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Thinking of planning a tropical vacation for 2019? Curacao is a tropical Caribbean paradise: out of the path of hurricanes, with more than 300 days of sunshine, a capital city named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a vibrant culture. For your next vacation, look no further than the wonderful things to do in Curacao and relax in the Caribbean lifestyle.
I had the opportunity to spend about 2 weeks in Curacao last year while working on a project for my non-profit. During that time I got to explore and meet the warm, friendly locals. Here are some of the amazing things they showed me that I am sure you will enjoy.
11 Best Things to Do in Curacao
- 1 1. Explore downtown Willemstad
- 2 2. Take a guided paddle boarding tour through a mangrove
- 3 3. Visit a private Island
- 4 4. Hato Caves
- 5 5. Hike at Christoffelpark
- 6 6. Swim with dolphins
- 7 7. Visit the Aquarium
- 8 8. Shete Boka National Park
- 9 9. Snorkeling Tours
- 10 10. Scuba Diving
- 11 11. Beaches!
- 12 More to Explore
1. Explore downtown Willemstad
Willemstad has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. From the historic bridge crossing the harbor to the brightly painted homes adorning the streets, you can wander the streets and enjoy a day of shopping and eating in Willemstad. You will undoubtedly walk across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge during your downtown exploration, and perhaps drive across the larger highway bridge that arches over the city like a rainbow.
If you are in the mood for some serious shopping, visit Renaissance Mall, located near the harbor and set partially inside an old fort.
2. Take a guided paddle boarding tour through a mangrove
There are eco tours offering opportunities to explore the mangroves along Curacao’s coastline while learning about the importance of mangroves to conservations efforts and marine ecosystems. Exercise, explore, and see a side of Curacao few people have a chance to see.
3. Visit a private Island
Klein Curacao, or “small Curacao” is a private island with incredible views. Located about 8 miles off the southeast coast of Curacao. For a day of adventuring as privates, or to take a secluded, romantic getaway, Klein Curacao provides the splendor and privacy of your own private island adventure. Bring your own snorkel gear to explore the shipwreck and also swim with sea turtles in the crystal clear waters.
4. Hato Caves
For those who enjoy exploring caves, or if you have children who read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, then the Hato caves, filled with limestone formations, romantic pools, stalagmites and stalactites, are a perfect destination. Explore the lighted walkway through the cases and enjoy the beauty of Nature underground. As the Hato Caves are only two minutes from the airport, this is also a good activity for a couple hours before boarding your flight home.
5. Hike at Christoffelpark
Christoffelpark offers 8 different hiking trails of varying intensities and distances. This natural park, located on the wild northwest coast, offers breathtaking views off the cliffs into the sea and through lush forest. For those who love hiking, Christoffelpark is a must-do. For the particularly adventurous, rise early for a sunrise hike up Christoffelpark Mountain and enjoy the break taking views from the top before the heat of the day becomes too intense.
6. Swim with dolphins
Although this is a common activity in tropical locations, swimming with the dolphins in the ecologically friendly setting is a unique opportunity for nature lovers of all ages in Curacao. Join a half-day tour for the full experience.
7. Visit the Aquarium
The aquarium in Curacao features some of the Caribbean’s many natural wildlife species. The semi-submerged submarine feature allows you to see sharks, turtles and more up close. This is like a mini sea-world, with impressive offerings on this small island.
8. Shete Boka National Park
Located just west of Christoffelpark, Shete Boka National Park offers access to the rocks and cliffs of the wild northern coast and extends to the western most tip. We took a slightly harrowing walk along the cliff top to a nearly deserted gorgeous surfing beach.
You can also take some time in the early morning or evening, out of the heat of the day, to explore this beautiful part of Curacao. There are also full and have day tours available to take you to Shete Boka.
9. Snorkeling Tours
Of course one of the first things you think of in the Caribbean Curacao. You have all types of options depending on your preference: half day and full day tours, with or without beverages, sunset tours, and turtle swim snorkeling tours, etc. You can also bring your own gear and explore the reefs and shipwrecks near the shore. The Hilton Curacao on the south coast is one good place to bring your snorkel gear and explore the ship that was sunk there specifically to be a dive-training site.
10. Scuba Diving
Curacao has a variety of dive sites. There are several shipwrecks in the area as well a dive sites close to shore and rich coral gardens, making Curacao a diver’s dream location. This is the one item on the list I didn’t try myself. Please let me know if you go scuba diving and how it was!
Of course, Curacao is known for its beautiful tropical beaches. As a Caribbean island destination, probably the single biggest draw for Curacao. While you can find a beach almost anywhere you are in Curacao, here are four that are especially beautiful beaches I enjoyed along the west coast:
· Playa Kalki
Close to the western-most point of Curacao, you reach Playa Kalki with its turquoise waters and rolling surf. There is an excellent beach restaurant, as well as great snorkeling. This is a good beach to combine with a visit to the Shete Boka National Park.
Watamula is the beach on the wild west point, where the surf is rougher and the views form the cliffs are magnificent. There is a blowhole here in the rocks and you can see the waves pushing up through the rock. You will see the great power of nature and also the peace of this westernmost point. Also good to do in combination with Shete Boka National Park or Christoffelpark.
· Kleine Knip
Klein Knip is a tiny beach that has the most beautiful turquoise water. Relax under the grass-thatched cabanas, rent chairs, or go snorkeling.
· Cas Abao Beach
Located on the west coast about 30 minutes from Willemstad, this beach is what you think of as Caribbean paradise: white sands, turquoise waters, and grass-roofed beach huts for lounging. There are restaurants nearby so you can enjoy here for the day.
More to Explore
As you can see, you can spend days moving from one beautiful beach to the next around Curacao. There are also hiking trails and nature preserves, snorkeling, scuba, dolphin swims, and even caves! With its rich cultural heritage and prominence in trade and communication in centuries past, you can enjoy a carefree vacation while also absorbing the magnificent history of the Caribbean.
I hope we’ll meet in Curacao!
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