Welcome to Curaçao, or “Bon Bini”, as the locals call it. Sunny skies and turquoise-blue oceans abound on this southern Caribbean island, and as one of the Leeward Antilles’ westernmost islands, Curaçao enjoys mild year-round temperatures and infrequent hurricanes. There are so many places to visit and things to do in Curacao. This island was completely unknown to me. I had never even heard of this island but when we were in Aruba, given this was a very short flight from there – we planned to spend a week here in this little slice of paradise. We flew Divi Divi air (named after a tree found exclusively in Aruba) for a 30 minutes flight from Aruba. It’s a 15-seater flight with a one-way fare of roughly 125 USD per person.
We stayed here for a week, and there are so many places to visit and things to do in Curacao, a Caribbean island owned by the Dutch. There are fewer tourists, and the beaches are completely unspoilt.
Curaçao offers much more than pleasant weather, from a deeper dive into history based in the trans-Atlantic slave trade to eating local cuisine while strolling around the fascinating capital city of Willemstad. There are many Curacao points of interest. Renting a car here is a must since all the Caribbean islands get very expensive if one has to use public transport. There are lots of Car rental agencies at the airport and you can pick up a car as soon as you land. We stayed at Scuba Lodge & Ocean suites and Renaissance hotel for 2 nights ( where I celebrated my 40th birthday & the last few days of my babymoon holiday – yes, I was 7 months pregnant when I was in Curacao) and they made it very special.
Here are the top things to do in Curacao to enjoy everything it has to offer:
1. Get stunned at the Shete Boka National Park
While in Curaçao, a visit to Shete Boka National Park will be a great way to spend the day. This is one of the top Curacao tourist places. Shete Boka is a national park in the western part of the island with many picturesque coves. The words’ Shete Boka’ mean ‘seven inlets,’ but there are many more in this spot, including Boka Tabla, which has incredible views from the top, and Boka Pistol, which is named by the sound the waves make as they break on the Boka. The gunfire-like explosions of the waves make it a marvel to watch. These two were my favourites. If you happen to visit Boka Tabla, you must walk into the cave which is absolutely mind-blowing. Wild waves crash into this tunnel. Shete Boka National Park, which borders Christoffel National Park, offers rocky coastal views and untamed wind-lashed landscapes.
Three kinds of sea turtles deposit their eggs on beaches tucked away on the rugged limestone coast. This is one of the best things to see here. For a bird’s-eye view of the roaring waves, choose a sheltered corner near the cavern’s entrance. One-hour hiking trails wind through the cliff tops, providing amazing views of the shore. This is one of the best things to do in Curacao.
The park is open from 9 am to 4pm and the entrance tickets are 10 USD per person.
2. Visit the beaches in the west – Grote Knip, Playa Lagun, Playa Casa Abao, Playa Piscado
Curacao has historically attracted divers. The beaches are major Curacao tourist attractions. Whether you’re looking for a hard wall dive or a shallow snorkelling site, you’ll find it here. Beaches, of course, are a significant attraction. They’re ideal for kids, with sugar-fine sand and tranquil waves – a must in your list of places to visit in Curacao.
Perhaps the most incredible beach on the island in general. It’s a beautiful area to unwind and swim/snorkel. Thrill-seekers can leap off the cliffs, so there’s a little bit for everyone. It’s a little off the usual route, but it’s well worth the journey. This is one of the top Curacao tourist attractions.
It’s a small, clean beach, but you must pay for the chairs (3$ US per day). Nevertheless, it’s a great place to dive or snorkel because there’s so much to see, including various fish and corals.
Playa Cas Abao
This is one of Curacao’s top ten beaches. Excellent amenities, including plenty of parking, plenty of chairs and shade, huts, bathrooms, showers, a restaurant, drinks, and a dive store. Kayaks are available for rent. Snorkelling is fine, and there is plenty of fish life throughout Curacao, but the actual coral and soft reefs are dead over 30 feet, and you can’t see coral past 20 feet snorkelling. So get out there and dive! The admission price is $6, but the chairs are only $3 apiece. I couldn’t go diving since I was pregnant but I am definitely going back to Curacao for diving someday.
Fishermen come to Playa Pescado to clean their catch, as the name implies. The beach itself isn’t remarkable (mainly stones), but the turtles draw people here. With snorkelling gear and a simple entry into the water, you’ll be surrounded by sea turtles in no time. After cleaning their catch, these lovely animals come here to eat the scraps that fishermen throw into the water. It’s tempting to touch them, but don’t! A little beach with restrooms that locals primarily use. Seeing these animals in the wild is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s always a hit with the entire family. So pick up some food and dine it on the beach al fresco. This is one of the top Curacao points of interest.
