This Dutch Caribbean island is an ideal destination for beach bums and urban explorers alike.
There’s a lot to love about Curaçao. The Dutch Caribbean island draws thousands of European and international travelers for its neon-hued coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant city life—which makes it an ideal destination for those who like a healthy balance between beach bum and urban explorer. In fact, it’s believed that Curaçao first got its name from the Portuguese word curação—or cure—after Portuguese sailors were left ashore with scurvy and made a full recovery from eating the bounty of fresh fruit on the island.
Whether you’re looking to experience classic Curaçaoan cuisine or you just want to find a really good beach bar to soak up the sun on the sand, these are some of the best places to eat, drink, and stay while visiting Curaçao.
Curaçao has only recently gotten on the radar of American travelers, but it has been a European destination for decades. Flying into Willemstad from the U.S. is easier than ever, with daily flights coming in from Miami. Curaçao has also recently become a cruise ship hotspot—Holland America and Royal Caribbean Cruises both offer stops at the cruise port in Willemstad.
Marsche Bieuw—otherwise known as Plasa Bieuw—is your best bet for classic Curaçaoan cuisine in a fun and vibrant setting. The open-air market and dining space is popular among both locals working downtown and visitors, who enjoy everything from stewed okra and fried fish to pumpkin pancakes and polenta.
Restaurant & Café Gouverneur De Rouville
This cozy indoor/outdoor restaurant and cafe is one of our favorite options for catching a great sunset at the end of a busy day. Restaurant & Café Gouverneur De Rouville is airy and open without a bad seat in the house, but you’ll want to grab a spot on the edge of the waterfront patio if it’s available. The cozy address serves classic pub grub and Curaçaoan classics as well as ice-cold local beer and cocktails.
Brunch in Curaçao is on a whole different level—especially at Kome. The stunning dining space lends itself perfectly to a long and lazy brunch after a night well-spent at the beach bar. Expect classics like thick stacks of buttermilk pancakes and fresh-made omelettes, or try something unique and playful like funchi (polenta) fries or Kome tacos with blackened mahi mahi.
Looking for a uniquely Curaçaoan drinking experience? Head to Netto Bar—one of the oldest bars in Willemstad. This compact neighborhood watering hole has made a name for itself thanks to its unique ròm bèrdè (green rum). And no, it’s not served for Saint Patrick’s Day and it’s not a gimmick. The green rum is served year-round and made from a combination of Caribbean rum blended with herbs and spices.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Iguana Café is touristy. You’re not likely to find many locals perched up at this bar, but it’s still worth visiting. The tourist hot spot is located on the banks of St. Anna Bay and offers unobstructed views of the water and the Queen Emma Bridge. We recommend stopping for a drink or two and enjoying some boat- and bridge-watching because you really can’t get a better view of the floating landmark than here.
Wet & Wild Beach Club
If you’re staying at a city hotel or you’re visiting Willemstad from a cruise ship and don’t have easy access to a private beach, you’ll want to check out Wet & Wild Beach Club. The waterfront bar and beach club is one of the best in the city thanks to its clear waters and well-manicured sand beach. There’s also a ton of space to spread out and post up for the day with a cold (and reasonably priced) drink in hand.
Sandals Royal Curaçao
Think of Sandals Royal Curaçao as a vacation from your vacation; the sprawling resort is just outside of bustling Willemstad which gives you the chance to fully unplug and become one with the sand and sun. The resort offers a total of 12 different bars and restaurants, but guests also have access to complimentary Mini Coopers should they want to get out and explore the city. It’s also worth noting that Sandals Royal Curaçao is neighbors (as in walking distance) to the top-rated Old Quarry Golf Course Curaçao.
Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao
Think of the Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao as a beach resort for those who don’t like beach resorts. The European-influenced property is known for its sustainability and a socially responsible ethos, and it’s also a convenient 20 minutes from most of the best addresses in downtown Willemstad. There’s also a cigar lounge right over the water and a pastry shop with croissants and pain au chocolat that will transport you straight to Paris.
Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort
The Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort is another great option for those looking for a hotel that offers the same conveniences of a resort. This city property isn’t all-inclusive and is well-located next to the downtown core—but it still has everything you’d need for a relaxing day at the beach. There are two full-sized pools and a sophisticated beachfront lounge that serves both high-end cocktails and beer. The private beachfront is also extremely well-manicured and great for swimming or loafing with a drink in hand.