Bon Bini Curacao – Welcome to Curacao !

 

Curacao is a fascinating small island, a new discovery for many people. The capital Willemstad is a UNESCO heritage site with over 700 listed buildings. Willemstad is not just picturesque, it’s an interesting blend of culture, history and nightlife which visitors enjoy. The brightly painted 17th and 18th century houses are a Curacao trademark. The nightlife on Curacao is relaxed and friendly. Salsa is a way of life and, with a few rum punches, this could soon be a new passion! Due to the rich diversity of its culture, Curacao has a wide range of excellent restaurants, many different types of cuisine on offer.

Outside of the main town this delightful island has a rugged coastline with 38 small bays with a soft sand beach, which visitors of all ages can enjoy. Many will have activities on offer, not least the bright blue Caribbean Sea.  Perfect for relaxing, shore diving and snorkelling. The island also has a wilderness style National park for people who want to explore the natural world of Curacao. Curacao is peaceful and easy going – lots of different things to see and do – to keep everyone happy.

The island enjoys perfect weather, warm and sunny all year, with a cooling breeze that keeps you fresh and comfortable. No matter what kind of holiday you prefer, you can enjoy it to the full. When is a good time to go? Anytime you like !

Curacao has protected its natural world and its culture – and resisted over-development. There is no mass tourism, with our help, you can find, and enjoy all those places of interest and things to do, in your own time and your own pace. Most of the island outside the city is undeveloped and untouched.

The Caribbean Sea is known for its rich variety and abundance of marine life. Ocean conditions are perfect for water sports, scuba diving and snorkelling. The ocean is warm, clear and full of life – one of the best snorkelling and diving destinations in the world. The fantastic ocean conditions suit all levels of divers and snorkellers. The clear water gives snorkellers views of the undersea world they would not normally see. See the diving or snorkelling pages for more information about the islands wonderful marine world plus services we can offer you to enable you to enjoy it to the full. The ocean and reef around the island are legally protected – making Curacao one of the best diving and snorkelling sites in the world.

Curacao

Destination Travel on msnbc.com says : “ We analyzed piles of data, from U.S. State Department warnings on crime and the latest United Nations survey on global crime trends to the Mercer rankings of the world’s safest cities, and include the Dutch ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) on a list of the world’s safest places to travel”

 

We are the only UK travel specialist for Curacao with a wealth of local knowledge and many years’ experience on the island. We can answer any questions from personal experience and tailor-make a holiday to your requirements and wishes. We are regular visitors to the islands and have personally selected the accommodation we offer. We would be delighted to discuss any plans you have for a holiday in this special part of the world. We are the preferred tour operator for many resorts and have the best air fares, prices and offers. We offer a wide choice of services for you to get the very best from your holiday.

On small islands, services like accommodation, vehicle hire, excursions, diving etc, get booked very quickly. To avoid disappointment these should be booked in advance. Booking services with us, will save you money and they will be part of an ATOL protected holiday.

The Caribbean island of Curacao has a wonderful blend of interesting history, natural beauty, sociable nightlife and sports and activities. It has a lot to offer all visitors and you can enjoy all those places of interest and things to do at your own pace. Curacao is a fascinating island. The capital, Willemstad, a 17th. century port is a UNESCO world heritage site – with over 700 historically interesting buildings. Outside of the city, the quiet bays and beautiful beaches are wonderful places for you to enjoy the peace, the perfect weather and the wonderful Caribbean Sea. Due to its rich cultural heritage there is fantastic range of cuisine available at restaurants around the island. There are a number of entertainment venues featuring a variety of interesting musical styles. The nightlife on Curacao is typical Caribbean, relaxed, low key and friendly. There are no specific tourist areas and one of the pleasures is being able to ‘discover’ for yourself small restaurants, clubs and bars, many with live music – all of them have bags of atmosphere. Salsa is everywhere and might become a new passion!

Curacao is in the southern Caribbean Sea, 50 miles north of South America, 30 miles west of Bonaire and 50 miles east of Aruba. Curacao is 38 miles long by around 6 miles wide, largest of the three ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – and home to 150,000 people. Curacao shares its history and culture with its sisters, Bonaire and Aruba, but each island has developed in different ways. Aruba developed tourism, while Bonaire resisted almost all commercial development. Curacao combines elements of both these approaches and has a unique and exciting character of its own.

The Arawak Indians, from South America, were the first settlers. The Spanish arrived in 1499, Dutch claimed the island in 1634 and the British had control for a short while. Throughout the colonial period control of the island changed many times and was the target for pirate raids. Curacao has been a main trading centre of the Caribbean for many centuries, and people from around the world settled on the island, giving it a rich and diverse history and culture. The native language is a Creole dialect called Papiamento which is made up of elements of Dutch, Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, African languages and Arawak Indian. Islanders speak Spanish or Dutch, the official language – but everyone speaks English. The local people are friendly and helpful. The diversity of ethnicity, which Curacao proudly proclaims, gives the island its open, welcoming nature.

The weather is always warm and sunny with a steady breeze, keeping the air fresh, keeping you comfortable. The air temperature is almost always 29c (84f) there is very little seasonal variation. The rainy season is September to December, but annual rainfall is just 22 inches, and falls in short lived showers. Then it’s sunny and warm again. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are outside the hurricane belt. “Perfect” weather – all year – no matter what kind of holiday you prefer – you can enjoy it to the full.

The ocean along the south west coast has little or no currents. Calm, warm, clear water – ideal conditions for everyone wanting to enjoy the ocean. The steady breeze is perfect for kite surfers, windsurfers and sailors. There are a variety of water sports on offer at larger beaches, which will also have facilities like bars and restaurants. However, there are 38 gorgeously picturesque small coves along this coast, most of them with soft sand beach. These are very quiet, ideal for people who want to relax and enjoy the ocean in peace and quiet. Curacao has some super beaches.

The Caribbean Sea is famous for its abundance of colourful reef creatures. Curacao’s reef is a fringing reef just 25 metres from shore. Divers and snorkellers will see nearly every kind of colourful coral and a huge variety of marine creatures. Curacao is famous for shore diving and each shore diving site is ideal for snorkellers too. The reef and ocean are strictly protected, consequently the underwater habitat is in excellent condition, with a huge variety of species close to shore. The beautiful bays give easy access to the ocean and a great place for non-divers and divers (on a break) to relax. Curacao is one the easiest and most rewarding places to dive or snorkel in the world. Curacao, and its close neighbour Bonaire, are rated by U.K., U.S. and European dive magazines as two of the best diving destinations in the world.

Curaçao has a wide choice of activities and attractions to enjoy, sports on land and sea, natural attractions, plus tours and excursions. Most of the island is undeveloped, unspoilt and very peaceful – no mass tourism, no theme parks or fun fairs. With an independent spirit, and our guidance, you can discover Curacao at your own pace. The islands’ history and culture provide some fascinating sightseeing. Christoffel Park National park is a protected area, combining wilderness habitat and historical sites. The park is a big attraction for people who enjoy the natural world. You can also enjoy a range of sports activities: bird watching, bowling, mountain biking, fishing, golfing, hiking, jeep safaris, horse riding, paintballing, rock climbing, tennis, etc.

 

We have visited and personally selected our accommodation on Curacao. We offer accommodation all along the south west coast, a few metres from the Caribbean Sea. Our holidays are designed for “independently minded” people and we offer small resorts and hotels with character and personal service. The accommodation on Curacao is ideal, hotel rooms, apartments, studios and bungalows. There is a range of board options available at hotels and resorts, while apartments and studios give you the freedom to self-cater, if you wish. Usually there will be restaurants nearby, should self-catering lose its appeal. Some of our accommodation is on small resorts with amenities like swimming pools, dive centres and a restaurant (or two) on site. These are small resorts, nothing like the large European holiday resorts.

For many people our islands are “undiscovered” places – exciting new holiday destinations. We are a Caribbean holiday specialist with a wealth of local knowledge. We have many years’ experience of planning holidays to Curacao and we are regular visitors to the islands. We know the island well and can answer any questions from personal experience. We love talking about the islands and would be delighted to discuss any plans you have for a holiday in the Caribbean. Our local knowledge and expertise enables us to advise you and tailor-make a holiday to your requirements and wishes. We offer a wide range of services to ensure you get the very best from your holiday. We are the preferred tour operator for many resorts and have the best air fares, prices and offers.

Curacao has an arid climate, with very little rain, and this gives rise to a special kind of wildlife – adapted to this rather tough existence. The lack of – and recent resistance to – development has kept most of the countryside pristine – further encouraging wildlife – in particular many endangered species – on land and sea. Curacao provides some of the best opportunities for protecting diversity of native species in the Leeward Netherlands Antilles (now called the Dutch Caribbean). As a small island evolution has given rise to species of wildlife which are not found anywhere else in the world. But being close to South America – and in world terms not far from North America – it shares some species with the whole American continent. Some of these species were introduced by the very first settlers – the Arawak Indians, many hundreds of years ago.

