Ahead of planning a trip to Curaçao or even once you’re arrived, you can pen down some of places you most want to go lest your vacation speed past with you not having done the things you were most excited about. And speaking of excitement, some of the things visitors enjoy most about Curaçao are its incredible beaches, vibrant culture and history, luxurious resorts, and unique natural attractions, like the Mount Christoffel National Park and the Shete Boka National Park.
If you’ve already got a pen in hand and you’re ready to start jotting down things to do in Curacao, hold tight, because this will be quite the ride!
See what else Curaçao is known for.
A fusion of dining, entertainment, music, fashion, art, and technology collide at the Madero Ocean Club. This is a great spot if you’re looking for a trending ocean club where you can enjoy sunbathing, socializing, or just relaxing on a poolside daybed with a cocktail. Located in Mambo club Boulevard, Madero also includes a restaurant and bar by the seaside and sometimes live bands.
Find your serenity at Karakter Curaçao, a tropical dining spot known and loved for its relaxing atmosphere. This is a beachside lounge and restaurant with great food including Dutch, Caribbean and European cuisine. Karakter also offers seafood and vegetarian friendly options.
Don’t let your Curaçao experience pass you by without visiting Savonet Museum, one of the newest in town. This museum is located within Christoffelpark inside the plantation house of the Savonet Plantation. This museum is filled with information on the history of inhabitants of Curaçao throughout the years going as far back as the Arawak Indians recorded to have settled on the island nearly 4,000 years ago.
The Montana Bierhuis Village is a family-friendly tourist attraction. Here you can relax, taste local food, and even throw parties if you wish. At this location you can visit a beer brewery and museum, as well as play on the billiard tables and mingle with locals.
A former plantation house, Landhuis Habaai (Habaai Mansion) is considered one of the most beautiful in Curaçao. It is also one of the oldest. This plantation house was constructed around 1752, and today it is the home of an art gallery (Gallery Alma Blou) and cultural center. While in Curaçao, you might even get a chance to take in a concert, book or poetry reading, or another artsy event here. Or, you can just visit the gallery.
Feeling sporty? The Greenhouse Bar & Restaurant is a cool spot to watch games and enjoy delicious snacks, sandwiches, and drinks with good company. At night, this spot turns into a lounge bar where you can settle in for some expertly made cocktails paired with finger food, sushi, or both!
Ribs and Tex-Mex food are specialty items served up at the Ribs Factory in Salinja. The prices here are decent and the menu selection wide and varied. Popular menu items here include spare ribs, chicken and tenderloin, as well as Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas, quesadillas, and more. There’s an open terrace where you can relax and enjoy your meal, or you can just take it to go.
At the Willemstad Floating Market you’ll be able to shop around for fresh fruits and vegetables at low prices. Sometimes you can even get seafood here. Another plus is that there’s lots of sights and sounds around this area as well, so you can make a stop here part of your wider exploration of the city.
Den Paradera translates to “the place where you feel at home”, and it is a botanical and historical garden. It is one of those places in Curaçao where you can go to learn about the healing properties of herbs and other long ago traditions. The owner of this garden, Dinah Veeris, studied at the California School for Herbal studies and has even written a book about herbs and their uses. She has also received many awards for the part she has played in helping to preserve culture and the healing herbs.
One of the oldest plantation houses in Curaçao is Landhuis Jan Kok. Landhuis Jan Kok was constructed in 1840 as an upgrade to another plantation house that had been built at the start of the 18th century. At this old plantation, several significant features still remain including an old slave bell. This land house is named after the 18th century slave master Jan Kok who was known for his cruelty. There’s a neat view from the terrace out onto the salt flats of St. Marie Bay where you can sometimes spot flamingoes.
One of the most popular museums on the island is Curaçao Museum in west Otrobanda. The building which houses this museum has a colonial style, and inside you can find out more about the geological history of Curaçao, or view pre-Colombian Indian artifacts, antique furniture (18th and 19th century), paintings by local and international artists, various maps and charts of America and the Caribbean region, and more.
