Curacao is more popularly known as a diver’s paradise. Tough wall dives, great snorkeling spots, rich coral reefs are in abundance here. The white fine sand beaches and cool waters are also one of the reasons why tourists flock this island every summer vacation. Make it a point to explore the Willemstad, Curacao’s capital city. Its enchanting pastel structures and just as brilliant cultural history is worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage City recognition. If you are tired of the beach, you can spend some time to visit the museums, sights are the Curacao Museum and the Museum Kura Hulanda, the latter is dedicated to the bondage of colonial empires in the Caribbean.
These are the top ten not to be missed places in Curacao.
This beach is one of the most liked and famous here in Curacao. Nice big parking. No entry fee. It has enough sun beds and gazebos. There are palm trees and thickets of Divi-divi trees and Mansania in the shade which you can comfortably relax. The beach is very beautiful at any time of day. In many coastal cliffs there are crabs and small fishes that can be seen even when you stand on the water.
There are also lots of good snorkeling spots. The Kenepa Beach is a show that deserves to be enjoyed, the sand is white and fine, the crystal clear waters, and the happy atmosphere of smiling tourists and locals.
Snorkeling is really nice and as you enter from the beach you can see a small herd of cuttlefish, a small moray eel and a host of other fish. The beach is wonderful with its different shades of blue and turquoise you’ll be blown away by its scenic charm. A small kiosk and toilets are also available. From the observation deck you have a wonderful view over the bay.
The coasts have rocks so it is advisable to take a kayak into the depths where no stones are present. It’s a must if one goes through Curacao. Go early to grab a site or cabin for shade. The rented chairs are available for $ 5 until 4:00 pm. There is little variety in food so it is highly recommended to bring something to eat, beer, soda, and water if you intend to spend a whole day here. The only advice is to be careful with corals when you walk into the water to avoid accidents.
Playa Cas Abou
The beach is very nice and equipped with sun beds and umbrellas which cost around 4 Euros or so and that also allow the use of the service shower. Before arriving on the beach at the entrance you pay an entrance fee to the guardian. The beach also has a bar restaurant serving a variety of cocktails and excellent smoothies (cold smoothies in different flavors such as mango, banana, pina colada, strawberry, lime, coconut, etc.). The closing time of the beach is fixed at 18.30.
The Playa Cas Abou, like most of the beaches of Curacao, is an inlet whose sides are made of high rocks. And formed by a beach of white sand and a sea of calm, clear waters, that makes it ideal for swimming and diving. It has been classified as one of the best beaches of Curacao. It is shaded by palm trees and sun visor of palm leaves; you can taste local cuisine at the restaurant and there are also other facilities such as showers and changing rooms and a convenient parking. The week end is frequented by locals who cook dinner on the grill, but do not worry it’s never too crowded and there’s room for all in this spacious beach. Enjoy it!
Playa Porto Marie
The Playa Porto Marie is a long, narrow beach of white sand that is very popular with Dutch tourists. It is one of the best on the island of Curacao because it is excellent for divers. It has crystal clear waters teeming with fish, thanks to the “Reef Balls” positioned on the seabed to encourage the repopulation of the marine life and the nearby cliff. There are no trees for shade and sun loungers and parasols come with a fee. The property is very well equipped with a kitchen area, bathrooms, showers, a dive center, a restaurant that is always full of crowds. The car park is at the top and overlooking the beach with its bay and other nearby attractions. From Willemstad it is about 30-35 minutes by car.
The beach fee is $ 3 /person and $ 3 per person for a sun bed. There are umbrellas provided. There are iguanas that freely walk around but don’t be afraid as they are tame and won’t harm anyone. There is a cafe, toilets. Parking is free. The sand is white, fine, and the color of the sea is azure. Snorkeling is quite satisfactory. The beach is also used as a wedding photo backdrop. As nice as it is, the Playa Porto Marie is one of the most famous and obviously very popular beaches on Curacao.
Klein (Little Curacao)
To reach this island, you need to make a reservation with an accredited tour operator in Curacao. The package usually includes a private yacht with a skipper and free meal on board. The trip is a little un-easy; people who have to do with seasickness should obtain something for motion sickness. For the return trip, it is not necessary. Already the first sight of the island corresponds to the meaning of the word “Caribbean”. You will be primarily driven there, to see turtles in freedom swim in the sea and a chance to get up close to feed and pet them.
Directly near the beach and if you browse these animals snorkeling slowly and quietly, one can come near to about half a meter to the animals. It is very impressive, as it takes place here in the wild. The crew of the yacht will serve upon arrival a simple but tasty breakfast and drinks at your disposal. At noon, there is a rich barbeque with various homemade salads and fresh fruit, served delicious and very presentable. Departure is shortly before 16:00 pm. It is recommended to bring along a good sunscreen. This informative and relaxing tour is highly recommended.