The flora of Curacao comprises 541 indigenous and naturalised species, composed of South American, Central American and Caribbean characteristics. In addition to the indigenous species, 86 species are of foreign origin. These have been imported, accidentally or deliberately, and have now established themselves in the ecosystem. Visitors will see hibiscus, bright orange Flamboyants, Bougainvillea, and Oleanders of all colours, Century Plants, Rock sage, Acacia bushes, Aloe, bright orange flowers of the Yellow Sage and the pink-purple flowers of the Morning Glory growing wild and in cultivated private gardens all around the island. Several species of orchids and bromeliads are common. The Bromelia lasiantha, a ground growing plant well known for its pink flowers in a bright red heart. The leaves grow in a rosette and bear sharp thorns. Other bromeliads include the “Barba di kadushi” and the “teku di palu”, which grow in trees and cacti. Two species of orchids are widespread, the white Brassavola nodosa, which blooms mostly in December and January and the purple Myrmecophila humboldtia which blooms in July and August.

You will see many Divi Divi trees on Curacao – famously associated with the ABC islands. This very distinctive, small tree has bushy foliage and leans westwards – in the direction of the breeze, in exposed areas of the islands. There are several other type of tree on Curacao, coconut palm, sabal palms and manila, Aloe, Acacia and Wayaka.

There are hundreds of different species of cactus. The towering Kadushi is more like a tree with multiple trunks and thousands of spines. The Yatu is also a tall species – up to 10 metres – with fewer spines and is often used to make fences. Curacao has three species of columnar cacti: datu, kadushi and kadushi di pushi. All three produce flowers, each of which opens for only one night, during the dry season. Each flower must be pollinated from another plant and nectar-feeding bats are responsible for all of the pollination of datu and 90% of the pollination of kadushi. Kadushi flowers sometimes stay open for a few hours after sunrise and may be visited by hummingbirds. Without the bats, however, there would be very few cactus fruits and seeds, and the cacti could not reproduce. Precious nectar-feeding bats are very important in the pollination of many significant Curacao plants, and they depend on columnar cacti for their survival. Their diet is mainly cactus nectar. Without the cacti these bats could not survive on Curacao.

The very large cacti are probably several hundred years old. They are particularly important to wildlife because they start producing flowers early, often during the dry season, when few other food sources are available to birds, bats, iguanas and many species of insects such as bees. The flowers contain large amounts of nectar and the fruits are rich in water. The branches of the cacti are also filled with water, which is used by various animals including prikichi and the white-tailed deer. Curacaoans still use cacti for shade, and garden fences as well as making kadushi soup. traditionally cacti were used for everything from door and window frames to medicines. The prickly Pear Cactus, Turk’s Cap, and many others, some as small as a pebble, are prevalent all over the island.

Reptiles

Nine species of native reptiles are found on Curacao, seven of which are lizards, of these four are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles at species level. Two species of snakes can be found on Curacao, both completely harmless. The best known species of reptile on the island is the Green Iguana. The green-greyish animal sparks the imagination of many people – a primeval resonance in those almost prehistoric features. The iguana (“yuana”) is the king of Curacao reptiles, there are several species, in good numbers, on the island. You’ll see a lot on the island, light green or grey, lounging in the sun. Whiptail lizards can be seen on every trail sunning themselves. The slender brown ones (“lagadishi”) are the females and young, the larger blue green ones (“blu-blu”) the mature males of the same species. Whipsnakes are also a common sight but they are not poisonous or aggressive. Geckos live in the small, scrubby trees, feeding on mosquitoes. The male anole (“toteki” or “kaku”) has an impressive bright yellow and orange dewlap, which he fans to attract females and ward off attackers. One species of gecko, a translucent tan colour, with bulging black eyes and splayed limbs, has sucker feet, which allows it to scale walls. Locals call this species the “plakiplak” (“stickystick). All of these mentioned species are harmless.

Birds

Curacao is home to many species of colourful tropical birds. Of the 215 species recorded on Curacao, 57 are resident breeding species, many are migrants from North America, 19 are visitors from South America and 19 are seabirds. Most of the migrants are Neotropical migrants (especially warblers) from breeding grounds in North America. At least 16 subspecies have been noted from Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Eleven of these species breed on Curacao, and two are totally restricted to the island, namely the Brown-throated Parakeet and the Barn Owl. Curacao’s resident birdlife is unique, with species of West Indian origin mixed with those of South and North American origin.

The island has dozens of species of hummingbirds, bananaquits, orioles, the larger terns, herons, egrets, and flamingos that roost near ponds or in coastal areas. The trupial, a small, black bird with a bright orange underbelly and white swatches on its wings, is a very common sight on Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. The big surprise for us was they are not interested in any breadcrumbs on your table – they are after sugar. My first lesson in tropical bird species. The mockingbird, called chuchubi in Papiamentu, resembles the North American mockingbird, with a long white-grey tail and a grey back. Along the coast it is a delight to see the many pelicans swoop and dive, straight down like a dead weight into the ocean, looking for a meal. Other seabirds include several types of gulls and large, very beautiful, cormorants. Fourteen other birds are endemic to the Leeward Dutch Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and nearby Venezuelan islands, at subspecies level. On of my favourites is the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot – birds that also live on Bonaire and the Venezuelan islands of Margarita and La Blanquilla. The Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot has been introduced on Curacao, and increasing on Bonaire, from the dangerously low level of 800 birds. Other endangered breeding birds include the Barn Owl, the Caracara, the White-tailed Hawk, the Scaly-naped Pigeon and several species of tern. Curacao has five IBAs – the island’s international priority sites for bird conservation covering 16,280 hectares (including marine areas) which is around 24% of the land area.

Turtles

Four types of sea turtles are common around the coast- the Green Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Loggerhead and the Leatherback Turtle. The first three use a few select beaches, in Shete Boka Park, a protected wild life area, to lay their eggs. On the north west coast several inlets have become home to breeding sea turtles. These turtles are protected by the park system in Shete Boka Park, but you can make park ranger supervised visits . Klein Curacao, a small island off the south east coast, is the most important sea turtle nesting site, where endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on protected beaches.

Mammals

Curacao has 11 native breeds of mammals, the Curacao White-tailed Deer, the Cottontail, family of rabbits and hares, and several species of bats. The deer, the cotton-tail and four species of bats are endemic to the Dutch Antilles at the subspecies level, while the mouse Baiomys is endemic at species level. The white tailed deer is the largest mammal living on Curacao and they number around 250 individuals. The deer on Curacao is an endemic subspecies, different in appearance and in behaviour from the species on the main land. They are found in many parts of the island, but mostly in Christoffel National Park. Archaeologists believe that the deer was brought from South America to Curacao by its original inhabitants, the Arawaks. The deer and the bats are endangered species.

Christoffel Park

The hilly north west of the island, is the greenest part of the island. The various hills in the area mean that the area benefits from more rain than the rest of the island. This area is the focus for anyone who wants to explore, and enjoy, Curacao’s natural world. Almost 2000 hectares is designated as a protected park – the Christoffel National Park – a nature park that combines wilderness habitat and historical sites. There are several hills in the area – and the central feature of the park is Mount Christoffel – or Christoffelberg – rising 375 metres (1,227 feet) above the scenic scrubland of Curacao, the highest point on the island. The slopes of this and the other high points in the park provide a diversity of habitats for flora and fauna. The park highlights the island’s desert-like terrain and has protected a large variety of native wildlife and plants for over thirty yearsóit is the island’s largest nature reserve and a great place to discover Curacao’s unique flora and fauna. Christoffel park has guided tours (by jeep), cycling tracks and of course hiking trails.

Bats

Bats are now recognised as playing a key role in the world’s eco system. While birds and bees get the credit for pollinating flowers, plants and crops – bats play a greater role in pollination. Clearly they suffer from a bad press. In a world where the importance of bio-diversity is now recognised – successful pollination is obviously vital. On a tropical island, where water is scarce and survival for flora (and fauna) is already hard, pollination is tougher than usual. Bats are essential for the pollination of very important plants such as Datu and Kadushi cacti – while in turn the bats rely on those plants for their food. Eight species of bats live on Curacao – from the sub-order Microchiroptera – and fall into three ecological groups:

  • insectivorous bats eat flies, mosquitoes and moths.
  • nectar-feeding bats pollinating cacti, Calabash trees, fruit trees and flowers with their long tongue – vital to biodiversity on Curacao.
  • fishing bat ! The greater bulldog bat, the largest on the island, captures small fish on the surface of the water using echo-location. It also eats insects and other terrestrial animals like small crabs.

