Curaçao Guide: Fall in Love With This Under-the-Radar Caribbean Island - Full-Time Travel

Curaçao Guide: Fall in Love With This Under-the-Radar Caribbean Island

Curaçao Guide: Prepare to Fall in Love With This Under-the-Radar Caribbean Island  

By Esme Benjamin

With international travel back on the agenda many of us are deep in trip-planning mode, deciding where we want to go next and when. A word of advice: While you’re busy revising your bucket list, be sure to add the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. With its most notable sister island of Aruba close by, this gem is making a name for itself as a destination that transcends your typical getaway experience. This, in large part, is due to the uniqueness of the island.  

With a landscape forged by volcanic activity and a culture shaped by a diverse confluence of settlers, Curaçao offers so much more than the typical Carribean assets of sunshine and immaculate beaches (though it has those too. More than 35 of them, in fact). Here, you can gawp at candy-colored Dutch colonial architecture in the capital city of Willemstad (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), scuba dive among thriving coral reefs and atmospheric shipwrecks, spot a flamboyance of flamingos on the white Salt Flats, explore the limestone formations of Hato Caves and try Curaçaoan beef stew before sipping emerald-green rum with the locals. The diversity of people, cuisines, and views will not only steal your heart, but introduce you to an energy that, without question, is better experienced than explained. You simply have to feel it for yourself

The island has managed the pandemic effectively and is ready to welcome visitors back whenever they are ready. In the effort to ‘let you know, before you go,’ you can find the latest updates, travel guidelines and on island governmental preventive measures here

By Stephan Van de Schootbrugge

Curaçao Facts to Know:

  • Curaçao boasts the largest number of hotels and attractions with IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association) membership of any Caribbean destination.
  • Four Languages are widely spoken on the island: Papiamentu, English, Dutch and Spanish. 
  • In 2010, Curaçao became an autonomous part of the Netherlands kingdom.
  • Curaçao is located outside of the Hurricane Belt and boasts warm, sunny weather all year round, providing the ideal setting for any and all activities.

Explore Curaçao’s Mesmerizing Underwater World

Courtesy of Curaçao Tourism

With its calm and clear seas full of healthy coral reefs and barnacle-embellished shipwrecks, Curaçao offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the whole of the Caribbean. Whether you prefer to explore just off the shore or want a more adventurous dive, you’ll find plenty of options encircling the island. Look out for pilot whales, dolphins, rays, sea turtles, lobsters and kaleidoscopic schools of fish congregating at some of Curaçao’s most popular sites including Mushroom Forest (a name inspired by the huge mushroom-like coral heads found there), Elvin's Plane Wreck (an Antillean Airlines plane purposefully placed on the seabed as a dive attraction), Tugboat (a sunken vessel) and Watamula (loved for its impressive corals and frequent turtle sightings).  

Learn to ‘Fly’ 

Flyboarding | By Maria Jesús

If being on the water appeals more than being underneath it, you’re in luck. Curaçao’s tranquil sea and gentle trade winds create ideal conditions for watersports of all kinds: wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. The options are endless, but for a one-of-a-kind experience you’ll never forget, it’s got to be flyboarding. Strap your feet in and find your balance on this futuristic-looking hoverboard. As a hose pumps water directly to the attached jetpack, you’ll be propelled 15 meters into the air – an experience fans say is the closest thing to flying. 

Become a Cove Connoisseur 

By Jorgen Hendricksen

Even by Caribbean standards the beaches on Curaçao are exceptionally beautiful, and with over 35 options to choose from you could visit a different one each day of your vacation if you felt inclined. Rather than the long sweeping beaches you find elsewhere in the Caribbean, Curaçao is full of idyllic little coves and bays with transparent turquoise ocean that’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Find your own coastal hideaway (Playa Kenepa Grandi/Chiki is our hot tip), claim a sun lounger and kick back for a day of respite and vitamin D.

Experience Curaçao’s Rugged Landscapes at a National Park 

Christoffelberg | By Mohamed Osama

The island is threaded with hiking and biking trails, giving visitors the opportunity to balance all that beach lounging with some action. Wake up early, pack sunscreen and water and ascend past spiky cacti and lazing lizards to the summit of Christoffelberg in Christoffel Park. It’s a 90-minute round hike to Curaçao’s highest point, and you’re rewarded with a refreshing breeze and views of jagged green mountains all the way to the cobalt ocean. Close by you’ll find another national park with heaps of rugged beauty: Shete Boka, which translates as “seven mouths.” Hike around these rocky inlets, which were carved into the rockface by the thrashing sea, keeping your eyes peeled for iguanas. Don’t miss the ‘Pistolero’ ravine, where the waves shoot through a hole in the rock and echo like gunshots.  

Sample the local Ròm Bèrdè, or “Green Rum” 

Curaçao has a thing for vivid liqueurs. You’re probably familiar with its blue namesake tipple, but no visit to the island is complete without a green rum, or ròm bèrdè, from local watering hole Netto Bar. Made from a top secret recipe by the bar’s founder, this slightly sweet emerald-hued rum is perfect with a glug of chilled coconut water.  

Soak up Willemstad’s Burgeoning Art Scene

"Dushi" wall mural | Courtesy of Curaçao Tourism

You’ll spot galleries dotted around Curaçao, but the most exciting way to get a feel for the island’s art scene is with a visit to the Scharloo district. Local collective Street Art Skálo has turned this neighborhood into the Wynwood Walls of Willemstad – a hipster enclave known for its large-scale murals painted by local artists. Wander down Bitterstraat and Parke Leyba for the most Instagrammable spots.