Curacao Dolphin Academy
A visit to this place will leave you with pleasant memories. The Curacao Dolphin Academy is the best place for people who love to interact with animals. It has complete live shows that feature not only dolphins but sea lions and other marine animals. The dolphins are apparently still learning as they perform their little tricks to an amused audience. You will love the fact that many marine animals can be touched and get up close with on this huge complex. You also get to have the rare pleasure of hand feeding the stingrays. Shark feeding is another worthwhile activity to try too – though you know it’s safe, but the fear of these creatures makes you flinch when the shark instantly removes the fish off your hand with their adaptations for feeding.
There are lots of beautiful aquariums with marine flora and fauna. It is interesting to watch the sea turtles, flamingos, plus the subdued and curious pelican. There is a shop with souvenirs and a decent cafe. All the shows are repeated throughout the day, so you can arrive at any time (not necessarily in the morning) and have time to see all the programs. The staffs are attentive and polite. You can swim with the dolphins and there are several swimming programs in duration and complexity. You can kiss a dolphin for $20. It is a very nice academy that is highly recommended for families with kids.
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge
It is located in the capital of Curacao, Willemstad where the mix of European charm and Caribbean vivacity successfully merged. The city is divided into two parts; the St. Anna Bay has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The area of Punda, to the east of the Bay, is the oldest neighborhood with its famous colorful buildings dating back to the Dutch 17th/18th century, plus the small and quaint side streets called the Otrobanda (in Papiamento which means “the other side”). The two halves of the city are connected by a floating bridge; The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge which a must to visit especially when the bridge opens for passing ships.
Curacao is impossible to imagine without this moving bridge. Tourists stroll from one side to another while enjoying the evening scenes on this part of the city. The famous bridge is also called “Swing Lady”. If you ride on cruise ships, it will be the first thing you see when you arrive at the port. Built in 1888, it seems to be the largest floating bridge in the world. When it is open pedestrians can use the free ferry to cross. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is one of those bridges that are worth capturing in a photo to take home as a souvenir, especially at night when it is lit and the lights reflected in the water with the backdrop of colorful houses.
Shete Boka National Park
The tour consists of visiting the four points of the park; Bokas Wandomi, Tabla, Kalki and Pistol. You must get there right before its opening time (09am), and admission is $ 5.50 per person + $ 1 for the site map.
The highlight of the visit is certainly in Boka Pistol, where the sea bursts aggressively on rocks, slides and hits them into staggering heights yielding beautiful photos. Boka Tabla is a cave which is accessible from the surface. And at Boka Wandomi, you can have the chance to witness where the sea has been excavating the limestone to form a natural bridge.
Any path can be done by car, walks to get the points are relatively fast. In one Bokas there is a warning about thefts of belongings in the car, so do not leave anything to view to avoid such problems.
Kura Hulanda Museum
The Kura Hulanda Museum is an amazing place that is worth the cost of entry. If you are interested in history, learn more about the sites you visit, to discover the origin of things you will enjoy this museum. The section on slavery is amazing but very sad to see the replica of the ship, it is also touching to see the images of the condemned slaves in shackles, seeing the robes of the Ku Klux Klan stained with blood will cause you chills and try to recreate at least in your mind the horror of those days that you only hope will never happen again.
It is the most complete museum that exists on the island that is not only concerned with local arts to exhibit but also has a respectable selection of objects from the African continent. Very interesting to see the section on slavery complete with headings and explanations about their horrific journey.
Mikve Israel – Emmanuel Synagogue
It is the oldest synagogue currently in use in America, with a characteristic sand floor in memory of the days in the desert, and the silence that should save the Jews to avoid detection during the Nazi persecution. Observe modest clothing when going inside. There is no entrance fee to gain entry. It is located in the center of Punda and features a museum and a cemetery. In addition, the museum next door contains a lot of information about the history of Jewish households in Curacao, with many artifacts. The Mikve Israel – Emmanuel Synagogue is well worth the visit, regardless of religion and orientation.
The historical center, the inner city and the port have become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Punda was built in 1634, after the Dutch colonizers took it from Spain, giving in principle the name in which it was first called the Dutch De Punt (Punda). Otrobanda was founded in 1707 as a new citizen sector and is regarded as the cultural sector of Willemstad. A bridge connects Punda and Emmabrug Otrabanda. Along the canal that divides the two historic districts of Willemstad there are colorful houses in pastel colors, typical of the style of the Dutch, as a backdrop to this city that perhaps is the most beautiful to visit in the capital of the Caribbean.
There are also various fortifications to visit around here like the; Fort Amsterdam, Fort Nassau, Riffort and various other forts built in the colonial era. There are many stores to go shopping. However, it is also interesting to turn to the streets to mingle with the locals and observe interesting characters, eat local cuisine, and gaze at the vast ocean and the gorgeous sunset when dusk comes.