Most bats live in caves and crevices, although some may also use tree roosts. They do not attack people. They forage at night using their vision, smell, and their wonderful sonar system – echo-location, for prey such as mosquitoes. Bats constitute the largest native group of mammals by number of species for Curacao, but their distribution and numbers have been declining. Curacao now has just a few hundred individuals for the most common species; alarming figures which raise the issue of possible extinction. The fact that bats are vital to the flora of the island underlines the importance of bio-diversity. Recent work has shown the key role bats play in the terrestrial ecosystem as the only principal pollinators of columnar cacti, which are a key food source for many species during dry periods.

Nightlife

Curacao has a rich cultural diversity, due to its long history as a focal point of trade for the western Hemisphere. South American, Ameri-Indian, Creole, Chinese, European, Indian influences – and many more. There is no “mass tourism” – no “tourist areas”. The atmosphere on the island is relaxed and friendly – you can explore and enjoy the nightlife on Curacao to the full. Lots of entertainment and dining opportunities, for all tastes, around the island. This diverse culture produces a lot of variety. Blues and jazz are local favourites. The big bonus is that the music is “authentic” Caribbean, played by local musicians.

Curacao has a lively night life, mainly in and around Willemstad, but other places like Mambo Beach offer visitors entertainment outside the capital. Willemstad has a number of informal bars and clubs with live music, which stay open until the early hours. The fort area on the ocean, at the entrance to the quay in Willemstad, has a number of fine restaurants and clubs with live music. Many hotels and restaurants, in Willemstad and around the island, have live music. The nightlife is never frantic, always low key, often ad hoc which just adds to the pleasure. Walking around in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, making “surprise discoveries” of things to enjoy, places to eat and drink for yourself, is part of the excitement and pleasure. Many of our customers delight in telling us of clubs and bars they have found, off the beaten track.

Curacao has several casinos around the island. Teatro Luna Blou is a theatre that has various productions featuring, dance, music, drama etc. The Cinema, if you want to watch a film, has six screens, with shows every evening. SALSA is a way of life here and Curacao has a number of dance academies, workshops and dance halls, where instructors of an international standard, from all over the Caribbean, help dancers including beginners, improve their technique.

 

Eating Out

We always find dining on Curacao, interesting, exciting and enjoyable. Curacao has some superb restaurants, a wide variety of style and ambiance, something for all budgets and tastes. The island’s rich cosmopolitan culture is evident in the wide choice of cuisine on offer such as Krioyo (local food), Asian, Italian, Dutch and French cuisine – amongst others. Willemstad offers everything from fast food to the superb Gouverneur de Rouville. All around the island you will find some real gems, serving excellent food, in a variety of styles, and in some unique and interesting settings. From modern restaurants overlooking the ocean in Willemstad – to the impressive grace of the old colonial mansions – to small friendly cafes along the coast. It is hard to describe the enjoyment of eating authentic Caribbean food on a balmy evening, in the courtyard of an old colonial mansion, in a wonderfully informal atmosphere.

Most resorts and hotels, around the island have excellent restaurants, so you don’t have to go into town unless you want to. The resorts will have quieter, more informal restaurants, often with an ocean view, and welcome non-resident guests. They also have regular theme nights and these are great fun – not the typical “holiday barbecue” – these are the real deal. Very informal and very good value for money. It is not expensive to eat out on Curacao. Just like the UK, prices vary from the fast food to some luxurious restaurants. However, prices are very reasonable, much the same as the UK, but the food is a lot more interesting !

In Willemstad …….a few gems

The Avila Beach Hotel is an elegant and stylish hotel with a “nightlife” of its own. The hotel has two wonderful restaurants. The Belle Terrace is, without doubt, one of the most romantic places to eat in the Caribbean. The Blues Restaurant serves very good food and is a Jazz Club, a very popular nightspot. The last time we visited we were privileged to attend a concert by international artists, in the grounds of the hotel. The Avila is always worth checking when on Curacao, even if you are not staying there.

Museum Restaurant and the Jaipur (Indian) – in the courtyard of the Kura Hulanda Hotel – a first class hotel. The courtyard area is very picturesque and creates a wonderful “village” atmosphere. Every Thursday there is an Indian-Asian “all you can eat” buffet at the Jaipur. The quality of the food is excellent and at a reasonable price. Due to its popularity, we recommend you book.

Gouverneur De Rouville – Otrobanda Quayside, Willemstad. A “must”! Excellent food – lots of local dishes (you won’t know until you try !) wonderful atmosphere ñ great view of the Dutch colonial buildings, the colourful handelskade, on the Punda side of the city which are floodlit at night. Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage site, 700 listed buildings. You get a great view of some of those from the terrace. Hard to beat !

The Rif Fort area is a great setting and has several very good restaurants, clubs and bars within the old fort walls – some with wonderful views over the quay of the colourful handelskade buildings.

 

Outside Willemstad

Mambo Beach – a few miles south of Willemstad, on SeaQuarium beach is the famous Mambo Beach, a lively spot, with two bars and two very good restaurants – serving an international cuisine. Mambo Beach is busy and energetic. The bars play modern music each night and live bands most weekends. The atmosphere is in keeping with the island’s character, informal and relaxed.

Jan Thiel Bay – A little further down the coast from Mambo Beach – a beautiful bay – not a nightspot as such, but it does have a great restaurant – the Zanzibar Restaurant and Bar – and a wonderful atmosphere – great place to eat and drink any time of the day.
Spanish Water – a large lagoon – near Jan Thiel Bay – several excellent restaurants along the shoreline.

Landhuizen – Colonial Plantation Houses

Around the island there are a number old colonial mansions (“Landhuizen”). Some have been converted into art galleries, some museums and others into wonderful restaurants. These are beautiful buildings, with spacious dining rooms and courtyards. Two of the most famous are :
Landhuis Daniel on the Weg naar Westpunt and

Brakkeput Mei Mei – which is in an area called Spaanse water (Spanish Water) ñ a lagoon south east of Willemstad. Every Monday they have free salsa lessons. Well….. you are on holiday!

Even “busy” places on Curacao, like Mambo Beach, are not frantic and noisy, just popular. All the restaurants on Curacao are small – and so they can get booked very quickly. It is a particular pleasure exploring and discovering your own “little gem”, and it is safe and relatively easy to do that. But it would be wise to book at any Landhuis restaurant, the Gouverneur (for a terrace table) and Avila restaurants. It is not essential, but the Landhuis restaurants are in the countryside and it would be shame to travel and not get a table. The others are small, and very popular, and get booked very quickly. The nightlife on Curacao is refreshingly relaxed – a chance to enjoy a new style of nightlife and several cultures in a friendly atmosphere. Being able to relax means that you can enjoy this exciting new experience to the full.

Accommodation on Curacao

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The island of Curacao is in the southern Caribbean Sea, 50 miles north of South America, 30 miles west of Bonaire and 50 miles east of Aruba. Curacao has a unique character and fascinating heritage. The capital, Willemstad, a 17th. century port, is a UNESCO world heritage site – with over 700 historically interesting buildings. The west coast of Curacao is 37 miles of beautiful, pristine coastline with 38 secluded coves with wonderful sandy beaches. The beaches and bays are perfect for relaxing, usually shared with no more than a handful of people – ideal for shore diving and water sports.

Curacao’s south west coast faces the Caribbean Sea and the north east coast faces the Atlantic Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is known for its warm, clear water and abundance of colourful reef creatures. The open ocean coasts are often visited by larger ocean roaming creatures like sharks, dolphins and whales. Curacao shares the same wonderful ocean conditions as Bonaire. Tropical water temperature, superb visibility and an enormous diversity of marine life, around 390 species of fish and the greatest abundance of fish in the Tropical Western Atlantic. Curacao is world famous for its shore diving. Exceptionally easy ocean conditions and easy access to the ocean, make Curacao a perfect place for divers and snorkellers – in fact anyone who wants to enjoy the ocean. Curacao has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which you can enjoy the very best snorkelling and diving. The Curacao Marine Park, was established in 1983. The boundary is high water to 60 metres deep. Strict protection of the ocean and the reef has resulted in Curacao having some of the best reefs in the Caribbean.

Klein Curacao (boat dive) – Klein Curacao is a small island 7 miles south-east of Curacao. Divers, snorkellers and sun lovers will love this uninhabited, desert island. You can dive, swim, snorkel, or just relax on the soft white sand beach. Klein Curacao is known for its Turtle population and lots of other marine species.