3. Go to Naturals – an optional clothing resort.
On the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), The Natural is the only “clothing optional” resort. The term “clothing optional” refers to the fact that naturism is permissible but not required. They appreciate your decision to wear or not wear clothing by the pool, on the sun terraces, or your bungalow’s porch. The Natural lies in the rustic village of St. Willibrordus, in the heart of Curaçao, where nature is breathtaking. The verdant hills and salt pans of Jan Kok will be seen from your cottage. Flamingos can be found nearby, and the magnificent beaches of Daaibooi, Porto Marie and Casa Abou. A Belgian couple has owned the resort since October 1, 2018. This is also one of the most beautiful Curacao tourist attractions.
4. Go to Playa Forti Restaurant and watch people jumping off the cliffs.
This restaurant was established in 1958 on the ruins of a stronghold built during the Napoleonic era by the English. Perched high on the cliffs, this restaurant provides visitors with a spectacular view over the island’s westernmost region as well as a spectacular sunset. This is one of the top Curacao points of interest. Playa Forti offers a wide range of regional and international cuisines. Red snapper à la Curaçao, stew goat, tenderloin, and even cheeseburgers are among the delicacies.
Playa Forti welcomes you to watch the sunset while sipping on delicious pina Coladas. Other than this, the restaurant also has a diving platform and a lot of people jump into the sea from here. Even if you don’t gather the courage to jump, just watching people do it is awesome as well. Of course, I couldn’t jump since I was pregnant but I sat at the restaurant with brownies and ice cream and really enjoyed watching people overcome their fears and take the plunge.youThis is one of the best things to do in Curacao.
5. Explore Willemstad – the colourful houses and hotels.
It goes without saying that one should visit the capital city of any location to gain critical insight into the people’s lifestyle and culture. Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making exploring the city even more intriguing. St. Anna Bay divides the city into two halves, which are known as Punda (east) and Otrobanda (west). The Queen Emma Bridge connects the two, making it simple to travel between them. This bridge opens up for ships & boats to pass by and you can sit at one of the many restaurants by the sea and watch the bridge opening & closing. Willemstad’s architecture is lively and attractive, and the region offers various attractions, including Handelskade, a seaside street lined with beautiful colonial Dutch buildings. While we were at Willemstad, we stayed at Scuba Lodge and Ocean suites, which was absolutely amazing.
Places to eat at Willemstad: Mundo Bizarre – they have live Tango shows which are great, Ginger has great decor and food, takeaway food at Bistros, breakfast at Scuba Lodge if you are craving Indian food then head to Mandals.
6. Eat at De Visserij
Sip an Amstel Bright while watching fishermen bring in their fresh catch from a seaside picnic table at De Visserij (‘the fishery’ in Dutch), just north of Willemstad. You name it: yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, red snapper, barracuda, shrimp. Pick your fish from the counter, add your sauce of choice, and watch it fry. The beauty and the process make the journey worthwhile. This restaurant is the most popular in Curacao and hence get ready to wait in a long queue to be able to get a table no matter what time of the day you visit but it will be absolutely worth the wait.
7. Visit the Riff Fort
You’ll enjoy the island’s hospitality as well as the colourful structures of Willemstad’s historic area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the best things to see. The Renaissance Mall and Rif Fort are located across the pontoon bridge. The fort, which was built in 1828 to defend Willemstad’s Otrobanda quarter in the 18th century, currently protects various businesses, pubs, and restaurants.
The fort and nearby mall have been found by visitors vacationing on the island and cruise passengers enjoying a day in port. Cruise guests may now wander into the fort and mall for some shopping and sightseeing thanks to the Mega Pier, which is only a 7-minute walk from Rif Fort. Steak and Ribs are situated on the Rif Fort’s banquette, with the Willemstad port inlet and Punda views. A meal here is a must! We had dinner here on my 40th birthday. We were blown away by the quality of the food and the quantity! The red snapper and the shrimp curry are delicious!
8. Take a stroll on Queen Emma Bridge, overlooking Handelskade.
The floating Queen Emma Bridge, nicknamed the “Swinging Old Lady” after a Dutch queen, swings open to admit ships access St. Anna Bay and connects Willemstad’s two districts, Punda and Otrobanda (“other side”). Handelskade, a collection of historic buildings painted in brilliant hues on the waterfront, greets you on the Punda side. You might also watch the bridge opening from a seat at Iguana Cafe. You can also see the iconic Curacao scenery from the bridge, which is featured on every Curacao postcard.
