a small gift shop and bar for mixed drinks if you want to shop.
16. Drive through panoramic views
After the distillery, we passed through the Jan Thiel neighborhood, one of the richest areas of the island with beautiful mansions and luxury resorts. It also has some of the best viewpoints in Spanish waters, Table Hill, and the entire southeast side of the island. We stopped on top of what they called “Chill Hill” to get some incredible panoramic photos.
What is Curacao best known for?
- Stunning beaches. …
- Some of the world’s best scuba diving spots. …
- A diverse culture and heritage. …
- The historic town of Willemstad. …
- Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. …
- The colorful Handelskade. …
- Orange Liqueur. …
- Curaçaoans speak multiple languages.
What do they do for entertainment in Curacao?
- Explore the Nature of Northeastern Side of Curacao. Make the most of Curacao’s amazing nature. …
- Learn About the Slave Trade at Museum Kura Hulanda. …
- Visit the Shete Boka National Park. …
- Go Snorkelling at the Tugboat Dive Site. …
- Hop Over to Klein Curacao. …
- Spend the Day at Salt Lake Willembrordus.
What is there to do in Curacao today?
The best things to do in Curaçao:
- Lounge and dine at Karakter Curaçao. …
- Have a plantation/museum experience at Savonet. …
- Visit Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai. …
- Visit the Willemstad Floating Market. …
- Take in the view from Landhuis Jan Kok. …
- Visit the Curaçao Museum. …
- Enjoy the Playa Porto Mari experience.
Is Curacao expensive to visit?
Getting to Curaçao isn‘t necessarily cheap (except from Amsterdam), but most things are quite affordable once you arrive, at least compared to other Caribbean islands.
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