Volcanic activity pushed this coral island out of the ocean and formed one of the most spectacular reefs in the Caribbean. Easy access to the warm, clear, calm ocean sounds like paradise. But that’s not the whole story. The diving on Curacao is exciting and rewarding, for divers of all capabilities. Curacao’s pristine coral reefs have some fantastic coral formations, wrecks and walls which can be dived day or night. Giant brain coral, Elkhorn coral, Fire Coral, Finger Coral, Pencil Coral, Pillar Coral, rare Black coral and other hard and soft corals. The coral forms caves, arches, overhangs and monumental formations in the shapes of pagodas or huge mushrooms, as in the Mushroom Forest, one of the worldís best dive sites, and the largest pillar formations in the Caribbean. The coral reef is decorated with beautiful sponges, gorgonians and sea fans. In places the sea bed has entire forests of brightly coloured sponges, giant barrel sponges, tube sponges, orange elephant ear sponges, purple stove pipe sponges and many others. Some sections of coast have a double reef system and the shelf is like an aquarium, over 100 species in less than 4m feet of water. Some coral is exposed at low water, the adventure starts in ankle deep water, even non-swimmers can enjoy the wonderful fish and coral formations.

Curacao has some wrecks in shallow water, which can be enjoyed by divers and snorkellers of all levels. The Superior Producer is the big one, for experienced divers, sitting upright in 30 metres of water. The Tug Boat a few metres off shore, and a few metres down, is the iconic Curacao wreck pictured everywhere. There are two other small tug boats, several other larger boat wrecks, an aeroplane wreck in 6 metres and two car pile ‘wrecks’. Lots of interesting debris can be found at various wreck sites. Old anchors, big propellers, anchor chains, canon etc. The car wrecks are there to create artificial reefs, some cars date back the to the 1940s, and these sites provide some unusual photo opportunities. Curacao has some nice walls with lush coverage due to the supply of nutrients from the open sea, which also encourages larger fish to visit. Walls start around 25 metres out, in 7 to 8 metres of water, dropping off to more than 90 metres. If this sounds “too easy” for experienced divers, sites like Hell’s Corner and Tunnel of Doom ought to pique your interest. There are some excellent drift dives and the opportunity to dive the Atlantic Ocean coast, the rugged east coast.

Large schools of colourful reef fish are everywhere. Keep an eye of the deep blue for larger species like manta rays, sharks, wahoo and tuna. You should spot, and may be joined, by a passing pod of dolphin. One of our clients encountered a hammerhead on Curacao and a whale shark has also been seen. So, you never know. Just a few of the species you will see: large Barracuda, Blue Tang, French Angelfish, Frogfish, Jacks, Nudibranchs, Southern Stingrays, Seahorses, Hawksbill/Loggerhead/Green Turtles, Squirrelfish, spotted and green Morays, Octopus, Parrotfish, Peacock Flounders, Peppermint Goby, Eagle Rays, Reef/Nurse Sharks, Sergeant Majors, Tarpon, Groupers, Yellowtail Snappers, Porcupine fish, Damselfish, Chromis, Triggerfish, Soldier fish, Cornet fish, Creole wrasse, Puffer fish and Trumpet fish. Coral reefs “wake up” at night, Octopus, Squid, Crabs and a whole new cast of characters are busy around the reef. Bioluminescent organisms are a beautiful spectacle. The conditions here provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the coral reef at night.

Curacao has a parallel fringing reef, very easy to navigate. The sandy shelf gently slopes to the reef and its excellent wall dives. The drop off is usually around 25 metres from shore – the length of a swimming pool – and very shallow, about 10 metres down. This small island has over 60 excellent dive sites, most within a few metres of the shore. Diving on Curacao is mainly from the shore ñ diving freedom at over 40 shore entry sites all of which are excellent snorkelling sites too. To make the most of that diving freedom our dive holiday itineraries include unlimited air. Yes – as much as you want. We also recommend hiring a vehicle, which we can arrange as part of your itinerary. You can often park within a few metres of the ocean, sit on the tailgate to get kitted up and walk into the ocean. It is as easy as that! With a huge number of shore diving sites to choose from, our “unlimited air” package and a vehicle you can dive when and where you like, 24/7, for as long as it is safe do so.

The south west side coast, where most diving takes place, has virtually no currents, 38 miles of beautiful bays with superb beaches, all excellent shore diving and snorkelling sites. Each site is clearly marked. Most of the accommodation we offer is along this coast. Curacao is only 38 miles by around 8 miles across. Wherever your accommodation is, you will always be close to a site and spoilt for choice. Almost every resort has facilities for divers, lockers, rinse tanks, refill stations, etc.

Photographers love the variety of features and marine life. The shallow water allows lots of natural light and the absence of serious currents makes the process a lot easier. There are many photographic specialists on island and some run photographic courses.

Snorkellers will enjoy the easy conditions, warm clear water and the lack of currents along the south west coast. The reef is close to shore in shallow water, with a wonderful variety of colourful tropical creatures and underwater features clearly visible from the surface. Some of the best snorkelling in the world. There are guided snorkel trips and snorkellers are welcome to join the dive boats.

Divers/snorkellers can go out on the dive boats, not a long trip, giving them access to a total of 60 sites. Although not essential, dive boats can be useful to access some secluded coves. Custom boats take small groups, usually around 6 – 8 divers and snorkellers, on the short ride to the sites, 2 or 3 times per day. At most sites there will be just you and a few (new) friends – very relaxed and comfortable. As these are small groups, availability is limited. Any diving you wish to do should be booked before your arrival on island.

The ocean visibility is an amazing 30 – 40 metres and the water temperature is a wonderful 28ºC – all year. Curacao has a dry climate, no rivers, so the ocean is clear of silt. There is little tidal variation and for almost the entire length of the south-west coast, there are no serious currents. Curacao’s air temperature is almost always 29ºC – with a cooling breeze – perfect weather all year. As a tropical island, there is no major seasonal change in the weather and Curacao is outside the hurricane belt. The island has around 22 inches of rain each year, falling in short-lived tropical storms, in the later part of the year. The weather rarely delays any diving – diving on Curacao is almost 365 days of the year. Divers will be comfortable in a 3mm shortie. The island has two decompression chambers, one of which is the largest in the Caribbean.

Diving Freedom is the culture on Curacao but that only means that you have that freedom if you choose. You are not “left on your own”. No one will follow you around, or tell you what to do, but if you need help and advice – just ask. Guides are available and boat dives are not expensive – and very easy way to go with a small group and have a guide along.

Curacao is ideal for families and groups juggling the wishes of divers and non-divers. There is a lot to do and lots of beaches, for doing nothing much. The weather and relaxed atmosphere are ideal for children. Dive sites are close to shore, you are not away for long, and you decide how long you will dive for. Good for families looking for something special – away from the commercialised tourist traps. The island has a lot of activities and Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a fascinating city. There is no mass tourism industry, but lots for non-divers to see and do. With a vehicle there is plenty to explore on the island.

We are an ATOL bonded, diving holiday specialist for Curacao. We work closely with the dive centres on Curacao who have everything divers and snorkellers might need. They offer boat diving, guided dives, night dives, equipment for sale or hire and instruction courses for all levels, including complete beginners and youngsters. Curacao a great place to learn or take a referral or refresher course. Shore diving means you don’t get thrown over the side with 20 other people!

We tailor-make holiday itineraries, which can include all your diving requirements, to ensure you get the best from your diving holiday. We know how the diving works and have prices lower than you would pay on island. Tell us what youíd like, and we will book your diving with our dive operator partner, at your accommodation, or nearby. On a small island services like diving, instruction courses, excursions, vehicle hire etc., get booked up quickly. It is important to reserve any services you may want for your holiday, before you arrive on Curacao.

Booking with us saves you money and ensures those services are available to you when you arrive on island, avoiding any disappointment. Those services then become part of your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.

Snorkelling

Curacao is a small tropical island in the Caribbean Sea – just 38 miles long by 6 miles – 38 miles of beautiful coastline with 38 beautiful coves and beaches. Curacao’s superb coral reef is a fringing reef, running the entire length of the island, very close to shore. Colourful and diverse marine life, “perfect weather” and warm, clear water – heaven for snorkellers. The comfortable ocean conditions make it a wonderful place for anyone that wants to enjoy the ocean. The reef and ocean are strictly protected by law and marine habitats are in excellent, healthy condition, with a huge variety of marine life in shallow water. The shallow depth of the reef and remarkably clear water, will give you a view of the underwater world you will not see in other places in the world. The fantastic condition of the ocean and reef, make Curacao one of the world’s best snorkelling sites.

