The Getaway
What to Enjoy in Curacao

Just 40 miles north of Venezuela, between the islands of Aruba and Bonaire lies a little-known former Dutch territory called Curacao. Like many islands in the Caribbean, its history speaks of colonization, commerce, and trade. The island changed hands many items before stable Dutch rule in 1815. Today, Curacao is a nation where its turbulent history is displayed proudly, with brightly colored buildings. Its interaction with nearby neighbors resulted in cultural diversity and multilingualism. Its capital, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


01 Marshe Bieu

island of Curacao kievith / Getty Images

Known as the Old Market, Marshe Bieu in Punda, Willemstad is the place to experience authentic Curacaoan cuisine. It's a pitched-roof food court with picnic tables and benches that promote a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. There are tons of independently-operated kitchens that cook local foods on charcoal fires. Some visitors have compared it to a taste of home, which is probably why many working locals go there for lunch. Marshe Bieu is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 3 pm.


02 Klein Curacao

tropical Curacao CircleEyes / Getty Images

At just 1.7 square kilometers, Klein Curacao is an uninhabited island located southeast of the mainland in the Caribbean Sea. It was used to quarantine sick slaves that were transported by the Dutch West India Company from Africa to Curacao. Its first lighthouse was destroyed by a rare storm in 1877. It's currently a tourist attraction as well as a temporary stay for local fishermen.


03 Klein Knip Beach

beaches Curacao Onfokus / Getty Images

On the western side of the island, just 50 miles from Willemstad, is one of the most popular attractions: Klein Knip, a kid-friendly, free beach. Tourists and locals can snorkel and explore the turquoise waters or lay on the white, sandy beach and drift off. Experienced swimmers who can go the distance can use the beach to access the reef that's farther out. Those looking for a cool spot to eat can buy food or snacks from local vendors and relax under thatched cabanas.


04 Landhuis Chobolobo

liquor Curacao milanvirijevic / Getty Images

Many people have never heard of the isl. of Curacao, but they have heard of the blue liquor of the same name. The laraha is the descendant of the Seville orange, which the Spanish brought to the island in 1527. The flesh is considered inedible due to its bitter taste, but the aromatic oil extracted from the peel is the main ingredient in genuine Curacao liqueur. In 1896, Senior & Co, a Curacao-based company, started selling its own liqueur, and in 1947, it bought the Landhuis Chobolobo manor in Willemstad to use as a distillery. Senior & Co Curacao liqueur is the only one that can use word "genuine" on its label. The distillery is open for guided tours Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.


05 Queen Emma Bridge

attractions Curacao camacho9999 / Getty Images

Connecting Punda and Otrobanda, the Queen Emma Bridge was built across St. Ann's Bay in 1888. It's a 548-foot long pontoon bridge with hinges that allow it to open up for ocean-bound ships. From about 1901 until 1934, it was a toll bridge, and people who crossed without shoes were exempt from paying. It's been renovated several times since then, and in 1974, motorized traffic was halted.


06 Mikvé Israel-Emanuel

Emanuel Curacao onfilm / Getty Images

Consecrated in 1732, Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel is one of the world's oldest synagogues that's still active. Built by the descendants of Dutch-Portuguese Jews who came to Curacao in the seventeenth century, it was the first Jewish community in the New World. The floors of the synagogue are covered in sand, which symbolized the biblical 40-year journey of Jews wandering the desert and muffled the sounds of prayers and singing. Mikvé Israel-Emanuel's museum provides tours and events.


07 Christoffel National Park

national park Curacao CircleEyes / Getty Images

Christoffel park is the largest national park in Curacao, and it has a variety of endemic wildlife. There are eight trails for visitors to choose from that range from an easy stroll to challenging hikes. They include walking through the Plantation Savonet, checking out mahogany groves, and a trek through a Whitetail Deer sanctuary. Some additional activities, include cave excursions, occasional full moon walks, and safaris, depending on times available.


08 Curacao and Maritime Museums

museum Curacao Edgemore / Getty Images

In the Otrabanda region of Willemstad is the Curacao museum. The colonial-style building used to be a hospital. Founded in 1848, its exhibits include pre-Columbian Native artefacts as well as pre- and post-abolition exhibitions. With the arrival of the Spanish in 1499, Curacao became a hub for seafaring vessels. The Maritime Museum traces this history through posters and well-preserved renderings for visitors to see. Both museums are open for guided tours from Monday through Saturday, and tend to have varied schedules depending on cruise seasons.


