Curacao Travel Guide

With its delightful Dutch colonial architecture, bustling commercial capital and excellent history museums, go-go Curaçao feels like a little piece of Europe on the edge of the Caribbean. That is, a little piece of Europe with glorious hidden beaches, amazing onshore snorkeling and diving, and a wild undeveloped windward coast.

Curaçao has historic settlements, rugged landscapes and plenty of fun in the sun. Curaçao's main port city, Willemstad is like an Old World European city. The brightly painted Dutch colonial buildings reflect pinks, yellows and blues. Once you leave the city, the landscape shifts to a desert scene, with spiny aloe and mesquite shooting upwards on weathered limestone cliffs.  But Curaçao's real draw is the beach. You will find picture-perfect bays and coves and turquoise waters gently lapping against powdery white sand. Curaçao's reefs are packed with marine life, providing an excellent underwater playground for scuba divers and snorkelers. Best of all, the island is sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic's hurricane season. Gentle trade winds keep temperatures in the mid-80s, so you can enjoy the outdoors year-round.  To learn more about all the beautiful beaches on Curaçao, visit here.  Now view our Curaçao travel  guide to help plan your next Curaçao vacation!

Curacao Weather -When to Visit

Located in the tropics, just 12° north of the Equator, and outside of the hurricane belt, Curaçao has a warm, sunny climate year round. The average temperature is in the mid 80s. Refreshing trade winds blow constantly from the east, picking up in the spring months.  The rainy season, October to February, is marked by short, occasional showers, usually at night, and continued sunny weather by day. Total annual rainfall averages only 22 inches.  Occasionally a tropical storm brewing elsewhere in the Caribbean can cause some cloudy weather for a day or two.

The high season runs from December thru April.  Accommodations will fill up fast and prices are significantly higher.  January thru February is the Carnival, Curaçao's biggest celebration.  This is a month of music, costumes, parades and parties.  It starts just after the New Year and runs thru Ash Wednesday.  Although Curaçao is below the hurricane belt, the island does experience an increase in rain during hurricane season which is September thru December.

Curacao Attractions

Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, Curacao, things to do in Curacao, Curacao beaches, Leeward Antilles, Lesser Antilles Travel, Curacao Travel Guide, best Curacao Hotels, best Curacao Restaurants, Curacao AttractionsQueen Emma Pontoon Bridge

Spanning the St. Anna Bay, the Queen Emma, or also known as the “Swinging Old Lady,” is a floating pedestrian bridge that connects Willemstad's two halves, Punda and Otrobanda. Built in 1888, the Queen Emma Bridge is supported by 16 pontoon boats and swings open laterally to allow ships to enter and leave the bay. Recent travelers enjoyed having a meal or a coffee while marveling at boats sailing through the open arm of the bridge, especially when it's lit up at night. And don't worry if you get caught on the wrong side when the bridge swings open — a ferry will get you back across the bay at no charge.

Handelskade, Curacao, things to do in Curacao, Curacao beaches, Leeward Antilles, Lesser Antilles Travel, Curacao Travel Guide, best Curacao Hotels, best Curacao Restaurants, Curacao AttractionsHandelskade

On the Punda side of Willemstad is Handelskade, on the picturesque stretch of pier you've seen on every Curaçao postcard, you'll find colonial Dutch buildings painted in brilliant pinks, blues and yellows line the waters of St. Anna Bay. Grab a seat and a daiquiri at one of Handelskade's outdoor cafes and watch the Queen Emma Bridge swing open to let ships into the harbor or pop in to one of the shops along the water.  If you wake up early enough, you can get your hands on fresh fish and produce at the daily floating market at Handelskade's northern point. Or, you can walk across the bridge at night to see Handelskade's illuminated façades and reflections glinting on the bay. Regardless of what time you visit, you're going to want to snap a picture.

