Curacao is a Dutch island which can be found surrounded by the signature turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Curacao is part of the ABC Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and like most Caribbean islands, it is most notable for its snorkeling and diving.
Curacao is a popular stop for cruise ships, which is how I found myself wandering around this beautiful, fun, vibrant island for 8 hours of non-stop activity. Curacao offers a wide range of activities from swimming and snorkeling, to caving and hiking for the more active travelers. If you are not the active type, not to worry, you will easily find activities to keep you entertained throughout the day, without having to wander off the beaten path.
From the moment the ship docks in Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, you will be transported into a completely different world. There are the typical souvenir shops right off the dock, as well as many little beverage stands if you wish to try the local beer (which I would highly recommend).
These stands are scattered throughout Willemstad, so whenever you feel the desire to quench your thirst, there certainly is no shortage of bar stools waiting to be used. It is always fun to hang out with the locals and listen to their stories.
A short walk from port you will pass through the Renaissance Resort, which houses many of the upscale shops, as well as a casino.
Even if you don’t plan on shopping, I recommend taking a short stroll through this resort which is scattered with palm trees and offers shops that sell the not so touristy items.
Rif Fort Village
Once you have completed your stroll through the gorgeous grounds of the Renaissance take the entrance into the Rif Fort Village, a restored fort which houses many restaurants and bars. You will be entertained here by island music. So sit back and relax with a cold one.
Since you have made it this far, you have to keep going. Once you exit the Rif Fort Village, you will enter into what I call the “candy land”. This is a must see when in Curacao. It is the main shopping area in Willemstad’s downtown area, and is full of restaurants, shacks offering beverages…..mostly alcoholic, and it is scattered with candy- colored buildings on each side of St. Anna’s Bay, which runs through the town.
Queen Emma Bridge
The two sides of Willemstad are connected by the only moving bridge that is currently in operation, known as the Queen Emma Bridge. No vehicle traffic is permitted on the bridge, but it does lift to allow the ships to enter and exit. Be prepared to make a dash for it if a ship is coming through.
Aloe Vera Plantation
If you are into plants and farming, you can visit the Aloe Vera Plantation, free of charge. The aloe plant is one of the only plants that is able to grow in Curacao. While there, you are able to purchase skin care products, bath and shower products and even beverages.
If you are travelling with little ones, I am sure that they would love to take a tour of the Ostrich Farm. You will take tour of the farm and be able to stop to feed the ostrich if you are brave enough.
Serena’s Art Factory
Just down the road you will find Serena’s Art Factory, the home of the chichi. The what you ask? In Curacao, the eldest daughter of a household is referred to as a chichi. The chichi is left in charge of the household and her siblings, when the parents are at work or away from home.
I am a chichi, are you a chichi?
When visiting the factory, you might even be lucky enough to see an artist at work, creating a colorful, large busted female sculpture. If you are visiting the island for longer than a day, it is possible to arrange a workshop and learn what is involved in creating a chichi.
Caracao Sea Aquarium
Children and adults alike, will love their visit at the Curacao Sea Aquarium. Take a tour of the aquarium and feed the flamingos and stingrays. Board the under water observatory boat to view the mammals in their natural environment. And remember to sit back and relax throughout your visit to take in the shows.
- dolphin show
- sealion show
- nurse shark action show
Curacao Liqueur Distillery
Curacao is know for its Blue Curacao. If you would like to sample it before you buy, be sure to visit Curacao Liqueur Distillery and take a self-guided tour.
At the end, be sure you taste test the famous Blue Curacao and relax in the open courtyard before heading to your next destination. For a more in-depth tour of the facility, guided tours are also available.
P.S. In case you were wondering, I did try them all and my favorite was the Tamarein.
If you are traveling to Curacao on a cruise ship and will only be in port for 1 day, you are able to experience the majority of the above activities and adventures during your time in port.
For the more adventurous traveler, Curacao also has something for you. It has many beaches where you can swim, snorkel, dive, or just hang out and relax.
- Blue Bay Beach: is the largest beach and is known for its snorkeling and diving
- Mambo Beach: is a trendy beach which is great for swimming and is close to shops and other amenities
- Cas Abao Beach: is good for swimming and snorkeling
- Grote Knip Beach: is good for swimming and is a popular beach for snorkeling
- Jan Thiel Beach: is a great beach for water sports and offers sunbeds and eateries close by
- Avila Beach: is a luxurious private beach which offers loungers and palapas or small tiki huts and a restaurant and bar
- Klein Curacao Beach: or known as “Little Curacao” is a small island beach which offers solitude. You will have to book a boat ride over with Mermaid Boat Trips
For an adventure that is a little bit different, Curacao is home to the Hato Caves, which offers tours, as well as the Blue Room Cave, which allows you to kayak through.
If you have indulged in too much during your vacation, you might want to visit Christoffel National Park for a little exercise. Christoffel National Park offers eight hiking trails, from beginner to advanced, ranging in time from 40 minutes to 2 to 3 hours.
If you aren’t feeling particularly active, but still wish to see the sites from above, you also have the option of driving and the park offers two different routes.
No matter, what activity or adventure you choose to do while visiting Curacao, be sure to get out explore everything this beautiful island has to offer.
Enjoy and Safe Travels!
Related: 10 Tips for the Solo Cruiser