Like neighbouring Bonaire, the ocean around Curacao has more species of fish, than anywhere else in the Western Atlantic. Over 300 species of fish, some new species, have been logged by researchers in the ocean around Curacao. You’ll see hundreds of colourful reef creatures far too numerous to mention – but some of the “favourites” we get asked about are: seahorses, frogfish, nurse sharks, rays, dolphins, hawksbill / leatherback / loggerhead and rare green turtles, southern stingrays, octopus, peacock flounders, blue tang, long jaw squirrelfish, princess parrotfish, and sergeant major fish, peppermint goby, tiger grouper, yellowtail snappers, red faced morays, spiny lobsters, barracuda, jacks, parrotfish, french angelfish and lots more. You’ll see hard and soft corals, sponges of all shapes, sizes and colours : fire coral, elkhorn, grooved brain coral, mustard hill coral, boulder star coral, blade fire coral, yellow pencil coral. Amongst other sponges: green finger sponges, giant orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges, lavender stove-pipe sponges mustard yellow tube sponges. When you book with us we will send you a specially commissioned fish card showing the marine life you can expect to see. It is impossible to do justice to Curacao’s underwater world in words. You’ll just have to come and explore it for yourself.

Nature’s Aquarium

The sandy, gently sloping sea bed, out to the reef, is a wonderful place for snorkellers to enjoy the amazing marine life. Over 100 species of fish, and many other forms of marine life, inhabit the shallow, crystal clear water from the shore to the reef – like an aquarium packed full of life. The calm water makes it very comfortable for snorkellers. The coral starts at low water mark – ankle deep. Coral formations and colourful fish (beautiful parrot fish etc.) can be seen in water as shallow as half a metre (2 feet). Even non-swimmers, can stand in the water, put on a mask and see the coral, colourful tropical fish, delicate sea fans, brightly coloured sponges etc.

The Reef

Curacao’s beautiful coral reef is around 25 to 30 metres from shore ñ about the length of a swimming pool. The ocean is usually calmer than the average swimming pool – and almost as warm. It is around 8 to 12 metres deep in crystal clear water and, with visibility up to 40 metres, snorkellers get an excellent view of the reef and its diverse, colourful marine life, its creatures and wrecks – in some of the easiest ocean conditions you will ever experience. The coral reef is a parallel fringing reef. It runs unbroken the length of this 37 mile long island and is easy to navigate. Light blue water one side ñ deep blue water the other ñ and very close to shore. You can snorkel pretty much wherever you can get into the water on Curacao.

The Sites

Curacao, like Bonaire, is famous for its numerous shore diving sites. Curacao has over 60 official dive sites – on a very small island – and is recognised as one of the best diving destinations in the world for its spectacular underwater world. 40 of those 60 sites are accessible straight from the shore. Diver’s don’t swim far and need easy access, so these shore diving sites are close to shore, with easy access to the ocean. All the shore entry sites are along the calm, south western coast. These sites will have special features or creatures – many have received awards and recommendations from dive magazines around the world – voted for by divers. They give divers a huge amount for freedom to dive without needing a dive boat. All this makes the shore dive sites perfect for snorkellers. They are clearly marked, on island and on maps, and show snorkellers the best places to snorkel up and down the coast. Snorkellers don’t have to “float and hope”. Curacao is a wonderful opportunity for snorkellers to enjoy some of the best underwater sites in the world – a rare treat. Snorkellers can join the divers in their family or group, at the same sites – and enjoy their holiday together. The accommodation we offer is along this south western coast – you won’t be far from the ocean and the wonderful snorkelling sites.

The Bays

Curacao has 38 very pretty, secluded bays or coves along the south western shoreline. Most sites can be reached from one of these beautiful bays. Some are very small and secluded, others are larger, with long beaches, snack bars, car parks and other facilities like showers. These bays are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the ocean. There is no mass tourism on Curacao and many of these small bays will be deserted or very quiet. They offer very easy access to the ocean, and with few other people around, you can do what you want in peace and quiet. The small size of Curacao means that you are never far from a great beach – and wonderful snorkelling. Good for groups and families, where some may want to enjoy the ocean and others just want to relax.

We recommend hiring a vehicle to give you the freedom to explore as you wish. Some sites are accessed from a beach – some are down a few steps from a dock. Some sites, as you would expect on a coral island can be a little rocky – but with so many to choose from there is more than enough to keep you happy. However, with a little foot protection these sites will not be a problem.

The reef is very close to shore so no need for lots of boat trips, but you might like to visit some of the harder-to-get-to bays – usually less than 15 minutes on a boat. There will be a dive operator at your resort or very close to your accommodation. Dive operators welcome snorkellers for a small fee – usually around $10. Alternatively you can take one day/half day boat trip excursions along the coast, all of them stop at one or other of these bays to give people a chance to snorkel. Always take a towel and your swimming gear. Even dives sites best accessed by boat are not in deep water and providing the ocean conditions allow, still suitable for snorkellers. Anytime you see “dive site” it will mean there is a very good chance you can snorkel it too. Snorkellers should take advice about ocean conditions and their abilities before tackling any of the “boat dive” sites, which sometimes have more challenging conditions.

Special Sites

Curacao has some world famous underwater sites – which are easy for snorkellers to enjoy.
The superb Mushroom Forest a remarkable sight – an extensive area of the sea floor is covered by coral – eroded around the base – making spectacular mushroom shaped coral formations. Rated by UK dive magazines as one of the top ten sites in the world.
The Tug Boat Wreck – close to shore in a protected bay, is overgrown with tube sponges and brain coral, the Tugboat is a perfect site for snorkellers. Look for the large blue Parrot Fish, and Yellow Tail Snappers.

Double Reef System – along the coast from the central area towards the north west of the island there is a double reef system. This are is often visited by marine biologists from around the world because of the unique habitat it provides to a large diversity of marine life, a huge number of creatures, coral features and large, colourful sponges. The double reef section is fascinating and provides many (nice) surprises.

People on Curacao will not pester you – that is the island culture – but that does not mean you are “left on your own”. No one will follow you around, or tell you what to do, but if you need help and advice – just ask. Guides are available and boat trips are not expensive – and very easy way to go with a small group and have a guide along. Be warned – the conditions are so easy many snorkellers take a try dive – then get the bug for diving!

The Ocean

Ocean conditions are perfect for snorkelling. The ocean water temperature is a wonderful 28ºc – almost every day of the year. Water visibility is up to 40 metres, which means snorkellers get a fantastic view of the whole underwater world. Curacao’s air temperature is almost always 29c – with a cooling breeze – perfect weather. The island is outside the hurricane belt. You can snorkel on Curacao almost every day of the year. For almost the entire length of the south-west coast there are little or no currents. You will not “drift” – up and down the coast ñ or out to sea. Exceptionally easy ocean conditions make Curacao perfect for swimmers, snorkellers, divers, in fact anyone who wants to enjoy the wonderful Caribbean Sea. As you approach the tips of the island, the open ocean has more affect, these areas will have some currents. Photographers love the macro life on Curacao as the sunshine provides excellent light in the clear shallow water. There are many photographic specialists – who also run courses – on the island. Cameras are available for hire.

Curacao Marine Park

The Curacao Marine Park, also known as the Curacao Underwater Park was established in 1983 on the south western coast of the island. The park covers the coast from the Avila hotel down to the south eastern tip of the island and includes some of Curacao’s finest reefs, some interesting wrecks and their debris. The seaward boundary is the 60-metre mark and on the shore the boundary is the high-water mark. The Park covers a total surface area of 600 hectares (1482 acres) of reef and 436 hectares (1077.4 acres) of inner bays.

If you want to take some boat trips, special courses or excursions, you should book in advance. Boat trips and excursions are in small groups and can get booked up. We recommend hiring a vehicle to visit various sites along the coast and explore the island. We have the best rates for vehicle hire and we have worked with a reliable hire company for over 10 years. Booking your on-island services with us is a little cheaper and we can include that into your ATOL protected holiday itinerary. We have worked closely with hotels, vehicle hire companies and dive centres on the island for many years.

Things To Do On Curacao

Curacao has a lot to offer visitors of all ages and tastes. There are sports and activities for visitors to enjoy, as well as opportunities to explore the island’s natural world and rich cultural heritage. Curacao has no theme parks or fun fairs – but there’s lots to see and do, especially if you appreciate your natural surroundings.  Curacao is off the beaten track for people from the UK and a new destination for most people from the UK – more interesting – more exciting. Curacao, like neighbouring Bonaire, has generally opposed commercial development to protect its character and natural habitats. A key feature of the Dutch Caribbean islands is being able to enjoy various activities – if you want – when you want – at your own pace and in your own time. Activities are offered in a friendly, individual way – no crowds – no regimented timetables.An exhilarating change from feeling like part of a tourist package. You will enjoy the activities and sights all the more – and hopefully tempted to try new things. Curacao has a very varied and interesting choice of activities to offer all its visitors.

