Curacao’s principal attractions are the gorgeous secluded beaches and azure waters. But it is worth it to travel beyond the beaches to explore the culture and unique topography of the island. Main tourist areas offer a myriad of choices for dining and nightlife, but the best restaurants are often tugged away.
Depending on your arrival time, make sure you get your necessary groceries at Centrum Supermarket, which is just small detour from the airport to Villa Seashell. If you arrive after 8:00 PM, no worries, you can make a stop at the Toko (minimarket) in St. Willibrordus. This is a very small shop, but it sells the essentials like drinks and something to eat for breakfast. If they are closed or have nothing you like, this is not a problem because there are plenty of breakfast opportunities for the next day.
After unpacking take a refreshing dive in the pool or run down to the beach to savor the sunset and stay for dinner at Restaurant Karakter enjoying one of their fresh fish meals or tapas. If it is weekend you may find a great local band at Karakter.
When walking back home don't forget to look at the tropical sky. The nightly skies in Curacao are usually pretty amazing; an incredible complex array with an uncountable amount of stars.
If you were unable to get your groceries head down to Centrum Supermarket (don't forget to take a cooler with you). On your way down you may like to have a quick cup of coffee at the Toko or opt for having yummy Dutch pancakes for breakfast at Landhuis Daniel.
On your way back you may stop to watch the flamingo's at the salt lake of Jan Kok (see Exotic bright pink birds for more information) or have a look at Nena Sanchez Art Gallery.
Pack your sunscreen, a cooler with something to drink, beach towels and snorkels and spend the rest of the day at Playa Porto Mari. It is only a 5 minutes drive from Villa Seashell. If it is a Sunday (the day all locals go to the beach) or if a cruise ship is in town, it may be busy. In that case, see if there is space at the very end of the beach.
If you are getting hungry, the Porto Mari beachside restaurant serves excellent food. Try a variety of the Dutch snacks or the Indonesian platter.
For the best snorkeling enter the water at the jetty and follow the underwater snorkeling trail to the left.
When tired of the beach and sunshine just go back to your home away from home to relax at the thatched roof hut watching the sunset. If you are looking for a place to have dinner, go to Bistro E Lanternu, a pleasant laid back place just 15 minutes drive away, see Insanely good food and 7 (affordable) restaurants in Curacao.
Drive down to Willemstad for the day. Park your car for free at the Renaissance parking garage. Check google maps for directions or look on the map for the Rif Fort. Take a right at the roundabout of the Rif Fort and then take the first left. You may see a gate, just drive up because the guard will open it for you.
Explore the Rif Fort, take a look at the Rif Fort museum and the locally made crafts at Mon Art. After that walk along the Harbor take a left after passing the floating bridge and then take the first street to the right.
Here you find the Kura Hulanda Slave Trade Museum, a very informative museum that brings history to life, located in beautifully restored buildings.
Cross the floating bridge to Punda and have something to drink (not recommended for food) at Iguana Cafe while watching the ships entering the harbor.
Walk the streets of Punda, buy your souvenirs, and visit the floating market to try some of the local fruits.
Close to the floating market you will find Plasa Bieu. If you like to try local Krioyo food, this is the place to be. Don't be put off by the rough look of the place, the food is great. If you are not sure what the local dishes (mainly stew type food) taste like, ask for s spoon full to try. You share a big table with whoever happens to be sitting there already. Make sure you sit at one of the tables closest to the doors, as it gets hot in there. Open from 11:00 to 15:00, not on Sundays.
If you are in for some more museums, you can visit the Maritime Museum, the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum, the Post Museum, or the Church Fort Museum.
Enjoy diner at Restaurant De Gouveneur at the Otrobanda side, or go to the Pietermaai District. If you opt for the Gouveneur make sure that you have upfront reservations for the 'gallery', which has the best views of the harbor. One of their best dishes is the banana soup.
An area often overlooked by tourists is the Pietermaai area. The run-down buildings have been completely restaurated over the last five years and turned into brightly colored student apartments, hip bars, and restaurants. Mundo Bizarro is a trendy restaurant with Cuban decor, Tuesday night tango events, and daily live music.
A few doors down, you will find Miles Jazz Cafe. They offer a selection of cigars, board games and, of course, the music of jazz legend Miles Davis on vinyl, or live music.
Try the beach again today. Go to Cas Abou beach, popular by both locals and tourists. In the weekends, Cas Abou is one of the most crowded beaches, but that is simply because it is a beautiful beach.
Get there early and grab a little shade while it's available.
The beach has a snack shack for beers and food, a shaded massage area and dive shop to rent gear including kayaks!
The waters are really turquoise and great for diving or snorkeling! You will see fish the second you get in the water. Best snorkeling is off to the right near large chunks of the cliff that have fallen in. Often turtles and spotted eagle rays can be seen in this area.
If you like to go out for dinner try a gourmet dinner at the Restaurant Landhuis Daniel. The cuisine of Landhuis Daniel can be described as a mix of modern French-Mediterranean and new Creole cuisine.
