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We got the chance to visit Curaçao with family over the winter holiday this year. Curaçao is a Caribbean island just north of Venezuela and neighbor of Aruba and Bonaire. While the official language is Dutch, the local language is Papiamentu, a Spanish and Portuguese-based Creole language, and nearly everyone speaks English. The landscape was really interesting - very arid and brushy with huge cacti growing everywhere. You really only saw palm trees where they were planted in developed areas. We were also surprised that there is basically no agriculture there. The highlight was definitely the beaches; I've included a list of my recommendations from what we did below. We loved it and hope to go back someday!

General recommendations:

  • It was in the 80's the whole time we were there; I packed jeans "just in case" and didn't touch them. I'd recommend packing flowy dresses and cover-ups, bathing suits, a good beach hat, and a lightweight towel (our Turkish towels were great). Water shoes or water-friendly sandals like chacos were nice to have as well.

  • Renting a car is essential. It's not a very walkable place, and the best beaches are 30-50 minutes from Willemstad.

  • There are lots of small grocery/convenience stores, as well as larger modern ones (Carrefour has a lot of US and EU staples). Buy lots of sunscreen.

  • Most restaurants take reservations, and they fill up quickly.

  • Most beaches have chairs to rent for a small fee. Get to the beach early to get a chair with an umbrella. The ones we went to also had bathrooms and snack bars for lunch.

  • Highly recommend snorkeling! Most beaches have equipment available to rent. Lots of colorful fish. There are also many scuba diving opportunities.

  • I wouldn't necessarily recommend the week between Christmas and New Years to travel to Curaçao. Fireworks are VERY popular, and they were going off all week long at all hours of the day (and night). We didn't get a ton of sleep.

  • The rainy season is from October through January, and that means there is a lot of mosquitos. We also had a lot of no-see-um bites. Highly recommend bug spray with DEET. It rained a few times, but we mostly had nice weather.

  • I would recommend at least one day for a boat trip - see more below.

Klein Curaçao

This is our top recommendation from our trip to Curaçao. There are a few companies that offer a catamaran ride to the tiny island just east of Curaçao. The trip is around 2 hours each way - we didn't have any issues with seasickness, but if you're prone to it you may want to consider motion sickness medicine. The southwest side of the little island has a pristine white sand beach and gorgeous, crystal clear turquoise water. There is also an abandoned lighthouse and shipwreck there; the paths around the island were fun to explore. The beach/water was our favorite! Our boat also had a grilled lunch and open bar.

Aloe Vera Farm

This was one of the best things we did! We got a private tour of the farm, including where they grow the aloe and make their skincare products. It was really interesting and informative, and our tour guide also gave us some great recommendations for things to do around Curaçao. We also got to sample the aloe itself as well as some of their products, of which we purchased many things and I am now a loyal customer. I'm happy to say that they also sell their products online and can ship to the US. I can't recommend this enough!


Playa Kenepa Grandi (Grote Knip) 

This beach was the farthest one from Willemstad we visited (~50 minute drive). The beaches on the west side of the island are surrounded by nature and less built-up as compared to those closer to town. This one also had an amazing smoothie bar in the parking lot (bring your own rum!). We recommend packing a cooler with drinks and snacks.

Playa Porto Mari

We visited this beach twice because we liked it so much. Lots of space as well as a nice beach bar/restaurant for lunch.

The only other beach we visited was Daaibooi beach as a backup option, as the beach we wanted to visit that day was closed for New Years. It was small, busy, and had a few annoying features (jet skis for rent where people were swimming, etc.). I wouldn't recommend this one.

Food & Drink

Caleo Crudos y Parrilla

This was my favorite restaurant. The food was delicious and the setting was beautiful, right in the center of the Kura Hulanda villages. Highly recommend the sourdough bread and grilled cauliflower.

Fish & Joy

The cutest and most peaceful restaurant we went to. Small, delicious plates and a beautiful setting. This is located a bit outisde of Willemstad in a little cluster of really good restaurants.


The sister restaurant of Caleo Crudos y Parrilla. We only came here for drinks (which were amazing), but the food looked great, too!


Great food and great service. The atmosphere wasn't very beach-y, but I'd definitely recommend this one. We learned about the local "funchy fries" here - delicious!

Ceviche 91

We came here for the view, but the drinks and food were very good.

De Heeran @ Sea

A great little brunch place at a boutique hotel.


The only restaurant we went to that didn't take reservations. Really good Caribbean food, amazing service, and pretty setting.

I would also recommend Van Gogh Coffee, a really cute coffee shop near downtown Willemstad. We also went to Esty's for dinner and Brisa do Mar for lunch - they were perfectly fine but not my favorites. We also did the disillery tour and cocktail workshop at Landhuis Chobolobo distillery; if you have plenty of time and love blue curaçao drinks it may be worth it, however it was not a must-do in my opinion and was full of cruise ship tourists.


We didn't spend a lot of time in downtown Willemstad because it was extremely touristy, however it's worth taking a couple hours to walk around and see the pretty buildings. The Kura Hulanda villages was the best part, see below.

Kura Hulanda Villages

A tiny area of Willemstad with brightly colored buildings, quaint shops, and restaurants. There is a museum there too that we didn't get a chance to visit. The surrounding streets are scattered with murals by local artists.

Our AirBnB

Having a beautiful home-base to come back to after a long day in the sun was amazing. Downtown Willemstad is quite loud and rowdy, so I would recommend booking a place a bit out of town if you're looking for a relaxing getaway.


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