When visiting the Dutch island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, there are many sights and things to do that can fill up your list quickly. Getting around is only part of the adventure, and fitting in as much of Curaçao during your stay is another.
That’s why I have compiled these tips to make your time in Curaçao easier when it comes to planning and while on the island:
1. Choose Your Accommodations Based on Activities
There are so many places to choose from in Curaçao, but the way I decided on location was proximity to the activities I wanted to enjoy. If you want to be close to the heart of the city and be able to walk to local shops and restaurants in Willemstad, then stay at the brand name resorts in downtown.
If you want access to a lot of shore diving, like myself, stay up north near Sabana Westpunt. Getting to those shore diving beaches was quick and saved me of miles and gas on the rental car. The famous beach, Grote Knip, is up there too! I stayed at the Blue View apartments which I highly recommend and enjoyed.
If you want to be in between these options, then check out beach hotels near Playa Lagun and Cas Abou. You will save time getting around the island if your temporary home is closest to majority of what you want to see and do.
2. Rent a Car
Renting a car is necessary if you are not staying in Willemstad. Renting one at the airport makes the most sense as paying for taxis one way to your resort equals about 1/2 of the car rental anyway. I spent $120 for 5 days on a car rental. Book in advance via an online booking engine, such as Hotels.com. It will make getting around so much easier and worth it if you want to drive to see beaches and towns outside of Willemstad.
3. Do Not Leave Anything in the Car!
This is said and printed everywhere – at the car rental spot, in your tourist map, and locals say it’s true. Don’t do it. Although nothing ever happened to me or anyone I met, everyone agrees that you do not leave one thing (not even a map or phone charger) as someone might get too curious and break a window.
There are road signs when you enter a dirt road indicating “You are entering an unsecure area” and a cute picture of a person running off with a purse. I only saw one shady person “chilling” in his car 100 yards in front of this sign by Watamula and I turned around. There is no point to risk it!
4. Beach Hop
There are over 30 beaches in Curaçao – go see them! Don’t spend your time at one beach only. They are all as blue as in pictures. Most are free but some charge a fee of $2-$7. They come in groups grouped together so try to see a region of beaches one day and a different region another day. Bring your own snorkeling gear and pack some food and drinks as vendors are not open everyday.
5. Snorkel or Scuba Dive
You’ve come to one of the best islands for water activities. Curaçao is a volcanic island, so there are dropping walls of coral reefs everywhere. I dove more than 5 times and snorkeled a bunch through more than 6 beaches. The water is always super clear and calm. The reefs are healthy and never-ending. I dove to 110 feet and I could have kept going but it was getting a bit dark down there…
If you’ve never tried either before or are thinking of doing it again – don’t miss out on it in Curaçao. There are many shore diving beaches for a reason.
6. Try the Blue Curaçao Liquor
Curaçao has their own liquor, so definitely try it! Whether on the rocks or in a drink (I always prefer blue anyway), have a taste. There are many cocktails made of it, such as a welcome drink I had – Curaçao, grenadine, and sprite. Sweet and savory!
7. Exchange Your Currency Before Hand
Curaçao uses the Netherlands Antilles Guilder as their currency. Go to the bank before your trip and exchange your money. Most of the restaurants list prices in NAG so you won’t have to ask or worry about converting money. Plus, you’ll probably get more! 1 US dollar gets you ~ 1.77 NAG!
8. Wear lots of SPF
I know this is obvious, but as a reminder – Curaçao is located near the coast of Venezuela which means it’s closer to the Equator than most Caribbean islands. It gets very hot and the sun is strong – you will get tan in 10 minutes! I re-applied many times and somehow I find myself peeling in certain spots. Bring multiple travel size bottles with you.
9. Chat with the Locals
Wherever you are in Curaçao, talk with the people. They are the friendliest I have met and some who might look like tourists are actually born and raised in Curaçao. They can help you with directions, finding restaurants, and more tips. On a Sunday night, I ended up diving and did not get dinner. Finding food late Sunday is nearly impossible since the stores close early, but I got directions to a nearby Asian restaurant that stays open. Food – score, new friends – score, and my belly was happy!
I truelly loved my time in Curaçao and would go back in a heart-beat.
Do you have any tips to share for Curaçao?