Let me tell you something: Curaçao is much more than lounging on the beach all day and partying until the sun comes up. Open your imagination, let go of what you know, and discover these four alternative things to do in Curaçao.
The little Dutch island of Curaçao lies in the heart of the Caribbean. With a mere 147,300 inhabitants it it is a tranquil sundrenched oasis renowned for its white sandy beaches. It is one of my favorite getaways in the world! Primarily because of the vast stretches of beach, crystalline waters and year-round humid temperatures. However, this could describe just about any island in the Caribbean.
There are a plethora of other things to do in Curaçao, ensuring even the most beach-averse traveler will want to add it to their bucket list. Hike your way up the Christoffelberg, rent a quad, explore the colorful underwater world, and so much more. Read on for a few additional, much less expected, activities on Curaçao.
4 Alternative Things to Do in Curaçao
1. Discover Willemstad by Step
A fun way to discover the island’s capital city, Willemstad, is by E-step. The city has a lot to offer, yet the toasty temperatures might take away the joy of exploring as you desperately lather on layers upon layers of sunscreen.
Cue, alternative and fun activity: Hop on an E-bike from Step By Step. It’s much faster, and the little breeze on your face as you whizz through the colorful streets is a true lifesaver
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR TOUR: Curt from Step By Step will take you to all the city’s pearls. Cruise through Otrobanda, where you will find the most amazing street art; roll past the infamous breathtaking beaches and impossibly blue waters; cross the world’s only floating wooden swing bridge, the Pontjesbrug.. And discover Punda, the oldest part of the city.
DID YOU KNOW: Willemstad has a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s because of all the colorful, historical buildings made of Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish influences.
2. Let go of control with Wataflow
If you’re having trouble letting go of control, facing traumas, or just want to feel completely relaxed, then Wataflow is the kind of experience you will like. Wataflow is a unique and powerful form of bodywork, in the water. It feels like a meditation, a massage, and a dance all wrapped up in one beautiful experience.
WHAT TO EXPECT: With floaties just below your kneecap, you get into the water. You put on a nose clip and let yourself fall into the water. Your Wataflow therapist catches you, holds you, and ‘plays’ with you in the water. The only thing you have to do is relax and let it all happen.
When you feel comfortable in the water, you’ll also flow underwater—just a few seconds. I must say, flowing underwater is from another world. Colors constantly change, sounds disappear, and you feel your body calming down. It’s breathtaking.
WHERE TO GO: Merel from Wataflowtherapy is the absolute best.
3. Learn about the native plants & their healing properties
A true alternative thing to do in Curaçao is to leave the beach behind and delve into the native fauna and flora. There is no better place to go than Den Paradera Herb Garden run by Dinah Veeris. It’s a veritable ‘hidden gem’ with a wealth of knowledge.
Dinah created this place years ago, in a bid to preserve and, most of all, transmit the age-old knowledge of medicinal plants. This know-how was passed on through her family for generations. She merged her passion for teaching and plants and has now become a walking legend on the island with unparalleled knowledge about medicinal herbs and plants across the globe.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR VISIT: The garden is carpeted in a whopping 95% of medicinal plants and herbs. The other 5% are there for decoration purposes. You can imagine there’s a lot to see and, most of all, learn. Dinah picks a specific route to guide you along the garden and points out the various plants along the way.
RECOMMENDATION: Book a tour! Dinah herself or her team will show you what they used as toothbrushes when they were kids. Sing a song for their sick plants and herbs. And even help you find out if your crush wants you too – spoiler alert: apparently yes!
PRACTICAL INFO: Address: Seru Grandi 105 A, Banda Ariba// Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 9 am – 6 pm.
4. Delve into the spiritual side of the island
You might be surprised to learn that Curaçao is a very spiritual island. Popular wisdom has it that the island will give you a bit more to take home than merely a tan: A breakthrough, an insight, a deeper sense of healing you never knew was needed.
CACAO CEREMONY & MORE: Shalini from Herbology Native Healing has a wealth of knowledge to share. Her portfolio includes cacao ceremonies, moon-related events, acupuncture, and trauma therapy. A no-nonsense spiritual guru who cuts the to heart of the issue by asking just a few simple questions
MEDITATION: Dianta is someone you want to see if you’re ready to transform. My advice would be to reach out and book a one-on-one session with her. Dianta is a master at removing emotional and mental blockages. We had a beautiful meditation on the beach with her and it left me surprisingly rejuvenated.
INTUITIVE PAINTING: If you want to get creative, reach out to Christy. Her focus lies on discovering what lies within the subconscious and finding answers through the playful art of intuitive painting. Leave expectations behind and let your inner child have a blast!
Traveling to Curaçao as a Vegetarian
Because Curaçao is an island, almost all food gets imported. There are a few things that are locally caught or grown. Think of (lion) fish, goat and iguana. And veggies like okra, beans, watermelon, papaya and kadushi (cactus).
Most restaurants will not serve much local food, but if they do, it’s mainly fresh fish or stew. The stews are made with local ingredients such as cactus or the more exotic, iguana. Vegetarian options are hard to come by on the island, you will want to check the menu of your restaurants in advance. Below is a list of places that have a decent amount of vegetarian options to choose from.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Curaçao
Address: 10 Rooi Catootjeweg – Willemstad
Opening hours: Tue–Fri: 7 am – 3 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm.
