Curacao Travel Tips
Teamed with Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao is one of the three “ABC” islands of the Lesser Antilles. As the largest and most populated of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao has the most going on and the most “social life.” The island capital, Willemstad, is a bustling city with brightly colored Dutch architecture, and its Old Town area being a designated World Heritage site. From shopping, casinos and museums in picturesque Willemstad, to the picture perfect beaches of Blauwbaai and Daaiboo, it’s no wonder this island grows in popularity every year.
- Accommodation: Prices vary depending on location as generally. Expect to pay from around $25 USD per night in a guest house to $100 USD for a typical budget hotel.
- Food: Curacao has many upscale restaurants, but for travelers on a budget there are also many fast food chains and American style eateries. A casual meal costs around $15 USD.
- Transportation: A taxi from one end of Willemstad to the other will cost around $8 USD. Buses are reliable, costing less than a dollar for a single fare to most parts of the island. If you can rent a car, you can expect to pay around $30 USD per day.
- Activities: Like most Caribbean islands, Curacao is popular with divers, snorkelers and fishermen. These kinds of organized activities cost around $125 USD. A tour of Christoffel Park is $9 USD and the aquarium is $18 USD.
Money Saving Tips
- BBQ – BBQing on the beach is a popular activity for locals and can help you save a lot of money on food.
Top Things to See and Do
- Curacao Sea Aquarium – The aquarium is one of the most unique in the world as it uses an “open-water system” to continuously pump sea water into the various tanks. You’ll also have the opportunity to scuba dive and hand-feed stingrays, sharks, sea turtles and other colorful tropical fish.
- Christoffel Park - Rent a mountain bike or walk around this expansive national park, filled with deer, 10ft high cacti, iguanas, rabbits and rare plant life.
- Hato Caves - These eerie caves are steeped in history – escaped slaves would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings dating back 1500 years.
- Dolphin Academy - Prices for swimming with dolphins may be slightly out of the budget traveler’s price range, coming in at around $170 USD, but there are less expensive ways to see these bottle-nosed beauties. A “Dolphin Encounter” costs $80 USD and allows you to pet and feed them.
- Mushroom Forest & the Cave – As Curacao’s best diving spot, Mushroom Forest is teeming with marine life. The base of the corals have been slowly eroded by waves, fish, sponges and clams over time; creating the appearance of huge mushrooms growing on the ocean floor.
- Superior Producer - This ship sank in 1978 and its cargo of whiskey and clothes washed up on the coast of Willemstad. These days the shipwreck makes one of the coolest dive spots around the island as the entire ship has been intertwined with coral and sea life for divers to explore on one of the many trips to the site.
- Daaiboo beach - Curacao has beautiful beaches, but you might find some of the more popular beaches too crowded. By sidestepping the obvious choice of Blauwbaai and going for Daaiboo beach, you’ll get to enjoy white sands and a turquoise sea in relative peace and quiet.
- Mambo Beach Club - There are plenty of nightclubs on the island, but for the best Caribbean beach party go to Mambo Beach Club. The beach is transformed into an open-air nightclub where the trendy youth mix with tourists with live music and DJs keeping the party going.
- Curacao Carnival - January marks the beginning of the Curacao Carnival which is a mixture of a street party, theater, art, culture, history, cuisine, and folklore. The Carnival ends with the burning of King Momo at midnight. The life-sized, straw-filled effigy symbolizes infertility, sins, and bad luck and isn’t just burned; it’s blown up in an explosion of fireworks.
- Canoe Safari – These leisurely trips give you plenty of time to explore the beauty of the shoreline while taking in the best snorkelling spots and visiting unspoiled beaches.
- Willemstad – The unique architecture here is really awesome. The colors of the buildings is eye-catching and it is a pleasure to walk around and check it all out. It’s like a colorful and tropical version of Amsterdam.
- Ponche Kuba – This sweet, tick liquor is great to try or simply take home as a souvenir. It is a creamy Caribbean tradition. There is even a local factory that can be toured.