Christoffel National Park, Curacao, things to do in Curacao, Curacao beaches, Leeward Antilles, Lesser Antilles Travel, Curacao Travel Guide, best Curacao Hotels, best Curacao Restaurants, Curacao AttractionsChristoffel National Park

The park has indigenous flora and fauna, such as barn owls, the rare and endangered Curaçao White Tailed deer, and 450 species of plants. While you can take a scenic drive through Curaçao's largest national park, hiking is the best way to experience Christoffel's rugged landscape. The view from the top of Christoffel Mountain is unforgettable. You can climb the peak and back in two to three hours, but due to the high temperatures and lack of shade, the park doesn't allow people to start their hike after 11 a.m., so make sure to get there early.  Make sure you take along a couple of waters and wear a good pair of shoes.

Klein Curacao, Curacao, things to do in Curacao, Curacao beaches, Leeward Antilles, Lesser Antilles Travel, Curacao Travel Guide, best Curacao Hotels, best Curacao Restaurants, Curacao AttractionsKlein Curaçao

Klein Curaçao is the ideal day trip for snorkelers, scuba divers and sun worshippers. You will notice a few signs of Klein Curaçao's former residents, like the crumbling, but functional lighthouse.  But the tiny island's natural elements are the main reason for visiting. Its coral reefs and waters are pristine, its marine life is plentiful and its white-sand beach is longer than any other on Curaçao proper.

Rif Fort Village, Curacao, things to do in Curacao, Curacao beaches, Leeward Antilles, Lesser Antilles Travel, Curacao Travel Guide, best Curacao Hotels, best Curacao Restaurants, Curacao AttractionsRif Fort Village

Jutting out into the St. Anna Bay on the Otrobanda side of Willemstad, Rif Fort was built in the 19th century to protect Curaçao from pirates and invaders. The fort has since been decommissioned and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its 5-foot walls now has an upscale shopping mall with high-end stores like Armani Exchange and Tiffany & Co. You can enjoy strolling around the historic grounds and snapping pictures of the Caribbean Sea.

Things to Do in Curacao

Dolphin Academy Curacao

Dolphin Academy offers fun and educational intimate experiences, like a Dolphin Encounter, a Dolphin Swim, a Dolphin Snorkel with Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins in a natural saltwater lagoon and the open sea. Different programs and courses available for all ages.   Telephone:  599-9-465-8900  Web:  Dolphin Academy Curacao.

The Dive Bus

Enjoy a scuba diving experience in one of the TOP Caribbean shore-diving destinations. Small dive groups led by friendly, experienced PADI dive professionals. The Dive Bus is a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, guided or independent, at the best of Curacao's shore dive sites. Telephone:  599-9-693-8305 Web:  The Dive Bus.

ATV & Buggy Tours

Explore the natural beauties of the island of Curacao from the seat of a Buggy or a Quad. Buggies or Quad allow access to places where few people go. In fact, these sure-footed machines can take you places that even a horse fear to tread! Whether you are a beginner wanting an easy ride or an expert looking for a challenge, or you classify yourself somewhere in between, ATV & Buggy Tours offers it.  Telephone:  599-9-540-5640 Web:  ATV & Buggy Tours.

B Diving & Watersports

Whether you have thousands of dives or trying diving for the first time, the house reef has something to offer for everybody. They can take you on your first dive, offer PADI dive courses or take you on a guided dive. For the snorkelers, they provide daily rental of snorkel equipment or you can purchase your own set in their beach shop which is filled with everything you need for a relaxing day at the beach. With other water sports like Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaking, Banana Boat Rides, and Wake boarding soon to come,  they can offer you a fun day at Cas Abao Beach!  Telephone:  599-9-864-0554 Web:  B Diving & Watersports.

Bounty Adventures

With twenty years of experience and as the only catamaran day sail charter, Bounty Adventures offers by far the most wonderful boat and sailing trips, scuba diving, Island tours and water sports on Curaçao!  Join them on their daily trip to paradise Island Klein (little) Curaçao, a romantic Sunset Sail or jump aboard for an awesome half day Sail and Snorkel adventure!  Telephone:  599-9-767-9998 Web:  Bounty Adventures.

