top of page
  • Writer's pictureExperienceTheExplored

Traveling to Curacao - Everything you need to know!

Curaçao is a beautiful island in the Caribbean known for its vibrant culture, stunning beaches, and rich history. This trip requires a car to be rented if you want to branch out and go to some of the more beautiful beaches or cultural experiences. Unless, you are a resort person and don't plan to wonder around the island. Here are five detailed tips for traveling to Curaçao:

Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, Curaçao invites travelers with its vivid culture, azure waters, and a tapestry of historic charm. This island gem, with its UNESCO-listed capital of Willemstad and a coastline adorned with pristine beaches, offers an enchanting blend of relaxation and adventure. Whether you're drawn to the vibrant colors of Punda, the hidden wonders beneath the waves, or the tantalizing flavors of local cuisine, Curaçao promises an unforgettable experience. Within these tips, we'll delve into five detailed tips to make the most of your journey to this Caribbean haven, ensuring you uncover the best of what Curaçao has to offer.

Tip #1 - Explore Willemstad's UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • Punda, Pietermaai, and Otrobanda: Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with colorful Dutch colonial architecture. Walk along the beautiful buildings and enjoy some shopping. Explore Punda, Pietermaai and Otrobanda, connected by the iconic Queen Emma Bridge. Ensure that you go see the bridge light up at night as well.

  • Visit Rif Fort: Constructed in 1828, the Rif Fort was the work of a Dutch engineer Baron Krayenhoff, outfitted with walls nearly a foot thick, 56 cannons, and 27 arches. Over the years it has served as a prison, a police headquarters. Now it is used as a shopping and restaurant district in the Otrobanda area.

Tip #2 - Embrace the Beaches:

  • Grote Knip: This is one of the most famous beaches on the island, known for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful surroundings. About a 50 minute drive from Willemstad. This was a very low key beach, and it was amazing. At the time of my visit, there was no entrance fee to this beach. There was a $12 price if you wanted to rent two beach lounges and a large umbrella.

  • Playa Porto Mari: Offers excellent snorkeling opportunities, with a beautiful coral reef just a short swim from the shore. There was a very nice ocean side restaurant with reasonable prices, and a great selection of food and drinks. This beach did have an entrance fee, and a chair/umbrella rental fee. The entrance was $6, and the chairs/umbrella were again $12 for the day. This was our groups favorite beach, because of the views, the snorkeling, and the restaurant.

  • Cas Abao Beach: Known for its soft white sand and clear waters, it's an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming. This beach is often called "One of the best beaches in the world". I'm not going to say it wasn't a great beach, but I would say it was no better than Grote Knip or Playa Porto Mari.

Tip #3 - Experience the Underwater World:

  • Snorkeling and Diving: Curaçao boasts some of the best underwater sights in the Caribbean. Tugboat Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving due to the sunken tugboat just off the coast. Any beach I visited, I snorkeled. I brought my own snorkeling set with me, because I knew I would be snorkeling a ton and did not want to worry about renting every day, or finding somewhere to rent.

  • Shore Diving: With many easily accessible dive sites from the shore, Curaçao is a haven for divers of all levels. One of the coolest dive spots was "Tug Boat Beach", it was a simple off shore swim to view a tug boat that had sunk. This beach was also very florescent and there were SO many fish. I would say this was my favorite snorkeling spot. We brought dry bags on the trip, and they came in handy at this spot, though there are lockers you can rent and leave your valuables in, but I wouldn't trust leaving things in the car.

Tip #4 - Culinary Delights:

  • Try Local Dishes: Don't miss out on local specialties like Keshi Yena (stuffed cheese), Beef or Lamb Stoba (a hearty stew), and fresh seafood dishes like Krioyo (local style) fish or Red Snapper. Not local to Curacao, but we got Venezuelan arepas that are worth a try as well. The Pietermaai and Punda district had plenty of delicious restaurants that offered local foods at reasonable prices.

  • Visit Plasa Bieu: Also known as Old Market, it's a bustling spot for local cuisine. You'll find a variety of stalls serving traditional dishes. Here we tried some different foods, we tried Ox tail stew, as well as Iguana soup.

Tip #5 - Cultural Experiences:

  • Visit Landhuis Chobolobo: This historic mansion houses the Senior & Co. Curacao Liqueur Distillery, where you can sample the famous Blue Curaçao liqueur. They also offer a lovely tour, that walks you through the traditional process of how they started making this liqueur by hand, and how the same process and recipe continues till today.

  • Klein Curacao: This is an abandoned island off of the east coast of Curacao. You are able to take boat tours to the island for the day, where you can walk to an old light house, as well as a washed up large boat. On the tour we did, we left at about 8am, we got coffee and cold cut sandwiches for breakfast. The catamaran ride took about 1.5 hours, and once we got there they can either boat you to shore or you can swim the little distance. Once you arrive, there are only a few areas of shade which was the biggest downside, there is one company that offers these tours that have a beach club on the island. We also had an amazing BBQ lunch, and the afternoon also included an open bar of beer and liquor. For the tour, I defiantly recommend eating a good breakfast, hydrating before and bringing plenty of water along.

Bonus Tip:

  • Language and Currency: The official languages are Dutch, Papiamento, and English. The local currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG), but US dollars are widely accepted. Visa cards were also widely accepted. Personally, I am a fan of having cash when I travel, so I used the ATM a few times which was simple.

For a detailed itinerary for Curacao, check out our free itineraries here. Want something a little more specific to your needs and wants? Book our personalized consulting service here.

Thanks for reading, I hope we were able to answer some questions. Reach out if there is anything else you would like to know.



bottom of page