Dreaming of a tropical paradise but want to avoid the crazy Caribbean vacation crowds? Well, Curacao island is your cheap Caribbean destination! Filled with pristine beaches, colorful buildings, and rich culture, Curacao island will be worth every moment you spent in this beautiful island country.
Like its breathtaking sister islands of Bonaire and Aruba, Curacao island offers warm waters ideal for those looking to scuba dive, snorkel, and enjoy other various water sports. If you are looking for more than just the beautiful Caribbean ocean, Curacao island is also home to numerous unique museums that offer a glimpse back to Curacao’s past.
Whether you are visiting on a Caribbean cruise or planning a Spring Break vacation, Curacao island is the spot for you. So make sure to grab your vacation planner or cruise planner, and stick around to discover the best things to do in Curacao island.
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Where to Stay on Curacao Island
While one of the best way to visit Curacao island while exploring other neighboring Caribbean islands is through a Caribbean cruise, many would prefer to stay a little longer to fully discover all Curacao has to offer. The best spot to set up camp on your Curacao vacation is in the island’s capital of Willemstad.
Top Accommodation in Willemstad
Quirkiest: Located nearly 2,000 feet from Avila Beach, BOHO Bohemian Hotel features a quirky, clean atmosphere epitomizing the spirit of Curacao island. The staff here are extremely friendly and offer shuttle services to and from the Curacao airport. This modern and clean space offers ocean views and proximity to tasty restaurants at a very affordable price of $89 a night.
Best All-inclusive Package: A great beachfront resort in Curacao is Dreams Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino. This fabulous resort offers numerous facilities like a restaurant, fitness center, and bar to its important guests. This is a perfect option if you are traveling with kids as they offer evening entertainment and a club just for the little ones. All of these luxurious amenities paired with a massive outdoor pool are offered from a mere $199 a night.
Most Affordable: If you are looking to stay at the best place to get the most for your money, stay at the First Curacao Hostel. This excellent accommodation option is located around 2,000 feet from the Curacao Maritime Museum and offers free WiFi with an outdoor pool. The dormitory-style hostel provides a comfortable option to relax and socialize with other eager travelers. This hostel is a very affordable option on Curacao island coming in at around $65 a night.
Best Private Villa: If you are looking for a more intimate adventure on Curacao island, check out the Ocean Front Villa. Located in Willemstad around 24 miles from Queen Emma Bridge, this fabulous villa offers three bedrooms with free WiFi, a beautiful garden, and a terrace. All the units also feature a private bathroom, flat-screen TV, and a fully-equipped gym, offered at the price of $275 per night.
What to Do on Curacao Island
If you are truly looking for some of Curacao island’s top sites, you need to get into the warm, Caribbean waters. Within these turquoise waves, you will discover an intricate world of coral gardens, playful dolphins, majestic stingrays, and even a couple sunken ships.
Many of Curacao island’s most popular and fascinating diving sites are easily accessible from the country’s beautiful beaches like Blauwbaai and Porto Mari. For those searching for more unique options, look into catching a boat ride out to harder-to-reach spots.
The Mushroom Forest is home to breathtaking star coral formations, and afterward, visit the nearby Blue Room Cave– home to an awe-inspiring sapphire light. A great sunken ship to explore is the coral-encrusted remains of the Superior Producer which was a cargo freighter that sunk in 1977.
As you traverse the deep blue, you will notice the multitude of fish and other marine wildlife surrounding you. So make sure to pack your plastic mask to strap to your face, and pick up a oxygen tank when you arrive to strap to your back!
Shete Boka National Park
By far the most beautiful natural wonder in all of Curacao island is found at Shete Boka National Park. This park sprawls over 6 miles of Curacao’s north coast as home to ten pocket bays.
You will notice various species of sea turtles along the coast as they tend to lay their eggs in this Curacao National Park. The Boka Tabla is the biggest attraction at Shete Boka National Park, where you will witness enormous waves crashing into an underground cavern.
These massive ocean waves also crash in Boka Pistol where you can take in impressive panoramic views from the park’s limestone hills.
During your visit to Shete Boka National Park, you may notice stronger winds than those found on other areas of Curacao island. At the end of the day, this amazing natural attraction is a perfect outdoor thing to do in the Curacao cruise port.
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge
The next best spot to explore on Curacao island is the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. Spanning the entire width of the St Anna Bay, Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is by far one of the most picturesque sites in all of Curacao island.
This beautiful floating bridge is often referred to as the “Swinging Old Lady” and serves as a floating pedestrian bridge connecting the two halves of Willemstad (Punta and Otrobanda). This top Curacao island attraction was originally constructed in 1888 and now is supported by 16 pontoon boats.
Ships can enter and exit the bay as the bridge swings open laterally. Most travelers enjoy tasting some of this cruise port’s top restaurants located along the bay. The bridge is especially beautiful at night when the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is lit up.
Don’t worry if you find yourself on the wrong side of the bay when the bridge opens up, there are plenty of water taxis offering to transport you across the bay, free of charge. With its proximity to the main dock of Curacao, it is no wonder the Curacao cruise port boasts this colorful landmark.
If you are looking to explore Curacao Island’s scenic shoreline, head over to Playa Lagun. Tucked between the cliffs found near the northwestern town of Lagun, this beautiful beach is nestled in a narrow cove.
The calm waters found at Playa Lagun are ideal for snorkelers and swimmers of any skill level. There are also plenty of spots in the area to rent any snorkel and scuba gear that you would like to utilize. Most vacationers seek out this beach for its crystal-blue waters and colorful coral reef.