Best Curacao Restaurants

Gouverneur de Rouville  $11 – 30

Restaurant & Café Gouverneur de Rouville is situated at the Otrabanda Waterfront, in the historic part of Willemstad.  Enjoy your dinner while looking at big ocean-vessels passing you by on their way to the harbor or back to the Caribbean Sea.  You will find great international cuisine and Antillean classics like stuffed cheese in a in a beautifully restored historic building.  Telephone:  599-9-462-5999  Web:  Gouverneur de Rouville.

Restaurant Fishalicious  $31 – 60

Their culinary team considers quality as one of the key ingredients. Therefore they are only working with the freshest and finest products.  Fish is delivered daily from local fishermen and flew in from Europe.  Thhey have wines from all over the world, and focus on finding selections that pair well with what comes from the kitchen.  Telephone:  599-9-461-8844 Web:  Restaurant Fishalicious.

Pirate Bay Beach Bar and Restaurant (Hook's Hut)  $11 – 30

With Spirited atmosphere, a sprinkle of salt and a healthy drizzle of YO HO HO, Pirates Bay is where people meet people to sample Island-fare and where the island’s friendly staff is serving up smiles with your ice cold drinks.  You can bet yer Golden Doubloons yer “Catch of the day” freshly caught by local fishermen at Piscadera Bay will be served to you at the water’s edge for your memorable, magical evening charmed by Local Musicians performing Island tunes or perhaps the sounds of haughty Jazz and Blues.  Telephone:  599-9-461-0183  Web:  Pirate Bay Beach Bar and Restaurant.

Zanzibar Beach & Restaurant  $11 – 30

Located at the eastern part of the island, at Jan Thiel Beach, you can find the charming Zanzibar Beach & Restaurant. As the name implies, the bar and the restaurant radiate warmth and coziness of East Africa.  Telephone:  599-9-747-0633 Web:  Zanzibar Beach & Restaurant.

Landhuis Daniel Country Inn and Restaurant  $11 – 30

The cuisine of Landhuis Daniel is an an eclectic mix of modern French, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Asian cuisine. Besides locally produced ingredients such as herbs and vegetables, fish and lobster, and they also serve Dutch seasonal specialties as steamed mussels, north Atlantic fish, white asparagus and game, all fresh flown in from Holland. An extensive winelist with old- en new world wines complements the menu.  Telephone:  599-9-864-8400  Web:  Landhuis Daniel Country Inn and Restaurant.

Best Curacao Bars & Nightlife

Schooner Beach Bar

Pick a seat at their unique bar, covered sea terrace or lazy Adirondack seats at the beach. Refresh with your favorite drink, bite and dish during daytime, at sunset and into the balmy, tropical night. Sit back, relax and indulge your mouthwatering bites, food and beverages, served with a warm smile. Sunset Happy Hour with complimentary snacks and live music every Friday from 5.00 PM – 7.00 PM  Telephone:  599-9-461-4377  Web:  Schooner Beach Bar.

Splash Pool Bar & Grill

Splash Pool Bar and Grill offers delicious frozen drinks and beach favorites including Fish Tacos, Volcano Nachos and the amazing Splash Burger. Relax with a cocktail or ice-cold beer while sun-bathing on beautiful Santa Barbara Beach or by the pool.  Telephone:  599-9-840-4787  Web:  Splash Pool Bar & Grill.

Captain Bligh's Bar

Enjoy your favorite drink during their daily happy hour, refuel with a delicious meal, or have a beer while watching your favorite sports match. The Bligh’s Bar boasts a romantic view over the Caribbean Sea, while sitting in the shade of our indigenous Flamboyant tree and palm trees surrounding the bar. Telephone:  599-9-462-5000  Web:  Captain Bligh's Bar.

