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things to do on curacao

Curacao Complete Travel Guide-What to do, Where to Stay & More

Curacao, with its vivid turquoise waters and vibrant Dutch architecture, is a gem in the Caribbean that I had the pleasure of calling home for over three months. This guide is your all-access pass to the island’s best-kept secrets, from awe-inspiring activities to cozy corners for relaxation. Having immersed myself in the local culture and explored far beyond the usual tourist trails, I’m thrilled to share firsthand tips, top accommodations, and essential advice to make your visit as magical as the island itself. Welcome to your ultimate Curacao travel guide – let’s dive in!

The Complete Curacao Travel Guide

Why Visit?

Curacao, a hidden gem in the Caribbean, offers a blend of vibrant culture, friendly locals, and natural beauty that’s hard to find elsewhere. Its allure lies not just in the world-class snorkeling sites, teeming with marine life, but also in its lively downtown, where fantastic restaurants and eclectic shopping await.

The island basks in beautiful weather year-round, making any time perfect for a visit. What sets Curacao apart is its unique Dutch Caribbean flair, visible in the colorful colonial architecture and felt in the warm, welcoming spirit of its people. It’s a less trodden path that leads to an authentic, unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure beneath the waves or the joy of exploring a lively, culturally rich town, Curacao beckons with open arms.

Best Things to Do in Curacao

curacao complete travel guide

Curacao is an island paradise that beckons with a treasure trove of activities, blending natural wonders with cultural vibrancy. Here’s a glimpse of the best things to do, encapsulating the essence of Curacao’s allure. For a more detailed exploration, be sure to check out my comprehensive guide.

  1. Visit Willemstad: The heart of Curacao, known for its vividly colored Dutch colonial buildings and the iconic Queen Emma Bridge. A UNESCO World Heritage site that’s as lively as it is picturesque.
  2. Enjoy the Many Beaches of the Island: From the secluded coves to the expansive sandy beaches, Curacao’s shores are perfect for sunbathing, relaxation, and water sports.
  3. Snorkel/Scuba Diving: The island’s crystal-clear waters are a haven for marine life. Offering some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spots in the Caribbean.
  4. Hike Christoffelberg Mountain: For the adventurous, a hike up Curacao’s highest peak promises breathtaking panoramic views of the island.
  5. Swim with Sea Turtles: Experience the magic of swimming alongside these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
  6. Explore Westpunt: A serene area known for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and excellent diving spots.
  7. Explore Pietermaai: Dive into this lively district’s vibrant nightlife, boutique hotels, and culinary delights.
  8. Visit the Flamingos: Observe these iconic birds in their natural environment, offering a unique wildlife experience.
  9. Swim into Blue Room Cave: An unforgettable adventure into a hidden underwater cave illuminated by a mesmerizing blue light.

Curacao is a world filled with endless adventures and cultural discoveries. For an in-depth look at each of these experiences, make sure to read my full guide to the best things to do in Curacao.

Where to Stay on the Island

Curacao Travel Guide

When choosing where to stay in Curacao, each area offers its unique charm and set of considerations. Here’s a quick guide to help you pick the perfect spot for your island getaway:

  1. Downtown Willemstad: The vibrant heart of Curacao, bustling with energy, amazing food, and a rich tapestry of cultural activities. The convenience of easy transport and being in the center of it all is unmatched. However, the absence of beach access means you might miss out on the quintessential island experience.
  2. Westpunt: For those drawn to the natural beauty of Curacao, Westpunt is unbeatable. It boats the island’s most beautiful beaches and a plethora of outdoor activities. Its secluded location, however, means a bit of a trek to indulge in the diverse culinary and cultural scene of downtown.
  3. Mambo Beach: The epitome of a lively beachfront experience, Mambo Beach offers a bustling mix of restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. The beach here, while beautiful, tends to draw crowds. It’s the go-to for those seeking action and convenience in one spot.
  4. Jan Thiel: A slightly quieter alternative to Mambo Beach, Jan Thiel still offers a vibrant nightlife and dining scene but with a bit more breathing room. It’s a balanced choice for travelers looking for amenities without the Mambo crowds.
  5. Central Part of the Island: Ideal for those seeking a more authentic, local experience. Areas like Coral Estate offer serene, upscale living, while the surrounding regions provide more budget-friendly accommodations. Though less frequented by tourists, this part of Curacao offers a genuine glimpse into island life.

Each area has its allure. Whether you’re seeking the hustle and bustle of city life, serene beachside relaxation, or an authentic local experience. Your choice will shape your Curacao adventure, making it uniquely yours.

