Top Things to do in Curaçao
If you are planing on visiting Curaçao determined to spend all your vacation time soaking up the sun and relaxing on the beach, I urge you to reconsider and take at least a short break from your sunbathing schedule to explore some of Curaçao island’s other attractions.
Our family took several excursions while we were vacationing at Hilton Curaçao during our recent winter break and they were not only fun, but also helped us better appreciate all that Curaçao has to offer. Here is list of the top things to do in Curaçao that we enjoyed and definitely recommend to other families:
Experience Willemstad’s rich history and colors
The capital of Curaçao, known for its colorful row of waterfront houses, has an equally colorful and long standing history. The city is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, serving both cargo and large cruise ships.
We enjoyed strolling through the picturesque streets of Punda, the city’s oldest section, and watching the opening and closing of the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. There are also several other attractions, such as the floating market and Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, worth exploring if you find yourself visiting Willemstad.
Visit the largest birds on Earth at the Curaçao Ostrich Farm
Visiting the Curaçao Ostrich Farm, a 20-minute drive from Willemstad, was a fun and educational family experience. If you ask our children, it was actually their favorite excursion on the island.
Sign up for the Safari Tour, an approximately one-hour guided tour of the farm on an open-air safari truck. In addition to getting up close and personal with ostriches, you will learn many interesting and fun facts about the largest birds on earth. Kids will undoubtedly get a thrill when they get a chance to feed them. If you are in the mood, you can also sample several ostrich meat delicacies.
Enjoy nature at Christoffel National Park
Christoffel National Park is a 4,500-acre wildlife preserve on the largely undeveloped west side of Curaçao island. The park showcases beautiful flora, such as giant patches of aloe vera plants or blooming cacti, as well as some endemic and rare fauna. And watch out for giant iguanas, they are everywhere!
There are many hiking trails, including an approximately two-hour round trip hike to the top of Mount Christoffel, which is the highest peak on the island. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the neighboring islands of Aruba and Bonaire, as well as Venezuela, from its summit.
If you’re not interested hiking, you can enjoy the park by driving around the main road and stopping at several scenic overlooks. Horseback riding and Jeep tours are also available to visitors.
Marvel at the Ocean’s Raw Power at the Shete Boka National Park
If you made it to Christoffel National Park, you must also visit Shete Boka National Park, which is just a short distance away, on the north coast of the island. You will see spectacular waves crashing into bokas (caverns) and witness the amazing power of the ocean.
The park has several hiking trails providing access to different bokas, some of which you can enter during low tide, but make sure to exercise caution. The waves are beautiful, but extremely powerful and unpredictable. During certain times of the year, the area also serves as a turtle nesting ground.
Enjoy Beautiful Beaches on the Island’s West Side
Curaçao has many beaches, but the best ones are located on the west side of the island. I suggest renting a car for a day in order to explore one or several at your own pace.
Perhaps the most famous of Curaçao’s beaches is Cas Abou, which has restroom facilities and a snack bar. Our family enjoyed the much smaller Playa Jeremi, which is located further north and is more popular with the locals. In addition to its natural beauty, Playa Jeremi offered crystal clear water, ideal for snorkeling right off the beach, and is a great place to watch the sunset.
A Few Tips:
- The last three attractions can be easily combined into a one-day trip. Start your day exploring Christoffel National Park, then visit nearby Shete Boka. After lunch, drive south on the west side of Curaçao to enjoy some of the best beaches on the island.
- There are not many options for lunch in the area, but you will find Jaanchies, well known by natives and tourist alike, in Westpunt. Two pieces of advice: (1) Be prepared for a really long wait for your food and (2) Try the iguana. Seriously, it was delicious!
- There are no gas stations on the west side of Curaçao island if you are driving westbound past Christoffel Park, so make sure to head out with a full tank of gas. Also, be sure to have some cash (dollars or guilders). The gas station where we stopped did not take credit cards and the ATM at the nearby bank wasn’t working.
Wishing you fun times on the island!
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