Willemstad, Curacao Photo by Gail Frederick via Flickr Creative Commons

Curaçao is surrounded by warm water and has many beaches near the capital of Willemstad providing plenty of things to do. Some of them offer water sports, including wakeboarding and sea kayaking, while the accessibility of coral reefs and wrecks along with clear water and reasonable prices make scuba diving particularly attractive.

Boat excursions run direct from the harbor in Willemstad aboard modern vessels or authentic clipper ships. Some operators also feature fishing excursions, although prices are steep and stocks limited. Most activities are accessible and easy to get to for the average tourist, as Curaçao is not large.

Curaçao scuba diving is some of the best in the region, with warm, clear water year round, good visibility, and lots of enticing things to see under the waves, including extensive sponges and sea anemones. Much of the coast is protected, including the huge Curaçao Underwater Marine Park in the south and Banda Abou National Park in the north. Ocean Encounters offers trips to the east coast to see the wreck of the Superior Producer and to the west for the Watamula and Mushroom Forest. Diveversity Blue Bay is perhaps the best operator for PADI courses if you’re looking to get certified.

Curaçao has more than three dozen beaches, from popular family escapes with calm water for swimming near Willemstad, to secluded coves for a romantic getaway in the north. The south has the best beaches, while the north coast is rockier and less accessible. One of the most popular beaches is Mambo Beach, just east of Willemstad and good for bathing, swimming, and nightlife. It is also known as Seaquarium Beach for the popular Curaçao Aquarium. Blauwbaai, to the north of Willemstad, has better swimming conditions, while Daaibooi (south) is less touristy and great for snorkeling. Westpunt, in the north, also has good beaches, including Playa Kalki and nearby Playa Lagun.

Boat excursions often include sightseeing, lunch, and a snorkel, and may take in nearby islands. The Bounty is a favorite, running Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Sarifundy Marina. Tours are operated by Bounty Adventures, who also operates a catamaran to nearby Klein Curaçao Island. For sailing rigger style, try the Insulinde, which goes from Handelskade (next to Queen Emma Bridge) and includes a full day of activities. Prices are reasonable for a day on the water.

The fishing is not as good here as perhaps some of the other popular Caribbean destinations on account of limited stock through overfishing. However, if you have deep pockets, the continental shelf is nearby and deep-sea fishing charters head here daily. Be prepared to spend a lot though for a full or half-day trip. You can also fish nearer to the shore with the likes of Let’s Fish, who operates ‘catch and release’ trips.

Exploring caves is a favorite pastime on Curaçao. The coral and limestone Hato Caves in the north of the island are especially impressive, carved out under the sea. They are located near the airport and tours run regularly from Willemstad. Highlights include stalactites, stalagmites, a waterfall and fruit bats. The caves in Christoffel National Park in the northwest are noted for their Arawak paintings.

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