• Shadesofsummr

The ultimate Curacao Travel Guide

Updated: Oct 17

Couples and honeymooners edition


Curacao is a small island located roughly 65 km off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. Being part of the Dutch Kingdom, Curacao combines Caribbean charm with European influences and deserves the reputation as a hip, vibrant and colorful summer paradise.


Pristine white sandy beaches, lush green rain forests, and a bustling, vibrant capital city make Curacao not only a paradise for young people but in my opinion also the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic travel destination for couples.


Having spent more than 10 weeks on this island this year with my husband, I have been able to create the most in-depth Curacao island guide for couples and honeymooners featuring the most romantic restaurants, secluded beaches, luxurious hotels, and excursions that provide you with the best one-on-one quality times.




Table of contents


Things you need to know before visiting Curacao

Best time to visit Curacao

How to get to Curacao

How to get around Curacao

Where to stay in Curacao

The most romantic beaches in Curacao

Best romantic things to do in Curacao

Where to eat in Curacao

Is traveling to Curacao safe?





Collage of beach pictures with text ultimate travel guide curacao

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Things you need to know before visiting Curacao



The history of Curacao


Before the Europeans even arrived on the small island of Curacao, it had already been inhabited for hundreds of years by the Awarak people, who came from the South American mainland.


In the year 1499, the first European, a Spaniard to be precise, arrived in Curacao. In the following 20 years, most of the original inhabitants had been enslaved and transferred to the island Hispaniola.


From the year 1527, the Spanish settled on the island and imported most of their livestock and plants. After a while, the number of Spaniards living on the island steadily declined, while at the same time many indigenous people returned.


In 1634, the island was invaded by the Dutch and their West India Company, who had recently separated themselves from the Spanish. Whilst the Spanish tried to take the island back many times, all of their attempts failed.


For most parts of the 17th and 18th centuries, the island of Curacao was mainly used as a trading hub for slaves between Africa and their end destination. After the bankruptcy of the Dutch West India Company, Curacao became an official colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


During the beginning of the 19th century, the island was invaded by other countries, such as England, multiple times. In 1815 however, the island of Curacao was formally awarded to the Dutch.


Slavery was abolished in 1863 at last and Curacao lived on trade and agriculture. Shortly after, great oil reserves were discovered in Venezuela, and Shell built its presence in form of a refinery in Curacao.


After prosperous times for Shell, the indigenous people grew rapidly more dissatisfied with the uneven distribution of wealth. After a big revolt, Shell left the island in 1980.


During the Second World War, the island of Curacao changed ownership many times, before finally gaining political autonomy in 1954. In 2010, Curacao was given autonomous status, therefore no longer being part of the European Union and the Netherlands.



Things you need to know about Curacao


  1. There are four different languages spoken on the island: Dutch, Papiamentu, Spanish, and English.

  2. Curacao has its own currency, the Netherlands-Antillean Guilder (shortly NAFl, ANG, or f). However, most places also accept US dollars. In some places, the Euro is accepted as a currency as well.

  3. The tap water is safe to drink in Curacao, however, it does not taste very well in my opinion

  4. The most common voltage in Curacao is 120 V and 220 V

  5. The word Curaçao is pronounced as "Cure-ah-souw"

  6. Curacao is part of the ABC island chain, together with Aruba and Bonaire


Looking for the best beaches of Curacao? Click here.

For the best snorkel spots on Curacao - click here!



Best time to visit Curacao



Curacao can be nicely visited throughout the entire year. The island is sunny and warm with an average of 31 degrees Celsius year-round.


There is no such thing as a heavy rain season, however, the months of October, November, and December are often associated with small rain showers. The showers are usually very early or very late in the day and very localized. Visiting Curacao during these months is not a problem at all, the showers quickly disappear and very rarely affect the day.


Curacao is outside the hurricane belt of the Caribbean Sea. This means, that during the hurricane season between June and December, there is less wind than usual, which makes the weather feel warmer than normal.