The restaurant is dedicated to using as much as possible locally produced ingredients such as herbs and vegetable from their own garden, eggs, game and fowl from Tropical Farm Oase nearby and fish from local fisherman.
Today, get away from the beach and town and do some hiking or touring.
If you are in for a hike of Mount Christoffel rise early so that you can be at the park entrance (right side of the road) around 6:00AM to avoid the heat. Bring plenty of water and make sure you wear decent walking shoes.
With a height of 1240 foot, Mount Christoffel is the highest mountain in Curacao?
You pay at the park entrance and then drive across the street with a token that opens the gate. The road is one way so you just follow it until you reach the clearly marked car park.
The initial hike is fairly easy, it's getting hard around the half-way point and there are a couple of places where you actually have to climb, holding onto trees and other rocks. It's not something for anyone with a physical ailment to attempt.
That said, the view is worth it. Spend some time at the top taking photos and just taking it all in. It is just beautiful, the ultimate pay off.
The hike takes about an hour to the top and an hour down.
If you don't like to hike it is still worthwhile to visit the park. Christoffel park is the largest national park of Curacao and a must see for everyone.
The park has a rich variety of local flora and fauna. Nature lovers will like the park with local birds and plants, including species, which are not easily seen elsewhere on the island.
Scenic car routes take you through under bush, around hills and across sea swept bluffs.
The park also organizes special activities, including safaris, deer watching, animal presentations, cave excursions, a guided park tour and many special trips like occasional full moon walks and sunrise safaris. Mountain bikes can be rented at the park.
Besides natural riches the park also offers much in the way of culture and history. Plantation Savonet is one of the earliest plantations to be set up on the island and is one of the most complete plantation complexes with structures including the plantation house, store houses, dams, wells, and much more, it includes the Museum Savonet.
After climbing the mountain or touring the park you may stay for lunch at Restaurant Trio Penotti, located at the park entrance. Rated number one on TripAdvisor it is one of Curacao's best restaurants. The food is delicious and very reasonable priced. See as well Insanely good food and 7 (affordable) restaurants in Curacao.
After lunch visit Shete Boka Park. This is an area adjoining the Christoffelpark covering more than 10 kilometers of the rocky wave-exposed north coast of the island with about 10 pocket beaches where 3 species of sea turtles are known to lay eggs.
The most well-known and favorite inlet for visitors is Boka Tabla.
If you enjoy getting off the beaten track and into the rugged countryside, you will love National Park Shete Boka.
The park begins at stunning Boka Tabla, where huge waves thunder into an underground cavern.
Steps cut into the rocks lead you directly into the mouth of the cavern; you can sit on the very edge and watch the surf roll in.
After you peek inside the cavern you can walk along the limestone bluffs above for a spectacular view of Curacao’s rugged north coast.
If this day happens to be on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, schedule dinner at Sol Food. They are only open on these days. Sunshine, the owner is a great cook and entertainer!
Take your swim suits, snorkels and other stuff you need for beach hopping the very west end of the island.
First drive to Westpunt and from there take your time to drive back while exploring the secluded beaches this part of the island has to offer: Playa Kalki, Playa Forti, Playa Abou (Grote Knip), Playa Kenepa (Kleine Knip), Playa Jeremi, Playa Lagun, and Playa St. Cruz.
If you like cliff jumping, stop at Playa Forti. A narrow path runs between the wall of a restaurant and the edge of a cliff around 40ft high. At the far end of the cliff, there is a little platform that sits in a perfect place for jumping off the edge and into the water below. This cliff is just to the left of the Playa Forti beach. Watch the video to see if this is something you would like to try.......
For snorkeling stop at Playa Lagun. It is a very narrow beach tucked in the water that is sheltered out about 100 yards before the cliffs give way to the open ocean. This is the place to see turtles, octopus, and lots of tropical fish.
You can walk the steps up to the Bahia Beach bar patio that overlooks the entire bay and worth a stop for a drink and some lunch.
If you have time left stop at St. Cruz and see if Captain Goodlife (Juni Obersi) of Let's Go Watersport is available to take you to the Blue Room and Mushroom Forest with his water taxi.
Arrived at the Blue Room you have to swim towards the rocks, hold your breath for a few seconds, dive and enter the cave. You’ll love it!
The inside of the cave is illuminated by a fluorescent blue light created by the filtering of sunlight through the seawater at the cave opening. Captain Goodlife can also take you to the magnificent Mushroom Forest where visitors can snorkel amongst the gigantic mushroom coral and explore the abundance of sea life.
Mind you Captain Goodlife is a little crazy, but in a good way, he is very eccentric and likes to talk a lot!
If you like Captain Goodlife you may want to stay for dinner. He usually serves his fresh catch of the day together with homemade french fries on the patio deck of his little restaurant.
Explore the east side of the island. Take your map with you or figure out on Google maps how to drive to the Curacao Ostrich Farm.
Take a very entertaining guided truck tour of the grounds of the farm with 600+ birds