Last month Travis and I traveled to Curaçao in the Caribbean for a five night beach vacation. As I try to do after all of our trips, I put together this Curaçao Travel Guide in case you decide to travel to the island in the future. For reference, you can find all of my travel-related posts on the “Travel” page, located on the right of the menu bar above.
How did we choose Curaçao?
Neither Travis or I had visited the island before, nor did we know anyone else who had, so we were both excited to explore somewhere new. Travel is something that we love doing together, and we were fortunate enough to have built up a solid pool of credit card points from both our big Europe trip and honeymoon last year, which we were able to apply towards this trip. We knew we wanted to go somewhere tropical, as our most recent trips were predominantly focused around sightseeing, so we researched various hotels in warm climates with which we would be able to use our reward points.
For reference: Curaçao is an autonomous country within the Dutch Kingdom, and part of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). It is further south than most other Caribbean islands, and very close to Venezuela. And something particularly interesting to Travis: Curaçao, despite its small population of just 160,000, actually produces some top Major League Baseball players, including one of Trav’s favorites, Didi Gregorius on the New York Yankees.
Where did we stay?
After extensive research (I like using TripAdvisor, and I read a lot of reviews before making a decision), we selected the Avila Beach Hotel, located towards the south of the island, in the capital, Willemstad.
We booked an Ocean Front Blues Wing room, that had an incredible balcony overlooking the ocean. And by overlooking I literally mean on top of the water! No photo can really do it justice. I highly, highly recommend these rooms.
The hotel has direct beach access, as well as a pool, spa, fitness center, and multiple restaurants. If you book through their website, your room rate also includes complimentary transportation to and from the airport, which can save you a good chunk of change (especially if you’re traveling with a family).
The breakfast buffet in the morning has a wide variety of options including breads, pastries, breakfast meats, cheese, yogurt, fruit, an omelet station, coffee, tea, and juice. It’s definitely worth it to fill up there before your day. My go-to each morning was a made-to-order veggie omelet and their seeded brown bread.
Full disclosure: We paid for our accommodations, but the lovely team at the Avila Beach Hotel kindly offered us a few complimentary meals throughout our stay.
Where did we eat?
As I always try to be completely transparent with you, I should admit that I wouldn’t consider the island to be a foodie’s paradise. When we vacation, Travis and I love to explore new restaurants and cuisines; however, throughout this trip, we sometimes struggled to find meals that excited us. Additionally, it was not always easy to find healthy options. We would have loved to try some authentic Caribbean cuisine, but we never found it. Perhaps we just didn’t venture to the right places?
That said, from the many bites we sampled around the island, I can confidently recommend the following for food and drinks on the island:
Restaurant The Pen
As mentioned above, the Avila Beach Hotel kindly offered us a complimentary meal at their Restaurant The Pen on our first evening. The restaurant faces the beach and on Wednesday nights (when we dined) there is beautiful live music performed during dinner.
Our meal at The Pen was both inventive and delicious, and the food presentation was fantastic. The restaurant also has a great wine selection, which in comparison to NYC restaurants, was very reasonably priced. I highly recommend Restaurant The Pen for a special meal on the island.
Mosa was located just across the street from our hotel, and we were immediately drawn to their shared plate-style menu, featuring many vegetable and fish options.
The food presentation and dinnerware were all so beautiful, and I wished I could have taken some of it home for my own food photography!
Smoothie Bar at La Boheme
On an extremely hot day, nothing is more refreshing than a cold drink. And for us, after walking just 20 minutes into town during the hottest time of the day, fresh smoothies from La Boheme really hit the spot.
The juices are all-natural and made to order. We were so pleased to find such a healthy option, and we drank (ahem, inhaled) our smoothies while wandering the old streets in the center of town.
Luke’s Cocktail Bar
If you listen to just one tip from this post, make sure it’s this: Go to Luke’s. It’s a small cocktail bar with delicious, creative drinks, friendly bartenders, and a very fun atmosphere.
This is the menu. It looks like a board game and should give you some sense of how much fun the team at Luke’s has behind the bar. They really know their menu and do a great job of matching your taste preferences to a cocktail. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, I’m sure they could whip up a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage for you.
And if you need more reasons to go: they make great popcorn and you’re bound to strike up a conversation with a local while you’re there!
Any activities you recommend?
ATV & Buddy Tour
We found this ATV tour company on TripAdvisor, and were immediately wowed by their over 1,000 5-star reviews! We decided to book the 3 hour tour and chose to share an ATV. You can also ride your own ATV or book a buggy (fits 4 people). The tour price includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel, which we definitely appreciated as we did not rent a car.
If you’ve never driven an ATV before, have no fear! The tour guides are so helpful and make sure you feel safe and comfortable before departing. They stay with you throughout the entire trip and warn you of any rough terrain ahead. Since you do ride throughout desert sand, I highly recommend purchasing a bandana from them (they were $5) to cover your nose and mouth throughout the ride and wear the goggles that they provide.
I can’t recommend this tour company enough. They were professional and a lot of fun!
Visit the Ostrich Farm
We visited the Curaçao Ostrich Farm on our ATV tour, and I recommend it if you’re an animal lover or visiting the island with kids. Along with ostriches, they have a variety of other animals that you can watch and feed.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I hope you enjoyed reading this Curaçao Travel Guide! If you’re planning a trip and have any questions that I did not cover here, feel free to ask in the comments section below! Thanks for stopping by the blog today!
Nice blog, sorry you did not get a chance to eat any of the local food also known as Krioyo. So many great options all over the island, from the local market and late night local food trucks to sea side fish restaurants. I have listed a few below for your readers to consider on their visit.
– Pop’s place
– Sea Side Terrace
– Landhuis Daniel
– Landhuis Dokterstuin
– Koki riba bloki (late night food truck)
– Plass bieu (city market)
– Hofi Kas Kora (local farm to table)
Hi Nicholas, thank you so much for this great list! We wanted to go to Hofi Kas Kora, but we weren’t able to make it as it is only open on the weekends. The other restaurants you mentioned didn’t even come up throughout our search, which is such a bummer because we would have loved to try them! Perhaps it would have been easier if we had a car. Thanks again for taking the time to share this information!
We will be staying at a beachfront condo next to the Avila in December. Our children, all residents of NYC, want to have walking access to restaurants, cafés, nightlife and shopping. Does this area fulfill that? In addition, are the beaches nice there and was the area safe?
Thank so much!
Hi Barbara, That sounds like a great trip! Yes, all of the restaurants I mentioned in this post are very walkable from that area. The only beach we went to was privately owned by the Avila, so unfortunately I can’t speak to other public beaches. We felt safe walking to and from the hotel at dark, so no worries there. There are many stray dogs on the island who you may see wandering around, but we found them all to be incredibly sweet and not dangerous in any way. You are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions!
Hi! I’m from Argentina and I’m planning to visit Curaçao this year. I have two kids and I was wondering what is THE best location to stay, given that we’re not planning on renting a car. So it’d have to be really close to the beach, and at a walking distance to the closest town. Loved your blog! Thanks!
Hi there! I am definitely not an expert, but I thought that the Avila Beach Hotel was in a great location because it had the beach, a pool, and we were walkable to town. (But keep in mind the Avila is only hotel we stayed at in Curacao). We did not rent a car, so we walked into town every day. It is a hot walk in the middle of the day because there isn’t a lot of shade on the sidewalks, but fine earlier in the day and in the evenings. It’s a short walk and we never felt unsafe, but given that you are traveling with kids, it is worth mentioning that you pass some abandoned buildings, stray dogs, etc. (really not much different from other Caribbean islands). Have fun on your trip!!