Playa Porto Mari is one of those beaches in Curaçao that does not disappoint. It takes about 30 minutes to get here from Willemstad by car. Playa Porto Mari is on the private estate of Plantages "Porto Mari” on the west coast. The sand here is dazzlingly white, and the water calm and inviting. Diving is possible here, and there’s even a dive operator on the beach. There’s also a beachside restaurant and bar. This beach is also the starting point for two nature trails.
Sambil Curaçao is a shopping mall with over 100 stores located within 10 minutes of the airport and cruise terminal in an area known as Veeris. This is a great one-stop location where you can find brands like Bath and Body Works, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Aldo, Victoria’s Secret, US Polo, American Eagle, The Children’s Place, and more. There are also movie theatres, a gym, a bank, and lots of dining options here.
Restored in 1996, this land house is near Landhuis Ascension on the way to Westpunt. This property was already in operation in the 17th century with a land house having been built around the late 18th century. The property was owned by the government in the 19th century, at which point small plots of land were leased to former slaves in the hopes of developing local agriculture. Today, you can visit Landhuis Dokterstuin to sit down for a tasty meal at the Creole restaurant that now calls it home.
The Curacao Liqueur Distillery dates back to 1896 and is open for tours that can take you on a journey through some of the island’s history. It is just a few minutes from Willemstad, and during a tour here you’ll learn about the production process and even get to taste some of the different flavors produced at the distillery. The most famous liqueur produced here is liqueur blue, but there are other varieties including clear, green, red, orange, rum & raisin, chocolate and koffie.
There are a few forts you can visit while in Willemstad and these include Fort Amsterdam, Rif Fort and Fort Nassau. Of that list, the one with highest prominence is Fort Amsterdam; it is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. This fort houses the Governor’s office as well as the Council of Ministers and government offices in Curaçao. Riff Fort in Otrobanda was constructed in 1828 and is now a shopping center. Fort Nassau was built in 1797 and served for years as a signal post and control tower. It is located just outside of Willemstad and is a great place to go for panoramic views of the city.
Plasa Bieu was once an old market in Willemstad where women sold food. It has since been upgraded to a modern food court. You can visit this lunch spot if you want to try authentic Curaçao cuisine and local delicacies including iguana meat if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.
Nena Sanchez is a native of Curaçao and her unique paintings and giclees (digitally reproduced fine art on canvas) depict some of the island’s most vivid scenery. Nena’s art can be purchased at local art galleries including the gallery at Landhuis Jan Kok, and in Punda.
What’s better than a restaurant where the chefs cook things that make them happy, that very likely will make you happy too? That’s exactly the sort of vibe you’ll find at Kome where Chef David and Pastry Chef Susan cook up things like homemade sausage, sandwiches, curries and stews, fried chicken, fresh bread, pie, and whatever they think will lift the mood and please the crowd on any given day. This restaurant where creative freedom reigns is located in the historical district of Pietermaai, Kome, and it is most definitely worth a visit while in Curaçao.
Punda in Willemstad is a great place to shop. The streets on this side of town are colorful and the people are as friendly as ever, just as Curaçao is known for. You can find everything from jewelry and electronics, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs in this area. There are also many cafés and terraces, and an interesting event called Punda Vibes is held every Thursday night.
Curaçao has always been a major seafaring and commercial center and the maritime museum pays tribute to that. This museum is housed in a restored 1729 mansion near the floating market. There are some interesting antique miniatures inside as well as 17th century ship models, maps, and other historical seafaring artifacts with some items dating as far back as the 1500s.
A family business by design, Shelterrock Paradise has been in existence since 2016. It is located at the top of a mountain and as the name suggests, it is something of a resting place where people can go to recover after a period of unrest. Part of the experience here are the local meals and themed nights, including coconut evening where your meal is cooked in fresh coconuts for hours on hot coals. If you go here to unwind or have a meal, you can choose from options including chicken, stewed meat, goat, shrimp, fish, vegetarian or seafood mix.
Curaloe is an aloe vera plantation in Curaçao. No reservations are necessary to visit this location and neither is an admission fee. Once you get to the plantation you’ll be able to roam around the premises freely, test products, and even relax and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. You can watch a video of the production process while you’re there and also get information about the plantation and products from the attendants.
