Whether you're arriving by cruise ship or by air, first-time visitors to Curaçao have a lot of choices in addition to relaxing on our country's world-class beaches and the great scuba and snorkeling in the clear tropical waters.
Curaçao also offers a wealth of historic and cultural landmarks, distinctive architecture, water activities, remote islands and much more. Here are 8 must-see sites and activities for cruise visitors to Curaçao.
See the colorful architecture
Discover unrivaled European architecture in the capital city, Willemstad — a UNESCO World Heritage site — with its iconic colorful Handelskade waterfront backdrop and roster of museums, monuments, flavorful restaurants and shopping. This is a good starting point for your forays around the island.
Sample authentic local food
Sample authentic local food at Curaçao’s famous old market, Marshe Bieuw, in downtown Willemstad or along the capital's waterfront. Some of Curaçao’s home-grown cuisine borrows from Dutch and Indonesian influences, and if you're not up for Ayaka (meat pies wrapped in banana leaves) or kabritu (stewed goat), don't worry, there are plenty of other options.
Revel in nature — and solitude
Discover the joys of being marooned on an uninhabited island like Klein Curaçao, surrounded by solitude. The abandoned lighthouse there is one of the most-photographed landmarks on the uninhabited 1.7-square-kilometer island just southeast of Curaçao. Divers know the island for its coral reefs, tropical fish and underwater caves.
Enjoy the world-class diving
Curaçao is renowned around the world for its scuba diving and snorkeling. Home to countless coral reefs, the island is set apart from other Caribbean destinations by its diversity of sea life and underwater landscapes that are quite close to the shoreline. Our delicate corals can be traced to the island's volcanic beginnings. Both underwater and on the surface, you shouldn't be surprised to see dolphins playing, turtles sunning or pilot whales migrating.
Trace the island's heritage
Like other Caribbean islands, Curaçao was in the thick of the African slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. If Caribbean history piques your interest, explore the largest African slave museum in the Caribbean, the Kurá Hulanda Museum. Or spend an hour at the Savonet Museum to learn about plantaton life in a (thankfully) bygone era.
Explore the origin of Blue Curaçao
You've probably seen the unmistakably blue liqueur Blue Curaçao at your favorite cocktail bar back home. Ever wonder about its origins? Explore how Blue Curaçao Liqueur came about, and what gives it its distinctive coloring, at the Landhuis Chobolobo in Willemsted.
Visit an ostrich farm
Depending on your preference, stop by the Curaçao Ostrich Farm - with luck you'll see some baby ostriches. Other choices for nature lovers include Aloe Vera Plantation or the Dinah Veeris Herb Garden.
Visit a historic synagogue
Visit the Mikvé Israël-Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, located in downtown Willemstad. The building dates from 1730 and has a contemplative feel, with its quiet courtyard, azure stained glass windows and carved mahogany replica of the Holy Ark.
I hope that gives you some ideas! Please visit Curacao.com for more ideas on fun things to do and see on our lovely island!
— Cruiseable contributed to this roundup