Due the fabulous ocean conditions and the wonderful reef, close to shore, diving and snorkelling are the most popular activities on Curacao. The excellent reef and easy conditions make it one of the world’s best diving destinations. The proximity of the reef and the diving freedom means that you need not be away for long periods. Families and groups often have a problem keeping everyone happy. Most diving is from the shore, divers and snorkellers have the freedom to dive when they like, where they like and for as long as they like. This diving freedom and the variety of activities available, plus the ease of getting to those activities, means that Curacao has something special for both divers and non divers to enjoy. Please see the diving and snorkelling pages on the main island banner for more information.

Curacao is famous for its 38 picturesque coves with white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. These bays are dotted all along the sheltered south coast. The public beaches are free, easy to find, each beach has its own distinctive charm. Some beaches with more amenities make a small charge for parking/entry. These bays and beaches are very quiet – great for relaxing and doing nothing. They are also excellent snorkelling and shore diving sites. Divers and snorkellers can enjoy the reef just 25 metres from the beach where friends/partners are reading a book, sipping a rum punch. Please see sightseeing page for a short list of some the excellent bays and beaches.

Other ways of seeing under the water . . . .

Semi Submarine: an air-conditioned boat – marine life can be observed through glass walls.
Substation Curacao, a submarine descending to an extraordinary 1000 feet.

If you are not under the surface you must be on the surface !

Kayaking  very popular – lots of kayaks around the island for hire. The south west coast is calm, so it’s great fun. You can also enjoy the mangrove forest by kayak.
Kite Surfing & Windsurfing – the constant breeze is a gift for surfers – fast and fun – great conditions every day.
Boating and Sailing – as you’d expect, lots of opportunities to get onto the water. Charter a crewed boat, take a boat trip, or hire smaller craft yourself. The constant breeze makes sailing an exciting pleasure. Many boat trips are on small craft – 12 people – with drinks and food provided. They often stop at inaccessible bays so you can snorkel. These are usually a half day trip – and the afternoons are popular to see the sunsets from the ocean. The snorkelling is spectacular so boat trips that have a snorkel stop are highly recommended. Great fun. Always take your swimming /snorkelling stuff with you whenever you go on a boat. Klein Curacao is a small uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao and boat trips here often include meals, barbecues or picnics. Great diving and snorkelling but also a quiet and interesting day out.

Sports If you are not out and about on the water or under the water

Horse Riding – easy riding on nature trails with a guide. Suitable for less experienced riders.
Golf – great course on the low cliffs overlooking the ocean – you will need to swim for wayward tee shots !
Bird Watching – more than 168 bird species – most common native birds are the Trupial and the Cuchubi, the Caribbean mocking bird,
Ten Pin Bowling – Tropical Bowling Club 3000 has 10 lanes.
Indoor Karting – fast and furious – great fun
Tennis – very popular – lots of courts around the island.

If you wish to explore Curacao’s nature, the parks are a great place to hike and enjoy the natural surroundings. The parks are wilderness style – a natural habitat – which makes the walk around them interesting and exciting.

The most popular method for exploring the island is to hire a vehicle, something we tend to do as standard for divers and snorkellers. But the 4X4s are useful for exploring, in particular the more rugged parts of the island. You should always take a snorkel set ! (Divers take the usual gubbins). We can arrange for you to collect and return these at the airport – so you can have a vehicle for the whole time you are on Curacao. Alternatively you hire hire for part of the week and we’ll organise airport transfers. Scooters and motorcycles are also available for hire.

Cycling – the island is relatively flat and the parks have lots of marked trails. Lots of good quality bikes for hire.

Jeep Safaris – are popular – off road 4×4 adventures in a Land Rover (Full day). Guided tour around the Christoffel National park – a combination of beautiful nature and amazing historical sites.

Buggy Hire – for off road tours – very popular for seeing the north east coast – the wild side – of the island.

Guided Tours – Dozens of tours of all descriptions, historical and natural sites – large areas of the island are given over to wilderness style parks. We have worked closely with a tour company on Curacao for many years. They offer a wide choice of activities and island tours which we can include in your holiday itinerary. Amongst the tours on offer : Christoffel National Park Safari – an adventurous day tour by Jeep * Jeep Safari across Curacao * Tour of Willemstad * Hato Caves and ostrich farm * Deep sea fishing. There really are too many to list here. Ask us for further information.

Some dates worth noting

Early Jan- March Carnival Season
Late April Regatta
30th. April King’s Day
Last Week May Curacao Dive Festival
last Week May Curacao Jazz Festival
2nd. July Curacao Flag Day
26th. July Curacao Day
First Week August Curacao Salsa Festival
First Week November Heineken Regatta
5th. December Sinter Klaas – first gift giving day of Christmas
Naturally some event dates will vary year to year – the dates given are an indication of when these events take place.

Sightseeing

Curacao is a small island with lots to see. We recommend hiring a vehicle to get the best from this fascinating island – whether exploring or making the most of the 40 shore diving sites. We can arrange vehicle and/or any excursions and include them in your holiday itinerary. Sight-seeing tours are a convenient way to view Curacao’s natural and historical sites. There are a huge number of tours on offer – by every mode of transport you can think of – and with almost very “special interest” imaginable as its theme – nature, history, architecture, places of interest etc. However you do it – the pace is always relaxed – no crowds – no rush – you can enjoy your sightseeing trip to the full. Jeep Safaris are popular especially around the rugged North coast. There are a number of hiking tours with marked trails through the natural parks.

Willemstad

Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, is a charming and enthralling small city, dating back to the 17th century and is a UNESCO world heritage site with 700 protected buildings. It has a special atmosphere, old world yet very Caribbean, relaxed yet intensely interesting and exciting. The island’s cultural diversity is graphically illustrated by its picturesque mix of Dutch colonial architecture, narrow, gabled buildings crowned with red tiled roofs, painted in bright vibrant Caribbean colours. You will see pictures of these houses, whenever you see a reference to Curacao !

Two bridges dominate Willemstad, linking the two halves of the city, Punda and Otrobanda. The Queen Juliana Bridge is the highest in the Caribbean, and soars high above the quayside of Willemstad. The Queen Emma Pontoon bridge ñ always called the floating bridge – is the largest floating pedestrian bridge in the world. Both very impressive in very different ways. Willemstad is a major attraction and there is every conceivable tour available. Those we have experienced, were at a comfortable pace and very interesting.

Places of Interest in Willemstad

Willemstad has lots of hidden treasures, well worth a visit to this this colourful city. The culture and nightlife is easy to enjoy – no hustle and bustle. It’s great being able to explore and discover the hidden gems for yourself.
The Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue, built in 1732, the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere – an interesting and impressive building.

17th century Fort Amsterdam encloses the Dutch Reformed Church, with a cannonball embedded in the wall, fired by Captain Bligh in 1804 !                              The Governor’s Palace                                                                                          Curacao Museum, Otrobanda: housed in a building from 1853 the Maritime Museum has 500 years maritime history.
Numismatic Museum, Punda: impressive collection of local coins and bank notes.
Fort Church Museum, Punda: impressive quantity of old maps of the island – in Fort Amsterdam (1635).
Postal Museum, Punda: collection of stamps from The Netherlands Antilles – housed in Punda’s oldest building. (1693)

Places of Interest outside Willemstad:

Too many to list, most are natural attractions which can be explored by various means of transport, on your own or with a guided tour.
Curacao Sea Aquarium – underwater world accessible to everyone. Dolphin Academy – opportunity to meet dolphins and swim, snorkel or dive with these special animals.
Aloe Vera plantation
Den Paradera – healing herb gardens
Midden Seinpost Hill at Rooi Santu, is a lookout point with a spectacular view of Curacao. Midden Seinpost Hill was used as a meeting place for Indian tribes.
Ostrich Farm – one of the biggest Ostrich farms outside Africa
Parke Tropical environment centre – children learn about the flora and fauna of Curacao
Shete Boka National Park – with the natural bridge, Boca Pistol (blowhole) and more than 10 beautiful bays (Boca) where three species of turtle breed. Boca Tabla is an impressive sight – huge waves strike down on an underground cave.
The Butterfly Garden – in the beautiful countryside of Banda’Bou, has a variety of colourful local, central and south American butterflies.
Den Dunki National Park
Hofi Pastor Park – variety of vegetation, with an 800 year old kapok tree
Curacao Liqueur Factory ñ where they distil the famous Curacao liqueur.

