Going to Curacao on your next cruise? Here is our list of some of the best things to do while in port. Whether it’s a rich cultural experience or an exotic water sport filled day, Curacao has something for everyone.
Of the 3 ABC Dutch islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) Curacao is the largest and has a decent amount of cruise traffic with around 800,000 passengers in 2019.
With our list of the 15 most fun things to do on a Curacao cruise, you can pick the one that sounds the best for you. I think you’ll see more than one reason to get off the ship.
Before we get to the excursions, you will want to know a little bit about the Curacao cruise port.
Curacao Port Info
The main cruise port where ships dock is located on the south section of the island of Willemstad, which is the capital of Curacao. This port features two docks where different size ships will dock for guests to go on land. Both of these docks are near the Sint Anna inlet. The pier that both docks are connected to is just on the other side of the inlet.
The area where most large commercial cruise ships will dock is on the Mega Pier side of the port, this is where there’s no overhead bridge so larger ships can pull into the docks safely. This area is close to downtown Willemstad, which is just a short, leisurely walk from the docks. From the pier, you will likely be able to see the main town and residential are, which is unmistakably due to the brightly-painted houses.
With Willemstad close by, you can choose to walk through the city or take a bus or taxi to your destination. These vehicles will have stops in front of the pier itself so you don’t have to go far to find a ride.
1. Sunken Tugboat and Snorkel Tour
Along the bottom of the Caribbean Ocean is a sunken tugboat that is now covered in sea life, corral, and creatures that creep alongside the boat and find food and shelter under the surface. The old shipwreck features a 30-foot long boat that has been sitting on the bottom of the sea for over 30 years. Collecting corral and sea creatures along the time it’s spent there you can see this historic site in all its glory.
The tour starts out with a pick up at the cruise port in a Land Cruiser vehicle, then makes a pit stop at a small, much shallower spot, where you will learn the basics of snorkeling before taking to deeper waters. Then, once the group feels ready, you will be taken to the site of the tugboat wreck and given the chance to explore the encrusted reef that has formed on the boat and look for creatures that live nearby.
2. Hato Caves and Ostrich Farm Tour
Two of the most interesting and natural wonders of this island are put together in one amazing tour offer that takes you to see the Hato Caves and the famous Ostrich Farm. The Hato Caves are over 200,000 years old and are the only caves that are found on the third terrace of the island. The caves have beautiful limestone, a water pool, a statue of Mother Maria, and sometimes even houses long-nosed bats.
After a short ride to the Ostrich Farm, you will take a jeep safari ride through the different life stages of an ostrich from birth to adult. On this farm, you will also get the chance to spot crocodiles, pigs, and monkeys, and get to spend time at the gift shop to purchase a unique souvenir to remember the trip. The whole tour lasts for around three hours, including travel, and will return you to the cruise port.
3. Christoff National Park Safari
You may not think about going on a safari in the Caribbean, but with the Christoff National Park Safari tour of the island, you will be pleasantly surprised. The tour will start with a private pick up at the docks in your Land Cruiser and an off-roading experience before you hit the park. After you get your heart pumping, you will stop at the park and take a look at some of the oldest and largest plantations.
These plantations dated back to slave times, and with your informed guide teaching you the history of the area, you will learn more about how the Caribbean rid itself of slavery. Now, an abandoned plantation, this park is home to many plants and animals that make this spot perfect for a photo or two. This entire tour will last up to 6 hours and is great for guests of all ages.
4. Boka Pistol
This nature tour will begin with a pick up at the cruise pier. There, you will get into your safari jeep cruiser and head to the open plains of the desert areas of the island. With a guide to tell you all about the island’s vegetation and yearly climate, you will learn about the island as you drive around and see the main areas of Curacao on your way to your final destination.
Once you arrive at Boka Pistol you’ll see where this inlet earned its name. With a scene that looks like it was made for a movie, the waves will crash high against the coral rocks and make a sound that resembles a gunshot. You’ll be able to take incredible photos of this scene, but be sure to wear your swimsuit under your clothes, because you will get wet!
All ages are allowed on this tour, but you will want to bring life vests or floatables for younger children who will be playing near the water for added safety.
