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Curaçao

Curaçao Travel Tips, Hotels, Attractions, Weather

Handelskade Curaçao
Handelskade waterfront in Willemstad. © Curaçao Tourism Board

Our Curaçao beach vacation gave us all kinds of travel tips on how to enjoy this southern Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela.

We decided to try Curaçao for something new and different after three trips to nearby Aruba. We found a quieter version of Aruba with plenty of historic and natural appeal.

Curaçao ranks 18th in total visits among Caribbean destinations, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Although more people visit the island by cruise than for overnight hotel vacations, the difference is smaller than the average island.

The island is a good choice for anyone who wants a warm and dry Caribbean beach vacation because of its location. It has a reputation of lying outside of the hurricane path, although it does face the possibility of heavy rains or a nearby hurricane on rare occasions. Even so, the odds of dry and hot weather are good for most months of the year.

Quick Travel Tips

  • Most hotels are near the capitol of Willemstad.
  • Willemstad is the most popular attraction on the island.
  • The best times to visit are January through September.

Where is Curacao?

Curaçao lies in the southwestern region of the Caribbean near the coast of Venezuela. It is one of the ABC islands that include Aruba and Bonaire. Willemstad, Curaçao, and Oranjestad, Aruba, are only 78 miles apart. Flight time is 30 minutes for anyone who wants to visit both.

The ABC islands also are part of a larger group of islands called the Netherlands Antilles. The others are Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (Dutch side).

Hotel and Resort Tips

Curaçao is long and narrow; it runs at an angle from northwest to southeast. Hotel and resort visitors fly into Curaçao International Airport at a midway point on the island. It is eight miles from the capital city of Willemstad.

Most of the hotels line the coast near Willemstad, which is a good thing because it is the best attraction on the island.

January through June is the most expensive time to book a hotel or resort because that period has the driest weather. The Caribbean hurricane season brings down prices from July through November. But it’s also the warmest time to visit.

The island is not known for major hotel and resort chains, even though the island attracts nearly a half million hotel and resort visitors every year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Curaçao Attractions

Curacao aquarium
Curaçao Sea Aquarium.
© Curaçao Tourism Board

Curaçao is best known for one major attraction—the capitol city of Willemstad. UNESCO named it a cultural heritage of the world.

A walk through the city reveals historical places, monuments and architecture with a strong Dutch influence. Tours around the island include the HATO caves and other natural and historical landmarks.

We loved having lunches and dinners at restaurants along the inner harbor by Queen Emma Bridge after shopping in the historic district.

Curaçao Sea Aquarium has 400 species from the ocean around Curaçao and offers dolphin encounters for visitors who want to get in the water with them. The separate Dolphin Academy has programs allowing visitors to swim, snorkel or dive with the dolphins. Atlantis Adventures has semi-submarine tours.

Most of the island’s 17 beaches are on the southwest coast along with most of the hotels and resorts. We found them nice, but not quite as good or commercialized as Aruba. The best is Klein Curaçao, which is an uninhabited island. Kenepa Beach is the most popular.

Other attractions include the Curaçao Ostrich Farm. Golfers have two 18-hole and one nine-hole courses.

Tourism / When to Go

Curaçao monthly temperatures
© 2022 Scott S. Bateman

Curaçao attracts about the same number of overnight vacationers each month with the most popular ones being December, March and April. The least popular months are September followed by, oddly enough, May.

September is usually the least popular month to visit the Caribbean because it is the peak of the annual hurricane season.

Overnight tourists require a passport if they are staying up to 30 days. Cruise visitors simply require their cruise ID card when leaving and returning to the ship.

Curaçao Weather

Curaçao monthly rainfall
Curaçao monthly rainfall. © 2022 Scott S. Bateman

The average high temperature ranges from 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 Celsius in January and February to 91 Fahrenheit in September. Temperatures are among the warmest in the Caribbean because of the island’s southern location.

Rainfall averages about one to two inches a month from January through September, according to the Meteorological Service of Netherland Antilles and Aruba. It averages between three and four inches from October through December.

Although the climate type is tropical like all of the islands, it has the benefit of cooling northeast trade winds. The average annual rainfall is among the lowest in the Caribbean at 22 inches.

Currency / Tipping

Currency is Netherlands Antillian guilders, although U.S. currency and major credit cards are widely accepted.

Tipping is usually 10 percent for restaurants and taxi drivers; hotels add a 12 percent service charge to bills. The hotel room tax is 7 percent.

Culture / Geography

The dominant language is Papiamento, a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English dialect, although English is widely spoken.

Curaçao is a Dutch dependency that attracts a large number of Dutch tourists.

The terrain is mostly hilly with volcanic interiors. The light annual rainfall makes for sparse vegetation. Like Aruba, the interior is desert-like with dry brush and few trees.

Sources / More information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
July 27, 2023

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