Pack your sun lotion and favourite bikini, you are going to need them in Curacao. This bon bini island is famous for its tropical vibes, blue ocean, beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere. There is a don’t worry, don’t hurry mentality, so perfect for a break from work and ordinary life.
Curacao has a lot to offer beach lovers. All the big resorts and hotels have their own private beaches, but there is much more to discover. Just rent a car and explore all the different beaches the island has to offer.
- Playa Kalki
This beautiful beach with a very photogenic boardwalk is a hidden gem. It is a bit hard to find, I drove past it the first time, but it is worth the drive up to Westpunt. Playa Kalki is a good place for diving and snorkelling. The boardwalk will give you easy access to the underwater world. The sea is bluer than blue, so the tropical fishes are easy to spot. This is also a good location if you just want to relax in the sun. Playa Kalki has a small, but beautiful white beach.
- Playa PortoMari
PortoMari has colourful beach beds and a fine restaurant to get a bite to eat. You need to pay an entree fee (nafl. 5.00/3$ p.p.) but it is a small price to pay for a full day of relaxing in the sun. Children up to 12 years enter for free. There is a wooden platform in the water for diving-off and sunbathing.
- Playa Lagun
You’ll find this beach between to cliffs. It is an excellent place for snorkelling and turtle spotting. Playa Lagun is also known for its characteristic fisher boats. Highly instagrammable! There is a restaurant on top off the cliffs where you can have lunch or a cocktail, with a nice view of the Lagun.
- Blue Bay Beach
Blue Bay Beach is the private beach of the Blue Bay Resort. You need to pay an entrance fee (nafl. 15.00/9$ p.p.), but this beach is totally worth it. It’s including a beach bed. Blue Bay offers a nice change of scenery where you can unwind and, yet again, enjoy a day in the sun. What’s new 😉 One of my favourite things about Blue Bay are their delicious ice coffees. The Frappuccino with whipped cream is so good, yumm! Their burgers are also very delicious. Blue Bay has a nice golf course, if you ever want a break from lying on the beach the whole day.
- Jan Thiel Beach
Jan Thiel is one of the most famous places in Curacao. This beach is hot and happening. There is a lot to eat, hear and do: unplugged performances, parties, happy hours, etc. Enjoy a cool Amstel Bright or a fruity cocktail with your toes in the sand. The place to be at Jan Thiel is Zanzibar, but I will tell you more about that later on. The best place to rent a beach bed is Zest, they have comfortable pillows, love them! I always enjoy some softness when I’m lying around all day, reading and relaxing. Nice detail: this beach has a swimming pool. To be precise, Papagayo hotel has a beach that naturally runs into a swimming pool. But luckily this pool is open to anyone. The beds at Zest are right across from this pool, so you can understand why this is the place to be for me 😉 Shopping tip:
Make your own leather sandals at Angiola Ricci. Quality leather sandals custom made and fitted to your feet. You can also order a standard version online, but it is way more fun to make your own one-of-a-kind sandal.
- Kleine Knip & Grote Knip
My opinion: I don’t think they are incredibly special. In the weekends these beaches are crowded with locals. So if you want to visit them, do it during the week.
- Mambo Beach
Mambo Beach is not for me, at least not for sun bathing. It is much too crowded for my taste. It is a good place to go out for dinner, there is enough choice. You can pick a restaurant on the Mambo Boulevard or dine at the beach. Mambo Beach is also a good place to party. Toes in the sand and dance the night away.
Caribbean cuisine in Willemstad
The capital of Curacao is Willemstad. This city is most famous for its colourful colonial buildings (they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List!) and the Pontjesbrug, also known as the swinging old lady. This bridge is the only floating and turning wooden bridge in the world. It connects the two sides of Willemstad with each other, Punda and Otrobanda. The vibrant city centre is the place to be to do some shopping and go out for dinner.
My favourite restaurant in Willemstad is De Gouverneur, located in Otrobanda. You can enjoy the best of the Caribbean cuisine, in an impressive colonial building. Start your night out with a cocktail on the terrace and watch the twinkling lights of the Pontjesbrug. De Gouverneur makes a mean Pina Colada, so I was a very lucky girl. It was a great start of the evening. After the cocktails, me and my dinner companion took a seat on the charmingly lit courtyard of De Gourverneur. We started off with a surprising, but must try dish: Cuban banana soup. It might sound a bit strange, but it is delicious! The soup is creamy and has a nice spicy bite. As our main course we ordered some perfectly grilled fish, Caribbean style of course. De Gouverneur is a popular place within Willemstad and I can definitely understand why.
Zanzibar beach vibes
My first evening in Curacao I started my holiday the right way. Enjoying the sunset with an Amstel Bright and some warm nacho’s at Zanzibar, one of the most popular beach restaurants of Curacao, at Jan Thiel beach.
Zanzibar is hot and happening. Every Wednesday there is an acoustical performance, every Friday they organise afternoon drinks and every Saturday they have a happy hour. Check the agenda of Jan Thiel Beach for special parties and unplugged performances.
Dinner tip: Grilled rooster marinated in Jack Daniels, from Zanzibar’s own rotisserie.
Planning your stay
Curacao has a lot to offer, but too much choice can be difficult 😉 So where are you going to stay? My tip: don’t book through a travel agency. Why? They consider travel days as part of your holiday. So 10 days are really 8 days…this doesn’t give me the feeling that I’m getting the most out of my holidays.
But you can arrange it yourself, it is easy. Just book a cheap flight and your own stay in an Airbnb. I booked my stay in a private apartment at 5 minutes walking distance from Jan Thiel Beach. The apartment had its own kitchen, living room, air conditioning and yard. An ideal and fairly priced home base for your tropical getaway, close to one of the most popular beaches, close to a big grocery shop (AH) and close to a good car rental company. Be sure to thoroughly check out the reviews of the Airbnbs before you pick one.