Ten years ago I traveled to Curaçao with a friend where we had an unforgettable vacation. Relaxing on exotic beaches, swimming in clear water, drinking as many cocktails as we could, shaking our hips in wet & wild,… you name it, we did it! It was therefore a dream that came true when I got the chance to travel to Curaçao again this summer. This time I traveled with Corendon, who now also offer full vactions from Belgium to Curaçao. The surprising thing is that this time I got to know the island in a completely different way. Curaçao is not very big, but it’s definitely a versatile destination. That’s why I collected all my tips to create an extensive travel guide about this colorful, tropical island. Here you will find everything you need to know about Curaçao, including which amazing things to do on your trip among many other tips.
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Curaçao is part of the Antilles. This is an island group located in the Caribbean Sea that stretches from Florida to Venezuela. Curaçao is really what you can expect from a Caribbean island. In three words: an exotic paradise!
But don’t be surprised if you are addressed in Dutch. Because until 2010, together with a few other islands that were all colonized by the Netherlands in the past, Curacao formed the Netherlands Antilles. Curaçao is now an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Another interesting tidbit: Curaçao, alongside its neighboring islands, Aruba and Bonaire, collectively makes up the ABC islands. I’ve had the pleasure of exploring Curaçao and Aruba, and I can wholeheartedly recommend both destinations. So, deciding on the pefect Dutch Caribbean island for your trip can be quite hard, or you can just combine them in one vacation, win-win!
How to travel to Curaçao?
The best way to travel to Curacao is by plane. With Corendon we flew from Charleroi airport in Belgium via Air Belgium to Curaçao. This flight makes a short stopover in Martinique. You don’t have to leave the plane during this stopover. So you can continue to relax while the passengers with destination Martinique disembark. It’s so easy to travel to this beautiful island from Belgium.
But do keep in mind that Curaçao is in a different time zone. In the summer it is 6 hours earlier to Belgium and in the winter 5 hours. I personally don’t mind, because that way you gain a bit of time from the long flight. The disadvantage is the jet lag that makes you wake up very early during the first few days.
Arriving Curaçao international airport I was picked up by the shuttle service of the hotel that was included in my Corendon trip. So nice after a long flight like this! But you can also perfectly reach your destination by public transport. Though that might take a little longer.
How to get around on the island?
Are you traveling without a travel agency and would you like to experience all the things to do in Curaçao? Then I advise you to rent a car. You’ll find several car rental companies at the airport. It’s best to book a car online before you travel there.
From the airport you can also take the bus, called convoy (konvooi), to Otrobanda or Punda, two neighborhoods that are part of Willemstad. From these stops you can then take the bus to other parts of the island. You can consult the timetable and destination at the stops themselves.
You can also use minibuses along the most busy routes on the island. These, you can recognize by the car plate BUS. There is a sign with the destination on the windshield. To make a bus like that stop, you have to raise your hand.
A quick reminder! In Curaçao they pay with Antillean guilders or American dollars. So don’t forget to quickly withdraw some cash at the airport if you use public transport.
When is the best time to travel Curaçao?
Here we can mention one of Curaçao’s greatest assets! Due to its location in the middle of the tropics and the favorable northeasterly wind, you can enjoy exotic temperatures and lots of sun all year round. That’s why Curaçao is also a wonderful vacation destination during winter. It’s the perfect island to escape the cold weather.
Where to stay in Curaçao?
Would you like to get the most out of a stay in Curaçao? Then I can strongly recommend the new Corendon Mangrove Beach resort. This ultra all-in resort is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton and is within walking distance of Willemstad, close to some of the top things to do in Curaçao.
I stayed here for 5 days and found this not nearly enough. I must admit that didn’t always have very pleasant experienses in all-inclusive resorts in the past, mainly because of the crowds, loud entertainment, … But that is absolutely not how I experienced this resort.
What I especially liked here is that, despite the fact that this is a large hotel, the space is arranged in such a way that you have different corners everywhere with beach bars, restaurants, but also smaller cozy corners at the beach, pool or the lobby. As a result, you do not get the feeling that you’re staying in a large hotel.
