Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean Islands in the Lesser Antilles, and its capital city is Willemstad. This island is known for stunning beaches, coral reefs, colonial architecture, and producing an orange liqueur that shares the island’s name. If you choose to visit Curacao, then you will find a cast array of attractions and activities to enjoy. So that you can plan your itinerary to get the most out of your vacation, here are the 20 best things to do in Curacao for first-timers.
20. Watch the Cliff Jumping at Playa Kenapa
Located on the northwestern coast of the island, Playa Kenapa is a tranquil and quiet cove. It has two beaches; Klein Knip is the smaller of the two beaches, and Grote Knip is the larger beach. Both beaches are popular for sunbathing, snorkeling, and various watersports. Next to the beaches, there are rocky cliffs that are famous as a spot for cliff jumping. Even if you are not brave enough to jump from the cliffs yourself, it is fun to watch others plummeting into the waters below.
19. Go to the Sea Aquarium
Curacao’s Sea Aquarium is a fantastic attraction for all the family. It is unique as unlike other aquariums around the world, it does not have large tanks of seawater. Instead, it has real seawater pools that are fed by the sea. The pools contain a variety of marine life that is found in the waters surrounding the island, and there are many opportunities for visitors to feed or touch some of the species, such as the starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and stingrays. There are also interesting shows to watch at various points throughout the day featuring sharks, sea lions, and dolphins. You will find this attraction on the waterfront on the west coast of Willemstad.
18. See the Art at Alma Blou
According to Cruise Hive, Curacao is a fantastic destination for art lovers to visit as there are plenty of art galleries to explore that showcase paintings, sculptures, photographs, and figurines. There are also lots of art murals along the streets. One of the top art galleries to visit is Alma Blou, which is one of the oldest and largest art galleries on the island. It is located within a former plantation house at Habaai in Willemstad.
17. Visit Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum is located within Christoffelpark National Park, and it is one of the best places to learn about the history of the island. The exhibits in the museum take you on a journey through Curacao’s history, starting more than four thousand years ago. One of the main focuses of the museum is on the island’s plantations, as these have been the backbone of Curacao’s economy.
16. Dine at the Blueview Sunset Terrace
There are some fantastic places to dine in Curacao. If you want to try some traditional dishes of the island, then Forbes recommends dining at the Blueview Sunset Terrace. This is a casual, beachside restaurant that serves local cuisine, and boasts sensational views across Knip Beach and the ocean beyond. If you are daring when it comes to trying new things, then you might want to sample the barbecued iguana, which is a traditional dish that is served across the island.
15. Admire the Buildings at Handelskade
Handelskade is one of the most photographed spots in Curacao. Tourist brochures, travel websites, and postcards often feature an image of this street. It is a stretch of the pier on the Punda side of Willemstad in St. Anna Bay that is famous for being lined with pastel-colored Colonial Dutch buildings. It is a great spot for viewing the harbor and Queen Emma Bridge. It is also home to some fantastic bars and cafes.
14. Go to Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
The Mikve-Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest Jewish temple in continuous use in the New World, as it was consecrated in 1732. It was founded during the Spanish Inquisition when the Jews were fleeing persecution. Adjoining the synagogue is a museum, which is open to visitors. Along with a range of artifacts relating to the history of this religious building, the museum houses the Torah scrolls that were brought to Curacao by the first Jewish settlers.
13. Visit the Kura Hulanda Museum
Housed within the former home of a 19th-century merchant and slave owner, the Kura Hulanda Museum focuses on the history of the African slave trade on the island. In addition to the exhibitions of artifacts relating to the slave trade, the museum also has other interesting collections on display. These include Antillean art, Mesopotamian relics, and pre-Columbian gold.
12. Take a Boat Trip to Little Curacao
Klein Curacao, commonly called Little Curacao, is a largely uninhabited island that is just 15 miles off the coast of Curacao. It is possible to take a day trip to this small island on a boat. Most people visit to enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving around the island as there are coral reefs and lots of marine life to appreciate. However, the island is also good for sunbathing on the pristine beaches, seeing the wildlife, and visiting the crumbling lighthouse, which is still functional.
11. Spend Time at the Beach
Curacao is famous for its beautiful beaches, so you should spend some of your time relaxing at the beach and admiring the sea views. Some of the best beaches in Curacao include Blauwbaai, Mambo Beach, Playa Lagun, and Cas Abao Beach. If you get to hot sunbathing on the white, sandy beaches, you can always take a dip in the clear blue waters.