Having been here during all the different times of the year, I suggest visiting from May to November, which is considered off-season here. This means, there are fewer crowds and airfare is cheaper.



Curacao Daaibooibay, stunning blue caribbean ocean




How to get to Curacao


For traveling to Curacao you have two options, arriving via airplane or cruise ship.


Curacao has one airport, Curacao International Airport, also known as Hato. The island paradise Curacao has become quite easy to reach from abroad, since over 25 airlines offer direct flights from North and South America, Canada, and Europe.


KLM is currently scheduled with two direct flights per day from Amsterdam Airport. There are also multiple flights daily from New York JFK, Miami, and Newark.


Within the Caribbean, smaller airlines, like Divi Divi Air and EZ Air operate between the islands. It is especially easy commuting between the ABC-islands since there are multiple flights between the islands every day.


Hato Airport is quite far off the beaten track. You will most definitely need a rental car or a pickup arrangement with the hotel to reach it. Taking a cab from Hato to your accommodation is possible, although I urge you to be mindful and research the price beforehand. Cab drivers in Curacao will likely try to rip you off.


Many bigger cruise lines offer Willemstad as a stop on their Caribbean itineraries. Cruise ships dock on one of the two main terminals just outside of Willemstad. The main attractions of the city are within walking distance. For visiting a beach, a rental car or a booked excursion with the ship is recommended.




How to get around in Curacao


Upon arrival, you will be asking yourself how to get around the island. I strongly recommend getting a rental car at the airport for your stay. The best way to experience Curacao is to explore off the beaten track. I book my rental cars usually here.


Many of the famous beaches can only be reached by car (public transport is not great on the island). The beaches are also quite far away from each other, therefore taking a cab will become very expensive over time. Parking is free almost everywhere on the island.


Fuel is not too expensive in Curacao. However, most gas stations have a weird prepaid system in place, that requires you to walk up and pay a random amount of your choice with your credit card. If you do not use all of it, you have to walk back over to make them give credit.


Traffic is quite insane at times, and there are many accidents on the road. Make sure to always be careful on the road, since many locals do not exactly stick to all the traffic rules. the road signs used in Curacao are mainly the same as the Dutch road signs. However, the traffic rules were being set up like American traffic rules, so it can be quite confusing.






Where to stay in Curacao


Figuring out where to stay in Curacao is easier said than done. The island might be very small, but there is a huge variety of different neighborhoods with completely different vibes.


While most guides out there tell you to stay in Jan Thiel beach, I suggest you can do better. Jan Thiel beach is basically a much warmer version of the Netherlands, and therefore 100 % touristy.


I have compiled a list with a couple of my favorite places and neighborhood to stay in Curacao! These properties offer an authentic, luxurious, and most importantly romantic holiday experience.





Willemstad Punda/Pietermaai


Punda is one of the most famous neighborhoods on the island. Punda is home to the famous Handelskade, the collection of picturesque, colorful houses near the water. Punda is also the center of attention in Curacao and is close to many great attractions and renowned restaurants.


A couple of footsteps away from the Punda district is the neighboring, Instagram-famous Pietermaai district. This is commonly referred to as the SoHo of Curacao, filled with great restaurants, fancy ocean clubs, and offering great nightlife.


During the evenings, the Pietermaai district turns into a vibrant center of activity - during daytime it is much quieter than Punda and offers a great area for a romantic stroll through the alleys surrounded by rainbow-colored houses.



Blonde girl walking Queen Emma bridge in Willemstad, Curacao



Saint Tropez Boutique Hotel and Ocean Club


Famous for its amazing infinity pool and great oceanfront restaurant is the Saint Tropez Boutique Hotel in the Pietermaai District. The hotel is relatively small, with only 24 uniquely designed, luxurious rooms.


Many of the rooms have a stunning ocean view, which is one of the biggest plus points of this property. The pool area is super chic and does indeed remind me of a fancy beach club in the famous French town St. Tropez.


