Why Curacao Should Be Your Next Caribbean Vacation Destination

by  Anne Roderique-Jones | Jan 5, 2024

Bon bini. It’s one of the most common phrases you’ll hear in Curacao, and it means welcome. It’s Papiamentu, the official language of the island country, and the word truly sums up what it’s like to visit this Caribbean paradise, which is to feel wholly welcomed. 

Curacao is part of the “ABC” Islands (which also includes Aruba and Bonaire) and lies in stunning Caribbean waters just off the coast of Venezuela. It may sound far away, but Curacao is just a quick flight from much of the U.S. JetBlue, American Airlines, and United Airlines all offer non-stop flights from the New York City area (4.5 hours), Charlotte, North Carolina (4 hours), and Miami (just under 3). As I recently found, this makes it an ideal destination for a long weekend getaway. 

Here, what to do, eat, and where to stay on a 72-hour trip to Curacao. 

Where to Stay in Curacao

Courtesy of Bij Blauw

There are a myriad of accommodation options on the island, from sprawling all-inclusives to well-known chain resorts, but for a more personal option, we recommend staying at local properties. Bij Blauw is a family-run boutique hotel that has nailed the beachy, boho-chic aesthetic. Located in the heart of historic Willemstad in Pietermaai, the location is ideal for exploring on foot, and within easy walking distance to loads of restaurants, bars, and galleries. Owners Titia and Ruud van Dijk have created a one-of-a-kind home-away-from-home with 11 unique rooms of different sizes (#9 has a massive private terrace overlooking the ocean); and two apartments. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are on offer with a menu that leans fresh and healthy, and drinks on the water are a must (they make a fine G&T). There’s also a newly opened boutique with curated items, ideal for non-cheesy souvenirs. 

Where to Eat in Curacao

Courtesy or Nathan Jones

Whether it’s simple street food at food trucks or fine dining with ocean views, Curacao's food is fantastic. We recommend trying it all for a full-circle experience. A few favorites:

Mosa Cana: This Latin/Caribbean restaurant is a vibe. Here, you’ll find stylish locals and tourists sipping craft cocktails and sharing small plates like the padron peppers in miso, shrimp aguachile, and tuna tataki.

Courtesy of Nathan Jones

Plasa Bieu: Don’t miss lunch at Plasa Bieu, an open-air food joint located in the historic old market food court (just a five-minute walk from Bij Blauw). Here, locals share communal tables and make friends over fantastic whole fish. 

Marshé Di Barber: For an even more authentic experience, the open-air Sunday market and food stall is perfect for a pre- or post-beach snack around Westpunt. In Curacao, locals eat hot soups and stews year-round, so make like one and grab a steaming bowl of cactus soup or gumbo, a few sweets, and a soda, and park yourself at one of the fold-up tables so that you have a front-row view to the bustling market action. 

Courtesy of Nathan Jones

Ceviche 91 Gastrobar: Located in the Rif Fort complex, a structure built out of coral in 1828 that now serves as a shopping and dining center, this restaurant offers a juxtaposition between a stylish modern interior and a historic exterior — and boasts beautiful harbor views to boot. Try one of the ceviche trios, then walk downstairs to find live music and locals dancing the night away. 

Cast Away Beach Bar Curacao: Perched on Playa Kalki (so you know the views are spectacular) this is a beach bar that offers simple but superior food. For example, each day a local catch is on offer that was likely pulled out of the water just moments earlier and is served over fried polenta. 

What to See & Do in Curacao

Courtesy of Nathan Jones

Curacao has over 35 beaches, including some of the most beautiful we’ve seen. Most of them are free, though some require a small entrance fee. On them, you’re likely to find families barbecuing and sipping beer at picnic tables. Each beach has its own distinct look and personality, often intimate in nature and with private inlets called bocas. Head to Westpunt or the “west point” of the island for some of the most incredibly blue waters. 

If you have just three days in Curacao, the best way to knock a few beaches off your list is by hopping between them on jet skis from Tourrific Curacao. Here, you’ll spend a curated trip visiting the island’s best beaches, with a stop for lunch, a drink, and snorkeling with sea turtles. The trip ends at the Blue Room Cave: We won’t give away too much, but grab your (included) snorkel gear and hold your breath for one of the most spectacular experiences at sea. 

Courtesy of Nathan Jones

For a fun (and free) land experience, lace up your sneakers and do a sort-of DIY street art walk. Curacao is as colorful and creative as they come. Nearly every alleyway and street offers up colorful designs, from the art alleys in Punda to the murals in Otrobanda and Pietermaai. While in the latter, step inside the Zanolino Art Gallery & Atelier for a full-immersion artistic experience. 

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