Curacao is not only one of the most beautiful islands in the world, it is also one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean. Traveling to Curacao is an adventure that vacationers will never forget, yet will undoubtedly yearn to relive each year.
Embarking on a journey to Curacao may seem a little unnerving at first glance. With the vital information located in this Curacao travel guide, however, those fears can be laid to rest.
Introduction to Curacao
Curacao is an island located on the south end of the Caribbean. It sits about 40 miles off Venezuela’s coast, however, Curacao is a country of its own and is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Curacao features 35 different beaches, over 70 diving spots, and a seemingly endless amount of activity options. Scuba diving, watersports, cross-country tours, cave exploring, skydiving, biking, trail trekking, and sailing are just a few of the many adventures tourists to the island can enjoy.
Curacao is well-known for its ideal climate and distance away from the hurricane belt in the Caribbean. The average daily temperature in Curacao throughout the entire year is only 84°F and the most torrential storms steer clear of the island.
The island of Curacao has a long and interesting history. The first settlers to the country were the Arawak people, followed by the Spanish, and then later, the Dutch.
For over a century, the island was repetitively invaded until the Dutch finally won total control in 1816. Curacao eventually became a part of the Netherlands Antilles in the 1950s, however, by 2010 that was dismantled and Curacao became an independent country.
Today, along with Aruba and St. Maarten, Curacao is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
How to Get There
Curacao’s location in the Caribbean makes travel options more limited than other destinations. Really, the only choices are to travel via an airplane, a cruise ship, or a yacht.
Most airlines have flights that fly directly to Curacao. It is important to note that there is an additional $42 airport departure fee for return flights to international countries.
There are several cruise lines that offer trips to Curacao. The only downfall to a cruise is that time on the island will be limited, however, it will still be an amazing introduction to a truly unforgettable destination.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Curacao is between the months of May and November when tourism is lowest and vacation costs are more affordable. The month of May is probably the best month with respect to hotel prices.
The busy season in Curacao is usually from December to April, but that means that travel expenses will go up significantly. Temperatures in Curacao stay pretty steady, so travelers will not miss out on much just by waiting for the off-peak season.
Weather and Climate
Throughout the year, temperatures in Curacao fluctuate between 70°F and 90°F, usually landing around 84°F. The warmest month is September which also brings the start of additional rainfall throughout the island.
Thankfully, Curacao is not located in a hurricane-prone area and typically is safe from the most treacherous storms.
There are several options for getting around Curacao including taxis, shuttles, buses, and rental cars.
Shuttles are often provided by the airport and at some hotels on the island, but they are limited and may only go to specific areas.
Public buses are available throughout the island, but they are not always on time and they do not travel to every part of the island. A one-way trip may only cost a little over a dollar, but the wait could be one, two, or even three hours.
Taxis are plentiful on the island, however, they tend to be on the expensive side. One taxi ride could end up costing $30 or more and that really adds up fast.
The best option is to rent a car, especially if exploring the island as much as possible is the main vacation goal.
Rental cars can be found at the airport and also on the east side of the island. The cost of a rental car will be between about $40 and $70 daily, which can get a little expensive.
Thanks to the island’s rich history, there is more than one official language spoken in Curacao. Dutch, English, and Papiamentu are the official languages of the island.
Papiamentu is a unique combination of different languages including Portuguese, English, and Spanish.
Many locals speak Spanish and thanks to the unique combination of inhabitants, some areas on the island speak French and German as well.
The official currency in Curacao is the Netherlands Antillean guilder, abbreviated as ANG and referred to as florins or guilders. For the past few years, one US dollar is the equivalent of ANG 1.79.
It is best to be prepared with Antillean guilders and US dollars in case a proprietor only accepts one or the other.
Top 3 Things to Do
Finding something to do in Curacao is not hard, however, these are the most exciting activities that the island has to offer.
Swim with Dolphins
Visit the Dolphin Academy in Curacao for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hang out with dolphins. The facility offers dolphin encounters for kids and adults of all ages as well as dolphin swimming and snorkeling excursions for experienced swimmers.
Visitors can even go on an open water dive with dolphins or take an assistant dolphin trainer course. The Dolphin Academy is one of only a few dolphin facilities where the dolphins are able to live in fresh seawater.
UTV Expedition – West Coast
Rent a UTV (utility terrain vehicle) for a three-and-a-half-hour unforgettable excursion across the western part of Curacao. You will ride over the breathtaking sandy plains, walk in a cave, explore gorgeous Boca Patrick, and then stop for a cool, exhilarating swim in Daai Booi.
