Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Curaçao

  • Published 2022/08/19

Warm, beautiful, and idyllic—these are just some of the words to describe Curacao, an island country in the Caribbean.

It’s a famous stop for many cruises, but it has many hidden wonders that make it a worthy visit on its own.

With a land area of just 444 square kilometers, the small but charming country is home to a dizzying number of beaches, underwater sights, quaint villages, and tropical forests brimming with wildlife.

It also sits below the hurricane belt, so the weather remains fair most of the time.

With the many activities to do, both relaxing and thrilling, you and your family will have an amazing experience exploring all that the island has to offer.

So make the country your destination for your upcoming vacation.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Curacao:

Explore the Rugged Coastline of Shete Boka Park

View of the Coastline of Shete Boka Park

Gail Johnson /

Home to inlets and rocky cliffs that drop abruptly to the sea, Shete Boka Park is a distinct seaside destination without Curacao’s trademark sandy beaches.

Boka in the local tongue means “inlet,” and “shete boka” means seven inlets.

But the park has more than what the name might imply, with various other inlets dotting the 10-kilometer northern coast of the island.

One of the most famous inlets is Boka Tabla, which has an underground cavern that creates a booming noise and a large wall of water whenever waves hit the natural structure.

View of the Coastline of Shete Boka Park

Simon Dannhauer /

You can then traverse the limestone bluffs and explore the other bokas, some of which have tiny beaches that serve as nesting grounds for turtles.

Be careful, as the sharp stones can easily cut your skin if you slip or grip too hard.

Waves crashing on the rocks at Shete Boka Park

Greens and Blues /

But the rugged views are well worth the struggle.

You’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the island’s northern coast and the foamy waves crashing over the rocky cliffs.

Walk the Length of Queen Emma Bridge

View of Queen Emma Bridge

elvirkins /

The Queen Emma Bridge is another local destination often visited by tourists because of its postcard views.

Located in the city of Willemstad, this floating pontoon bridge has wooden walkways and magnificent arcs that light up at night.

It connects the Punda and Otrobanda villages to Willemstad, disconnecting and connecting with either city depending on the needs.

View From Queen Emma Bridge

SirimasB /

So if it moves while you’re walking on it, don’t panic!

You’ll be treated with a smooth ride and a one-of-a-kind experience.

Queen Emma Bridge lit up during night

Styve Reineck /

When it’s facing Punda, the bridge becomes a perfect framing device for the colorful pastel buildings of the village that date back from the Dutch colonial area.

It provides many opportunities for photographers to take stunning photos to recreate something that resembles the multicolored seaside villages of Italy.

Play With Iguanas at Playa Lagun

An Iguana at Playa Lagun

gg-foto /

If you want to bask in the sun right next to iguanas, Playa Lagun should be on your Curacao itinerary.

It’s an unusual but fun experience to try while on the beach, which has a friendly population of these reptiles.

The small destination has crystal-clear water, a golden beach, and an apartment complex set atop a limestone cliff that reaches all the way to the sea.

View of Playa Lagun

fokke baarssen /

It’s one of the best launching points for those who want to try scuba diving in deeper waters, with the nearby underwater scenery teeming with corals, large sponges, and other marine creatures.

You’ll find moray eels, green sea turtles, and dizzying schools of sardine that are perfect for underwater photography.

A couple enjoying at Playa Lagun

fokke baarssen /

Sit Back and Relax at Mambo Beach

View of Mambo Beach

Gail Johnson /

One of the most famous beaches on the island is Mambo Beach, located on the west side of Curacao.

With the sandy beaches, tropical palm trees, and many lounges for sunbathing, Mambo beach makes for the quintessential island paradise that many visitors look for.

View of Mambo Beach

Junior Braz /

Perhaps the most noticeable features of the area are the man-made wave breakers, which create a turquoise lagoon with calm waters.

This makes the lagoon a very safe place to swim in, free from riptides and large waves.

View of Mambo Beach

Nat_V /

Mambo Beach is also a shopper’s paradise, with lots of stalls offering beachside amenities, skincare products, swimming apparel and accessories, and even designer goods.

When the sun sets, a thriving nightlife starts to emerge, with bars and restaurants offering a fun and lively experience for tourists who want to mingle and socialize with locals and other visitors.