Best Resorts and Hotels on Curacao

Curacao offers a diverse array of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. From luxurious all-inclusive resorts and charming boutique hotels to cozy Airbnbs nestled in scenic locations. Among the plethora of options, some stand out for their exceptional service, unique charm, and prime locations. Here’s a list of some of the best places to stay on the island:

  • Bario Hotel: Nestled in the heart of Willemstad, this hotel offers an authentic experience of the city’s vibrant culture and history, with cozy, beautifully designed rooms.
  • Coral Estate Luxury Resort: For those seeking tranquility and luxury, this resort, located on the island’s serene western coast, offers stunning ocean views and top-notch amenities.
  • Kontiki Beach Resort Curacao: Perfect for beach lovers, this resort provides a tropical oasis with lush gardens and easy access to Curacao’s famous clear blue waters.
  • Saint Tropez Boutique Hotel: Located in the lively Pietermaai District, this hotel blends modern chic with Caribbean flair, offering an upscale stay close to the best dining and nightlife.

Each of these accommodations promises a unique stay, ensuring that your Curacao getaway is as comfortable as it is memorable.

How to Get Around & Rental Car Tips

Exploring Curacao to its fullest often means venturing beyond the confines of your resort or the immediate vicinity of your accommodation. The island’s beauty and diverse attractions are best experienced with the freedom and flexibility that only a rental car can provide. This mode of transportation allows you to discover hidden gems, from secluded beaches to charming local eateries, on your own schedule.

For those who prefer not to drive, guided tours offer an alternative way to see the island’s sights. Keep in mind this option does come with the limitation of following a set itinerary. Meanwhile, visitors looking for a purely relaxing beach vacation may find everything they need within the all-inclusive resorts dotting the island, eliminating the need for any transportation at all.

However, if you’re eager to explore Curacao’s unique blend of cultures, landscapes, and underwater wonders at your leisure, renting a car is undoubtedly the way to go. It not only empowers you to tailor your trip to your interests but also enriches your travel experience by allowing for spontaneous adventures and personal discoveries.

Best Time of Year to Visit Curacao

things to do on curacao

Curacao stands out as a year-round destination in the Caribbean, thanks to its unique location far south of the typical hurricane belt, ensuring it remains largely unaffected by the seasonal storms that can impact other islands. Each season brings its own set of advantages and considerations:

  • Peak Season (Winter): While this is the most popular time to visit, offering respite from colder climates, it also coincides with the highest prices and largest crowds.
  • Shoulder Season (Autumn and Spring): These periods strike a perfect balance, providing milder weather, fewer tourists, and more attractive pricing. It’s the ideal time for those seeking both value and a more intimate experience of the island’s offerings.
  • Summer: Expect higher temperatures during these months, but with the bonus of smaller crowds. It’s suitable for travelers who don’t mind the heat in exchange for a more laid-back visit.

With this in mind, the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring come highly recommended for their combination of pleasant weather, reduced crowds, and better rates, making them the optimal times for exploring all that Curacao has to offer.

Tips for Visiting Curacao

Visiting Curacao is an experience filled with vibrant culture, stunning natural beauty, and the warm, welcoming spirit of the Caribbean. To make the most of your trip, here are some essential tips:

  1. Get Connected with Airalo eSIMs: Stay connected easily without the hassle of physical SIM cards. An eSIM from Airalo can keep you online throughout your stay, offering convenient and affordable data plans.
  2. Try Some Local Dishes: Curacao’s culinary scene is a delightful blend of Dutch, African, and Latin influences. Don’t miss the chance to savor local specialties like Keshi Yena (stuffed cheese) or the freshest seafood dishes.
  3. Check Out Local Festivals: Immerse yourself in Curacao’s culture by attending local festivals. Whether it’s the colorful Carnival or the soulful Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, these events offer a glimpse into the island’s vibrant community spirit.
  4. Wear Plenty of Sunscreen: The Caribbean sun is indeed intense. Protect your skin with high SPF sunscreen, reapplying every two hours, to enjoy the island’s outdoor adventures without the burn.
  5. Explore Beyond the Beach: While Curacao’s beaches are mesmerizing, the island has much more to offer. Visit the Hato Caves, explore the Christoffel National Park, or stroll through the historic streets of Willemstad.
  6. Respect the Coral Reefs: When snorkeling or diving, admire the coral reefs’ beauty without touching. These fragile ecosystems are vital to marine life and require our care to thrive.
  7. Stay Hydrated: Keep a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially important in the tropical heat.

By following these tips, you’re set for an unforgettable adventure in Curacao, filled with cultural enrichments, natural wonders, and the serene beauty of island life.


Curacao holds a special place in my heart, standing out as one of my favorite Caribbean islands, not just for its landscapes, but profoundly for its unique and vibrant culture. While it may not claim the title for the best beaches in the Caribbean, Curacao more than compensates with its rich cultural tapestry and the warmth of its people.

This island teaches us the beauty of exploration, encouraging us to venture beyond the well-trodden tourist paths to discover its true essence.

So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and prepare to immerse yourself in the unparalleled charm of Curacao. There’s a world of experiences waiting to be uncovered, promising memories that will linger long after your footprints in the sand have faded.

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Curacao Complete Travel Guide