Overview | What to Do | Other Attractions | Get Around | Eat & Drink | Stay in Touch | Shopping
Curaçao is a hidden Caribbean gem. Tiny but vibrant, Curaçao offers endless beauty, wonderful underwater worlds, and world-class beaches. The port city offers high-end retailers, restaurants and plenty of nightlife. For most of the year, the average high temperature remains in the upper 70's with a dry season running from January to September and a rainy season during the rest of the year. For more information on the best time to cruise, check out Cruising 101. Cruise ships dock directly adjacent to Willemstad, at the entrance of St. Anna Bay.
Dutch is the official language of the island, but both English and Spanish are widely spoken. The Netherlands Antillean Guilder (NAF), also called the Florin, is the national currency, but U.S. dollars (USD) are widely accepted.
The Kura Hulanda Museum
The Kura Hulanda Museum houses exhibits from the slave trade era of the region. This anthropological museum focuses on Curaçao's primary cultures. It also offers a chronicle of the origin of man, the African slave trade, West African Empires, Pre-Colombian gold, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
How to Get There: The museum is three-minute walk from the port (see map).
Mikve Israel-Emanuel is one of the oldest synagogues in the Americas, founded in 1651 by 12 families from Amsterdam. It is commonly known as the Snoa (short for esnoga, an old Portuguese word for synagogue) and is a major tourist attraction in Curaçao. Attached to the synagogue is the Jewish Historical Cultural Museum, whose collection includes replicas of artistic tombstones from the Beit Chaim Bleinheim in Curaçao, the oldest Jewish cemetery still in use in the Western Hemisphere.
How to Get There: At two and a half miles away, it takes about seven minutes by car (see map).
Cas Abao offers a refreshment stand, bathrooms and is probably the most modern beach on the island. This beach is also one of the most pristine on the island, with beautiful sand and crystal clear waters. Both items make this beach ideal for families and those looking to take part in any number of water sports. There is also a popular daiquiri bar as well as a restaurant in case you get hungry.
How to Get There: This beach is located 18 miles northwest of the port, a 30-minute car ride away (see map).
The Curaçao Maritime Museum
The Curaçao Maritime Museum details the island's rich naval history and is located just on the other side of the cut, a short two-mile taxi ride away. There is over 500 years of history represented at the museum as well as numerous nautical charts, ship models and audiovisual effects.
How to Get There: The museum is located on the other side of the cut, a short two-mile taxi ride away (see map).
Curaçao Sea Aquarium
Curaçao Sea Aquarium has a Dolphin Academy and allows visitors to swim with dolphins. Built in 1984, the aquarium is great for a family outing. The aquarium is a combination of education, interaction and information. There are several tours and for those who want a little more adventure, you can swim with stingrays, sea turtles and sharks.
How to Get There: The Sea Aquarium is located 4 miles from the port (see map), a ten-minute taxi ride away.
The Scuba Store and More
The Scuba Store and More can handle all of your scuba needs, including rentals, beach wear and more. You can rent equipment or bring your own.
How to Get There: The Scuba Store and More has several locations in Willemstaad (see map).
Scuba Do is another scuba store, which provides divers with equipment as well as underwater tours. This company offers individual services along with a relaxed atmosphere and flexible scheduling to make your visit something to remember.
How to Get There: Scuba Do is in Jan Theil, a 20-minute drie southeast of the port (see map).
Check out this video of a dive off of Curaçao:
Seaquarium Beach is a good choice for families. It has plenty of facilities including shops, restaurants, bars and water sports vendors. This beach is also ideal for children, but be aware that it can get very crowded on weekends and that topless bathing is allowed.
How to Get There: This beach is located about 4 miles southwest of the port, a ten-minute taxi drive away (see map).
Westpunt Beach is known for its massive cliffs and those who dive off of them into the ocean below. Because this beach is where the fresh catch is brought ashore, it is not ideal for swimming or water sports. Be sure to wear footwear, as the pebbles can be unforgiving at this beach.
How to Get There: Located 27 miles northeast of the port, it's a 40-minute taxi ride away (see map).
Knip Bay Beach
Knip Bay Beach offers pristine waters and a picturesque setting. This beach is one of the most popular with the locals and turns into a party on the weekend with live music and dancing.
How to Get There: This beach is located just south of Westpunt Beach. It’s a 40-minute taxi ride away (see map).
Blauwbaai Beach (Blue Bay Beach) offers a wide array of amenities and a place in the shade. This is the largest beach on the island and both the Hilton and Marriott have resorts nearby. There are also dive and snorkeling shops and dining spots to take advantage of.
How to Get There: This beach is located 7 miles northwest of the port, about 15 minutes away by taxi (see map).
Check out this video of the best beaches in Curaçao:
Yellow Jeep Safaris
Yellow Jeep Safaris offer a unique way to see the island of Curaçao. These tours can take you all over the island with half-day tours, and show you the big terrain, steep cliffs and breathtaking views of Curaçao.
How to Get There: Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Aida and Celebrity Cruise passengers should book their safaris directly with their cruise line; others can email Yellow Jeep Safaris directly for reservations. Let them know the name of the ship and when it is scheduled to arrive. You will get picked up in the port.
The Atlantis Submarines - Seaworld Explorer
The Atlantis Submarines - Seaworld Explorer is a semi-submarine with huge glass windows, which provides spectacular views of Curaçao's vibrant marine-life. This guided tour has a diver that swims alongside the submarine feeding the fish, so there is always plenty to see. The vessel is fully air-conditioned and you will remain dry at all times.