The restaurant serves delicious food and you can sit directly by the water enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Poolside you might as well enjoy a snack with an ice-cold cocktail.







Saint Tropez Ocean Club Willemstad Curacao



Santa Barbara Beach



Sandals Royal Curacao


One of the most trendy and new places to stay is the Sandals Resort in Santa Barbara Beach. The resort is very far off the beaten track and therefore super quiet and relaxed. Sandals Resort is located in Santa Barbara Beach, which is a beautiful and quiet white sandy beach.


The entire resort is facing west, so it gives you a great opportunity to watch a romantic sunset every evening during your stay! The highlight of the resort is in my opinion the two-level infinity pool as well as the cute suits and water villas with private pools.






Just outside Willemstad


Baoase Luxury Resort


Baoase Luxury Resort is one of the most romantic and luxurious accommodations on the island. With only 23 extravagant rooms and suites it is at the same time super quiet and exclusive. The motto of the resort is to give a Balinese feeling while providing luxury without limits and high-end service.


Baoase Luxury Resort is also home to one of the most unique and extravagant fine cuisine restaurants on the island. They even offer private romantic dining experiences for honeymooners and lovebirds.











Acoya Curacao, Resort, Villas & Spa


For everyone interested in spending more time on the island, Acoya is the perfect place to stay. Acoya has the most spacious and well-equipped villas on the island.


Most villas have private pools and all of them are equipped with a fully functioning kitchen including all utensils you might need on a longer stay. We have stayed here for more than 10 weeks this year and were supplied with everything we could possibly need on this stay-cation.


Acoya also has a great restaurant called La Lagoon, which offers high-end fusion cuisine with an authentic Curacao twist. Furthermore, you can find a beautiful spa and a fitness room on the premises.






Acoya Resort and Spa Curacao


Playa Lagun


Playa Lagun is a small, beautiful secluded beach nestled in between two cliffs. Playa Lagun is roughly 30 mins outside Willemstad by car. Playa Lagun is a famous snorkeling spot on the island since it is a great spot to visit sea turtles.


We have stayed in Playa Lagun many times before, and we find it to be the most peaceful spot on the island. From the cliffs, you have a stunning, unobstructed view of the ocean. This is also the best place on the island to see the sunset because it is very quiet and romantic.


Playa Lagun is however still a relatively non-touristic area. There is a great small restaurant as well as a dive school, but you will not find much else there. It is very closely located to some other beautiful beaches, such as Kleine Knip Beach and Playa Grandi.



Lagun Ocean Resort


Apart from the dive school apartments, there is very little option for accommodation in Playa Lagun: The Lagun Ocean Resort and the Lagun Blou Resort. Both are gated communities that consist of small and mid-size houses that can be rented.


We have previously stayed at the Lagun Ocean Resort, which also has a small swimming pool and some great outdoor seating arrangements. We prefer the Lagun Ocean Resort over the Lagun Blou Resort because it is within walking distance of the romantic little restaurant Bahia.


The houses are usually stretched out over two stories with a terrace both upstairs and downstairs. Make sure to book a house with an ocean view, since this is one of the most beautiful places to take in the clear blue water on the island.














The most romantic beaches in Curacao



According to Curacao officials, there are roughly 38 different beaches on the island, and I most definitely believe that. Wherever you go on this island, you will be able to find beautiful small bays tucked away and endless white sandy beaches.


Choosing which beaches to go to can be quite a challenge. I have compiled a list of my favorite beaches for couples and honeymooners.


For a more comprehensive guide on the 17 major beaches in Curacao check out my post!



picture of playa lagun with text best beaches for couples in Curacao



1. Playa Porto Mari


My favorite beach on the island is Playa Porto Mari. The area is known for being "the beach, where nature comes first". And this could not be more true.


Two cute pigs, called Willy and Woody, live close by the beach. On special days, they will join the vacationers and enjoy a nice bath in the ocean or get a tan in the sun.


