I can’t lie, I was today years old when I learned how to pronounce Curacao. (For those who are still unsure, its Kur-uh-saw.) Curacao is located in the southern Caribbean sea just 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela. I fell in love with this quaint island.
I was attracted to Curacao’s laid back vibe. The beaches were not overwhelmed by lavish resorts. Most of the beaches were accessible to the general public. I felt safe and it was easy to get around with a rental car. The locals were friendly and welcomed conversation.
Important travel tip: I highly recommend you rent a car. The island is small but transportation is quite expensive. Getting a rental car is not only cost effective but it will afford you the flexibility to see more of the island at your own pace.
Curacao has a unique melting pot of culture and language that includes Dutch, Spanish, English, and Papiamentu which is creole. English is widely spoken so there isn’t a language barrier.
Willemstad’s Street Art Scene
I was intrigued by the island’s cultural aesthetic which can be described as mellow Caribbean meets cosmopolitan Dutch vibes. There is a vibrant art scene in the island’s capital of Willemstad. Willemstad is a hip city with lots of bright-colored Dutch architecture that reminded me of Amsterdam. The old town area of the city is designated as a world heritage site, which adds another layer of beauty.
Most of the street art is in the neighborhood of Scharloo which makes it easy to see. You can walk the streets of Scharloo and be mesmerized by the public murals that are truly breathtaking. Some of my favorite murals are below:
Important travel tip: Get up early and spend some time walking through the neighborhood of Scharloo. It’s a great way to see the street art and architecture before the crowds arrive.
Kura Hulanda Museum
You can’t take a trip to Curacao without visiting the Kura Hulanda Museum. It covers the transatlantic slave trade and the history of slavery in the West Indies.
What intrigued me most about the museum was the simulation of a slave ship. It forced me to imagine what it was like to be on the lower level of a slave ship. Just thinking about it gave me chills. It’s hard to put the experience into words; it must be experienced. The museum also has an amazing collection of West African artifacts.
Beaches, Beaches, AND Beaches
Curacao is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are 35 incredible beaches on the island. It feels like there is a beach for everyone. Most beaches are along the Southwest side of the island where the weather is warm and the water is calm, clear and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
I visited several beaches over the course of my trip. My favorite beaches were in Wespunt which is located in the northern west point of the island. Westpunt is approximately an hour away from Willemstad.
I loved both Cas Abao and Playa Piskado beaches for different reasons. At Cas Abao beach, the water was turquoise blue and warm as bath water. Plus, there were beach huts and snack stands were you could rent snorkeling equipment and beach chairs. I enjoyed soaking up the sun, swimming and marveling at the picture perfect water.
At Playa Piskado beach I got to SWIM WITH SEA TURTLES FOR FREE! It was the coolest thing ever. You can rent snorkel gear or bring your own. Bring your own if you can; it is cheaper.
The sea turtles are in abundance at this beach because the fishing boats usually discard fish bait in the water which attracts the turtles. The sea turtles are unbothered by humans swimming next to them.