9. Shop in Punda
Willemstad’s Punda is a fantastic shopping destination. The streets on this side of town are vibrant, and the people are as welcoming as ever, as is typical of Curaçao. In this section, you’ll discover anything from jewellery and technology to cosmetics, apparel, and souvenirs. In addition, there are numerous cafés and terraces and a fun event called Punda Vibes that takes place every Thursday night.
10. Witness the journey to relaxation & luxury by staying at The Renaissance – the best in CuraCao
In the historical city of Willemstad, the Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino, which sits on the edge of the glistening water, offers picturesque luxury. Enjoy plush furniture, room service, complimentary bottled water at check-in, and scenic ocean views in their refreshing hotel rooms and elegant comfort. Their infinity pool is to die for.
Explore the various adjacent shops, restaurants, and bars around their resort while relaxing on their private raised beach with beautiful white sands. Stay at the Renaissance – it’s the best on the island, and the service is fantastic. It was there that I celebrated my birthday, and it was highly memorable. Given it was my 40th birthday, the staff at the hotel made it very special. They upgraded us to one of their best rooms and decorated the entire room with balloons and flowers. It was very special. I must mention one of their hotel staff – Ryangelo who went out of his way to make my stay memorable.
11. Lounge at Mambo Beach
South of Willemstad is the vibrant, energetic neighbourhoods of Jan Thiel and Mambo Beach. Jan Thiel owns a renowned seaside restaurant and bar where young adults and locals may relax in the sun and party late into the night. Mambo Beach is a Curaçao family beach with various stores selling anything from food to apparel to souvenirs and presents. The beach is located within Mambo Boulevard, a commercial complex with restaurants, boutiques, and other services, so you can get a little bit of everything throughout your day at Mambo Beach. The beach is lovely and clean, and you may rent beach umbrellas and chairs to enjoy the view from a shady vantage point. Unfortunately, Mambo Beach is also popular with cruise passengers, so it can get congested at times.
12. Spotting flamingos in Curaçao
Flamingos may be seen in two areas on Curaçao: the Sint Michielsbaai and the Jan Kok salt pans, often known as the Rif-Sint Marie salia. Definitely visit both places. The flamingoes may not be visible from the viewing platform so walk on the pathway that may take you closer to the flamingos. This is one of the best things to do in Curacao.
13. Watch the sunset at Kokomo beach & snorkel at the Tugboat beach.
With its tranquil ambience and breathtaking waterside vistas, the picturesque Kokomo beach in Curaçao is ideal for watching the sunset on this island. You won’t have to pay an admission charge, and you’ll have access to beach loungers. This beach also has a restaurant and a bar. It’s known for the swing that it has in the sea and a lot of people definitely like to get their pictures clicked there.
Also, visit Tugboat beach and go snorkelling there to a shipwreck which is just a 15-20 mins swim from the beach and will be absolutely worth your time.
Visit the beaches in the east, including Jan Theil, Mambo Beach, Caracaai Bay, and Directors Baai, my favourite secret beach which I totally loved.
Another place that I really wanted to visit but had to skip since I was 7 months pregnant is the Blue Room. It’s a sea cave and is spectacular. Look it up and you definitely would not want to miss it. Also, a day trip to Klein Curacao is a must which too I had to skip since it’s a 2 hours bumpy boat ride.
That’s all from me on Curacao, please do let me know if there is anything else you want to know.
Thanks for reading this. If you liked what you read, please leave me a comment below.
What is the policy of travelling to Curacao in the wake of COVID-19?
All potential visitors, whether vaccinated and unvaccinated, must present documentation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, according to current guidelines. Once in Curacao, you will need to do a COVID test again on the 3rd day. Meanwhile, government authorities and a consulting group of well-known doctors debate whether this policy should be changed in the future.
Where is Curacao?
Curacao is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, 40 miles north of Venezuela, between the islands of Aruba and Bonaire. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are the three islands that make up the ABC Islands.
You can fly directly to Curacao from the United States or take a connecting flight. Because Curacao lies outside of the hurricane belt, it has a bright, dry environment with little rainfall all year. On the island, you’ll see desert-like vegetation. Cacti grow here, and you can taste cactus soup while you’re here.)
What to pack for Curacao?
Because Curacao is a hot and windy area, it’s wise to carry light casual clothing.
- Water Shoes: Bring water shoes if you plan on snorkelling or swimming because many beaches have rocks when you first enter the water.
- Mosquito repellent: Mosquitoes emerge at night!
- Sunscreen is necessary on one of the Caribbean’s warmest and sunniest islands. By eliminating chemical-based sunscreens, choose a reef-friendly sunscreen that protects sea life. P40 and Badger are two safe bets.
- Wireless Phone Charger: Bring a portable charger for your devices if you plan on spending the entire day at the beach.