Christoffel Park

Whether it is scenery, flora or fauna you enjoy – Christoffel Park is the place for nature lovers. Named after Mount Christoffel the island’s highest point at 1,239 feet/372 metres, the park is 1820 hectare of natural wilderness with a variety of trees, plants (including an orchid forest), birds, lizards, and sea life, including nesting sea turtles. The park can be explored on foot, horseback, mountain bike or car. It has well-marked trails. Boca Grandi, one of Curacao’s most impressive coves is inside the park. The park is protected and maintained by the government in a determined effort to preserve and maintain the natural habitats of Curacao’s wildlife – its flora and fauna. More information about Curacao’s natural world can be found following the nature link on the main island banner above.

Bays and Beaches

Curacao is famous for its picturesque coves with white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. These bays are dotted all along the sheltered south coast, each one an excellent dive or snorkelling site. All beaches are public beaches. Some with more amenities make a small charge for parking/entry. There are far too many of these fabulous small bays to list here, but these are a few to look out for:

Boka St. Michiel: also known as Boka Sami – bay of a traditional fishing village west of Willemstad.
Jeremi: picturesque, quiet bay with exceptionally clear water.
Kenepa: partly shaded by manchineel trees. Very popular and next door to Playa Abou (Big Beach) has several pergolas for shade and a large snack bar. View from cliff is stunning. Kenepa Mansion nearby is also worth a visit.
Playa Forti: Several snack bars, a restaurant and car park above the beach.
Playa Kalki: popular with snorkellers and divers and has a roped-off area with a floating platform. Snack bar and dive shop.
Playa Lagun: small white sandy beach with shade. Great spot for snorkelling – ideal for kids as the water is very shallow, calm and clear.
Santa Cruz is a wide sandy beach with towering palm trees – very popular for barbeques.
Caracasbaai: east of Willemstad – fantastic snorkel site with the famous tugboat wreck. Parking and a snack bar.
Jan Thiel: – a super beach – dive centre – mini water park for children – Zanzibar restaurant.
Klein Curacao: small uninhabited island off the south west coast. Great diving, snorkelling and picnic place.

Plantation Houses

Curacao still has several ‘Landhuizen’ – plantation houses from colonial times which have been restored and are worth visiting. For instance: Landhuis Daniel from the early 1700s is now a super restaurant and Landhuis Brievengat is one of the finest. Some of these have been converted into restaurants or galleries. These galleries promote local artists, which adds a whole new dimension, a connection with the locality, something unique about the art you will see.

Caves

Curacao has a lot of very interesting caves some with Indian cave drawings. The most impressive caves are The Hato Caves, formed below the sea level millions of years ago. With a surface of about 4900 square metres, the caves have massive stalactites, stalagmites, lakes and Indian cave art.

Guided Tours

Sightseeing tours of all descriptions. We have worked closely with a tour company on Curacao for many years. They offer an enormous range of activities and island tours which we can include in your holiday itinerary. Amongst the long list on offer :
* Christoffel National Park Safari – an adventurous day tour by Jeep.
* Jeep Safari across Curacao
* Tour of Willemstad
* Hato Caves and ostrich farm
* Deep sea fishing

There really are too many to list here. Ask us for further information.

Curacao Underwater

Curacao has a spectacular underwater world. Warm, nutrient-rich water and a pristine coral reef – hard and soft corals and sponges of all shapes, sizes and colours. A perfect habitat for many hundreds of species of colourful and fascinating marine creatures. Curacao is in an excellent location in the southern Caribbean. The south west coast faces the Caribbean Sea ñ the north east coast faces the Atlantic Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is well known for its reefs and abundance of marine life. Curacao has over 357 species of fish living on a fringing reef close to shore in just 5- 15 metres of warm, clear water. The north east coast – the Wildside – faces the open ocean and is visited by some of the large, ocean roaming, marine species. Curacao’s protected, healthy reefs, allow a huge diversity of marine life to thrive. There is no mass tourism on Curacao – no crowds on Curacao – habitats both above and below water are consequently unspoiled. This also means you can explore Curacao’s underwater world at your own pace – in peace and quiet

Curacao Marine Park

The ocean and coastline of Curacao has been designated a protected marine park. The Curacao Marine Park was established in 1983 and includes some of Curacao’s finest reefs. Strict protection of the ocean and the reef has resulted inn Curacao having some of the best reefs in the world. Ocean conditions in the underwater park are different from the calmer western end of the island. The reef walls are more dramatic with lush coverage because of the constant fresh supply of nutrients from the open sea which also encourages larger fish to visit.

Klein Curacao

This tiny, volcanic island is 7 miles off the southeast coast of Curacao, known for its turtle population and lots of other marine species. The island has protected beaches where green turtles lay their eggs. Young green turtles can usually be seen feeding off the grasses until they are big enough to venture further out to sea. Reefs around the island are covered in gorgonians and sponges, interspersed with stony corals, while sea plumes and sea fans sway in the current in shallow water. Lots of file fish, anemones, cleaner shrimp, lobster, large green morays, angel fish, surgeon fish, crab and flounders. Nutrient rich waters from the open ocean attract large schools of fish including groupers, pods of dolphins, Creole wrasse, nurse sharks, manta rays and the rare midnight parrot fish.

Curacao’s Submarine
Substation Curacao is the world’s first deep water submarine, specially designed for tourists and researchers, capable of descending to an extraordinary depth of 1000 feet.

Some Special Underwater Locations

The Tug Boat – a small tug boat overgrown with tube sponges and brain corals, star coral and Christmas tree worms. Like many wrecks, this has formed an artificial reef a wonderful need habitat for marine life.

The Mushroom Forest is one of the world’s top ten underwater sites. An expansive area of Star and boulder coral, eroded around the base by clams, sponges and the ocean to form spectacular mushroom shaped domes. An impressive sight.

The Cave / The Blue Room – Numerous species of fish and coral, flower corals, giant brain corals, anemones, turtles, porcupine fish, smooth trunkfish, yellowtail snapper, parrotfish, grouper, spotted drums, spotted morays, green morays, lobster and conch. Schools of silverfish glitter in the blue light, squid, peacock flounder and needlefish cruise the surface.

The Sponge Forest – some of the most spectacular sponges in the Caribbean. Colourful sponges adorn the sides of the sloping wall – orange elephant ears sponges, purple stove pipe sponges, rope sponges, giant barrel sponges, tube sponges and many others. The wall consists of star coral, flower coral and black coral ñ teeming with fish – trumpet fish, filefish, scorpion fish, squirrelfish and sea turtles.

SS Oranje Nassau shipwreck – a steamship built in 1884 – now covered by healthy corals, gorgonians and stony coral. Morays, scorpion fish, porcupine fish and filefish and lots of small reef fish all found near the wreck.

The Wreck of the Saba – covered in soft corals, sponges, cup corals and brain coral. Reef fish galore, gobies, blennies, damselfish etc. The Saba was sunk to create an artificial reef and lies in just 10 metres of water. Lobster, green morays, spotted morays and barracuda.

Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs Some of the well known reefs – and what you will find there.

Black Coral Gardens ñ reef wall with rare black coral – once almost extinct. Elkhorn and brain corals provide a habitat for parrot fish, damselfish, angelfish, turtles, sea horses and frogfish Black coral is now protected on Curacao, and it’s now illegal to gather or sell items made from Black Coral. In areas like Black Coral Gardens these slow growing colonies are showing signs of recovery.

Watamula – a fantastic reef – dominated by gorgonians, with sea whips, sea plumes and sea fans. Stony corals, tube coral, star coral and lettuce coral. Rich with fish life, snappers, jacks, sargassum triggerfish, and sea turtles. Occasionally manta rays and whale sharks.

Rediho – healthy colonies of star coral, pencil coral, flower coral, wire coral, black coral, elkhorn coral, brain coral, and sea fans swaying in the swells. Lots of goatfish, parrotfish, sea horses, doctor fish, sergeant majors, frogfish, filefish, barracuda, sea turtles and the occasional cruising sunfish.

Porto Mari has a unique double reef valley – 30 metres wide and 15 metres deep – home to a wide variety of reef life – creatures that are rare on other sites, such as cornet fish. Both reefs are very healthy with gorgonians and stony corals – spotted snake eels buried in the sand, triggerfish, squirrelfish, goatfish, gobies, barracuda, groupers, stingrays and eagle rays.

Boka Grandi, San Juan – Sea rods, rope sponges, brain coral and lettuce coral. Schools of Creole wrasse, angelfish, gobies, large groupers and often dolphins playing in the bay.

Mike’s Place / Big Sponge – The reef is populated by numerous barrel sponges, tube sponges, elephant ear sponges, stony corals, gorgonians and black coral. Green morays, spotted drums, cowfish, porcupine fish, seahorses, and sea turtles.

Playa Hundu Lost Anchor very healthy reef wall – plate coral, star coral, brain coral, elephant ear sponges, tube sponges, and black coral. Spotted morays, sea horses, squid, and barracuda.

