So many places to see, so little vacation time! Where do you go? Well it all depends on what you are looking to do. You’ll want to make sure you see all you can while in Curaçao!
I LOVE Curaçao and I can’t wait to get back. I didn’t get a chance to see it all, making Curaçao another re-do on my list of travel destinations. So I put together a few things you need to know so you don’t miss anything.
Here’s the Basics about Curaçao:
Curacao Basic Travel Information
- Location: In the southern Caribbean Sea close to the coast of Venezuela.
- Size: Roughly 171 square miles (38 miles long, 9 miles wide).
- Capital: Willemstad
- Language: Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish
- Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish
- Currency: Antillean Guilder; U.S. dollar widely accepted. Credit cards are easiest.
- Tipping: 10-15%
- Weather: tropical marine climate; warm year-round.
If you are looking for a beach day with beautiful aquamarine waters and soft sandy beaches, then Curaçao is your island.
Curacao has 38 beaches to explore. It sounds like a lot, but many of them are very rocky and have high cliffs that are perfect for high divers and photographers., you must have a plan of where you’ll dig your toes in before you go.
The larger beaches on the island are called playas and are your typical sandy Caribbean beach. Swimming on the island’s Atlantic side is difficult due to the rough surf, you may want to stay out of those waves. However there are plenty of other traditional beaches to enjoy.
Jan Thiel Beach is one of the island favorites. But there is a fee to use the beach $3.50(USD) per person. However, you won’t find any restrooms at this beach. You’ll have to visit one of the local businesses.
Tip: You should know that the Zika virus has been confirmed on Curacao. So please take precautions.
Willemstad is a fun walking city. Curaçao architecture blends Dutch and Spanish colonial styles. I love how much history can be found at every corner. While there is still a lot of shopping to be found, it is the vibrant culture and unique feel that you will enjoy as you walk around.
If you are looking for the night life, Mambo Beach is where to go. It is lined with nightclubs and fun beach bars. During the day, you’ll love the water sports vendors and outdoor massage tents.
The Rif Fort is a fun place to come and shop, eat, and listen to live music. You can walk along the St. Anna Bay in Otrabanda and you’ll find the Rif Fort next to the renowned pontoon bridge in Willemstad. The fort was built in 1828 to safeguard the entrance of the St. Anna Bay from pirates. It was bombproof and armed with 56 cannons and a water-tank, today it holds boutiques and restaurants.
Curacao is unique food island. You’ll find Dutch influences and even some Asian flare, you’ll find seafood prepared with traditional Curacao flavors and ingredients, like grilled iguana that might challenge your taste buds. Try the kadushi (cactus soup) or the fondue!
Did I mention they have Mayo and French Fries? MY FAVORITE! We found these amazing fried cheese curds and French fries served automatically with Mayo at one of the little street food stands. It was so good. I always suggest trying the local street vendors and cafes for the best of local flavors.
Most of the restaurants are seafood heavy. But you will also find places in the Rif Fort like Royal Dutch Cheesery where my husband and I fell in love with the amazing selection of fresh cheeses. We took cheese and bread back and made that our meal for the night. It was AMAZING and one of our favorite memories made in Curacao.
Take time for Unique Culture and History
Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest continually used synagogue in the Western hemisphere is simply amazing. From the cool sand floors to the incredible stained-glass windows, this is a place that has carved into my heart as one of my favorite places.
The synagogue dates from the 1650s, and was made up of Spanish and Portuguese Jews from the Netherlands and Brazil. There is a little history museum that you can walk through for a small donation.
The original inhabitants of Curaçao were Arawak peoples. Their ancestors had migrated to the island from the mainland of South America, they were believed to have migrated from the Amazon Basin.
Sadly, Dutch colonists grew affluent from the slave trade. “Land houses” are the former plantation estates and the “kas di pal’i maishi” are the former slave dwellings. You’ll find both are scattered all over the island. Some have been restored and can be visited.
Odd Fact: Prostitution in Curaçao is legal only for foreign women who get a temporary permit. You’ll find them working in the large open-air brothel called “Le Mirage” or “Campo Alegre” that has operated near the airport since the 1940s.
Take time to slow down and relax
Walk across the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge at night. The lights on the bridge and the beautiful view is work stopping for a picture.
You can also walk through the floating market, check out the vendors who pull their fishing boats directly up to the canal and sell fresh produce from neighboring Venezuela under covered market stalls along with the crafts and souvenirs common in the market places.
Whatever you do while visiting Curacao, enjoy the peace and tranquility of the island. One of the things I noticed was there is a calm on the island uncommon to many other places. People smile with genuine joy. They dance in the streets to the sidewalk bands and it is a great place to be. I hope you’ll visit and share your stories of your time in Curacao.