With its pristine dive sites, secluded beaches, and rich local cuisine, Curacao offers a little something for everyone. Located less than 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, tucked away on the outer fringes of the hurricane belt, the island of Curacao is often referred to as the Caribbean’s “hidden treasure.” The island boasts more than 65 dive sites and 35 beaches and its colorful architecture and floating market are unique experiences.
Things to Do in Curacao
- Explore Willemstad – The ever-bustling floating market, Handelskade, and the old pontoon bridge, known as The Old Swinging Lady, can be found in the downtown area of Willemstad. You can see for yourself why Willemstad is listed as a World Heritage Site. There are downtown tours available via trolley that are an easy and fun way to see the area highlights.
- Scuba Diving – If you really want to see some of Curacao’s best sites, you’re going to have to get your feet wet. The best Curacao dive locations include: Kline Curacao, Beach Point, Mushroom Forest, Cornelius Bay, and Blue Bay Gardens.
- Curacao Sea Aquarium – This aquarium is one of the most unique in the world as it uses an “open-water system” to continuously pump sea water into the various tanks. You’ll also have the opportunity to scuba dive and hand-feed stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, and other colorful tropical fish.
- Hato Caves – The remarkable carvings dating back as far as 1,500 years, make the Hato Caves in itself a very interesting site to visit. Add the knowledge that the caves were the place where runaway slaves used to hide, and the fact that is still known as a popular meeting place to perform ancient religious ceremonies, and you know it is place you ought to have seen before you leave Curaçao.
- Mushroom Forest & the Cave – As Curacao’s best diving spot, Mushroom Forest teems with marine life. The base of the corals have been slowly eroded by waves, fish, sponges, and clams over time, creating the appearance of huge mushrooms growing on the ocean floor.
- Daaiboo Beach – Curacao has beautiful beaches, but you might find some of the more popular hot spots too crowded. By sidestepping Blauwbaai (the obvious choice) and going for Daaiboo beach, you’ll get to enjoy white sands and a turquoise sea in relative peace and quiet.
- Mambo Beach Club – There are plenty of nightclubs on the island, but for the best Caribbean beach party, go to Mambo Beach Club. The beach is transformed into an open-air nightclub where the trendy youth mix with tourists. Live music and DJs keeping the party going.
- Curacao Carnival – January marks the beginning of the Curacao Carnival which is a mixture of a street party, theater, art, culture, history, cuisine, and folklore. The Carnival ends with the burning of King Momo at midnight. The life-sized, straw-filled effigy symbolizes infertility, sins, and bad luck. What’s exciting is that this effigy isn’t just burned, it’s blown up in an explosion of fireworks.
- Christoffel National Park – Grab your sneakers and head to this 4,450-acre wildlife preserve near the island’s west end. The park offers nature-lovers a variety of hiking trails through its variant garden and desert landscapes, including a two- to three-hour hike to the top of the 1,240-foot Mt. Christoffel, the island’s highest point. On clear days, you’ll see as far as Venezuela.
Tips for Curacao
Money Matters – Curacao is littered with ‘Snacks,’ small bar restaurants which serve Chinese Food. These are typically inexpensive, double as convenience stores and bars, and are typically open later than most other restaurants which cater to local patrons.
Getting Around – The best way to get around Curaçao is by car. Most of the larger hotels offer free shuttles into Willemstad, and a public bus system covers the urban centers of the island, but you will want your own set of wheels if you’re planning on exploring the rest of the 38-mile-long island. Taxis are available from Curaçao’s major airport, Hato International Airport (CUR), about eight miles north of Willemstad. However, cabs can be expensive, especially if you are planning on using them frequently.
The Best Time to Visit – The best time to visit Curaçao is from May to November, during the off-peak season. During these months, you’ll find the lowest airfares and hotel rates, with rooms often priced 20 to 50 percent lower than they are in the high season.
Exit Tax – Exiting Curacao will require you to pay exit tax not included in your flight ticket (Unless you’re flying KLM). about 34 USD for international flights (Visa and Mastercard accepted) and 2 USD for connections (In cash only).