Play With the Animals of Curaçao Sea Aquarium

View of Curaçao Sea Aquarium

Gail Johnson /

Adjacent to Mambo Beach is Curaçao Sea Aquarium, a facility that is unlike any other.

Sitting right on the water, this recreational facility houses many aquatic animals like dolphins, seals, stingrays, and various species of fish.

If you don’t want to get wet just yet, there are exhibits where you can view some of Curacao’s native marine life from a lens.

View of Curaçao Sea Aquarium

Gail Johnson /

But for those who want to get up close and personal with these animals, the aquarium has an exhibit connected directly to the sea.

Here, visitors can interact with dolphins and seals who call the aquarium their home.

You’ll see these happy creatures play and eat with trainers who have been taking care of them for most of their lives.

View of Curaçao Sea Aquarium

Gail Johnson /

But don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to play with them too.

You might even get very wet kisses from the seals or friendly boops from the dolphins.

Go Scuba Diving at Playa Porto Marie

View of  Playa Porto Marie

Simon Dannhauer /

Playa Porto Marie is another beach on the west side of Curacao, boasting powdery white sand and majestic seaside views.

Here, you can enjoy a relaxing day under the sun while still being near modern conveniences.

Turtle at Playa Porto Marie

fokke baarssen /

There is a small cafe catering to peckish visitors as well as outfitters for those who want to try water-related activities.

One of these is scuba diving, and the underwater scenery of Playa Porto Marie is one of the most famous spots on the island.

Sunset at Playa Porto Marie

Julio Macias /

Grab a tank, put on a wet suit, and dive into the deep blue sea and witness the hidden wonders of the area.

These include the double reef, teeming with vibrant tropical fishes and a serene underwater landscape.

Charter a Trip to Little Curacao

Rusted Pier at Little Curacao

Joke van Eeghem /

If you’re someone who likes beautiful beaches but doesn’t want the crowds, then Little Curacao is a great alternative.

This isolated and uninhabited island sits right on the southeastern side of Curacao.

With only an abandoned lighthouse and a few beach huts serving as a marker of human activity, this site is as secluded as you can imagine.

View of Little Curacao

Joke van Eeghem /

However, many businesses in Curacao offer trips to the island and the calm waters nearby.

On the pristine beaches, you can stay for a while and sunbathe in peace.

You might even see the turtles, marine birds, and other sea creatures as they visit the coastline to hunt, rest, and feed.

Shipwreck at Little Curacao

Joke van Eeghem /

Farther out to the sea, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Aside from the fantastic underwater scenery, there are also lots of shipwrecks hidden underneath that make for an eerie and unforgettable diving experience.

Sample Fine Drinks at Landhuis Chobolobo

Outside View of Landhuis Chobolobo

JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Landhuis Chobolobo is a liquor distillery and historic facility that is a favorite among tourists.

The striking yellow facade of the 19th-century mansion can be easily spotted, so you won’t have trouble missing one of the most celebrated manufacturers of the famous Blue Curacao Liqueur.

Workers packing the liquors at Landhuis Chobolobo

Charles Hoffman from New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Inside, you can join a guided tour and explore the interiors and processing facilities of the location.

You’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of how the drink is made, and you can even sample a glass or two of the fruity beverage.

Exterior of Landhuis Chobolobo

Charles Hoffman from New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a nice, boozy experience that you deserve to have while on vacation.

Just don’t bring the kids!

Play a Round of Golf at Blue Bay

Sunset in Blue Bay

Gail Johnson /

At Blue Bay, you’ll get to experience a more modern beachside vacation with the many amenities and facilities around.

This destination is as attractive as the other beaches around the island, but what makes it special is its golf course and sculpture garden.

The 18-hole golf course makes use of the uneven terrain of the cliffs overlooking the beach, making for challenging gameplay that beginners and professionals will enjoy.

View of Blue Bay

Gail Johnson /

Near the golf course is Blue Bay Sculpture Garden, a park with intriguing sculptures created by local and international artists.

Aside from these, Blue Bay offers the classic seaside experience, with sandy beaches, palm trees, restaurants and bars, as well as aquamarine waters that are ideal for snorkeling.

Go Spelunking at Hato Caves

Inside Hato Caves

Gail Johnson /

Need a break from the beach?

Then a tour of the magnificent Hato Caves just might be what you’re looking for.

The distinct attraction is a surprising departure from what Curacao typically offers, so many visitors are eager to step into these caverns.

And the hype is very well worth it.