Kleine Knip / Playa Kenepa – healthy brain and star coral inhabited by colonies of Christmas tree worms, wire coral, sea fans, and tube sponges. Parrotfish, angelfish, triggerfish, goatfish, lobster, morays, octopus, damselfish, peacock flounders – and sleeping stingrays half buried in the sand !

Beacon Point /Kabes di Baranka (“Head of the Rock”) has the largest pillar coral formation in the Caribbean – an impressive sight – and huge sponges. Creole wrasse, jacks and large schools, barracuda, tarpon, tuna.

Rif Sint Marie – very impressive reef has rope sponges, pillar coral, sea whips, sea rods and sheet coral. Cornet fish, cowfish, barracuda, schools of Creole wrasse, parrotfish, puffer fish, trumpet fish, sea turtles and numerous reef fish around the coral heads. Larger deep-water fish are also found here. This reef is often visited by marine biologists and is very well known.

SeaQuarium Reef – fire coral, finger coral, brain coral, pencil coral, staghorn and pillar coral. Schools of squid – fascinating to watch them change colour Doctor fish, Creole wrasse and trumpet fish. Divers from the SeaQuarium discovered a new species here, the Saber Goby.

Caracasbaai Lost Anchor – fantastic reef with thick and healthy coral growth ñ sea horses, scorpion fish, lobster, shrimp, large green morays. Dolphin, tarpon, snappers and an occasional hammerhead ! Caracasbaai was created by an ancient landslide and the bay is impressively deep, attracting deep water fish.

Boka di Sorsaka / Jan Thiel Bay – The reef is in fantastic shape – variety of gorgonians and stony coral – plus morays, lobsters, crabs and a lots of reef fish including blue tangs, sergeant majors etc.

Eel Valley – golden tail eels and parrotfish among the stony corals. The reef is covered with sponges, ball sponges, star coral and brain coral. Large green morays, spotted morays, scorpion fish and octopus.

Basora – coral in elegant Chinese pagoda shapes ñ and as many species of coral and fish as you are likely to find in one place. Elkhorn coral, star coral and a wide variety of gorgonians, brain coral and mountainous star coral. Tuna, mackerel, wahoo, barracuda. green morays, file fish, butterfly fish and many more.

Mako’s Mountain – the most rugged and imposing monumental coral formations in the Caribbean. Underwater peaks covered with plate coral, star coral, wire coral, elkhorn coral, brain coral, cup coral, and sea fans. Spotted morays, large green morays, parrotfish and blue tang. Deep sea fish are common – barracuda, sunfish etc.

Barracuda Point – a reef of elkhorn, fire coral, pillar corals, finger corals, leaf corals, mountainous star coral and sea fans. Yellow goat fish and soldier fish in large numbers – trumpet and cornet fish swimming head down, waiting for a victim to mistake them for a gorgonian.

Black Rock / Piedra Pretu – spectacular wall – colonies of sponges, black coral, star coral, plate coral, and brain coral. Lobster, crabs, morays, and squirrelfish. Nurse sharks. The shallows are lush with stony corals and gorgonians, including elkhorn coral and sea fans waving in the current.

Diver’s Leap – sea horses in pillar coral – lots of reef fish – excellent coral coverage, colonies of gorgonians, brain coral, stony corals and sponges. Yellowtail snappers, sergeant majors, Creole wrasse and golden tail eels.

FLIGHTS

Flights to Curacao are with AirFrance/KLM – the only major airline to fly from Europe to the Dutch Caribbean islands. AirFrance/KLM gives you a huge choice of departure points in the UK – flying from over 15 airports. Flying from a local airport means there is no long trek to a central airport, a shorter journey and far less hassle. It might also be possible to avoid airport parking fees if departing from an airport closer to home. The service on board KLM is excellent – meals and drinks are free of charge – luggage allowances are higher and seats are more spacious than the usual “holiday” charter flights.

Flights to Curacao are via Amsterdam (Schiphol) – the flight to Amsterdam takes around one hour to 90 minutes. The check-in time in the UK is just one hour – and the transfer is quick and easy – AirFrance/KLM arrives and departs from the same two piers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The combination of a short check-in and a local UK airport will mean that you save a lot of time and hassle starting your journey. It may seem counter-intuitive – but the route via Amsterdam is usually quicker than if there were a “direct” flight to the Dutch Caribbean.

BOOK WITH US

We know how the flights work and it is our job

We always check the days around your preferred departure dates AND the various routes – to make absolutely sure we get the best price, schedule and route. Companies that lack that specialised knowledge – and automatic booking machines online – are unable to match that level of care and attention to your holiday.
It is important to know which days of the week you can travel – as we will always look for the best fare and schedule for you – and give you the best options for you to decide.

Any payment you make for a flight inclusive holiday is safeguarded by our ATOL bond issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL licence is an important guarantee for your peace of mind. We are also bound by European consumer protection laws – which protect consumers against misleading advertising and information.

Travel websites, comparison sites and accommodation suppliers, in the UK or the Caribbean, without an ATOL licence have no such guarantee and are not allowed to sell flights in the UK. Websites / suppliers based outside the UK are not bound by UK law.
Two very important reasons for buying from a UK based company with an ATOL licence.

Booking with us is easier – cheaper – safer

OPTIONS ON FLIGHTS

One of the big attractions of “our” islands is that they are not over-developed as tourist destinations. That means a limited number of flights and availability can be tight. These are scheduled flights, not charter, flights. As with all scheduled flights the fare depends on availability. For this reason we always take options on flights as soon as possible. Taking flight options involves no obligation or payment from you. Taking options fixes the fare for you. After taking flight options you are able to consider our holiday proposal in your own time. We know of no other company that can offer you such a service. If you do not travel with us this time we will cancel them (if notified) or the options will automatically cancel. No obligation and no penalty. there is no downside – this is a “win-win” for customers – taking all the time pressure off the important decision making process. You do not have to buy flight tickets now – and hope your plans do not change. Now you can spend time thinking about what you want in your holiday – and not worrying about flight fares increasing every time you look ! You have the added reassurance that the schedule and itinerary can still be revised if your plans change.

Booking Websites Can’t Do The Job

The flight market is now so competitive – and often deliberately confused by website booking machines that offer no service, discussion, advice or accuracy. Often offering unworkable schedules whilst offering unrealistic prices. Only when you get to the “payment page” do you get the flight schedule and the final price. Many websites offer a cheap headline fare (without luggage) – but hide the awful flight schedule and demand immediate payment. Even the major airlines play this game.

  • You can chat with us about the best dates, schedules, fares.
  • We can take flight options – to give you time to think.
  • We will always quote the correct price on the first page.
  • No matter where you book flights to “our” islands – we can do better for you

To take flight options we need the full names of passengers as per their passports.

If you prefer not to give us names, we will send a detailed holiday itinerary and quote of course, but without flight options, the fare might rise. Taking options involves no obligation or payment – until you are completely happy with our holiday proposal and decide to proceed. By taking options early, we have the best fare and we have fixed the fare – it cannot go up. If the fare goes down – it happens from time to time – we re-book and get you the lower fare. Other travel companies are unable to quote for a holiday “including flights” or give you 48 hours to decide ! Booking flights online and with some travel companies, requires an immediate payment. Often with no changes or refunds allowed. Takes some of the fun out of booking a holiday, doesn’t it ?
No matter how or where you book – we have the terms and best fares !

Taxes and Surcharges

We include all taxes and surcharges in our price quotes. Beware of travel companies that do not include all taxes and surcharge. Taxes, fuel surcharge and the new Air Passenger Duty now total more than 50% of the flight ticket price. Some travel companies still quote price without taxes etc., or without the air fare included – a nasty shock when you receive the final holiday invoice. Please be sure to compare prices – like for like – with all taxes included.

Flights at Christmas . . .

. . . . are very busy – people flying home for Christmas (to and from the islands). The islands are never crowded but the flights are very busy and fares are at a premium. If you are considering a holiday in the Dutch Caribbean at Christmas, please ask us as early as possible to take flight options for you. We can do this February 1st onwards for the following Christmas.

ARRANGED STOP OVERS

overnight in Amsterdam

If your flight to the Caribbean leaves early morning, or you usually stay in a hotel close to an airport in this country, you might like to consider “breaking” the journey, by staying overnight in Amsterdam. You can fly from the UK in the evening, stay overnight, get a good night’s sleep and continue the journey the following morning. We have a contract with the four-star Hotel Schiphol, with a free shuttle to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (10 minutes). The airport has a train station. It is a 20 minute journey to Amsterdam city centre. It may be possible for you to enjoy some time in Amsterdam.

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You will need to zoom in - there's lots to see! Double click or use your mouse to zoom in. Click the Fun Travel logo to open a text box with brief details. Click the text box to open a new page with more information.

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