10. Try Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
As Curacao is surrounded by stunning waters with coral reefs, US News recommends trying snorkeling or scuba diving. In the depths of the Caribbean, divers can see sunken shipwrecks, dolphins, stingrays, turtles, tropical fish, and delicate coral gardens. Some of the specified dive sites around Curacao are accessible directly from the beach, including Blauwbaai and Porto Mari. However, there are also some that are only accessible by boat, including the star coral formations of Mushroom Forest. If you are not brave enough to try scuba diving, then you might prefer snorkeling in shallower waters.
9. See the Suplado Blow Hole During an Off-Roading Tour
There are many interesting and unusual natural features around Curacao, but one that you should try to see during your stay on this island is the Suplado Blow Hole. The only way you will see this natural feature is if you go on an off-roading tour. It is located in Westpunt, close to Boka Patrick. Seawater is sprayed through the rocks and shoots through the blowhole, as though by magic. There is a shallow pool of water surrounding the blowhole that you can sit in and get sprayed with water as it shoots through the blowhole.
8. Explore Shete Boka National Park
Shete Boka National Park stretches across more than six miles of the coast along the north of the island. It is particularly well known for being a breeding ground of various species of sea turtles that lay their eggs in the 10 pocket bays of this coastal park. If you visit this park, there are two spots that you should see. The first of these is Boka Pistol, which sits on the top of limestone hills and offers spectacular views. The second point is Boka Tabla, which is where you will see the magnificent waves crashing into the underground cavern.
7. Go Hiking in Christoffelpark National Park
Christoffelpark National Park consists of three plantations along the northern tip of the island which were merged in 1978. This park is the perfect place to admire the native flora and fauna of Curacao. These include 450 species of plants, including wild orchids, along with barn owls and white-tail deer, which are rare and endangered. It is the largest national park on the island, and it is possible to take a scenic drive through the park. However, the best way to appreciate the natural beauty and to spot wildlife is to go hiking or mountain biking. A natural feature of the park is Christoffel Mountain, and visitors to the park can enjoy panoramic views across the park and the surrounding area from this elevated position.
6. Drink Curacao Produced in Curacao
The most famous product of Curacao is the orange liqueur that share’s the island’s name. Most of this is produced at the Genuine Curacao Liqueur Factory, which was established in 1896. It is possible to visit this distillery, take a tour of the facilities, and learn about the production process. You can also learn about the history of the drink, before sampling some yourself. Although there are many orange liqueurs produced around the world, Curacao is unique as it is the only one made using the peels of the Lahara orange, which is grown on a single plantation on the island says Carnival.com. The most famous of the liqueurs produce is the liqueur blue. However, some of the other flavors available include rum & raisin, coffee, green, red, clear, and chocolate.
5. Go to the Forts
Willemstad is home to many forts, but there are three that you should include in your vacation itinerary. The first on the list is Fort Amsterdam, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered the most important fort on the island. It houses the government offices, the Council of Ministers, and the Governor’s office. Next on the list is Rit Fort, which is in Otrobanda and dates back to 1828. This has been converted into a shopping center that also boasts restaurants, bars, and an ice cream parlor. Finally, travel five minutes outside of the capital to visit Fort Nassau. This was built in 1797 to protect St. Anna Bay.
4. Meet the Birds at Curacao’s Ostrich Farm
A great day out for families visiting Curacao is a day out to the Curacao Ostrich Farm, which is located approximately 15 minutes outside the capital. Visitors can take the Ostrich Safari Tour, which involves riding around the grounds in a safari vehicle with a guide who teaches you about the Emu and the African Ostrich. You will see these birds at all stages of their life, from the eggs to fully-grown birds. Children often love seeing the bay ostrich, and there is a chance to stand on an ostrich egg to see if you can break it, which is almost impossible.
3. Explore the Hato Caves
The Hato Caves are located under the sea, and they were formed millions of years ago. Visitors can take guided tours of the caves, which have impressive limestone formations, waterfalls, and pools. There are also famous statues within the cave, the most famous of which is the Madonna state. The caves are also home to a colony of bats, which means that taking photographs is strictly prohibited.
2. Visit the Floating Market
A unique market to visit is the floating market in the country’s capital, Willemstad. The market consists of a network of boats from Venezuela. These are loaded with fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Not only can you buy fresh produce, but you can also mix amongst the locals and enjoy the lively atmosphere. If you want to take photographs of the market, you should head to the nearby bridge.
1. Walk the Queen Emma Bridge
According to David’s Been Here, the best thing to do in Curacao is to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge as this is one of the most significant landmarks on the island. Built in 1888 and then renovated in 1939, this is a long pontoon bridge that connects Otrobanda and Punda. The bridge is hinged so that it can open to allow ships to pass. If you want to watch the bridge swinging open, then you will get the best views from the Punda side.
Written by Liz Flynn
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