Curaçao — Attractions
Not loaded with attractions, Curaçao still has enticing options for all types of visitor. The beaches are the main draw and can be found near to the capital, as well as in more secluded areas of the island, with Mambo Beach being the de facto day/night spot. The capital city itself is a hit, home to multicolored houses, harbor front forts, and a floating bridge. Getting around downtown is best done on foot, while buses and car rental are options for seeing more of the island.
Curaçao’s capital is a central focus of the island with everything built up around it. It resides on a pretty harbor and is noted for its waterfront houses and interesting shopping areas. Amsterdam Fort sits at the mouth of the harbor and is a major landmark, while the Floating Market and Queen Emma Bridge are also worth checking out. For the best views of the town, harbor, and sea, head for the towering Queen Juliana Bridge (by car), which links the east and west sides of the marina mouth.
Address: Willemstad, South Curaçao
This beach, noted both for its white sands, protected waters, facilities, and nightlife, is Curaçao’s most popular. Also known as Seaquarium Beach—with the Curaçao Sea Aquarium at its southern end—Mambo is dotted with palm trees and umbrellas, and the water here is nice and shallow. It is backed by several big hotels and resorts, including the Curaçao Resort Spa & Casino and the Kontiki Dive & Beach Resort, which also fronts onto nearby Kontiki Beach. Both get crowded so get up early if you want to secure a prime sunbathing spot.
Address: Bapor Kibra zone, Willemstad
Christoffel National Park
Curaçao’s largest protected region sits in the north and presides over lofty landscapes, a rich variety of flora and fauna, and Indian caves. Many plants and animals here cannot be found anywhere else on the island, including white tailed deer and wild orchids. Hiking trails are strewn across the area from easy strolling to a more intense hike up Mount Christoffel (recommended to do in early morning to avoid the heat). You can also drive there, but it pays to rent a car as the park is 40 minutes’ from Willemstad. The park is open daily and has a reasonable entry fee.
Address: Banda Abou, North Curaçao
Queen Emma Bridge
The 548-foot long ‘Swinging Old Lady’ is an old floating pontoon bridge that link the Point (Punda) and Other Side (Otrobanda) at the harbor mouth in Willemstad. The pedestrian-only walkway hails from the 1880’s and is continually open and closing to allow boats passage. If the bridge needs to be up for a while, a ferry service is available between the two points. It’s worth standing around to catch the bridge in action, with the Punda end powered, opened and hinged at the Otrobanda end.
Address: St. Annabaai Channel, Willemstad
Curaçao Ostrich Farm
Located on the northern side of the island, Curaçao Ostrich Farm makes a fun attraction for all. It’s quite large and visitors can walk through the ostrich pens and feed or ride the birds. You get to see everything from chicks to full grown birds on an open-sided safari tour, which leaves hourly from the Zambezi restaurant. The restaurant is noted for its Afrikaans menu, while also on site are souvenirs at the Art of Africa shop. The Ostrich Farm is open every day and is only about a 20 minute drive from Willemstad.
Address: St. Joris zone, Santa Catharin
Curaçao Sea Aquarium
Definitely one for the kids is this fun aquarium with dolphin show. It features the vaunted Dolphin Academy and, due to its proximity to Willemstad (just south) and the beach, is one of the go-to attractions for families rain or shine. The aquarium employs an open-water-system—pumping fresh seawater through—and comes with giant turtles and presentations. If you want to swim with the dolphins, be sure to book well in advance. When you’re done, the nearby Seaquarium Beach (also known as Mambo Beach) has many bars and eateries.
Address: Bapor Kibra zone, Willemstad
Playa Lagun, one of Curaçao’s more secluded bays, sits in the northwest of the island within the town of Lagun. The small bay is hemmed in by cliffs and has plenty of sand and a gentle slope, so it is a decent alternative to the busier shores near the capital. The snorkeling here is particularly good, with lots of marine life plus the Discover Diving Curaçao shop. Lagun Beach is about a 30-minute drive from Willemstad, but buses also run this route. Nearby is Christoffel National Park.
Address: Lagun, Northwest Curaçao
A major landmark in Curaçao for many years, Fort Amsterdam resides at Willemstad harbor (on the Punda, south side). The former site of the Netherlands Antilles’ seat has the Governor’s Palace, shops and eateries. It is photogenic and worth an hour or two of exploration. Across the water is the touristy Rif Fort while at the other end of the channel is Fort Nassau, on a hill.
Address: Plaza Piar, Willemstad