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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sit Back and Relax at Mambo Beach
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Remember the Past at Kura Hulanda Museum
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.
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.
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.