Curaçao, in the Dutch Caribbean, is a fantastic place to go on vacation. It is internationally known for beautiful, white sandy beaches, colorful colonial-style houses, and year-round good weather.
The Dutch Caribbean islands consist of six tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea, including Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. While they are all part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, each island has its own unique culture, history, and natural beauty.
Curaçao is located right off the coast of Venezuela and is a beloved vacation destination, especially for the Dutch.
History of Curaçao
Curaçao’s history is interesting and something everyone should know before visiting the island. The Arawak people initially inhabited the island. That lasted until the Spanish arrived in the 15th century.
A bit later, in the 17th century, the Dutch took control of the island. They made it their trading hub for many different goods and, sadly, also slaves. This dark part of its history is remembered today at the Kura Hulanda Museum and many other places on the island. You can still see the original plantation houses all over the place.
In the 19th century, slavery ended, and Curaçao evolved in a different direction. They chose to become an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Nowadays, Curaçao still leans on Dutch support in certain government areas, for example, defense. But overall, the culture has become a unique mix of South American, Dutch, African, and Spanish.
You can witness this in the architecture, the food, the music, and all the languages spoken on the island.
How to Get to Curaçao
The most common way to get to Curaçao is via airplane. The island has one big airport, called HATO International Airport (CUR). It services many flights to the Netherlands and the United States every day.
Another option to go to Curaçao is via cruise ship. The Curaçao Cruise Port is quite large and receives up to three cruise ships daily.
Once on the island, it is handy to have a rental car. The island is relatively big, so it is not possible to walk. Taxis are expensive and sometimes shady, so I don’t suggest relying on them.
Best Time to Visit Curaçao
Curaçao is famous for having year-round good weather. But there are still a few things to consider when picking your ideal travel time. Most commonly, people distinguish between the dry and rainy seasons in Curaçao.
Dry Season is from January to September. This season sees minimal rainfall, and it is mostly sunny. The average temperatures range from 80-88°F (27-31°C).
If you are not on a budget, this is the best time to visit. The dry season is perfect for beach days, snorkeling, diving, and doing excursions on the island. It is the primary holiday season, so that it might be pricier. Avoid Dutch school holidays to snag better deals.
Rainy Season is from October to December. The rainy season brings lots of showers, sometimes heavy ones. However, it’s not constant rainfall, and you can still enjoy sunny days. Mostly, it is just an hour per day.
This season sees fewer tourists, so you can have a quieter and cheaper experience.
Curaçao is outside the hurricane belt, so you don’t have to worry about that when planning. They have the occasional storm, but nothing significant.
Good Things to Know About Curaçao
- Most people in Curaçao speak Dutch, Papiamentu, and English. They are generally friendly people, but not the most outgoing.
- Scams in taxis or shops are widespread, sadly. Make sure to agree on a price beforehand.
- Curaçao is relatively safe, but avoid certain bad areas (like Koraal Specht) at night.
- The local currency is the Gulder, but sometimes they also take USD.
- Most restaurants have a service charge automatically included instead of a tip.
Explore Willemstad’s Cute Neighborhoods
Willemstad is the colorful capital city of Curaçao, one of the island’s most fantastic places to visit. You can wander through Punda and Otrobanda, two colorful and famous neighborhoods in the capital city.
Admire the Dutch colonial architecture at the Handelskade, shop for souvenirs in Rif Fort, and visit landmarks like the Queen Emma Bridge.
If you want something more hip, head to the Pietermaai District. It is famous for its history and Instagram-worthy houses. This is also one of the best areas to stay in Curaçao.
Have dinner at BijBlauw or the historical Fort Nassau for a fantastic view and dining experience.
Stroll along the waterfront and explore the vibrant Floating Market, where vendors from Venezuela sell fresh produce, fish, and tropical fruits.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Snorkeling is one of the most incredible things to do in Curaçao. The marine life is stunning; you can even see a sunken shipwreck.
Head to Tugboat Beach to snorkel around the sunken tugboat. You’ll encounter tropical fish and crystal-clear waters, making it a snorkeler’s paradise.
Snorkeling is easier and cheaper than scuba diving. Curaçao also offers some fantastic scuba diving spots. There are also several diving schools on the island where you can rent equipment and get lessons.
