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What to Do in Curaçao

curacao beach

As surely as the waves crash on the shore, Curacao finds new and unique ways to surprise those who visit. Though sunning on the beach and splashing in the surf are vacation staples, there’s much more to the island than going for a swim. Curacao’s rich history is rooted in both its indigenous culture and its location on Dutch trade routes. For travelers, this means attractions that showcase both the past and the present. 

While in Curacao, make the most of the blue waters and white sand beaches. But don’t forget to venture off the beaten path. Whether you foray into deeper waters or take a step into the island’s past, you’ll be surprised by the sheer cultural diversity. Keep reading to discover what to do in Curacao if you want to get more out of your vacation than a deep tan.

curacao market
scuba divers

Scuba Diving

Don’t let Curacao’s crystal clear waters go to waste. Slip into the blue seas surrounding the island and you’ll discover that Curacao’s true magic lies below the surface. Shore diving is the approach of choice, so you’ll be able to sink your toes into the cool sand before swimming alongside the island’s vibrant sea life. 

Outfits like Epsilon Dive will equip you with gear and lead the way to all the best dive spots. Jump in and discover a world with seemingly endless visibility, distinctive reefs, and intriguing creatures you won’t find anywhere else.

curacao hiking trail

Hiking

Curacao may be synonymous with the beach, but its natural scenery is actually far more diverse than you’d expect. Rock formations rise above the beaches, and caves and caverns dot the otherwise lush landscape. Heading out for a hike is the best way to experience these natural marvels. 

Though miles of trails traverse the 2,000 acre Santa Barbara Plantation, additional hiking options abound in other parts of the island. Situated on the northeastern shore, Christoffel National Park is the largest park of its kind on the island. Embark on challenging hike up Christoffel Mountain or a simple scenic drive through the park. Shete Boka National Park features more than 10 inlets, or bokas, the largest of which showcases powerful ocean waves sweeping into an underground cave.

Curacao Sea Aquarium

Curacao Sea Aquarium

Experience the wonders of the ocean while still on dry land at the Curacao Sea Aquarium. The aquarium caters to those with an enthusiasm for the ocean as well as those who’d rather get close, but not too close, to the sea creatures that call Curacao home. Curacao Sea Aquarium is unique in that all of its habitats are connected via a water system to the open ocean, so each enclosure is as authentic as it gets. 

Dolphins, sharks, seals, rays, turtles, and more swim around in natural lagoons amongst flora and fauna they would encounter in the wild. The aquarium now also offers an underwater observatory so you can witness all the animals in action. Don’t miss the additional ocean experiences like the dolphin show, stingray encounter, or touch tank.

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Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

Curacao Synagogue

Curacao’s rich history extends even beyond its location on Dutch trade routes. The island is also home to the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas. The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, also called the Snoa, with roots as early as the 1650s. Spanish and Portuguese Jews from the Netherlands and Brazil brought their beliefs to the island, and built the current structure in 1730 in the image of the Portugeuse Synagogue in Amsterdam.

Today, the synagogue is one of Curacao’s most popular tourist attractions. Blue stained glass windows, sand floors, and a carved mahogany Holy Ark are awe-inspiring marvels regardless of your belief system.

Queen Emma Bridge

Queen Emma Bridge

Though the Queen Emma Bridge may not be a true activity, it should still top your list of what to do in Curacao. This pontoon bridge crosses St. Anna Bay, connecting two of Willemstad’s quarters: Punda and Otrobanda. Built in 1888, the Queen Emma Bridge has undergone many renovations in its history yet remains fully operational. 

Known as Curacao’s “Swinging Old Lady,” the bridge hinges open to accommodate ships and boats. Grab something to eat or drink and be mesmerized as the bridge opens and closes as needed, or even walk across it when its not in motion. 

Landuis Chobolobo

Landuis Chobolobo

Sip on something stronger at Landuis Chobolobo, Curacao liqueur distillery. The genuine Curacao liqueur has been in production since 1896, making it a staple of Curacao culture. Tour the distillery’s colorful 19th-century mansion and learn everything you need to know about this popular spirit. 

As any good distillery should, Landuis Chobolobo also features a cocktail bar. Expert mixologists craft cocktails unique to the distillery, each utilizing one of their signature spirits.

Challenge yourself to discover what to do in Curacao beyond the beach. Swim, sun, and enjoy the island locale, but make time for the other activities and attractions that set Curacao apart from other tropical destinations.

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