Dine on Global Cuisines 

Dutch Bitterballen | By Rudy and Peter Skitterians

More than 50 nationalities call Curaçao home, and each has contributed its own set of cultural culinary traditions to the island’s food scene. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it here. Perhaps you’ll even discover some new specialities, too, like bitterballen (a popular Dutch snack of meatballs, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried to crispy perfection), karni stobá (a rich beef stew) and keshi yena (a quintessential local dish of cheese stuffed with spiced meat, then steamed or baked). As you explore the island be sure to keep an eye out for Curaçao’s snack bars and food trucks. Both serve delicious, affordable fare and are a huge part of local life here. 

Visit the Herb Lady of Curaçao

Every place has its beloved local characters, and herbalist Dinah Veeris is one of Curaçao’s. Dinah’s botanical garden, Den Paradera, which is home to 300 species of plants – some exotic, others very familiar. Enjoy the gardens, learn all about the medicinal uses of plants and pick up some natural remedies from the adjoining store.


This article was sponsored by Curaçao Tourism

In the latest episode of our podcast, author Meg Stafford joins her daughter on a high school project to Nepal and Bhutan researching happiness. It was a mother-daughter trip that pushed Meg outside of her comfort zone. She found herself avoiding avalanches while climbing to Annapurna basecamp and dodging paint at the Holi Festival in Kathmandu. It also gave her the opportunity to examine what it means for a parent to love and to let go. 🎧 Link in bio to listen! ...

18 0

Istanbul`s beauty lies in its historic architecture, the Bosphorus Strait`s scenic charm, vibrant neighborhoods, bustling markets, rich cuisine, Sufi traditions, captivating sunsets, street art, and its unique blend of cultures as a crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Reel: @samisrt

150 0

Sweeping mountain views of the Dolomites, beautiful wildflowers, and the most delicious dinner included with your stay at @hotel_dolomitenhof_u_altepost.

Reel: @tc.travels

257 3

In the latest episode of our podcast, Christine Winebrenner Irick, entrepreneur (@lotussojourns) and podcaster (@souloftravelpodcast) shares the story of her first big trip to Asia. In the midst of a period of rebirth, as her career and marriage were crumbling, Christine took inspiration from Alex Garland`s book, The Beach, and set off for Thailand with one good friend and no solid plans. What unfolded was a perspective-shifting experience that would, in Christine`s own words, "reveal who she would become." 🎧 Link in bio to listen!

#tttcm #traveltok #thetripthatchangedme #podcast #travelpodcast #thailand #travelthailand

41 0

Is it too early to think about Fall? Daydreaming of autumn in Patagonia.

Reel: @ramirotorrents

692 5

A lovely town on the French Riviera, Menton is known for its beauty, mild weather, colorful buildings, and lemon production. Enjoy beaches, history, and a laid-back vibe.

Reel: @sofikulin

101 0

Full-Time Travel`s sister brand, @kingdomgolf, invites you to a join special guests from the world of golf and entertainment, including Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sörenstam, for a luxury island experience. Play the incredible courses at Wexford and Palmetto Hall Golf and Country Club. ⛳️ Link in bio to reserve your spot at the 2023 Kingdom Cup on Thursday, September 21st thru Sunday, September 24th. ...

49 4

One night in the desert inspires a corporate worker to follow her dream of becoming a travel journalist.

In the latest episode of our podcast, The Trip That Changed Me, travel journalist, podcaster, and entrepreneur Yulia Denisyuk (@insearchofperfect) shares the story of a career-altering trip to Morocco. It`s an ode to the power of looking for signs when you need confirmation you`re on the right track. If you`re harboring a dream but it never quite feels like the right time to make the leap, this episode is for you. 🎧 Link in bio to listen!

#fulltimetravel #travelreel #ftt #thetripthatchangedme #podcast #travelpodcast

23 1

Submerged beneath the ocean waves or inside a kaleidoscopic aquarium, these rare underwater restaurants serve meals alongside a cast of aquatic creatures. Book a table and enjoy a whole new spin on dinner and a show. ...

121 1

Bike through the world`s largest salt flats in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Reel: @islayjoy

1113 8

Known for its stunning sand dunes that create a landscape resembling white sheets (lençóis in Portuguese), Lençóis Maranhenses is a unique national park located in the state of Maranhão, Brazil.

The park`s most iconic feature is the series of turquoise lagoons formed by rainwater that collects between the dunes. These lagoons are a stark contrast to the surrounding white sands and provide a refreshing oasis for visitors.

Reel: @melly_ba

1906 208

A travel entrepreneur rows 3,000 miles in 36 days, completely unsupported.

In the latest episode of our podcast, The Trip That Changed Me, travel entrepreneur, Jimmy Carroll (@jimmyalexandercarroll), shares his experiences of participating in the world’s toughest rowing race: the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

For 36 days, Jimmy and his three teammates rowed in alternating two-hour stints for 24 hours a day, through storms, sleep deprivation, and an unexpected attack from a 12-foot blue marlin. It was an experience that pushed them to the limit of their resilience but one that was also full of profound beauty and awe.

🎧 Link in bio to listen!

#thetripthatchangedme #fulltimetravel #ftt #travelpodcast #podcast #jimmycarroll

114 7