Celeste Beach Bar

The Celeste Beach Bar is the place to unwind and enjoy a well-deserved Caribbean cocktail, to eat freshly caught fish and South-American dishes. Visit them during one of their theme nights to enjoy delicious BBQ or steaks beneath the night sky with live entertainment!  Located at the beach of the Hilton Curacao Hotel, overlooking the magnificent Piscadera Bay.  Telephone:  599-9-462-5000  Web:  Celeste Beach Bar.

Scuba Lodge Ocean Bar & Restaurant

Scuba Lodge Ocean Bar is located in Pietermaai, the most vibrant area of Curacao. Between the torches and with your feet in the sand, you can enjoy the sound of the sea and a romantic sunset. Scuba Lodge Ocean Bar is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Telephone:  599-9-465-4575  Web:  Scuba Lodge Ocean Bar & Restaurant.

Best Curaçao Hotels

Buddha Garden

Close to the Caracao Sea Aquarium and Jan Thiel Beach in Willemstad, this apartment features free WiFi, a terrace, pool views, a full kitchen, and an outdoor pool.

Villa Royale


Villa Royale offers modern refined atmosphere combined with personal service and privacy. Surrounded by a tropical garden you will find our glamorous private villas. Villa Royale is within walking distance of the well-known Jan Thiel Beach. Here you will find several beach clubs and restaurants, where you can relax and enjoy good food and drinks.

Ananda Curacao


Ananda is a small-scale resort with 8 luxury villas in Caribbean style. All accommodations features a private terrace or patio and a flat-screen TV with cable channels.  They offer a private kitchen equipped with all modern conveniences and a beautiful view of the pool or garden

Blue Bay Beach Villas

Blue Bay Beach Villa is located in Blue Bay. Willemstad is 3.7 mi away.   Amenities include an outdoor pool, fitness center, free WiFi, fully equipped kitchen, and private parking.   The property has a private beach area and water sports facilities, tennis courts and car hire is available.

Baoase Luxury Resort


Ideally situated along the Caribbean Sea, this 5-star resort in Netherland Antilles boasts a private beach, free Wi-Fi and deluxe suites with private hot tubs and villas with private pools. Curacao Sea Aquarium is 5 minutes away by car. The Culinary Beach Restaurant, located directly on the beach, is open daily and features international cuisine in a romantic atmosphere. Butlers are available throughout the day to serve guests on the beach. Guests can relax by the outdoor pool or with a variety of spa services. Concierge and child services are available for added convenience.


Booking.com

26 Comments

  1. john michael adkins

    Hi Leahrae,

    Thank you for a beautiful website! I lived in San Diego and Miami beach. Your pictures were so vibrant; some came right off the page calling for me to get to the beach, any beach! Your site looked great; I hope mine can look as good someday.

    Although I couldn’t afford a trip right now a few of my friends and family that can. So I shared your site on FB.

    Thanks again, Leahrae!

    Cheers, and take care of yourself!

    John

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome John, I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Beach Travel Destinations 🙂

      Reply
  2. My Daily Pointers

    How have I never actually heard of this place????  Your photos are so appealing and make me want to go there right now.  It sounds like perfection to me.
    Perfect weather – not too warm but not chilly
    By the water – I am such a water baby
    Historical buildings – I am drawn to history and wondering who else have walked the same path.  Can you imagine the stories it has to tell?
    The buildings themselves – I paint as a hobby and all of the colours of the buildings have brought out my desire to paint.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh boy, then you will love Curacao!  Just for the history and the beautiful buildings.  And yes, they are very colorful indeed!  Thanks for visiting my Curacao Travel Guide.

      Reply
  3. Darren

    Wow what a lovely destination to visit, infact it’s perfect!

    I’m glad I found this site !

    This is such an in-depth review that had totally made my mind up for me. I can not wait to read more reviews.

    the colonial look of the town with all the different coloured buildings had me thinking of a danish town in first instance.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, it is a really cool town, that is for sure 🙂 You will enjoy! Please let me know if you need any other information, and I will be glad to help!