How to Get There: Their office is located on the premises of the Hilton Hotel at Piscadera Bay. Once at the Hilton Hotel, you will have to pass security and head left to the parking area. Most of the time, security can provide further directions. They are located in the second yellow building by the open area next to the tennis court. The semi submarine departs from the Hilton Hotel at the pier. Once in the lobby of the Hotel facing the beach, take the path to the right and it will take you to the pier. If you already have a reservation, you can head directly to the semi submarine and their staff will take care of you.
Curaçao Ostrich and Game Farm
Curaçao Ostrich and Game Farm will allow you to get up close to these strange but interesting birds. You will be able to touch, feed and even ride them if you are adventurous enough.
How to Get There: Located 8miles east of the port (see map), it will take about 20 minutes by car.
Check out this video of a man riding an ostrich:
The cheapest and easiest way to get around town is by using your own two feet. Vacationers who come into either terminal will have an easy walk to the Queen Emma Bridge, which connects the two sides of the port. Once in Punda, it is easy to walk around and visit restaurants or do some shopping.
Taxis are readily available as soon as you step off the boat. However, passengers should agree on a price before getting in the vehicle. If you intend on taking a taxi on a sightseeing tour, the cost will be about $20/hour.
Look for vehicles with "Bus" on the license plate. These buses usually run the most common urban routes. A "Buki de Bus" is a brochure of schedules and routes and can be attained while on the island. Most fares are $2.
Avis has rental sites at both ports with rates of about $45/day. Budget Car Rental has rates of $35/day and offers free pickup at either port. Drivers must have a valid driver's license and an international credit card in order to rent a car. Driving is done on the right side of the road.
This unique city tour on a trolley will take about an hour and fifteen minutes. The tour begins at Fort Amsterdam and takes in all the major sites.
Keshi Yena or stuffed cheese, which is typically made with chicken, vegetables, seasoning and raisins stuffed into a scooped out Edam or Gouda cheese shell. Restaurant & Café Gouverneur de Rouville, located right at the port, is a great place to go for Keshi Yena. It also has a wonderful view of all of the big boats as they make their way through. Located right by the port, this restaurant is less than a one-minute walk away (see map).
Funchi and Tutu (which is basically funchi with black eyed peas and brown sugar) is a popular corn meal mush accompaniment to most any meal in Curaçao.
Fresh Fish, Shrimp and Lobster are also excellent – Curaçao is an island, after all. The Iguana Cafe offers Caribbean favorites like fish and shrimp. Iguana Café is located across the bay in Punda, just a short walk from where the ships dock near the Queen Emma Bridge (see map).
The best drinks on Curaçao are all made using Curaçao liqueur, which is produced in Chobolobo.
- The Blue Lagoon, made with one part Vodka, one part Blue Curaçao and three parts Lemonade, can be enjoyed straight up or on the rocks.
- The Zombie, made with Apricot Brandy, Bacardi White Rum, Blue Curaçao, Dark Rum, Grenadine, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, is a colorful and potent concoction.
- The Blue Hawaiian, which is probably the most popular cocktail made with Blue Curaçao Liqueur, is made with equal parts of light rum, Blue Curaçao, cream of coconut and 2 parts pineapple juice. It’s garnished with a cherry, pineapple, and the classic tooth pick umbrella.
Check out these drinks while listening to some local reggae bands at Ay Caramba, a lively bar with great happy hour specials conveniently located right by the port (see map).
Internet in Curaçao is available at pretty much any cafe or hotel. If you carry your laptop, iPad or WiFi enabled phone you can get Internet access while you sip on a Blue Lagoon at a local cafe. There are also numerous Internet cafes located in Willemstad:
Internet Cafe Marie Pampoen is about three miles southeast of the port on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd 36B, Marie Pampoen (see map). It's a seven-minute drive away.
Pleincafe Wilhelmina is located just across the bay in Punda, about two miles by taxi or just a short walk from where the ships dock near the Queen Emma Bridge at Wilhelminaplein 25, Punda.
Where to Shop
The Curaçao Promenade Shopping Center is located ten minutes from the docks and offers a cosmopolitan atmosphere for shoppers and visitors alike. Shoppers will find stylish items from around the world as well as an ATM and great restaurants. Shops are normally open from 8 a.m until 12 p.m, then re-open at 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Punda is traditionally the main shopping area of Willemstad. It is located a little over 2 miles away by taxi or just a short walk from where the ships dock near the Queen Emma Bridge, on the waterfront, next to Fort Amsterdam (see map). Here you will find a wide variety of international goods, which follows the tradition of Curaçao as an international trading port. Shops are normally open from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m., then re-open at 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Check out this video view of Punda:
Genuine Señor Curaçao of Curaçao Liqueur makes for a great gift or souvenir. The liqueurs come in several flavors and colors, with the most popular being the blue.
Gouda cheese can be bought by the slice or by the wheel in stores in Punda, just a short walk from where the ships dock near the Queen Emma Bridge. Ask about the very old Gouda, which is aged to perfection and more difficult to find in North America.
Dutch Delft pottery is the classically distinctive and easily recognizable blue and white pottery. These hand painted ceramics vary in quality, so make sure to look for the seal of authenticity. Shop for Delft pottery in New Amsterdam, near Punda.