The island of Curacao is one of the most underrated gems in the Caribbean in my personal opinion. I had the great pleasure of spending 3 months on this Dutch island over the wintertime and let me tell you, there are lots of amazing things to do on Curacao. I honestly did not know very much about the island before coming here. It was never on my radar but I am so happy that I stumbled upon it because Curacao has turned out to be one of my favorite islands in the Caribbean that I’ve been to so far. From a beautiful old town to gorgeous ocean life to hiking and so much more, there is plenty to see on this amazing island. Keep in mind these are all just my personal opinions on what to do on Curacao. So let’s get into it.
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17 Amazing Things to Do On Curacao
1. Visit Willemstad
The capital city of Willemstad is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the Caribbean. Modeled after Amsterdam, this beautiful city has so much to offer. One of the most famous images of Curacao, Willemstad is home to the floating bridge The Queen Emma Bridge. This bridge is on a barge and connects the districts of Otrabanda on the west to Punda on the east. To allow boats to pass through the harbor, the bridge will regularly open by pivoting to one side of the harbor. It is a really cool spectacle.
There is more to Willemstad than just a floating bridge though. The city has some really great restaurants and bars, along with plenty of beautiful streets to stroll along. The city is very rich in history, which you can learn about at the Maritime Museum located just downtown. During my three-month stay on the island, I honestly never got tired of coming to the city of Willemstad. There is a really fun energy with both locals and the tourist scene. Visiting Willemstad is definitely one of my favorite things to do on Curacao.
2. Go to a Beach Club/Beach Hop
A very obvious choice when visiting a Caribbean island, go to the beach. Curacao has lots of beaches, most of which are very small. While there are lots of different beaches on Curacao, this island is not world-renowned for its long stretches of beaches. Instead, the beaches on Curacao are mostly all very small with rocky sand. Many of the beaches are difficult to walk into due to how rocky they are. If you are near the main city of Willemstad, there are a lot of man-made beaches that have softer, better sand. While the beaches themselves may not be the best in the world, you’ll get to see all of that gorgeous crystal clear blue water that Curacao is so famous for. For a full guide to the best beaches of Curacao, check out my full Curacao Best Beach Guide here.
3. Snorkel/Scuba Dive
One of the best activities on Curacao is snorkeling or scuba diving. The coral reefs around the island are absolutely beautiful and there is a lot of ocean life to see. While coral reefs all over the world are disappearing and dying, there is still quite a lot to see under the waters of Curacao. The island is very unique compared to other Caribbean islands because you can access the coral reefs almost directly from the beach. At many of the beaches, you can swim for just a few minutes and see gorgeous coral reefs and tropical fish. I have never been scuba diving but friends of mine that have scuba dived around Curacao tell me that it is amazing. You will see snorkeling shops at many of the beaches all over the island. It is a very popular thing to do on Curacao.
4. Hike to the Top of Christoffelberg Mountain
An absolute MUST DO when visiting Curacao is to hike to the top of Christoffelberg Mountain. It is the highest point on the island and the views are just incredible. The hike for the most part is intermediate, although the last part is a little bit difficult. If you are somewhat fit you will be perfectly fine. The hike to the top takes about an hour and a half at a moderate pace. There are many stops along the way with gorgeous views of the island. Once you get to the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that will take your breath away.
The mountain is in the least populated area on the island so your views are just pure nature. One thing to note: be sure to bring plenty of water and start early. I went during the winter and the weather was nice but I can imagine in the summer that the heat is really really intense. If you are visiting in the summer, it is recommended to start as early as possible. As tiring as it is, I can promise you that it will all be worth it when you get to the top. For more information visit the official Christoffel Park website here.
5. Swim with Sea Turtles
A very popular thing to do on Curacao is to swim with sea turtles at Playa Piskado. While turtles can be found all over the island, you’ll be pretty much guaranteed to see them at this beach. The local fisherman bring their catches of the day in at this pier and throw the heads and fish guts into the water and that attracts the turtles. Sometimes you can see dozens of them at a time. Just be warned the water smells absolutely disgusting because you are swimming in fish guts. This is a really wonderful experience so I highly recommend it just be prepared to shower afterward. You will most definitely smell like fish guts for the rest of the day. But swimming with sea turtles is magical and worth the smell.
6. Visit Westpunt and the Surrounding Beaches
The northwesternmost part of the island is called Westpunt and is one of my favorite areas. In this part of the island, you’ll find the best beaches as well as the national park and other activities. It is a much less populated area of the island which is nice. I had the great pleasure of staying at an Airbnb in Westpunt for the last 10 days of my trip and it was the most relaxing place on the island. You won’t find the same amenities out here as you would near the city, but the tradeoff is complete relaxation.
7. Walk Around Pietermaii
Just a 5-minute walk from the main downtown Willemstad is the Pietermaii district. This area sometimes referred to as the SOHO of Curacao, is home to lots of cafes, restaurants, and waterfront boutique hotels. The buildings in Pietermaii are beautiful and a stroll through the streets is a great way to spend the afternoon. You will find some of the best restaurants on the island in Pietermaii. This area feels much less touristy than the other parts of Willemstad and is home to my favorite coffee shop on the island Van Gogh Coffee.
8. Hangout with Flamingoes
While the neighboring island of Aruba may be more famous for its flamingoes, you can find these beautiful birds roaming free and wild on Curacao as well. You won’t find them all over the island but instead in a special large lake area. While this might not be one of the most exciting things to do Curacao, it is worth a stop if you are in the area. There is a small, elevated viewing platform where you can see hundreds of flamingoes. Obviously, these are wild animals so there is never a guarantee to see anything, but they are usually hanging around. It’s a quick and enjoyable one of many things to do on Curacao that is special to the area.