The Hato Caves make for a great exploring point to start off with while in Curaçao. It is located near the airport, and the caves here are said to have formed millions of years ago beneath the ocean. Inside these caves there’s lots to see including striking limestone formations, waterfalls, natural pools, famous statues and more. The cave is also home to a colony of bats, so photos are not allowed. The Hato Caves tour is about 45 minutes in duration.
Mambo Beach is a family-friendly beach in Curaçao with lots of shops that offer everything from food and clothing to souvenirs and gifts. The beach is within an area known as Mambo Boulevard that is something of a shopping complex complete with restaurants, stores and other services, which means you can find a little bit of everything as part of your Mambo Beach day. The beach itself is beautiful and clean and you can rent out umbrellas and beach chairs to enjoy the view from a shady vantage. Mambo Beach is popular with the cruise crowd as well which means it can sometimes get crowded.
Daaibooi Beach is close to town and is known and loved for its easy snorkelling opportunities. There’s pergolas for shade and also a snack bar that’s open on both weekdays and weekends. If you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s a trail to the west end of the beach that leads to the countryside. Only attempt to explore this trail if you have a trusted guide.
Want something cold and delicious? Stop over at Dagaz Gelato in Punda to choose from 25 different flavors of ice cream made fresh every day with imported Italian ingredients. Italian bio-milk, vegan and sugar free options can also be enjoyed as part of this unique experience.
Established sometime around 1650, Plantation Daniel is said to have been built by a castaway who washed ashore in Curaçao on St. Daniel’s Day. There is a contrasting historical account which says this plantation was actually named after Daniel Ellis, an Englishman who worked with the Dutch West Indian company that constructed the plantation house. In either case, this is still one of the oldest plantation houses in Curaçao. It has since been transformed into a plantation restaurant.
The Curaçao Sea Aquarium focuses on rehabilitation and creating safe, natural habitats for marine creatures. As their efforts are ongoing, spectators can come in to see and interact with the animals with shows and other activities. One such show that gets underway here involves the adorable sea lions, and you don’t want to miss out on it while there. There’s also shows with dolphins that get underway as well, which can be fun to witness.
Playa Kalki is popular for both snorkelling and scuba diving. This beach is sometimes referred to by divers as “Alice in Wonderland” for its mushroom-shaped coral formations. Closer to shore, there’s a roped off area with a floating platform. There’s also a parking area, a snack bar, and a dive shop.
Playa Jeremi is a beautiful little cove with stunning views. It is tranquil and perfect for relaxing from early in the day until the sun goes down. You’ll need to walk down some steps cut into the rocks to get down to the beach, but once you get there you’ll be in total admiration of how crystal clear the water is, and how blissful it is to be there especially as the sun goes down.
Was this the beach that the Beach Boys were talking about in their catchy hit that speaks about falling in love, melting tropical drinks in hand, at Kokomo? A glimpse at the beautiful Kokomo beach in Curaçao says it could very well be with its peaceful ambiance and stunning waterside views. Whether it is, or it isn’t, Kokomo Beach is a special place, and perfect for a couples date. There’s no entrance fee required, and you’ll have access to beach chairs for lounging and a dive center. There’s also a restaurant and bar on this beach.
Queen Wilhelmina Bridge is a high rise auto bridge that you can cross to get between the two separated parts of Willemstad. Sometimes this bridge moves about to make way for passing boats, but when it’s stationary, it can make for a romantic stroll with cool views.
While in Curaçao, a visit to the Ostrich Farm is a must. The farm is 15 minutes to the south of Willemstad where you can sign up for an Ostrich Safari Tour. As part of this tour, you’ll ride around the farm in a safari vehicle and learn about the African Ostrich and the Etmu. This farm makes it possible to see all stages of ostrich life, from egg, all the way up to an adult. The baby ostriches here are the absolute cutest! There’s also a few emu on the farm as well.
Landhuis Bloemhof is a small plantation that today is used for exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and other events. The main plantation house has over the years become something of a hub for artisans. Antique furniture adds to the ambiance of this location and there’s lots of remodelled areas including the stables and barns that have been converted into an archive, library, and reading room. This space is largely dedicated to the arts.