The restaurant close by the beach is called Willywood (after the pigs) and serves delicious fish, burgers, cocktails, and much more. There is a small takeaway bar in the restaurant, that offers cocktails and coffee to go!


For everyone who is not only interested in swimming and enjoying some nice food, there is a small driftwood painting workshop that is available every day from 11 in the morning. Talk about a cute, self-made souvenir! The instructor is a very nice local who helps out the not-so-artsy people and also shares a great deal of knowledge of the island!











2. Cas Abao Beach


Cas Abao Beach is very similar to Playa Porto Mari, minus the pigs. It is also a fully serviced beach, with a restaurant, massages, and tanning beds for rent. Cas Abao is a true gem on the southwest coast of Curacao, with its turquoise waters and white sands.


Cas Abao Beach was recently voted as one of the 21 best beaches in the world by National Geographic. And I agree with that statement.


My favorite thing to do at Cas Abao beach is definitely snorkeling. The big cliffs on both sides of the beach are surrounded by a wide variety of fish and corals.










3. Playa Lagun


Playa Lagun is not only a great place for snorkelers but also a beautiful little oasis far away from the big crowds. It is usually very quiet on this beach, so you can take a quiet nap on the beach, swim with turtles, and have an ice-cold cocktail at the sweet little beach restaurant.






4. Mambo Beach


Mambo Beach is the most lively beach apart from the very touristy Jan Thiel beach. Mambo Beach is home to many beach clubs that serve you all kinds of food and drinks directly to your beach chair.


There is also a small mall attached to the beach, where you can buy beautiful swimwear, handmade jewelry, and much more. In the mall, you will also be able to find a great selection of restaurants.


Mambo beach is a great spot for some fun times! Most beach clubs play some nice ambient music that gives amazing holiday vibes. The water is super clean and because of the protective stones a bit further out, it is also super safe to swim there.


Our favorite beach club at Mambo beach is Cabana Beach.









5. Playa Gipy


My last but not least favorite beach is Playa Gipy! This small paradise can be found all the way in the western part of the island, close by the Watamula Hole. It is by no means easy to reach, since it requires off-road driving, walking on the cliff, and climbing down some rocks.


But in any case, it is 100 % worth the visit. Playa Gipy is a small, secluded bay that is usually not on the tourist's radar. With any luck, you will have the entire bay for yourself, just like we did. This is surely the most romantic spot on the island.






For a more comprehensive guide on the 17 major beaches in Curacao check out my post!




Best romantic things to do in Curacao




romantic things to do in curacao picture collage

Klein Curacao


Klein Curacao is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao. You can reach it with a travel time of roughly one hour. The small island offers some of the most amazing white sandy beaches in the Caribbean.


Because the island is uninhabited, the beauty of its nature is still (mostly) untouched. Klein Curacao makes for an unbelievable day trip, especially for snorkelers. We had the luck to see sea turtles on both of our trips to the island.


There are many different providers offering day trips to Klein Curacao. We have opted both times we visited for Miss Ann Boat trips. The provider picks you up in the Santa Barbara Resort with a fancy yacht and transports you to Klein Curacao.


On the island, they have a small hut there that offers shelter from the sun. There are tanning beds for everyone and complimentary breakfast and lunch are served there as well. They offer snorkeling gear and fabulous massages.


Most of the other providers do not have an infrastructure on the island, therefore you have to take meals and spend time on the vessel instead of the island itself.


Make sure to visit the abandoned lighthouse on Klein Curacao. It does not only make for an amazing photo spot but is also of historical importance.










Landhuis Chobolobo


Landhuis Chobolobo is a 19th-century mansion close to Willemstad. Not only is it a great historical building to visit, but it is also the production place of the famous Blue Curacao liquor.


The company offers tours around the production with a small tasting and a free cocktail in a cocktail bar in the garden. You can also participate in a cocktail workshop and buy their products for a reduced price.


The tour guides are super friendly and quite knowledgeable. We thought it was a very fascinating tour and we loved the colorful decor of the mansion. Landhuis Chobolobo is definitely one of the must-see things on the island of Curacao.