Inside Hato Caves

Fotos593 /

Alien-looking stone formations, lengthy stalactites and stalagmites, and gleaming ponds turn the caves into a mysterious sight that is quite different from the vibrant beaches of the island.

Made from marine coral limestone, the cave’s interiors are lit strategically to create an almost ethereal glow that highlights the cave’s most dramatic structures.

Interior of the Hato Caves

Fotos593 /

In the past, it served as a burial site for indigenous populations and as a hiding spot for escaping slaves.

Today, it has been turned into a show cave with guided paths that allow you to view the magnificent sites without damaging the delicate formations.

Have Fun Under the Sun at Kleine Knip

Aerial View of Kleine Knip

11 Shots Media /

If you want a more adventurous day on the beach, Kleine Knip is the place to be.

While the beach is rather small, the rocky cliffs around it are perfect for exploring and—if you’re feeling adventurous—cliff diving.

There are also few amenities on the beach, such as huts and a parking space, so it’s a truly peaceful and undisturbed area for those who want to relax.

Cliffs at Kleine Knip

NaturePicsFilms /

Best of all, the warm and inviting waters of the area make it an ideal site for snorkeling.

There is a reef nearby that lots of unique aquatic creatures call their home.

Aside from the vibrant schools of fishes swimming in the crystal-clear water, you’ll find sea turtles and elusive manta rays wandering about.

Trek the Trails of Christoffel National Park

View of Christoffel National Park

Gail Johnson /

Take a break from the beaches of Curacao by exploring the trails of Christoffel National Park.

Within this destination stands the highest point of the island: Christoffelberg, a mountain standing 372 meters tall.

The 1,860-hectare park serves as a nature reserve, where the local flora and fauna of the island can thrive and live in peace.

You can explore the swaths of jungle, small babbling brooks, and cliffside views that are all accessible from the several trails crisscrossing the park.

Two Birds in Christoffel National Park

Gail Johnson /

Some favorite modes of transport include bikes and cars, but walking remains the most ideal method if you want to see all the wonders of the park up close.

You might even spot some of the endemic wildlife in the area, such as extremely rare orchids, hummingbirds, owls, and white-tailed deer.

Landscape of Christoffel National Park

Freedom_wanted /

If you’re up for a more challenging adventure, then join one of the mountain climbing trips to Christoffelberg.

At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking birds-eye view of the island—a rare opportunity for tourists.

Try Snorkeling in the Crystalline Waters at Kenepa Grande

Top view of Grote Knip

LauraVl /

Also called Grote Knip, this breathtaking beach lies just north of Kleine Knip.

The white, powdery sand, gorgeous cliffs, and verdant hills surrounding the beach give the destination a postcard-worthy view.

A couple enjoying the view of Grote Knip from a clif

fokke baarssen /

However, the most distinct feature of the beach is the wide shallows colored with a perfect shade of blue.

It reaches well into the sea, with crystalline water and a sandy seafloor that is ideal for snorkeling.

Crystalline Waters at Kenepa Grande

Simon Dannhauer /

If you’re feeling daring, then head to the nearby cliffs and try your hand at cliff diving.

It’s a thrilling experience that will elevate your trip to another level.

Explore the Ruins of Fort Beekenburg

View of Fort Beekenburg

Gail Johnson /

Once a primary defense against naval threats, Fort Beekenburg now stands as a historic site that accommodates visitors eager to learn more about the island’s history.

It stands on a rocky outcrop adjacent to Caracas Bay, offering magnificent views of the surrounding lands and sea—an important feature for spotting enemies in the past.

View of Fort Beekenburg

Gail Johnson /

Today, it can be climbed by anyone who wants to explore and view the artifacts and structures within the fort.

You’ll find well-preserved canyons, rugged paths, and windows that serve as frames for the marvelous views of the bay.

If you want a short but scenic detour that doesn’t involve a beach, then Fort Beekenburg is a great stopover.

Aerial view of Fort Beekenburg

NaturePicsFilms /

Remember the Past at Kura Hulanda Museum

Outside View of Kura Hulanda Museum

-JvL- from Netherlands, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Being part of the routes during the slave trade, Curacao has many records and artifacts that highlight a grim moment in the region’s history.

Some of these historical collections are housed at Kura Hulanda Museum, a must-visit complex that has around 15 buildings.