09 Pietermaai District

district Curacao RenHo / Getty Images

Pietermaai District is often referred to as the “SoHo” of Curacao. It's a trendy design district that began as a residential area. It was said to be named after Dutch Captain Pieter de Meij who sailed to the island in the 1670’s. During the 18th and 19th centuries, wealthy merchants built it up, but during the late 20th century, it became unsafe and dilapidated, prompting residents to move. Today, most of the neglected buildings have been restored, and it has become a place for fine dining, nightlife, and entertainment.


10 Hato Caves

caves Curacao Lingbeek / Getty Images

Less than five minutes from Curacao's National Airport are the Hato Caves. For hundreds of thousands of years, the caves have been shaped and formed by nature. According to its drawings and petroglyphs, Amerindian Arawaks and Caiquetio Natives inhabited the caves as early as 1,500 years ago. More recently, it was used as a hiding place for runaway slaves and abolitionists. In 1991, the caves opened to the public and visitors can enjoy guided tours between 9 am and 4 pm.


11 Playa Lagun

Playa Lagun Beach Cliff Curacao, Lagun Beach Curacao a small island in the Caribbean. white tropical beach in Curacao

Nestled between cliffs in a serene cove, Playa Lagun is a hidden gem on Curacao's northwestern shore. This small, tranquil beach is a paradise for snorkelers of all levels, with calm, clear waters that are home to a rich variety of marine life. The beach's intimate setting makes it an ideal spot for families and those seeking a quiet retreat away from the more crowded beaches. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear on-site and may even spot sea turtles and colorful fish in the shallow waters, making Playa Lagun a delightful snorkeling destination.


12 Gallery Alma Blou

Gallery Alma Blou - View around Curacao a Caribbean Island

Gallery Alma Blou, located in the historic Landhuis Habaai, is a cultural treasure of Curacao, showcasing the island's vibrant art scene. As the largest and oldest gallery on the island, it offers a unique glimpse into the creative soul of Curacao. Visitors can immerse themselves in a world of contemporary art, featuring works from local and international artists. The gallery not only displays a diverse range of art forms but also hosts various cultural events and exhibitions, making it a dynamic hub for art enthusiasts and those looking to experience the rich artistic heritage of Curacao.


13 Cas Abao Beach

Cas Abao Beach Playa Cas Abao Caribbean island of Curacao, Playa Cas Abao in Curacao Caribbean tropical white beach with a blue turqouse colored ocean. Drone aerial view

Cas Abao Beach is a slice of paradise on Curacao's scenic coastline. Known for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, this beach is a haven for swimmers and snorkelers alike. The beach is fringed by lush greenery, offering a picturesque backdrop for a day of relaxation. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear to explore the vibrant marine life or simply unwind under the shade of a palapa, enjoying the serene beauty of this idyllic beach.


14 Playa PortoMari

Playa Porto Marie beach Curacao, white tropical beach with turqouse water ocean Caribbean sea, turtle in ocean

Playa PortoMari is a unique beach experience, offering more than just sunbathing and swimming. Known for its double reef, it provides an excellent opportunity for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts to explore the abundant marine life. The beach also serves as a starting point for several nature trails, perfect for those who love hiking or mountain biking. After an adventurous day, visitors can indulge in local and international cuisine at the beachside restaurant, making Playa PortoMari a versatile destination for all types of travelers.


15 Shete Boka National Park

Shete Boka national Park with crashing waves views around the small Caribbean island of Curacao

Shete Boka National Park is a rugged yet mesmerizing part of Curacao's natural landscape. Stretching for more than six miles along the island's north coast, the park features a series of coves and bays where the sea crashes dramatically against the rocky shoreline. It's a haven for nature lovers and photographers, offering stunning views and a chance to witness the raw power of nature. The park is also a nesting site for sea turtles, adding to its ecological significance. Visitors can explore various trails that lead to hidden coves, each offering a unique perspective of the island's dramatic coastal scenery. The most famous spot, Boka Tabla, allows visitors to feel the spray of the sea as waves thunder into an underground cavern. For those seeking a blend of adventure and natural beauty, Shete Boka National Park is an unmissable destination on Curacao's rugged coastline.


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