Visit Shete Boka National Park
Shete Boka is an incredible, rugged cliff national park on the island’s northern coast. You can hike there, and see some dramatic blowholes, sea caves, and the stunning Boka Tabla. The waves crash against the cliffs and splash many meters high.
It is quite a trip from Willemstad, but well worth it.
Day Trip to Klein Curaçao
Taking a day trip to Klein Curaçao is one of the best things to do on the island. Klein Curaçao is this uninhabited island right off the coast. It has a stunning beach, and a cute lighthouse and offers excellent snorkeling.
Getting there is tricky. You need to book a guided boat tour or rent a boat. But it is one of the most impressive spots in Curaçao that should be visited.
Hike Christoffel National Park
The Christoffel National Park is a stunning nature reserve in the Western part of the island. You can hike to Mount Christoffel, the island’s highest point, for breathtaking views there. It is quite a hike, so it is not recommended for beginners.
The park also offers various trails to explore its unique flora and fauna. There are even some driving trails for people that are not as mobile or sporty.
The Savonet Museum is also in the park, and you can enter it for free if you purchase tickets to the park.
Visit the Hato Caves
The Hato Caves are next to the HATO International Airport. Discover the limestone caves on a guided tour, where you’ll see ancient Amerindian petroglyphs.
You can see bats and even turtles there. The Indian walking trail outside the caves is also super interesting. It has lots of information about the plants in the area.
Curaçao Sea Aquarium
You can get up close to dolphins at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium. It’s one of the most incredible attractions on the island.
You can watch dolphin shows (and even swim with them), interact with sea turtles, and learn about the island’s underwater ecosystems. The museum is informative and has some cool fish there, too. This is an enjoyable, kid-friendly activity in Curaçao.
Visit Landhuis Chobolobo Distillery
A cool thing to do in Curaçao is to tour the historic Landhuis Chobolobo Distillery. This is where they produce the famous Curaçao liqueur. You can also grab some bottles as a gift or souvenir.
Learn about the distillation process and enjoy tastings there. You can even participate in a cocktail workshop if you have the time.
Playa Porto Marie
Playa Porto Marie is one of the best beaches in Curaçao, and for good reason. It has a great restaurant, powdery white sand, calm waters, and shaded palapas for relaxation. You can rent beach chairs and even bigger beds there. They offer massages on the beach as well.
The beach is famous for its double reef, an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving. You might even spot the resident pigs there sunbathing. Be sure to check out Gilmar’s hut if you enjoy art!
Playa Cas Abao
Playa Cas Abao is known for its beautiful beach and incredible underwater life. It has a large beach area with a friendly beach club that serves refreshments. It has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world in the past.
Snorkelers and divers will love Cas Abao. It is an excellent place for beginner snorkelers, as the water is shallow and calm.
Mambo Beach is the liveliest beach in Curaçao. It has fun beach clubs, restaurants, and even cute shops selling souvenirs and beachwear.
There are plenty of beach clubs and cool hangout spots. It is not the best beach for quiet relaxation, as ambient music and fun things are usually going on.
Grote Knip Beach (Kenepa Grande)
Playa Kenepa, known as Kenepa Grande or Knip Beach, is often considered one of Curaçao’s most stunning beaches.
It is nestled between cliffs and has impressive turquoise waters and soft white sand. Snorkeling here is fantastic, with colorful coral and fish everywhere.
It’s a local favorite for picnics and family outings, so it is not very touristy. Some people will even bring their cooking equipment to the beach.
Kenepa Grande is located far out west, so it is a ride.
Your Curaçao Beach Vacation
Curaçao offers a serene escape, characterized by its turquoise waters and pastel-colored buildings reflecting its Dutch and Caribbean heritage. The warm, inviting atmosphere is complemented by the gentle rhythms of local music and the island’s hospitable inhabitants. Vacationing in Curaçao provides a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural immersion, making every moment on the island feel like a step away from the ordinary.
This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex.
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator from the Netherlands. She creates slow-paced and authentic itineraries for many destinations around the world. Her goal is to help you get more out of your vacation – while doing less.
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