The colourful waterfront of Willemstad, Curacao.
The small Caribbean island of Curacao is located just north of Venezuela as part of the ABC islands along with Aruba and Bonaire. Being the largest of the ABC islands, Curacao is a multicultural country with over 50 different nationalities being represented through its 150,000 residents with most speaking one or all of four commonly heard languages English, Spanish, Dutch and the local language of Papiamentu.
I recently had the chance to explore all over this beautiful island and I put together a video with my five best tips of things to see and do when visiting Curacao.
#1. Enjoy and learn about some of the island’s unique foods and delicacies
A majority of Curacao’s food is shipped in from the surrounding islands and parts of South America like Colombia and Venezuela. In downtown Willemstad there is even a floating market made up of boats from Venezuela full of fresh fruit and vegetables and sometimes fresh seafood as well. At this market you can find yuka, passion fruit, plantains, bananas, sugar cane, key limes, the largest avocados imaginable, peppers and more.
About a block away is Plasa Bieu also known as the old market. Plasa Bieu originally started out as a market area where the women from town would sell food and wares. During lunch time they had small grills that they would cook their own food on for their lunch to eat and soon locals and visitors started requesting that they make this food for them as well and the market eventually transformed into the food stalls / food court that it is today.
A local lady serves up a fresh plate of Curacaoan food at Yvonne’s in the Plasa Bieu market in Willemstad, Curacao.
Iguana soup with Iguana eggs at Plasa Bieu
Plasa Bieu is a popular spot for locals at lunch time and is a great place to get some local dishes like Iguana stew, a slimey looking Guiambo soup made with okra and seafood, funchi (a type of polenta), and Keshi Yena (Gouda cheese stuffed with chicken or fish).
#2. Explore the gorgeous blue ocean
Curacao is surrounded by gorgeous warm blue waters. Home to some amazing coral reefs the island is full of great places to snorkel and scuba dive. The island is also home to some unique water adventure activities like kite boarding, flyboarding (where a seadoo propels you into the air as you hover above the water with a board strapped to your feet) and even Aquafari which is essentially an underwater scooter. Sounds awesome but I totally chickened out / had a minor panic attack (the first of my life). However the other two girls in my group thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jules of Traveling Jules takes an Aquafari for a spin.
Kellee of KelleeSetGo.com pretends to be ironman on a flyboard.
#3. Learn about and sample the delicious Blue Curacao
Curacao is of course home to the liquor sharing the same name “Blue Curacao” and in Willemstad, Curacao you can take a free tour of the Blue Curacao factory where you will learn all about the history and current production of this favourite island alcohol. Blue Curacao was originally made from the rind of the laraha fruit.
Long ago the Spanish brought the Valencia Orange to Curacao to see if it would grow however due to the differences in climate the Valencia Orange didn’t fare so well and instead became a bitter nubby fruit that the islanders today call Laraha. The Blue Curacao today made on the island is not available for export however it is the only Blue Curacao made in production today that is made with the original recipe using the Laraha. All other Blue Curacao’s produced around the world are imitators.
#4. Take a road trip around the island
Curacao isn’t very large and it is easy to get around with a rental car. I highly recommend jumping in a car and taking a road trip around the west part of the island stopping to visit a few of the many gorgeous beaches including Kenepa Grandi beach which was once known as the best beach in the entire Caribbean. Visit the Shete Boka National Park and its gorgeous inlets, search for wild flamingos on the old salt flats, learn about the history of the island and its many old plantations. Visit some local artists and if you are looking for a place to eat stop by Jaanchie’s for a delicious local meal and ask to meet the owner who is one of the biggest characters on the island.
The waves crash at the Boka Tabla inlet in the Shete Boka National Park. The waves and shoreline on the North Western side of the island are much harsher than on the calmer south western part of the island.
Along the drive around the west part of the island you might come across some beautifully painted female statues and they are most likely works of art by the local artist Nena Sanchez. If you get the chance stop by to visit her stunning art gallery.
Kenepa Grandi beach, once said to be the most beautiful beach in all of the Caribbean. Located on the South Western part of Curacao the waves are calm and the ocean is stunningly blue and green. This is also a favourite spot for cliff jumping.
#5. Relax and Enjoy yourself
Most likely you are visiting the Caribbean to enjoy the sun and get a little bit of relaxation so make sure you don’t forget to do this! While visiting Curacao I stayed at the Renaissance Curacao Resort which was basically a little town in itself. Built inside of one of the old forts of the city of Willemstad the Renaissance is surrounded by shops and restaurants and is only a couple minutes walk from the Queen Emma bridge and the stunning and colourful Willemstad waterfront. My favourite part about this hotel however was the pool beach which I am now calling a “Feach” for fake beach.
The hotel is located at the mouth of the harbour and this isn’t necessarily the best part of the ocean to be swimming in so they created an infinity pool with sand that has a gradual incline to walk into just like the ocean. With palm trees overheard its easy to forget that you are actually swimming in a pool rather than the ocean.
The cute roads through the houses and rooms that make up the Kura Hulanda Village and Spa.
I also spent a few nights at the Kura Hulanda Village and Spa. This property wasn’t located on the ocean however they have two pools, and are a minute or two closer in walking distance to the Queen Emma bridge and they have a lovely spa. This property also has a great museum about the history of the island offers shuttle service to the beach and to their golf course.
The chic booths at the Papagayo Beach Club.
If you are looking for a place outside of the city I also recommend checking out the Papagayo Beach Resort and Lounge. I didn’t have a chance to stay here however I did get the chance to eat dinner here and the food was out of this world so that has to be a good sign. Also located right on the ocean the Papagayo looked like a fantastic place to relax.
To learn a bit more about my tips watch my newest video “Top 5 Best Things to do in Curacao”.
Have you been to Curacao? What did I forget? Share your best tips in the comments below.
Special thanks to Diamond PR and the Curacao Tourism Bureau for having me visit. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own.
Karla PerelstineSeptember 24, 2019 at 11:14 pm
Is the floating market available on Boxer Day? Thank you.
CailinOctober 3, 2019 at 5:55 pm
I’m not sure, sorry!
Kate LubinskiAugust 9, 2018 at 10:53 am
So sad to read you had a panic attack! I tend to suffer from panic attacks in airplanes, and they are really nasty! It look like you had a nice time overall, though! I’ve never been to the Dutch Antilles, but I’m planning on going there soon!
elaine schochOctober 5, 2014 at 6:43 pm
I think #5 sounds the best. ;)
MarkOctober 5, 2014 at 11:12 am
What a cool place, might just pass on the Iguana soup.
GiselleSeptember 29, 2014 at 7:26 pm
Great video Cailin!! Those Avocados look incredible. Can’t believe how big they are.
Such a beautiful island.