Curious about Curacao? You and me both. I mean, what business does a Dutch-settled community have in the southern Caribbean? Apparently a lot of business since it welcomes thousands of cruise ship passengers to its Willemstad port nearly every day of the year. Curacao has so much to offer vacationers looking for a warm Caribbean climate back-dropped by colorful, Dutch history and hospitality.
Before you catch a boat or plane to Curacao, know where and how to have fun in the sun while you’re there. That’s what these tips are all about, and they’re brought to you by our local Del Sol staff who live and work in the heart of Curacao every day.
Our staff doesn’t just love Curacao because they live and work there. It’s much more than that. For them, the island is their home, their playground, and they love to show off its best features, like the bright, colorful buildings, white-sand beaches, and best Dutch-Caribbean cuisine.
The Del Sol stores are located in Willemstad at the Renaissance Mall and in the Punda Quarter. Feel free to stop by the stores and take a load off. Our staff is happy to answer questions you may have and to give you additional tips about the island.
Top 5 Fun in the Sun Things to Do in Curacao:
1. See the Sights
Once in Willemstad, take a few minutes, at least, to stroll down the most colorful section of Handelskade along the Santa Anna Bay. Then, start your walking tour at the restored Rif Fort near the mouth of the harbor, filled with shops and dining venues to dig into, then cross the famous Koningin Emmabrug pontoon bridge to the Punda district and weave your way through the interlocking streets that house everything from artisan shops to upscale, brand-name retailers like Del Sol.
Shoppers with an appetite should head to the Mercado Flotante – the bustling floating market that’s always bubbling over with fruits, vegetables and the day’s fresh catch. Then, crossing back to the Otrabanda side, stop by the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, which is one of our personal favorite places in Curacao. It’s the Western Hemisphere’s oldest Jewish synagogue in continuous use, founded in 1651 by 12 families from Amsterdam. The synagogue has unique flooring. It’s not your typical wood or cement floor, instead it’s all white sand. It’s like attending church at the beach.
2. Head to the Beach
Curacao has 38 beautiful beaches, but the finest of them fringe the west end. Guests of the new Renaissance Curacao in downtown Willemstad can enjoy a one-of-a-kind man-made beach experience at the resort’s second-floor saltwater infinity pool, but visitors of any resort should still grab a rental car or hop a cab to Cas Abou Beach for arguably the loveliest stretch of sand and sea on the island. There’s a snack bar and restroom facilities so it’s ideal for a long beach day. Further northwest is Playa Jeremi, a pristine beach with fewer comforts but even more natural beauty – and a fraction of the crowd. From either beach, you can enjoy snorkeling right offshore.
3. Dine the Dutch Way
De Gouveneur in Otrabanda is a hot spot for live music, and a slew of dining venues and bars in the Rif Fort offer cold drinks and cool company any time of the night. Gambling opportunities abound in most hotels – including the Breezes, Marriott, Hilton and Renaissance properties – and the stand-alone Holiday Beach Casino even offers sports wagering.
4. West End Water Works
Rent a car or sign up for a guided tour and explore the vast and undeveloped west end of the island. Stop by Boca Pistol, a hollowed-out stretch of shoreline where a cannonball of sea-foam bursts from the earth with each incoming wave – a phenomenon known as the “Breath of Curaçao.” There’s also a sea-cave nearby that many visitors descend at low tide for a glimpse of the island’s coral-stone foundation, and back above ground there’s an abundance of desert flora and fauna to spot, from cacti to iguanas.
The North Side of the island is a stark contrast from the calm South Side where the majority of beaches are located. Boca Tabla is another hollowed-out stretch of shoreline where you can see just how powerful the ocean is and how it has shaped this side of the island. Wear closed-toe, slip-resistant shoes to avoid cutting up your feet on the jagged rocks.
5. Visit Christoffel National Park
Grab your sneakers and head to this 4,450-acre wildlife preserve near the island’s west end. The park offers nature-lovers a variety of hiking trails through its variant garden and desert landscapes, including a 2-to-3-hour hike to the top of the 1,240-foot Mt. Christoffel, the island’s highest point. On clear days, you’ll see as far as Venezuela.
If hiking isn’t your thing, give your feet a break and enlist the aid of an on-site adventure operator, offering horseback rides or jeep tours of the grounds. Kayaking is also available in areas throughout the park. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day at leisure; then when you’re ready to cool off, take your pick of nearby beaches, among the best on the island.
What else do you love about Curacao? What else would you recommend for having fun in the sun?