Blue Bay Beach is perfect for a day of snorkeling which starts or ends at a simple but trendy beach bar. This beach is on the private side, and there’s a small entrance fee of about $6 to get in. Once inside you can use the facilities which include showers and restrooms. There’s restaurants near the beach as well. Overall, your experience at Blue Bay is bound to be breezy and fun, and even more memorable if you stay until sunset!
If you’re looking for a great beach to dive on while in Curaçao, Playa Lagun is worth considering. There’s usually lots of sightings here including a wide variety of reef fish, turtles, corals, large sponges, and other marine life, particularly near the rocky cliffs. This beach is popular with fishermen as well.
The Kura Hulanda Museum is located in central Willemstad, right at the harbor. The area where this museum is located played a significant role in the trading and transshipment of enslaved Africans by Dutch entrepreneurs, and thus the museum tells much of this story through its exhibits. Kura Hulanda also showcases African cultural heritage as filtered down to Curaçaoan and Caribbean societies over the years.
A great place to hike while in Curaçao is at Christoffel, the largest national park on the island. Part of the attraction here is the climb up Christoffel mountain, which rises some 350 meters/1150 ft. This park opens around 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m. on weekends. It is advisable to schedule your hike before11 a.m., when it’s cooler. There are 8 hiking trails at Christoffel and most are relatively easy to navigate. If hiking isn’t your speed, then you can get a tour arranged to explore the scenery at Christoffel by jeep, mountain bike, or on horseback.
Italian ice will be a sure treat while on this sunny isle, and Caribbean Breeze’s version produced and sold in Curaçao is one of the best you’ll have on the island. Caribbean Breeze’s Italian ice cart is usually on the streets of Punda where the frozen blend of dairy-free and fruity sweetness can be found.
Playa Piscado is also known as Playa Grandi and it is a good option if you’re looking to swim with turtles while snorkeling, or just get a better look at the day to day of a local fisherman. Turtles are drawn to this area because of all the fishing activity and you’ll see many of them around the dock while the fishermen undertake their fish cleaning duties. It’ll be quite a sight to behold, and you’ll for sure leave with lots of amazing photos.
Playa Kenepa is quite literally two beaches in one — Kenepa Grandi, which means bigger beach, and Kenepa Chiki, the smaller of the two. These two beaches are also known as Grote Knip and Klein Knip. Both of these beaches are super private, and relatively isolated. The latter is great for snorkelling.
Landhuis Chobolobo is located in Punda and many describe its history as “sketchy.” It was built in the early 1800s and is thought to have been a country residence for wealthy merchants at one time. Today, Chobolobo houses the distillery Senior Co., producers of the famous Blue Curaçao. A guided tour of the facility will provide an opportunity to learn more about the history of this old plantation house.
A visit to Shete Boka National Park will be a mellow way to spend your day while in Curaçao. Shete Boka is on the western portion of the island, and this national park has lots of beautiful coves. The words ‘Shete Boka’ means seven inlets, but there are many more at this location including Boka Tabla with amazing views from the top, and Pistolero, named for the sound the waves make when breaking on the boka.
Artsy stops in the Caribbean are often eclectic and fun, echoing the tropical goodness of this region and the inspiration many artists derive from daily life. One such stop that’ll be completely worth your while in Curaçao is Serena’s Art Factory, which is free to visit. Here you can see how the famous and colorful Chichi® sculptures are made by Serena and her always inspired team. Sculptures here are hand-painted by a group of over 60 women under the guidance of Serena and her team.
The gorgeous white sand and translucent waters at Cas Abao Beach are part of the lure here, as are the swaying palms and shady gazebos. The reefs here appeal to both snorkelers and scuba divers, and there’s also a raft moored off the beach for sunbathing. This convenient beach spot also has a bar, restaurant, showers, and a massage facility.
Many people aren’t aware that Curaçao has quite the interesting Jewish history. As history tells it, this small island once had the biggest Jewish population in all of the Americas. While on the island you can book a Jewish heritage tour which will take you along the path to discover some of the things that most showcase the island’s Jewish background. Most tours include the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue and Jewish Museum.
Queen Emma Bridge connects Punda and Otrobanda in the capital city of Willemstad. This is a pontoon bridge, and it opens at various intervals to accommodate passing ships. The bridge has existed since 1888, with renovations being done in 1939. So familiar are locals to this long existing bridge that it even has a nickname: “Our Swinging Old Lady”.
