The island of Curaçao, in the Southern Caribbean, is a little slice of paradise. Think jaw-dropping beaches, crystal clear waters, colourful architecture and gorgeous weather year-round. Need any more convincing?!
This winter, when I was in desperate need of vitamin sea, I booked an impromptu trip to Curaçao and couldn’t have been more excited. I’d been having this Dutch Antilles island on my mind for a while and jumped on the occasion when Air Canada began a direct route from Montreal during the winter months. I packed my bags and off I went with a definite intent on seeing the most I could of the island in a week. Though not very vast, the island has a lot to offer and I carefully planned a few activities to make sure I could see and do it all.
In 2015 Expedia.ca named Curaçao a must-visit destination for the year. When they heard about my trip, they asked me to share some of my favorite experiences. Here are my top things to do in Curaçao:
Curaçao boasts some spectacular beaches, mostly located on the island’s South Coast where the sand is pure white and the waters are crystal clear. Rent a car for the day and hop from pretty beach to pretty beach and you’ll be rewarded with some jaw-droppingly gorgeous coves. The waters are calm, clear and inviting and I bet you’ll be mesmerized by the colors of the ocean as the sun hits the waves.
Exploring Willemstad, the Historic capital
I’ve visited my share of cute Caribbean towns but I must admit none charmed me as much as Willemstad, Curaçao’s capital. Pretty, lively and colourful, this walkable city is a real gem. Dating from the 1600’s, the city center and its harbour entrance have been designated a UNESCO world heritage site, and history is palpable at every turn you take in the city’s narrow alleys. I spent a whole day wandering the streets of Punda and Otrobanda, crossing Sint Anne Bay on the Swinging Old Lady, the pontoon bridge connecting both neighborhoods. With plenty of restaurants, duty-free shops, art galleries, pretty architecture and historic landmarks, Willemstad is a wonderful port town to explore.
Christoffel National Park
Near Westpunt, on the island’s West part, is Christoffel National Park, almost 2000 hectares surrounding the island’s highest point, Christoffel Mountain. The park is ideal for hiking, offering eight trails and plenty of opportunities to spot flora and fauna during your visit. You can also tour old plantations, join a pick-up safari, or even camp there.
Marvel at the architecture
If you like the pastel-colored houses of Willemstad, head to Pietermaai district, right next door to Punda. I found the area to be less touristy than downtown, filled with cute small shops, boutique hotels and laid-back restaurants. The whole neighborhood is pleasantly shaded and Dutch colonial style is everywhere, making it my favorite area in town.
Snorkelling and diving
Curaçao is a diver’s paradise, with more than 40 diving sites around the island. As for snorkelling, most beaches on the West end give incredibly easy access to the coral reefs, so you won’t be needing to join an excursion to explore the amazing marine life. With near-perfect visibility, the island’s reputation in terms of excellent diving and snorkelling conditions is world-renown.
Day-trip to Klein Curaçao
No trip to Curaçao is complete without an outing to the deserted island of Klein Curaçao, some 40+ km away. Home to a gazillion hermit crabs and dinosaur-sized iguanas, the island makes for a wonderful day of playing Robinson Crusoé in an out-of-this-world décor. You can reach the island with the friendly folks at Miss Ann Boat Trips, who will organize hotel pick-up and drop-off, delicious breakfast and lunch buffets and a snorkelling excursion, and make sure you’re having the time of your life, which I did!
Look out for street art
You wouldn’t think to look for street art on a tropical island, right? Well, Curaçao happens to have a thriving street art scene! Plenty of murals have been painted by street artists in Otrobanda, amidst the city’s ultra-colored buildings. Local artist Garrick Marchena has painted some impressive murals in and around Willemstad, which are strikingly realistic. I spent an hour looking for this specific mural, which I found tucked away in a corner off the main streets. It was totally worth the search!
Curaçao is known for its great beach clubs, each having a more exotic name than the next. From chic Saint Tropez in Pietermaai to Zanzibar in Jan Thiel to Madero in Bapor Kibra, you’ll have the luxury of choice. They are the perfect places to go to be seen, have a drink or two, dance the night away or just to relax on a lounge chair and swim in alluring infinity pools.
I hope you enjoyed this post which was written in collaboration with Expedia.ca. Have you been to Curaçao? Would you recommend a trip to this Caribbean island?
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