Curaçao is The Caribbean’s Buzziest New Destination – Here Are 15 Popular Ways to Enjoy

Curaçao is so much more than just an electric-blue liqueur. With candy-colored Dutch Caribbean architecture, an increasingly impressive foodie scene, pristine white sand beaches, and numerous reefs and wrecks to explore beneath the waves, Curaçao is quickly becoming the next must-visit destination for travelers headed to the Caribbean. Here’s how to best enjoy.

Go From Beach to Rugged Interior

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Many visitors to Curaçao visit the island’s beautiful beaches along the southern coast, but there is so much more to see in the more rugged corners of the island than just beaches! Head to the mountain lookout spots near Soto, eat local food at Jaanchie’s, and go hiking in Christoffel National Park for unforgettable local experiences that will take you from pristine beaches to rugged island interiors in just one day.

Visit Santa Martha Lookout

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Just beyond the beautiful beaches of Curaçao’s rugged western end lies treasures like the Santa Martha Lookout, offering breathtaking views of the nearby bay and hillsides. The scenery is remarkable whether you visit during the drier season or amidst lush greenery, and is a quick stop en route to must-see island beaches like Playa Lagun.

Sip Blue Curaçao

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

There’s no more famous export of Curaçao than Blue Curaçao, the sweet orange-flavored blue liquor that carries the island’s name. Of course, you’ll find beverages with Blue Curaçao on menus at restaurants around the island, but if you’re looking to really *experience* Blue Curaçao, make sure to head to Landhuis Chobolobo. This former historic home was purchased by Senior & Co. in 1947 and converted into the headquarters for the famous liquor.

Take a Walking Tour of Willemstad

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

I’ve been to a number of Caribbean capital cities – most of which are quite unremarkable – but Curaçao’s capital of Willemstad is truly a destination all its own. Make sure to add a walking tour through Willemstad with a local guide to your itinerary to experience this vibrant city at its fullest. 

Photograph Handelskade

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Willemstad is well known for its stunning and colorful architecture, though no part of Willemstad is more beautiful than Handelskade. This waterfront area on the Punda side of the city (the eastern side of the city) is the oldest portion of Willemstad, and is marked by incredibly beautiful and colorful architecture worth a million pictures and more. Handelskade architecture is as Dutch Caribbean as it comes, with buildings that look like they could line any Amsterdam canal, but in cheery shades of pink, yellow, blue, and green. While you’ll love finding the perfect angle for photos around Punda, some of the best photos of Handelskade are from the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.

Explore Curacao’s Foodie Destinations

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Curaçao is an unexpected paradise for food enthusiasts, offering a delightful fusion of local delicacies and an extensive selection of international cuisines. From Japanese to Mediterranean delights, the culinary scene on the island surprises and delights visitors, adding a cherry on top of their perfect trip. 

Dive Curacao’s Superior Producer Wreck

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

For certified divers looking for an impressive wreck diving experience, Curaçao is a gold mine. Even beginners can snorkel at the close-to-shore Tugboat wreck (one of the best things to do in Curacao). However, Curaçao’s most famous wreck, the Superior Producer, is known as being one of the best wrecks in the Caribbean for divers and is well worth an excursion!

Visit Playa Lagun

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Curaçao has several incredible white-sand beaches worth exploring, but a favorite hidden gem is Playa Lagun on the island’s southwest shore. Playa Lagun stands out for its unique, protected bay, laid-back atmosphere, and incredible snorkeling (and cliff diving!) potential. Dramatic cliffs protect this small cove beach from waves, making it the perfect beach spot for families looking for little to no waves for beginner swimmers.

Take a Catamaran Ride to Klein Curaçao

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Cruise on a catamaran from Willemstad to the tiny nearby island of Klein Curaçao for an unforgettable day of sailing, snorkeling, and relaxing on the island’s famous white sand beaches – it’s easily one of the most popular excursions on the island. 

Visit the Plasa Bieu for Local Eats

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Is there any better way to get to know a place than through its food? While Curaçao has more than its fair share of cute cafes, cutting-edge restaurants, and fun beach bars, Plasa Bieu, the Old Market in the heart of Willemstad, is a hands-down favorite. It is great for cheap eats and the freshest local favorites.

Visit a Historic Landhuis

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Curaçao is dotted with historic landhuizen, colorful and significant as the main houses of former plantations that once covered the island. While there used to be hundreds of these impressive houses, only about sixty remain today. Landhuis Chobolobo, the most famous, is now home to Blue Curaçao liquor, offering tours of the distillery and the historic property. Landhuis Knip, near the twin beaches, was the site of the 1795 slave revolt and now serves as a museum, while Landhuis Jan Kok, a former salt plantation, is an art gallery perfect for a cultural stop on your way to the beach.

Spot Stunning Street Art

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Tour the major attractions and some of the more hidden gems of Willemstad, including areas filled with street art and local favorite spots, all while learning more about Curaçao’s history, cuisine, and culture. Take just a few hours out of your day for a walking tour of Willemstad – it might just be one of your favorite parts of your trip.

Eat at Jaanchie’s

Image Credit: Jaanchie’s.

While you’re on the west end of the island, make sure to stop at the famous Jaanchie’s for some delicious local food. Located just north of Playa Kalki, it’s easily accessible if you’re visiting nearby beaches. Menu highlights include beef and goat stew (delicious!), rice and beans, and plantains.

Go Beach-Hopping

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

Curaçao’s best beaches are on the southern coast, particularly west of Willemstad. Cas Abou is a favorite with powdery sand, clear waters, and full amenities, making it a popular and accessible choice. Grote Knip offers a classic Caribbean experience with its pristine white sand and turquoise waters, while the nearby smaller Kleine Knip provides a quieter alternative with fewer amenities. Mambo Beach, close to Willemstad, is popular for its beachfront restaurants and shops but can get crowded when cruise ships dock.

Visit Playa Jeremi

Image Credit: The Island of Curaçao.

For a totally off-the-beaten-path beach escape in Curaçao, Playa Jeremi is the best bet. Just 4 minutes north of Playa Lagun, it’s an easy addition to any beach-hopping day on the island’s west end. Come prepared with everything you may need – this spot has no real beach amenities to speak of! – though you’ll love the quiet, calm waters and feel like you’ve found a slide of paradise all to yourself.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.