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12 Best Curacao Tourist Attractions

Handelskade waterfront; © Curacao Tourism Board
One of the most famous Curacao attractions is the capital city of Willemstad. Our day-long walk through the city center showed why UNESCO chose it as a cultural heritage of the world.

Cruise visitors to Curacao will find that Willemstad offers more than enough to see and do in one visit. A walk through the city reveals great historical places, monuments and architecture.

But the island has other fulfilling tourist attractions. Tours around the island include the HATO caves and more historical landmarks.

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

1)More About Willemstad


Willemstad has more than 750 historical buildings with many of them along or near the famously colorful Handelskade waterfront.

St. Anna Bay divides the city into two major districts — Punda on the east and Otrobanda on the west. Visitors will enjoy the Queen Emma Bridge, a swinging pontoon bridge that connects the two districts over the canal. Like many visitors, we especially liked sitting at the outdoor restaurants along the canal and watching the bridge open and close for boat traffic.

A highlight of Punda is Fort Amsterdam, built by the Dutch after they captured the island from Spain in 1634.

It now serves as the Government seat of the Netherlands Antilles. Unlike the orderly grid of Punda, Otrobanda is filled with twisting streets and alleyways, many shops and restaurants and a variety of colorful and historic buildings.

It is here In the 18th and19th centuries that free blacks began to migrate to the city and form its first working class neighborhood and urban center.

© Curaçao Tourist Board

2) Curacao Sea Aquarium


Located on the oceanfront at Bapor Kibra, the aquarium is an ocean water system because of seawater pumped continuously into it.

Visitors can snorkel or dive with stingray, turtles, fish and sharks among the 400 species at the facility.

Other highlights include feeding shows, a Touch Tank and video presentations.

3) Dolphin Academy


Visitors experience dolphins in six different programs at Dolphin Academy in Willemstad.

Dolphin Encounter allows them to stand on a platform in the water about waist deep, learn about the dolphins and have moderate contact with them. In Dolphin Swim, participants can swim next to dolphins and pet them.

For Dorsal Ride, two dolphins will pick up swimmers and give them rides by holding on to their dorsal fins.

In Dolphin Snorkel and Dolphin Open Water Dive, participants will dive on a reef with the dolphins. Dolphin Academy teaches participants about being a dolphin trainer.


4) Beaches


The island has 17 beaches, most of which are located on the southwestern coast. Note that some charge admission for access. There are no good beaches within walking distance of the cruise port.

Curaçao's longest and whitest beach is on Klein Curaçao, an uninhabited island eight miles off the southeast coast. Kenepa is one of the most popular beaches because of its two coves.

A popular choice for families is Porto Marie, which is about 18 miles or 30 kilometers from the cruise port.

5) Golf


Vacationers will find two 18-hole and one nine-hole golf courses. Curacao Golf & Squash Club is the nine hole course; phone: +(5999) 737-3590. Blue Bay has an 18-hole golf course and resort; phone: +(5999) 868-1755. Hyatt Regency has an 18-hole Pete Dye-designed championship golf course; phone: +(5999) 840-688.

6) Ostrich Farm


The Curacao Ostrich Farm is one of the largest Ostrich farms outside of Africa. Visitors can see more than 600 animals, learn about their habits, hold an egg, pet chicks and paint Ostrich eggs. The farm's restaurant specializes in African food.

7) Hato Caves


The Hato cave covers 4,900 square meters and has limestone formations, pools, waterfalls and a Madonna statue.

It also has a colony of long nose fruit bats. The caves are open seven days a week and have tours on the hour starting at 10 a.m. and going until 4 p.m.

8) Underwater Marine Park


Among the snorkeling opportunities around the island is the Curacao Underwater Marine Park, which extends 12 miles along the southern coastline.

Views include shipwrecks, expanses of hard and soft coral, and massive numbers of fish.

Curacao scuba diving
The island is popular with scuba divers. © Curacao Tourism Board

9) Scuba Diving


Curacao boasts 40 different dive areas with 65 dive sites including plane wrecks and a sunken tug boat.

Barracuda Point is a chance to meet curious barracuda. Playa Piskado, Playa Kalki, Jan Thiel and Kokomo Beach Curacao beaches are popular with divers. Caracasbaai beach also is often used as an access point.

10) Christoffel Park


Christoffel Park is the largest national park of Curacao and is home to wild orchids, the Palabora, the rare native barn owl, Curacao White Tailed deer, and eight hiking trails including one to the top of Mt. Christoffel.

11) Shete Boka National Park


The park has 10 inlets where three species of turtles nest. Boka Tabla is the first inlet and has where large waves that crash against an underground cave.

12) Liqueur Factory


Visitors to Landhuis Chobolobo can watch and learn about the production of the island’s famous Blue Curacao liqueur.

Landhuis Chobolobo is a free-access country home located in Salina. Visitors can take a self-explanatory tour in the visitor's’ center and receive a free liquor tasting. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Attractions   

July 07, 2017

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