Watamula Hole


The Watamula hole offers some great contrast to the white sandy beaches and calm waters on the other side of the island. It is located in Sabana Westpunt, which is the northernmost tip of the island.


You can easily reach the Watamula Hole via a dirt road. Make sure to bring some good shoes and a bottle of water, since the entire trail is pretty exposed to the sun.


The hole itself is pretty impressive. You can look down on the crashing waves and get mesmerized by the turquoise waters underneath. Sometimes the waters splash up high enough to make spectators a bit wet - and provide a great photo opportunity.


A couple of steps away from the hole is a huge rock painted with a Curacao flag. This spot is another great instagrammable photo spot in Curacao.






Shete Boka National Park


Shete Boka is a big national park that covers almost 10 kilometers worth of cliffs on the north coast of the island. The park has 10 pocket bays from where you can watch stunning waves crashing into the coastline.


The trail leads you to stunning underwater caves (Boka Tabla) as well as a natural bridge (Boka Wandomi) and many more amazing viewpoints. Make sure to bring good shoes, since you will be walking quite a lot.








Christoffel Berg


The Christoffel Berg is with a height of 372 meters (1,220 ft) the highest point in Curacao and lies in the middle of a preserved wildlife area. There are many trails in the wildlife park that can be explored by car, on foot or horseback.


If you want to climb the mountain all the way to the top (for experienced hikers only) I suggest getting there as early as possible in the day, since it can get quite hot in the afternoon. The park opens at 06:00 in the morning, which is when we started our hike. It takes about two hours to reach the top, but it is very much worth it.






Sunset Cruise


One of our favorite experiences in Curacao was the Sunset Catamaran Cruise. We booked our cruise via Viator with Irie Tours. We were picked up in our hotel by bus and brought to the vessel.


We were allowed to lie or sit down anywhere on the Catamaran. During the two-hour trip, we were served with yummy complimentary cocktails, soft drinks and snacks. We saw a beautiful sunset and had so much fun sailing through the wavy waters.


Our tour took us through the Spanish waters and later out on the open sea. We had a stunning view of the island. Afterward, a bus brought us safely back home to our hotel.






Spanish waters Curacao Sunset Sail


Willemstad


Visiting Willemstad is a must for anyone vacationing in Curacao. There are many great restaurants, beautiful colorful alleys, stunning street art, and many great shops.


Both sides of Willemstad; Punda and Otrabanda, are worth the visit. The districts are separated from each other by the Sint Anna bay. You can walk across the Queen Emma bridge, which is a floating pontoon bridge, and marvel at the pastel-colored houses of the Handelskade.


Make sure to visit the 19th-century castle Rif Fort (now a shopping center) as well as the famous Pietermaai district for some great pictures.


I recommend visiting Willemstad in the morning or the evening since it can get very hot and busy during the day. For evening visitors, having dinner and drinks in the Pietermaai district (the So-Ho of Willemstad) is highly recommended.






Dolphin Academy


Visiting the Dolphin Academy in Curacao has been one of the most touching experiences of our trip. The Dolphin Academy is located near Mambo beach and offers a great deal of different educational experiences with the dolphins.


Firstly, we do not condone the cruel way dolphins are being held in some sea aquariums around the world. So we do want to emphasize that the Curacao Dolphin Academy is one of the only aquariums in the world that provides nature-friendly care to its animals.


The dolphins reside in lagoons, that are in direct connection with the open ocean, so they are truly connected with the sea life. The interaction with the trainers is very lovely to watch since you can see a genuine bond between animal and trainer.


We booked an educational Dolphin Encounter, where you get to meet a Dolphin with an instructor that tells you everything you need to know about the species. As a bonus, you get a kiss on the cheek by the Dolphin. Learn more.




Dolphin Academy Curacao


Driftwood Painting Workshop


A great bonding experience is provided by the driftwood painting workshop. You get to decorate your own piece of driftwood so you can bring it home as a gift or souvenir.