9. Visit Blue Room Cave
For people wanting a little more adventure, Blue Room Cave is a must-visit. To get to this cave, you have to swim under the water and up into the cave in an air pocket. Be warned, it can be pretty intense and intimidating so take caution. It is always best to go with other people. To get to the Blue Room Cave, you hike from a nearby beach for about 30 minutes. Many people like to jump off the cliff into the ocean, but there is also a way to walk down to the water. The entire cave is illuminated with gorgeous crystal clear blue water and is really fun. I recommend going in the early afternoon when the sun is the highest in the sky, that way the sun illuminates the water even more than usual.
10. Shete Boka/Watamula Hole
Shete Boka is a tourist park where you can see beautiful scenery, jagged cliffs, and waves rushing up underneath rocks. You have to pay to get in and it can be a bit touristy but still a fun afternoon. A bit farther north from Shete Boka is Watamula Hole. This is very similar in that it is a giant hole in the ground where the waves crash up into. The only difference is that Watamula Hole is completely free to visit. Either one is a fun option for things to do on Curacao and allows you to enjoy the beautiful nature of the island.
11. Explore Otrabanda
Otrabanda on the west coast of downtown Willemstad is known for being a more residential area. There are a few restaurants and bars, but not nearly as many as Punda on the east coast. Otrabanda has incredibly beautiful street art, some encompassing the entire building. You won’t find nearly as many tourists in this lesser-known part of Willemstad but it is definitely worth a stroll. From the colonial buildings to the street art and local flair, a stroll through Otrabanda is a fantastic things to do on Curacao. If you are looking for somewhere for lunch in Otrabanda, I highly recommend the Mediterranean restaurant Maira’s Kitchen. They have fantastic food with very friendly service!
12. Visit Fort Beekenburg
Located in the south of the island of Curacao is Fort Beekenburg. This old fort is free to enter and gives beautiful views of the surrounding area. The fort dates back to the 1700s and is in beautiful condition. You can even climb all the way up to the top and get panoramic views of the island. There’s not much else to say about Beekenburg, but it’s other quick things to do on Curacao. It’ll make you feel like you’re in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
13. Hato Caves
Located near the Curacao airport is Hato Caves. These caves are absolutely beautiful and have a very deep history on the island. The caves once served as a place of refuge for slaves that escaped from the nearby plantations during the height of the slave trade in Curacao. The tour is very in-depth and informative, all being very sad, unfortunately. It is fascinating to learn about how the caves were formed, as you can visibly see the coral that formed them. There is lots to see around the caves as well on a self-guided tour of the local vegetation.
14. Visit the Curacao Liqueur Distillery
Most people are familiar with the world-famous blue Curacao liqueur. Actually, most people probably are more familiar with the liqueur than the island. You can visit the distillery where they make the original Curacao liqueur with a guided tour of how it is made. After the tour, you get treated to a tasting of their different flavors and can have your choice of cocktails made with blue Curacao. I really enjoyed the tour and it was a fun way to spend the afternoon. Blue Curacao is a bit of a sweeter drink, tasting like the oranges it is made from. If you like sweet, tropical drinks then you will love Curacao liqueur.
15. Dinner at Fort Nassau
If you want a truly memorable dinner, come to Fort Nassau. The fort is situated just outside of downtown Willemstad and has fantastic views of the city and sunset. The fort itself is also a fun things to do on Curacao for a quick visit but the highlight for sure is the restaurant. While the restaurant is a little pricey for the standards of the island, it is most definitely worth the cost. The food is delicious. The view is spectacular. The service is amazing as well. Be sure to book in advance because it can fill up during peak season. They have a small balcony area to the side that is reserved for tables of two with gorgeous views on either side. I suggest coming for sunset because the view is just that spectacular.
16. Sail to Klein Curacao
Just 10km south of Curacao is the uninhabited island of Klein Curacao, or little Curacao. There are multiple companies that offer day trips to Klein Curacao for a reasonably affordable price. I personally did not do this trip because I never made time for it in my schedule but my friends have told me it is a fun excursion. The island is completely untouched other than an old lighthouse in the center of the island. I have heard that although it is a fun day trip, there isn’t actually very much to see as far as snorkeling goes. But the beach here is supposed to be very beautiful. I think the entire experience could be worth it if you want to have a fun day sailing with some time on a private beach.
17. Visit the Maritime Museum
If you are a history buff then you will absolutely love the Maritime Museum in downtown Willemstad. It is a self-guided tour that begins with a 30-minute video all about the history of Curacao and more specifically the town of Willemstad. I am not typically someone who takes the time to learn about the history of a place, but it was a rainy afternoon and we stumbled upon the museum. I am so glad that we did. Learning about the long history of the area that you are currently experiencing makes you really appreciate what you are seeing. It puts into perspective all of the old beautiful architecture and allows you to really envision the way the world has changed around this one location. It might not be for everybody, but I definitely thought this was one of many great things to do on Curacao.
As you can see there are a lot of great things to do on Curacao. After spending 3 months on the island, I absolutely fell in love with it. I did not really know what to expect when I first booked my trip but I was overall very pleased with my experience here. There certainly is lots to see and do, but also a really great place to come and relax. Whether you are just coming for a short trip or looking to stay long-term as I did, I hope that you found this guide useful. Of course, there are lots more things to do on Curacao other than I have listed. These are just some of my personal favorites from my personal experiences.
Again, I genuinely hope that you found this guide to be useful and informative. If you enjoyed this “things to do on Curacao guide”, please consider joining my email list to be notified every time I publish new content. Also, be sure to follow me on social media to stay up to date on my real-time travels. Thank you so much for visiting my website!