Another thing that really made my stay here amazing, were the restaurants that were located in different locations in the hotel and each had their own specialties. This way you had the feeling that you were dining at a different location every night. My personal favorites were the barbecue and the Italian restaurant. These are of course also part of the all-inclusive service, but reservations are recommended. Oh yes, almost forgot to mention that all drinks are also part of this service. Yes, also those delicious cocktails at the pool bar!
This hotel really thinks of everything to ensure that their guests will enjoy their stay the best way possible. They leave nothing to chance. Even the rooms have European sockets, so you don’t have to provide a plug changer. Anyway, I’m already digressing a little bit, but with this I wanted to show once again that it is definitely worth staying in the Corendon Mangrove Beach resort.
Beste things to do in Curaçao
Admire the most beautiful beaches on the island
The biggest attraction of Curaçao are of course the beautiful beaches. And yes, they look just as tropical as in the magazines: extensive white sandy beaches with clear blue water with a little shade here and there from palm trees or those typical straw umbrellas. And if you think: ‘but everyone goes to Curaçao for a beach vacation, those beaches will be overcrowded there anyway.’ Then you are wrong. Curaçao has no fewer than 38 beaches from the very well-known and touristic ones to the smaller, more pristine bays.
Around Willemstad and Jan Thiel you will find the most popular beaches with trendy beach clubs such as Mambo beach. In my opinion you can find the most beautiful and more pristine beaches in the Southwest of the island. The most known beaches there such as Cas Abou and Playa Porto Mari are paying because you can use the facilities on the beach such as the sunbeds and showers for the whole day. Besides those you also have the smaller bays such as Daai Booi where you can enjoy the beach for free, but then from your on top of your own towel. Little- and big Knip beach, which are located in the west of the island, are also highly recommended. So there is definitely no shortage of beaches.
Plan a day trip to Little Curaçao
One of the most famous beaches is that of Klein Curaçao. This is an uninhabited island located 2 hours off the coast of Curaçao. The only way to visit Klein Curaçao is by boat. We went with Bleu Finn Catamaran boat trip. We were warned in advance about seasickness. I thought it was a bit exaggerated at first, but wisely took a travel pill before sailing. And once we left, the first people got seasick. It was a tough 2 hours, but the crew did a great job helping everyone as best they could. If you get seasick easily, be prepared.
When you arrive at Little Curaçao you will be overwhelmed by a WOW feeling. You set foot on the longest and whitest beach of Curaçao. It’s a beautiful and perfect place for a day of relaxing in the sun and some water fun. You can also snorkel there and have a chance to spot turtles. It also one of the best places to dive in Curaçao. So consider investing in a cheap underwater camera. The only downside is that there isn’t much shade, so be sure to bring a hat! And high factor sunscreen is also a must!
Do you need a short break while sunbathing? Then you can also take a short walk on the island along the 19th-century lighthouses and shipwreck. If you ask me, two very photogenic locations
Returning to Curaçao with the catamaran was less turbulent than going there. We even got company from a dolphin that swam with us for a while. How nice to end this trip like this.
Explore colorful Willemstad
One of the things to do on your trip to Curaçao is explore colorful Willemstad. The most popular neighborhoods are Otrobanda and Punda, which are connected by the famous Queen Emma Bridge AKA swinging old lady. From this bridge you not only have a great view of the colorful trading quay of Punda, but you’re also on the only floating wooden swing bridge in the world. When you walk on it, it’s a bit like stepping on a boat.
A fun way to discover Otrobanda is through a street art tour with a guide. In this way you will discover the most colorful and beautiful places in this district and you will be able to admire the work of talented local artists.
During your walk in Otrobanda you should definitely stop in Kaya Augosto Fraai where you can not only admire stunning murals, but also buy homemade ice creams from a local. Delicious!
The other neighborhoods within Willemstad such as Pietermaai and Scharloo are definitely also worth a visit.
