Discover the top things to do on the colourful Caribbean island of Curaçao. The island offers visitors many opportunities to explore its rich culture and history; and to soak up the sun on one of the many pristine white sandy beaches. It is a popular diving destination with beautiful clear waters. There are many resorts to choose from. The main city, Willemstad is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

The port of call at the Caribbean Island of Curaçao, near Willemstad. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The port of call at the Caribbean Island of Curaçao, near Willemstad. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Colourful Architecture of Curaçao

The architecture of Curaçao is traditionally Dutch and is famous for its brightly coloured buildings. Legend has it that in 1917 the governor-general, Albert Kikkert, who suffered from migraines, ordered all of the buildings to be painted in bright colours to stop the sun’s glare bouncing off the white buildings.

Explore the Hato Caves

Explore the Hato Caves located about 30 minutes from Willemstad, Curaçao. Guided tours about the history and nature of the caves are offered most days, every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Find out more.

Explore the Hato Caves on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao, near Willemstad. Photo Credit: Caracao Hato Caves

Explore the Hato Caves on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao, near Willemstad. Photo Credit: Curaçao Hato Caves

Discover Willemstad an UNESCO World Heritage site

Historic Willemstad, the harbour and its Inner City became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. It features colourful distinct Dutch Colonial architecture.

Fort Amsterdam

Fort Amsterdam, built in 1634, is located in the Punda district. It is now the Governor’s Palace and has been used as a prison, storage depot and as housing for government officials including governors.

Fort Amsterdam UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Fort Amsterdam UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Colourful streets of UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Colourful streets of UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Stroll across the Queen Emma Pontoon swing bridge

Queen Emma Pontoon swing bridge connects Willemstad’s two districts of Otrobanda and Punda.

Colourful buildings and Queen Emma Pontoon swing bridge at UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Colourful buildings and Queen Emma Pontoon swing bridge at UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Eat at an outdoor cafe

Outdoor cafes and historic, colourful 18th century buildings line the waterfront of Punda, in an area called Handelskade. Here you can sit along Santa Anna Bay and watch ships pass through the pedestrian only Queen Emma Pontoon swing bridge to the harbour.

Colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Wander past the floating market

The floating market is located on the north end of the of the waterfront. Vendors come by small fishing boats from Venezuela, travelling five hours each day, to sell their fruits and fish. Please check if this market is still operating. The Venezuelan government sometimes puts bans on all air and sea travel to the islands of Curacao, Bonair and Aruba to prevent smuggling of Venezuelan goods.

The floating market at the colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

The floating market at the colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao.  Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The floating market at the colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Shop at the markets and Rif Fort

The Rif Fort, built around 1828, is located in Otrabanda near the Renaissance Hotel and at the entrance of St. Anna Bay. The fort is now used to house a shopping mall.

The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Colourful artwork at the waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. The waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Colourful artwork at the waterfront market at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Taste unique Blue Curaçao liqueur

Blue Curaçao liqueur is made from the dried peel of the “Laraha” orange. This orange can only be found on Curaçao. Learn more about the distillery.

Visit an Ostrich Farm

At the Ostrich Farm, you will be able to observe and learn about these giant birds. There is an opportunity to feed an ostrich and also ride one.

Tour the Aloe Vera Plantation

Visit the Aloe Vera Plantation Curaloe and find out about the production process.

Explore Shete Boka National Park

Watch the surf crash along the rocky coastline of Shete Boka National Park. Three species of turtles nest here.

Quick Facts:

  • Curaçao is about 60 km (37 miles) from Venezuela, South America.
  • The Dutch took Curaçao from Spain in 1634.
  • Dutch, Spanish, and English, as well as a local Creole dialect Papiamentu, is spoken on the island.
  • The wood of of the Lignum Vitae, commonly known as the Ironwood tree was used to make Colonial cannon balls.
The bark of the Lignum Vitae also commonly known as the Ironwood tree. The wood of this tree was used to make Colonial cannon balls. This tree is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

The bark of the Lignum Vitae also commonly known as the Ironwood tree. The wood of this tree was used to make Colonial cannon balls. This tree is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©

Getting there

Situated in the Leeward Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, Curaçao is part of a group of three islands known as the ABC islands, which also include Aruba and Bonaire. The islands belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and sit just off the north coast of South America, about 60 km (37 miles) from Venezuela.

Many airlines fly from North America and Europe to the island. The island is also a popular stop for many cruise lines. We visited Curaçao when we travelled on Holland America Cruise Line on our way to the Panama Canal.

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