The workshop we did was offered by a nice local called Gilmar at Playa Porto Mari. We had so much fun painting next to the ocean and we loved the door signs we created. During painting, we got to talk with the instructor about the history of the island and some current issues the country is facing, which was a great learning experience for us.



driftwood painting workshop


Private boat tour through the Spanish waters


For a special occasion, we decided to treat ourselves to something extraordinary. We booked a 3-hour private boat tour through the Spanish water just for the two of us. We tried some water sports and toured around the island getting some background info from our lovely crew.



Santa Martha Sunset Lookout Point


Overlooking Santa Martha Bay we found an amazing little spot that offers a stunning view of the bay during sunset. Make sure to get there early for a nice spot to watch the stunning spectacle. For directions click here.



Santa Martha Sunset View Point Curacao





Best Restaurants in Curacao


Karakter


Our favorite restaurant for a romantic dinner on the beach is definitely Karakter at the Koraal Estate. The service and the food were amazing and we had a stunning view of the sunset while enjoying some great cocktails.




Karakter Restaurant Curacao

Fort Nassau


Fort Nassau is a restaurant in Willemstad located on a small hill, from where you can see the entire city. Make sure to book a table in advance, so you can get one of the four special tables on a small terrace with the perfect sunset view. The food is superb and the service is amazing!



Fort Nassau Restaurant Curacao


Mosa Cana


Mosa Cana is a tapas-style restaurant in Willemstad. It is great for a romantic dinner in an upbeat atmosphere since you will be sharing all the dishes. The food tastes amazing and there is something for everyone on the menu.



Mosa Cana Willemstad


Bahia Lagun


Bahia Lagun is a small restaurant located right above the famous Playa Lagun beach. The restaurant has an amazing view of the sunset and the food is not only great but also relatively cheap in comparison to the rest of the island. During the day, you might see an iguana or a chicken storming the restaurant, which is always a blast!



Bahia Restaurant Playa Lagun


De Buurvrouw


De Buurvrouw is a bit off the beaten track, located on the Weg naar Westpunt. The restaurant serves amazing steaks and fish as well as fine wine. It is built like a huge hut and decorated with cute fairy lights on the outside. The staff is super friendly and the food tastes great.




Mood Beach


Mood Beach is a bohemian-style restaurant located right on Mambo Beach. The decor of the restaurant is chic and the food has a taste of luxury. The food and the drinks were quite pricey in comparison to other places, but the romantic atmosphere made it still worth the visit.



mood beach curacao


Saint Tropez Ocean Club


One of our favorite lunch restaurants is the Saint Tropez Ocean Club in Willemstad. You can sit right by the water and enjoy great food in a nice luxurious atmosphere. However, we only recommend this place for breakfast and lunch. During the evening, it turns into a bit of a party place and the relaxed atmosphere is gone.



Saint Tropez Ocean Club


Playa Forti


For authentic seafood, our favorite restaurant was Playa Fort in Playa Forti. We ate some great seafood stew and enjoyed a marvelous view of the ocean in the background.



Seafood platter in Playa Forti Curacao


Bij Blauw


Bij Blauw is another one of my favorite restaurants in Willemstad. It is also located right on the water and decorated in boho style. They serve exquisite food all day and the staff is super friendly.



Bijblauw Curacao



Origami


Origami is our favorite Sushi-restaurant on the island. Mondays and Thursdays you can enjoy all-you-can-eat sushi. Upon request, they will fill you up an entire wooden boat with special rolls for an amazing price.




Sushi at Origami Curacao





Is Curacao a safe place to travel?


This is one of the most frequently asked questions about Curacao. I would rate it as a pretty safe place to visit, however, you do need to proceed with some caution. It is not recommended to wander around alone at night or to leave your things unattended.


Certain areas on the island are very much haunted by criminality and should therefore be avoided. Most touristic areas are in my opinion safe to visit and I have not ever felt unsafe during my travels.