Swimming with dolphins is the highlight of any Caribbean vacation and the opportunity presents itself in Curaçao. The Dolphin Academy works with dolphins in the open sea, and as part of their open swim you’ll get to swim side by side with dolphins that choose for themselves when they want to swim with you! The entire Dolphin Academy experience lasts about one and a half hours, with 30 minutes spent in the water. Bring along your towel, swimsuit, and sunblock and you’ll be good to go.
Cliff jumping can be a thrill in the Caribbean. That is, if you’re brave enough. If you are and find yourself wanting to tick this off your bucket list, then Playa Kenepa is the place to go. Not only is this one of the best beaches in Curaçao, it is also one of the safer cliff jumping areas. Regularly, there are kids and adults jumping off the cliffs here which are around 20 ft. high. Watch where you’re jumping as there’s rocks on the bottom. Once you jump into the water you can swim back to the beach and take the stairs to get back up. This is a better option than trying to climb back up the cliffside where there’s often sea urchins.
Another old plantation house worth visiting while in Curaçao is Landhuis Klein Santa Martha. This plantation house was built around the 1700s, and can be found atop a hill on the northeast of Santa Martha Bay. Landhuis Klein Santa Martha was one of the top 3 salt producers on the island and now houses a restaurant and hotel.
Two hours off the coast of Curaçao (about 8 miles off the southeast coast) there’s a small island which is known for having the longest and whitest beach in Curaçao. This island is known as Klein Curaçao and it is uninhabited. It is possible to get here by scheduling a tour with a dive operator, chartering a boat, or otherwise arranging a tour through your resort. Tours often include snorkelling, refreshments, and a picnic or barbecue lunch. Though this is quite the spectacular beach stop, there isn’t much shade so you’ll definitely need to bring hats and other beach gear.
It’s hard to turn down a scuba diving opportunity in the Caribbean, and it will be even more so to do that in Curaçao. But why would you want to? Islands like Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao and known for their amazing underwater experiences with plenty of coral reefs, walls, and sunken ships to discover. Ocean temperatures are usually warm in this area year round, which adds to the appeal. Most dive sites in Curaçao are accessible from shore.
Insider tip: At all Sandals resorts diving is included (up to two free tanks per day per guest), which means that as long as you’re certified, you’ll be able to do plenty of diving during your Curaçao vacation once Sandals Curaçao is open. Even Sandals’ professional equipment is included in the booking price! Not PADI® certified yet? Learn how to dive at the resort at additional cost and dive the rest of your vacation for free.
It goes without saying that one should explore the capital city of any destination as doing so can provide valuable insight into the lifestyle and culture of the people. In Curaçao, it’s even more exciting to explore the city as Willemstad, the capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage City. The city is divided into two parts by St. Anna Bay, and the divided areas are known as Punda (east) and Otrobanda (west). It’s easy to make your way back and forth between the two by way of the Queen Emma Bridge. The architecture of Willemstad is vibrant and inviting, and there’s many attractions in this area including Handelskade, a waterfront street with colorful colonial Dutch houses.
A vacation in a destination as exotic as Curaçao calls for accommodation that’ll cater to your every need, which hints strongly at an all-inclusive property. The pluses of going all-inclusive include the fact that everything is included in the cost you pay upfront for your package, including food, drinks, and accommodation.
All inclusive resorts like Sandals Curaçao (soon to be opened on the island) go above and beyond the typical all-inclusive, offering guests a wide range of quality inclusions that only begin with things like gourmet dining, day and night entertainment, unlimited land and water sports (including scuba diving), golf, access to multiple (swim-up) bars, and more.
Sandals new resort in Curacao will cater specifically to couples in love, much like all Sandals all-inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean.
You can now create your personalized list of your top 10 (or 20) favorite things to do on this tropical island destination! Curaçao is an amazing destination to visit year round, but many visitors find that the island is most exciting during peak season, between December and April. While this is the busiest time to travel to this destination, you’ll easily find lots of activities happening around town. If you plan on traveling during peak season, it’s a good idea to book your trip at least six months in advance. Once you do that, you’ll be well on the way to packing your bags for an amazing island getaway!