The island of Curaçao looks like a slice of Europe immersed in the extreme south of the Caribbean. You’ll find colorful colonial architecture, creative restaurants and a vibrant art scene, while on the streets you’ll hear a little Dutch, as well as Spanish, English and the Creole language of Papiamento. Home to just over 150,000 people, the tiny tropical nation may be small in size, but it boasts an array of outstanding attractions, including a picturesque port capital and stunning national parks, not to mention alluring Caribbean beaches. Curacao is also a great place for digital nomads.
You’ll come across attractive resorts all along the coast as well as boutique hotels and chic bohemian guesthouses in Willemstad.
Best Caribbean Hideaway: Baoase Luxury Resort
With a phrase like “luxury hotel” in your title, Baoase sets high expectations for Caribbean decadence. Given the gorgeous gardens, private beach, and upscale fusion restaurant, Baoase impresses even the most jaded traveler. Whether you book a room, suite, or villa, you can expect ample space, unique tropical-influenced design, and exceptional service. The resort’s lagoon is the perfect place to relax.
Best boutique hotel: BijBlauw
Perched by the sea, the BijBlauw is a small boutique hotel with 11 rooms that hits all the right notes. Rooms range in size from “Cosy Small” to “Extraordinary Large,” and all have king-size beds, sleek furnishings, and rainfall showers, while some have private terraces with enviable sea views. the Caribbean. If you need more space, BijBlauw also rents out several fully equipped apartments. There is a swimming pool and an excellent open restaurant with a partially open courtyard where you can enjoy mouth-watering seafood while watching the sunset.
Best Penny Pincher: Bed and Bike
One of the best hostels in the Caribbean, Bed and Bike is located in a former parliament building in the bustling Pietermaai district of Willemstad. The sunny terrace is a good place to start the day, and you can hop on a bike for a ride around town. In 2019, Bed and Bike opened a second location near the beach, and the pool, game room, and rooms with balconies add to the appeal.
There is a lot of variety in the culinary scene in Curacao. You’ll find some good options in the Pietermaai area of Willemstad, as well as resort restaurants, food shacks on the sand, and waterside eateries at tourist beaches.
Best Coffee: Number Ten
Situated on the lush grounds of the Landhuis Bloemhof cultural centre, this charming café provides the perfect setting to start your day – or for a relaxing lunch. Baristas brew some of the best coffee on the island and can snack on acai bowls, mushroom toast, or seared tuna salad while listening to birdsong on the outdoor tables.
Best Gastro Pub: Caña Bar & Kitchen
Whether you’re looking for a creative meal or quality cocktails, the bustling gastropub on Lombokstraat rarely disappoints. The menu mixes Latin and Caribbean fare with global accents in specialties like Moroccan fish stew tacos, soft-shell crab tempura buns, and baby back ribs with Sambal rum glaze. Tangy ceviches, good vegetarian options and imaginative cocktails help seal the deal.
Best tapas: fish and joy
Although the name sounds like the title of a satirical play about mermaids, this atmospherically lit bistro produces some of the best seafood on the island. The menu of small plates travels the globe, with flavors from Iberia (octopus with romesco sauce and fennel salad), Japanese (savory donuts stuffed with crab) and Latin American (grilled snapper with pico de gallo sauce). The wine selection is excellent (take a bottle, as choices by the glass are more limited) and you can dine outside in the candle-lit courtyard.
What to do
The Dutch Caribbean island has more than 35 beaches, and if you have a few days you can bask on the best of them. Top of the list Grote Knip, a picture-perfect stretch of snow-white sand and turquoise-blue water backed by a forested hillside.
When you need a break from the sun and the sea, spend some time exploring the historic center of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as snapping photos of the cheerfully painted colonial facades, you can wander the pedestrianized brick lanes, browse the shops, cafes, and galleries. It’s also worth a visit to Alma Blou, one of Willemstad’s oldest and largest galleries. It is located in an old Landuis Habaai plantation house on the outskirts of town.
The wooded hills of Curacao are a great place to exercise. You can look for birds and other wildlife while hike on one of the eight trails in Christoffel National Park. You’re unlikely to suffer from altitude sickness climbing Christoffel Mountain, but at 1,240 feet, Curacao’s highest point offers sublime views of the island’s verdant expanse. Next, head north to Shete Boka National Park and follow the trails along the coastline. You’ll pass scenic coves and walkways overlooking limestone cliffs hammered by the roaring waves.