Learn more about the history of the island by visiting Kura Hulanda Museum
In Willemstad you will also find the Kura Hulanda museum that tells a little more about the turbulent past of Curacao. In the 16th century, Curaçao was a major transit port in the international slave trade between Europe, Suriname and North America. This makes Curaçao one of the largest slave markets in the Caribbean. The Kura Hulanda museum is built around the square where the slaves arrived and tells more about how it was then. I visited the Kura Hulanda Museum on my first trip to Curaçao and found it a very intens experience.
Even today you can still visit some plantations, including the plantage kenepa (knip) where Tula led the slave revolt. He also got slaves from other plantations to rebel against their masters. The uprising didn’t end well. Tula and the others were betrayed and sentenced to death.
Go into the wild through an adventurous Buggy tour
Do you want to discover Curacao in an adventurous way? Then a guided buggy tour is definitely something for you. Don’t be misled by the word ‘guided’, because you have to drive the buggy yourself. And it’s not exactly a beginner’s route. With the buggy tour you go off-road while you discover the lesser-known side of Curaçao. Along the way you pass the impressive cactus-covered plains of San Pedro. Here you will stop to visit a hidden cave.
Then you pass Boca Patrick where you can see the force of nature. When the waves hit the underground cave that is located here, the water sprays into the air. Super impressive to watch.
And finally you stop at my new favorite spot on the island, the pristine bay Daai Booi.
On the way back you’ll pass the salt pans of the salt plantation Rif St. Marie and if you’re lucky, you can spot flamingos.
Go hiking in National park Christoffel
Are you a nature lover or avid hiker? Then you can also visit the National Park Christoffel. There you can spot various local birds and plants. In the park you can also do a brisk hike and climb the Christoffel mountain. But in these weather conditions I advise you to do this as early as possible in the day.
Drop by the Curaloe plantation
On this plantation Aloe Vera is grown, a plant from the Middle East that is now also often grown in the Caribbean. Here the plants are used for the production of skin care products under the name Curaloe. You can enter the plantation for free and see how the production process works. You even can try out the different products.
Visit the Curaçao ostrich farm
Did you know that you can also visit the largest ostrich farm outside of Africa on Curaçao? Perhaps not something typical for Curaçao, but certainly one of the pleasant things to do for young and old in Curaçao
Hotspots in curacao
You can enjoy a nice lunch or dinner with a phenomenal view of Queen Emma Bridge in De Gouverneur Not only the location, but also the building and the interior provide a beautiful setting. And not unimportant, the food is sublime! Tip: try the banana soup.
For local specialties and fresh fish you absolutely have to go to Jaanchie’s Restaurant in Westpunt. This is the only place on the island where you can legally taste the most exotic specialty of Curacao, namely Iguana. Go for iguana soup or Stobà di Yuana (an iguana stew). Apparently it tastes just like chicken.
Another recommendation for lunch is the Old Market Food Court. Here you can also taste local dishes. Go for Karni Stoba (stew) with Funchi. Funchi is boiled corn flour that is often eaten here instead of potatoes or rice. In the Dutch Treat snack bar in Otrobanda you even can order Funchi hasa (fried funchi).
If you’re looking for a more cosy, layed back vibe, then Pirate Bay beach is definitely for you. This is a super nice place to enjoy a drink and snack during a spectacular sunset.
If you fancy a nightcap in Otrobanda, Bario is the place to be. In this trendy bar with lounge area you can sip delicious cocktails.
For a tasteful late night snack you need to go to a Truk’í Pan. These are food trucks that you can find at different places along the road. Order one of those typical local snacks such as a Lomito sandwich (tenderloin) or stoba (stew). Great after a night out!
Wow, it was wonderful to be back in Curacao. Again I was surprised by this versatile and colorful island. Besides to the exotic beaches, there are many other things to do in Curaçao . That’s why this is the perfect vacations destination for young and old. I’m sure you will have an unforgettable journey!
Which are your favorite things to do in Curaçao? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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