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.
Queen 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.
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
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 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
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.
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
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 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 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.