Curacao cruise port brings travelers to this breathtaking beach for cruisers to spot colorful fish, schools of squids, and playful sea turtles. If you are especially eager to spot sea turtles, make sure to head out to Playa Lagun early in the morning.
While this beach may not have many of the amenities of some of the other Curacao island beaches, this peaceful cove offers plenty of shade and a more secluded spot for those seeking a quiet, magical swim. Playa Lagun is located about 25 miles northwest of the Curacao cruise port of Willemstad.
Probably the most iconic and Insta-worthy spot on Curacao island is Handelskade. Located on the Punda side of Willemstad, this picturesque stretch of pier finds its way onto nearly every Curacao island postcard.
This area is dotted with colorful colonial Dutch buildings painted in bright blues, pinks, and yellows. Lining the beautiful waters of St Anna Bay, Handelskade welcomes ships into the harbor as the navigate between the Queen Emma Bridge.
This is a great spot to grab a seat and some tasty Curacao food to enjoy the scenery of Curacao island. If you show up early enough, you will get the chance to enjoy fresh fish offered at the daily floating market on Handelskade’s northernmost point.
If you prefer to sleep in, make sure to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge at night to see the magnificent Handelskade illuminated facades and reflections in the St Anna Bay. Make sure to have your camera ready to truly capture the essence of this fabulous Curacao cruise port attraction.
Playa Porto Mari
Another great spot on Curacao island for nature enthusiast is Playa Porto Mari. This attraction found near the Curacao cruise port offers on-site snorkel rentals for you to explore the underwater rehabilitated double reef.
Once you finish soaking in the sun at the beach, venture into to land on one of the three nature trails leading from the beach– perfect for hiking or mountain biking. Make sure to keep your eye out for some of the island’s pigs and iguanas while you explore Playa Porto Mari.
If you are looking for a bite to eat, Playa Porto Mari is home to a quirky beach bar and restaurant that offers Indonesian sateys and Dutch kroketten to fill you up during your Curacao island adventure.
Playa Porto Mari can become overly crowded, especially during the busy Caribbean tourism months. But its natural wonders and helpful amenities perfect explain why it is one of the top sites to explore on Curacao island.
Kura Hulanda Museum
Once the home of a 19th-century merchant and slave owner, the Kura Hulanda Museum on Curacao island will bring you back in time through the history of slave trade in the Curacao cruise port.
This museum utilizes 18th-century artifacts and full-scale models to carefully curate an immersive experience for visitors seeking the rich Curacao island history. The Kura Hulanda Museum truly delves into one of the most ugly eras of Curacao’s past.
Along with numerous exhibits displaying and illustrating the trans-Atlantic slave trade, this intensive museum features multiple collections of Mesopotamian relics, pre-Columbian gold, and Antillean artwork.
This is not like many of the light-hearted activities found on Curacao island, but if you are a history buff or are seeking more than just the average tourist attractions in Curacao island, you will surely be humbled by what you learn during your visit.
Christoffel National Park
For more nature exploration, head slightly inland on Curacao island to Christoffel National Park. Nestled on the northern tip of Curacao island, Christoffel National Park was once home to three plantations in 1978.
Now, you can explore the luscious land featuring indigenous flora and fauna like barn owls, the rare Curacao white-tailed deer, and over 450 species of plants including colorful wild orchids.
You can enjoy Curacao’s largest national park through a nice drive, hiking, or mountain biking. Further explore the immense Christoffel rugged landscape on Curacao island through climbing to the top of Christoffel Mountain.
The views from the top are unbelievable, and boast a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can easily climb to the top and back within two to three hours, but make sure to start your hike when the park opens, as temperatures rise fast on Curacao island.
As a largely inhabited island located a mere 15 miles off the southeastern coast of Curacao island, Klein Curacao is a perfect day trip for scuba divers and sun-lovers alike. You will definitely notice small signs of the former residents of Klein Curacao, most notably at it’s crumbling (yet still functional) lighthouse.
This tiny island’s natural elements are the main reason vacationers flock to this remote destination. While this island is a little further away from the Curacao cruise port than other popular attractions, you will enjoy discovering the colorful coral reefs and crystal-clear waters.
Like the Curacao island motherland, Klein Curacao played a major role in the dealings of the Dutch West India Company throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. This 1.2-square-mile island is known as the final resting spot for many of the African slaves who were transported here for quarantine after sickness struck during the treacherous voyage across the Atlantic.
You can still explore the remains of Klein Curacao and take a stroll down the island’s historic past. Make sure to discover the Maria Bianca Guidesman (a small oil tanker than crashed on the Curacao island during the 1960s) during your visit to this remote island in the Caribbean.
Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
Another one of the most historic attractions in Curacao island is the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. Constructed in 1732, this synagogue is the oldest Jewish temple still in use in the entire New World.
Frequently referred to as the Snoa (a shorter version of the old Portuguese word for synagogue, esnoga), this Curacao island temple was originally founded by the Jews who were fleeing persecution during the world-renown Spanish Inquisition.
Make sure to stop in during your Curacao island vacation by booking a tour. Tourists can visit the adjoining museum which is home to Torah scrolls originally brought to Curacao island by the island’s first Jewish settlers. You can also find plenty of other artifacts and Judaica in the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue museum.
You will appreciate how well-preserved this colorful building is, especially considering its age. With its proximity to the Curacao cruise port and fascinating sand floors (significant symbolism in Jewish history), you will not regret exploring this top attraction in Curacao island.