      Reply
  4. Demi

    Seems like an amazing place with lot of character. I’m imagining how amazing it would be to vacation in one of those wonderful resorts on the island. The Dutch colonial architecture looks incredible. I am going to continue perusing your website, as I have been looking for a good beach destination for this winter. Curacao seems like the perfect spot! When I decide, can you help me put together a vacation package?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I would agree that it is definitely a great place with so much culture, history and character. And yes, when you have decided on a destination, I would love to help you. I can put some great choices together for you. Just email me when you are ready 🙂

      Reply
  5. hong

    I love your website. You article is loaded with tons of great and detailed information. You not only described the place well that makes me feel as If I am there right now, but you also provided detail information on where to eat, what hotels to stay, what transportation are available. You pretty much covered everything a traveler needs to know. You have done an amazing job. Keep up with the great work.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Hong. It is a passion of mine as I love visiting beach vacation destinations. Guess you could call me a big ol’ beach bum. Thanks for reading the Curacao Travel Guide!

      Reply
  6. millie marino

    I am so glad I found your site! When planning a beach vacation researching for reliable information can be overwhelming. Your site just provided me with all the tips I was looking for. The video you included at the end of the article helped me to make my mind about Curacao. I found this destination fascinating, not just because of its beautiful beaches and landscapes, but for its diversity of cultures and history.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed reading about Curacao Millie.  You will find that it is a very fascinating island of a gem in the Caribbean.  I love the beach, but I also love to experience the culture and the history when I am traveling.  You get a little bit of everything here for sure!

      Reply
  7. W Tucker

    I always enjoy the articles you have on your website. You do such a good job of giving the details of a destination, and your article on Curacao is no exception.
    I have been to many Carribean islands, but not to Curacao. It appears that I’ve missed a real gem in the Carribean. It sounds like a delightful place especially the architecture and the old world feel that you describe.
    I’m gonna put this on my bucket list, and thanks for the great review of this island.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome!  I am glad that I could help you find this little gem in the Caribbean, and hopefully you will visit sometime soon.  If you need any other information or help with planning, please let me know.  Thanks for visit the Curacao Travel Guide!

      Reply
  8. JeffWA

    Leahrae,

    As seen by the image looking down at the buildings that represent a part of Curacao, indeed it does appear to be Dutch-European in appearance. Very quaint.

    Of all the articles on your website representing different island destination vacation spots in the Caribbean, Curacao seems visibly to set itself a part from any of the others.

    Going through your excellent review, (seen in every article on your website) you provided a great wealth of info on the sights, hotel accommodations, car/vehicle rental possibilities, (a better choice as you indicated that public transportation is not as readily available), dining and beach/water spots that could be found on this island.

    Compared to the other islands the price of food at restaurants on Curacao appeared to be quite reasonable. The hotels appear to be of high class. Along with the fact that Curacao is an island in the Caribbean there certainly is not a lack of activities to do regarding water sports.

    In looking back at all of your articles that I have read on your website, Leahrae, for whatever reason Curacao appears to be the most scenic and non-American of them all.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Jeff

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are correct Jeff in every sense, and this little island of paradise, does set itself apart from the rest and you can really experience the culture of the Caribbean life here.  I think anyone visiting, will not be disappointed.  They are also very lucky to be outside of the hurricane area.  Glad you enjoyed and thank you for visiting my site beachtraveldestinatons.com 🙂

      Reply
  9. Dawn

    Hi Leahrae,

    Ooooooo. Your site is amazing!!!

    I love the dream quality of the images and it is clear you are offering some great information here!

    The spread on Hawaii Beaches was of course my FAVE. Most people have been here once and call themselves experts. I have lived on Oahu for 24 years now, love to go holo-holo and visit all the other islands too – and you have NAILED it with the information! Nicely done.   Now on to Curacao….being from Hawaii, I am always interested in visiting other islands with just a little different culture.  Curacao looks to be perfect!  You have pretty much covered all the bases.  I am curious, how long would it take for me to fly there from Hawaii?  Looks like the weather is pretty much perfect all the time.  Do you think a week would be a sufficient amount of time to experience all there is in Curacao?

