The “C” of the ABC Islands, Curacao is full of fun and interesting things to do. Some are relatively common among tourists, and some are less known. SCUBA diving, bird watching, and hiking are just some of the adventures you can have “Without A Roadmap.”
If you visit the island for a day or more, you can experience any of these by either renting a car, just walking around the cruise ship port area, or signing up for an excursion.
See Wild Flamingos
Curacao is home to hundreds of wild flamingos, some white, and some pink, and you can see them for free in their natural habitats in three locations on the island called Salinas.
The Salinas protected salt ponds that the flamingos call home, are located in St. Willibrordus, Northwest of the capital city of Willemstad, St. Michiel on the road to Kokomo Beach, and Jan Thiel, which is east of Willemstad.
Typically, you’ll see younger birds in Curacao as they fly from Venezuela and Bonaire to escape the large breeding groups there. They don’t breed in Curacao but stop in for safety and eat their favorite food at these all they can eat restaurants.
So, why are some flamingos white and black and some pink? The answer is in their diet. Flamingos LOVE brine shrimp; it’s their favorite food. These shrimp have a large amount of carotene in them, which, when digested by the flamingos, turn their plumes into that beautiful pink color we all love.
Flamingos are naturally skittish birds, so getting any closer than about 75 yards will make them run away. Still, with a bit of patience and stealthiness, you can get close enough to hear them talk and maybe even get some fantastic photos.
Willemstad, Curacao’s capital city, is a bustling cruise ship port and home to fantastic art, colorful buildings, and delicious food.
Willemstad is made up of quarters, similar to New Orleans. Punda and Otrabunda are the two main quarters divided by a canal that leads from the Caribbean Sea to the main shipping port.
To get from one side of the city to the other, you can either take the free ferry or, if you are up for a little ride, take the Queen Emma Bridge or “Swinging Old Lady.” This pontoon bridge constantly moves as boats and ships venture in and out of the port. Stay on it long enough, and you’re sure to get a free ride.
There is no lack of fun and exciting places to visit in this diverse city with the trademark colorful buildings, plenty of shopping, and fabulous restaurants.
While you’re there, don’t miss out on the unique artwork throughout the city. You’ll find some on the sides of buildings, on the streets, in allies, and on the waterfront.
Take A Hike
While Curacao may be in the Southern Caribbean, it is quite an arid island. With little rainfall annually, the island goes into a sort of hibernation.
Some island areas are adorned with beautiful tropical flowers and palm trees, while others are similar to a desert landscape with cactus and dry grasses.
There are hiking trails all over the island, and with a bit of time and some good hiking boots, you can go on an adventure that will take you from one topography to another and allow you to take in the natural beauty of the island.
A scenic and not very difficult hike is from Boca Sami to Michielsberg. The circular hike is about 3 miles and will take you from Boca Sami, around the Salinas to see the Flamingos, and up to the top of Michielsberg. Depending on where the Flamingos are feeding, you could get quite close to them as you pass through.
See A Shipwreck
If you have ever wanted to see a shipwreck but aren’t a SCUBA diver, then a visit to Tugboat Beach is a must.
Located a short drive from Willemstad, Tugboat Beach is home to a sunken tugboat and Curacao’s most popular snorkeling site.
With just a snorkel and a mask, you can see a sunken ship and all the amazing sea life around it. As a result of the anchor of a vessel accidentally being dropped on the deck of the tugboat, it sits in only 15 feet of water, which means it’s easily seen by snorkelers and divers alike.
If you don’t have snorkel gear, no worries, you can rent gear from Calypso Trips and Tours onsite at the beach.
Don’t forget to stop in and say hi to Jaime; he’ll make sure you have everything you need to see the wreck. He also has cold drinks and some of the best-grilled chicken you’ll ever taste.
For SCUBA divers, the coral drop-offs are beautiful and relatively shallow, about 60 feet, so for those not comfortable with deeper water (like me), there is an abundance of colorful marine life to see without having to go too deep.
While you’re at Tugboat Beach, take a short walk to what remains of Fort Beekenburg. The ancient fort was constructed in 1703 to keep the pirates and the British off the island.
Today, it’s a bit overgrown but still worth the stair climb to see the fantastic view of the industrial area and some of the island’s history.
Visit An Uninhabited Island
If you have an entire day and are up for a boat ride, then a charter to Klein Curacao is an absolute must!
This uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao is home to a historic lighthouse, a shipwreck, and a swim with turtles if you’re lucky.
Charters to the island range from $98 to about $125, depending on the service you use, but are worth every penny once you get to the island and see the water’s varying colors and the snow-white beaches.
Most charters offer a light breakfast, lunch, and plenty of beverages throughout the day. The boats range from large catamarans to luxury yachts and carry anywhere from 10-30 people per charter.
If you’re planning a trip to Curacao, take some time and go on an adventure. There is a lot to see and do on this surprising Caribbean island.