The UTVs fit two people and you will be provided with a guide, a snack, a bottle of water, sunglasses, and bandanas. Drivers need to be 21 years old with a valid driver’s license while passengers need to be at least 12 years old.
Snorkeling is a free activity that can provide hours of fun for everyone and allow you to view sea life up close. Some of the best beaches to snorkel at on the island include Playa Piskado, Klein Curacao, Tugboat, and several more.
All you need to do is find a snorkeling mask that fits you comfortably and provides a secure vacuum seal. Practice in a swimming pool before you head out or find an experienced snorkeler to give you pointers.
Top 3 Places to Eat and Drink
There are a lot of restaurants and bars in Curacao, but experiencing the food the island has to offer is part of the adventure. Here are the top three places to eat and drink on Curacao island.
The Wine Cellar
Location: Concordiastraat, Punda Willemstad
The Wine Cellar is one of Curacao’s best fine dining restaurants and there is good reason for the distinction. This French restaurant offers lunch and dinner as well as an amazing selection of fine wines.
This restaurant features fillet mignon, truffled pasta, chicken parmesan, salmon fillet, and more. The Wine Cellar has a variety of wines from many different countries including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, Spain, Italy, and, of course, France.
$6 to $35
Kome is a Caribbean-style restaurant that offers lunch, dinner, drinks, and dessert. It has a local bar atmosphere with a refined feel that is perfect for a romantic night on the town, a family dinner, or a great time out with friends.
Kome’s menu features chef-crafted cuisine including fresh salads, risotto, smoked beef brisket, and much more. Their bar has a variety of wine, craft beer, and cocktail options to choose from, as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
Kome should definitely be on your list of must-experience locations.
$5 to $34
Location: Flip Flip 17, Willemstad Curaçao
Shelterrock Paradise is a family-owned restaurant in Curacao that features truly traditional Caribbean cuisine. Entrees include goat stew, beef stew, spareribs, mahi-mahi, red snapper, and more.
This restaurant offers vegan-friendly options as well as dessert and smoothies. Shelterrock Paradise also has a well-stocked bar, offering whiskey, vodka, tequila, mixed drinks, cocktails, beer, and wine.
Top 3 Hotels and Resorts
The most important part of any vacation is booking the right hotel or resort. These are the three best hotels and resorts that Curacao has to offer.
Baoase Luxury Resort
Winterswijkstraat 2 Willemstad, Curacao
The Baoase Luxury Resort is a favorite among many vacationers thanks to its private location, friendly staff, and exquisite design. It sits on its own private island on the island and some suites even have their own infinity pools.
The resort has its own private French restaurant that offers expensive yet delicious entrees. Rooms offer gorgeous balconies and spectacular views of the beach.
Avila Beach Hotel
Penstraat 130, Willemstad, Curacao
The Avila Beach Hotel has been a popular hotel on the island for over two centuries. The amazing rooms in this hotel feature a balcony, wooden furnishings, and minifridges.
The hotel has three different restaurant options and the even offers all-inclusive plans that include food. It also has an infinity pool, spa, and two private beaches.
Sunscape Curacao Resort
Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard # 78, Willemstad, Curacao
Located right on the beach, the Sunscape Curacao Resort is not just a resort, it has a full-service spa and a casino. This resort also has four different pools, six amazing places to eat, seven fully-stocked bars, and tennis courts.
The Sunscape Curacao Resort is great for the family and offers so many activities and gorgeous views that visitors may not ever want to leave.
- Take the bus or walk if you want to save money on a rental car. It may take more time, however, it will save you a lot of money.
- Avoid taxis if a shuttle or bus is headed the same direction. Taxi fees can really add up depending on the distance.
- Travel to Curacao during the off-peak season (May to November) to save on hotel rates and airfare.
- Eat at less expensive local eateries and buy some groceries for the room to save on food costs.
- Hang out on the beach and really enjoy the beauty. Every day does not have to be full of costly activities.
Curacao is an absolutely gorgeous island that has so much to offer including an unbelievable climate, a long list of possible adventures, and tons of beaches to explore. Tourists can swim with dolphins, snorkel around the island, taste delicious cuisine, or drive UTVs across the sandy plains.
The possibilities and memories are endless in Curacao and everyone needs to experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Learning about Curacao island and discovering its many exquisite features is a rewarding experience. Here are the sources used to create this guide.