A cozy restaurant with generous portions and a gregarious local host. Vegetarian options include Tanchi’s famous waffle with fresh fruit and whipped cream or the veggie stir fry with sweet potato and a delicious creole sauce. Other meat and fish dishes can be adapted upon request.
TIP | Try the fair trade coffee, it’s amazing.
Address: 10 Santa Rosaweg, Willemstad
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 7.30 am – 3 pm.
Nr Ten is nestled within the green Landhuis Bloemhof – a colorful art gallery on the island. The restaurant serves healthy vegetarian options such as wild mushrooms tossed in rosemary and garlic on toast with truffle sauce, parmesan and sourdough toast with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and cherry tomatoes in balsamic.
If you have a sweet tooth, Nr Ten has some of the best homemade cakes on the island. Especially their rainbow and chocolate Oreo cake – my favorites. Tip: order a piece of cake to take ‘home,’ and you’ll thank me later.
Address: Coral Estate, Rif St. Marie, Willibrordus
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 8 am – 10 pm
When you’re on the island’s western coast you will want to pop into Karakter. Vegetarian options include veggie Beet Root Tostada – crispy corn tortillas with red beet salsa, goat cheese, apple, red onion, salted nuts, and balsamic, vegan coquilles, made of eryngi mushrooms, pearl couscous, hogao, broccoli, yucca crisps, and a spicy coconut sauce.
Karakter is a place you can spend all day. Bring a bathing suite and splash around the water, grab a table just before sunset to have a magical dinner watching the sun dip into the water.
Address: 2nd floor at Elements Hotel & Shops, Willemstad
Opening hours: Wed-Mon: 5:30 pm – 11 pm
Fine dining done well. The dishes have a Caribbean touch and are inspired by the elements of nature: earth, air, fire, and water. Every element is woven into their design, atmosphere, and dishes. I recommend ordering the fire or earth soup for the appetizer.
For dessert (I love desserts), take the Namelaka made with mango, caramel, and tonka beans. Upon writing the restaurant was planning to open a rooftop terrace.
Zest Beach Café
Address: Kaya Damasco, Jan Thiel, Willemstad
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8:30 am – 12 pm
Dining with your feet in the sand and hearing waves breaking on the shore is a quintessential Curaçao experience. Zest Beach Café delivers, and then some. With lights dancing above your head and palm trees waving, you enjoy simple but delicious food.
There are a few veggie options including quesadilla with cheddar, zucchini, bell pepper, and carrots; goat cheese salad with chickpeas and delicious cheese balls.
Where to Stay in Curaçao
WHERE WE STAYED: Morena Resort ($$)
This beautiful hotel is located near Willemstad, within walking distance from the beach. The 4-star resort is a tranquil oasis that has banned single-use plastic and makes conscious efforts to reduce its environmental impact.
LUXURY PICK: Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort ($$$)
The 5-star Mariott Beach Resort is the perfect pied-a-terre for travelers looking to splurge a little. Located right by the Parasasa Beach! Has free parking, bicycle rental and a well-equipped gym on site.
TOP-RATED: Pietermaai Boutique Hotel ($$)
Located in the historical Pietermaai district of Willemstad lies this top-rated boutique hotel. The property offers fully furnished accommodation 20 meters from the Caribbean Sea, and they have free on-site parking!
Practical Tips for Visiting Curaçao
Best time to visit Curacao
The best time to visit Curacao is generally between December and mid-April, considered high-season, like the rest of the Caribbean. In this period, you can expect less rain and steady trade winds that take the edge off the heat.
Also, many events are happening during this period, like the Carnaval in January and the Grand Street Parade in March. But yeah, this island has warm temperatures and sunny skies year-round, so there’s no need to flip your schedule around to visit Curacao between December and April.
How to get to Curaçao
There’s only one airport: Curaçao International Airport (CUR), also known as Hato Airport of Aeropuerto Hato. Most resorts offer a shuttle service to and from the airport. Public transportation will take you to Willemstad, but (probably) not close enough to your stay. You can also take a taxi into town, which will cost around €30 (US$35).
How to get around Curaçao
Rent a car if you don’t want to depend on the bus. A bus cruises the island, but it’s mainly driving you from West to East. If you want to stop at a certain point along the bus route, you can ask the driver to drop you at the side of the road. Most (hot)spots are challenging to reach by bus, and walking is far (and very hot), so if you want to discover the island, just rent a car.
Requirements for Renting a car on Curaçao?
DOCUMENTS TO BRING: Your driving license, ID (passport), and valid credit card in your name
RENTAL AGE: The legal driving age in Curaçao is 18. However, most car rental companies on Curaçao require you to be at least 23 years old to rent a car
THIRD-PARTY INSURANCE: When renting a car in Curaçao, it is compulsory to have basic third-party insurance. With most companies, this is automatically included in the car rental price in the form of a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). Be sure to ask upon renting the car.
COMPARE PRICES: We picked up our rental car directly at Curaçao International Airport after pre-booking the car. Compare prices via AutoEurope to get the cheapest deal.
Final Thoughts on Alternative Things to Do in Curaçao
Soft sandy beaches surrounded by crystalline waters that positively scream sunset margaritas and skinny dipping under the stars are but one aspect of the little Caribbean gem that is Curaçao. The island has a wealth of activities on offer, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the beach at all!
Delve into the spiritual side of the island by booking a cacao ceremony or intuitive painting session, cruise through Willemstad on an electric step or learn about the medical powers of the endemic fauna and flora. These are but a few of the more alternative things to do in Curaçao!
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