    Wishing you the greatest of success.

    Warmest aloha,
    Dawn

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Dawn and I am glad you enjoyed reading about Curacao and perusing BeachTravelDestinations.com.  It will take you about 12 hours to get to Miami, and then almost another 3 to get to Curacao.  Really not too bad of a flight.  I would suggest maybe spending the night in Miami and resting up and then heading to Curacao.  Curacao is not a huge island, at only about 171 sq. miles total.  So you would be able to see a lot of sites, and enjoy outdoor activities, as well as experience the culture in a week no problem.  It just depends on how much you want to see and do, and then how much time you want to spend relaxing on the beach 🙂 

      Reply
  10. Josh Ellery

    Wow, this place looks special, thats for sure. I had been looking into a great Caribbean getaway that has not been destroyed by the hurricanes, and this looks to be it!  This is going to be my next holiday destination!  It looks beautiful, and I love all the different colored houses. You’ve listed all the things you can do there which is very helpful. I think you’ve persuaded me to go and it is decided that I would love to visit Curacao.  Do you know how long of a flight I would be looking at from Miami?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Josh, what a great destination to vacation to for sure.  I am glad you enjoyed reading the Curacao Travel Guide.  You can fly to Curacao from Miami, nonstop, and the flight time is a little less than 3 hours.  A pretty quick flight to get you to paradise 🙂

      Reply
  11. Phyllis

    I love your website! Curacao is a destination that I have been researching for a possible vacation.   I love the Caribbean islands with white sandy beaches and island culture. Your research is top notch on each destination it lays out everything a person needs to know before going and what you can do when you get there. It’s fantastic! I hope you will get to travel to all of these destinations and include your own pictures to add to the excitement of being there.  I have found everything I need for information!  My mind is now made up to visit Curacao.  I know you mentioned that they are not affected by hurricanes.  Did they see any damage from the recent onslaught of hurricanes?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi there, good choice to visit Curacao!  I love the Caribbean islands as well for the same reasons really.  Of course, I am a beach bum at heart, so these places are always appealing to me.  No,  the hurricane season this year has not affected Curacao at all.  So you can plan your travel for any time really.  Thanks for reading the Curacao Travel Guide!

      Reply
  12. Daniella

    Hi, Lea,

    What can I say? This article is the only useful guide I could find on the net! You have given all the information that I need to enjoy the Curacao island thoroughly! Sorry, but there is nothing left to ask:) Also. The video is beautiful, it really makes me dream, which is fantastic! Oh, yes. I do have a question, though. What airline company would you suggest to flight with?
    I have bookmarked this article so I can plan my next trip to Curacao soon! I think I will travel in Carnival time!
    Thank you for this excellent

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You can take American Airlines, Jet Blue, Avianca, Surinam Airways or InselAir.  All of these fly into Curacao.  It depends on where you are flying from.  For me, out of Florida, it is American or Jet Blue.  I always just check the prices for these two when flying out of Florida.  I am glad you enjoyed and that I could provide you with everything you need!  Thanks for visiting 🙂

      Reply
  13. Colleen

    Wow Leahrae! You have amazing information! I just read your Southern California beach review and that was ambitious…so many beaches. I really enjoyed your information as well as all the photos. I also like how you had a everything on the menu were affiliate programs. I am still learning so I appreciate all the info you have and all of the content. I have a beach webpage as well, but I am only concentrating on San Diego Beaches. You have given me much to think about. I was wondering about selling vacations and such but I do not have much info on it. Thank you and do you mind if I follow you ? Thank you
    Colleen

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Not at all Colleen 🙂  I would be glad to help in any way that I can.  I am glad you enjoyed wandering around my site 🙂  Are you from California?  Boy, I love beaches, and this has been a heftier project than I thought it would be, but definitely a passion of mine.  Thanks for visiting my Curacao Travel Guide.

      Reply

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