Outside Kura Hulanda Museum

-JvL- from Netherlands, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The facility has galleries, exhibits, and many other displays that tell the chilling story of Africans and how they were transported and put into slavery during the colonial era.

On the brighter side, the museum also showcases how the rich heritage of these people has influenced the cultures of Curacao and other islands in the Caribbean.

It’s a must-see destination for history buffs and those who want to stay reminded of their lost heritage.

Exhibits at Kura Hulanda Museum

Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drink and Dine at the Wine Cellar

The Wine Cellar is a well-known and upscale French restaurant in the Caribbean that’s ideal for a fantastic lunch or a special night.

It has been a renowned dining establishment in Curaçao for over thirty years.

Nico Cornelisse, a “Maitre Rotisseur” from Holland, operates the famous Wine Cellar.

The kitchen adds a unique touch by fusing classic French food with a Caribbean flair.

Fresh grouper and lobster are among the menu items, and each week, flown in from Holland, are the best rack of lamb.

A variety of the best wines in the world goes perfectly with the wonderful menu.

Warm walnut and cashew pie, Suzette crepes, and many more are delicious ways to end your dinner.

Dutch chocolates are presented alongside Italian coffee.

Stroll Along Fort Amsterdam

Exterior of Fort Amsterdam

alfotokunst /

Fort Amsterdam, one among eight forts on the island, is named for the Amsterdam chamber of the West India Company.

It was built in 1634 and functioned as the West India Company’s main administrative office in addition to being a military fort.

Currently, it serves as Curaçao’s administrative center and seat of the governor.

The exquisite facades and frontispieces that decorate the UNESCO World Heritage Site are painted in charming mustard-yellow tones and appear to have been taken directly from the streets of a Low Country city.

Stop by and take a short stroll to the capital’s historic quayside.

Explore Different Artifacts Displayed in Savonet Museum

Bright yellow building of Savonet Museum

JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Savonet Museum is a popular stop for visitors interested in learning about the history of Curaçao and the ABC Islands.

It is situated in the center of the stunning Christoffel National Park, where the large mountain on the island’s northern side emerges to a summit above the rainforests.

It has artifacts that trace the long history of human occupancy in these areas.

Exterior of Savonet Museum

Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is situated in a renovated plantation structure, previously the Savonet Plantation, one of the country’s oldest.

The museum has the resources to portray a rich tale of the interaction between humans and nature, cultural history, and natural history.

These resources include contemporary audio-visual concepts, historical artifacts, faces of former slaves’ descendants, photographs, entirely reconstructed antiques, and much more.

Look at how Curaçao’s inhabitants have coexisted with the island’s tropical environment over time.

Enjoy a Delicious Meal with Stunning Views of the Sunset at Shelterrock Paradise

Kutcha house at Shelterrock Paradise

Gail Johnson /

Founded in 2016, Shelterrock Paradise is a family-run enterprise run by a father, mother, and three boys.

Rock is an appropriate name due to the placement of Shelterrock Paradise at the summit of a mountain.

Colorful houses at Shelterrock Paradise

Gail Johnson /

The emphasis of Shelterrock Paradise is on regional cuisine made according to tradition. For instance, they have coconut evenings on Fridays when they cook food in fresh coconuts above hot embers for several hours!

Farm at Shelterrock Paradise

Gail Johnson /

Following that, you can pick from chicken, stewed meat, goat, shrimp, fish, vegetarian options, or seafood medley.

The restaurant offers a stunning sight of the sunset and Christoffel Mountain.

Feast your Eyes on the Colourful Streets during the Curaçao Carnival

It is one of the area’s most immersive celebrations of culture, having evolved over generations.

Imagine a festival where the already vibrant streets of Curaçao blossom and give way to a joyous tapestry of color, dance, and joy.

Traditional music wafts across the streets, talking about celebrations and the mouthwatering aromas of regional cuisine.

Elaborate costumes complement the music and revelry; similarly, elaborate floats and colors rival the Caribbean’s stunning blue seas.

The Grand Parade and The Farewell March are the two primary parades that make up most of Carnival, lasting over a month.

At the Curaçao Carnival, get ready for a dazzling explosion of color and innovation.

Final Thoughts

The island paradise of Curacao is teeming with natural attractions, historical destinations, and friendly wildlife that will have you wanting to stay for longer.

So when planning for your trip to this idyllic country, reference this list and take note of all the best spots to visit.

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