5. Blue Room Cave Snorkeling
The Curacao Blue Room is an amazing natural cave that is near Santu Pretu and is almost completely underwater. Because of the reflection of the sun’s rays in the cave of the bright blue Caribbean water, you will see a wonderful rainbow of blue colors fill the interior of the cave. This is a great spot for a photo as long as you have a waterproof camera.
The cave also offers a beautiful underwater oasis to those who want to go snorkeling in the clear water. With lots of various fish and plant life living under the surface, you can see tons of creatures that you won’t get to see anywhere else. Snorkeling equipment will be provided with the purchase of a ticket.
6. Jan Kok Flamingos
This tour is a unique option for those who want to see majestic birds that won’t be found in many other places. With a trip to the salt flats of Jan Kok, which were named after the plantation owner of the land, you can take a trip back in time to see the architecture and housing of the era. These salt flats were built in 1650 and have been a draw for travelers ever since.
This area started to see flamingos flock to the lagoon, and with many of them still sticking around today, you get a chance to see these majestic birds walk around the shore and perch their leg against the other. This is a great place for a photo opportunity and is fun for the entire family.
7. City Highlights Tour
If nature walks are not your cup of tea, then take a trip on the city highlights tour and check out all that the city center has to offer. With stops at historical sites like the Rif Fort and the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, you will get to learn about the history and unique culture of the island while getting to take in the architecture and style of the incredible buildings.
You will then stop at the Blue Curacao Liquor Factory for a tour of the facilities to see how their famous liquor product is made. You will see behind the scenes and watch how the product is made. Then you will drive by some more historical sites like the many old plantation homes and beaches. After a stop for lunch at a local restaurant, where you can order a local dish, you will be dropped off at your port.
Getting the chance to kayak across the turquoise waters of the Caribbean would be dream come true, and with a kayaking excursion in Curacao, you can make that dream a reality. The kayaking instructors will take you down to the waters and show you everything that you need to know before going out onto the water.
Then, once you and the rest of your group have the hang of it, your guide will lead you down the coastline and through some of the greatest sights that can be seen from the water. When you reach the tugboat wreck, you will also get a shot at snorkeling to the bottom for an excursion that offers two adventures in one.
9. Speedboat Cruise
Got a need for speed? Then why not trade the cruise ship for a speedboat and head out onto the water with style. With just a short twenty-minute ride to the speedboat docks, you will get aboard a boat that has twin engines with 600hp for the ride of your life. The boat will take you across the sea and with up to 30 other guests for a fun and family-filled time with your whole crew.
Your captain will take you along the coast of Curacao and offer the opportunity to see lagoons from the boat as you ride passed the shore at a high speed that will get your blood pumping. You can often see pelicans and other birds nibbling at pieces of bread on the shoreline for an extra beautiful sight.
At the end of the cruise, you will have time to spend on a private beach where you can hang out have a few drinks, and play some games before getting dropped off at the dock’s pier. Soft drinks and water will be provided during the entire trip and you’ll be able to bring along your favorite alcoholic beverages for your time at the beach.
10. Big Game Fishing
Are you a fan of the sea and want to spend some time deep sea fishing while on your cruise vacation? Well, with the Curacao Big Game Fishing excursion, you’ll get to do just that. With a short ride from the pier to the deep-sea fishing charter at Caracas Bay, you can choose to do a full day or half-day of fishing for a unique and relaxing way to spend your day.
Each ship that holds a group is private and will only be your guests on board. The ship will offer snacks, drinks, and a full lunch included with the full-day option. If you have guests with you who have never been fishing before, the guides can help them set up their equipment and get them started so you can just relax and enjoy the ride.
Although catching any fish is not a guarantee, the guides will try their best to get larger fish when they’re on the water and pass the line to you so you have a shot at reeling it in. This gives novice fishermen a chance to feel what it’s like to catch big game, and have a nice catch to take home and cook up!
11. Private Sunset Yacht Tour
Do you want to skip the crowds at the beach and local restaurants and have some time for yourself and your family? Then booking a private sunset yacht tour will be the way to do it. With this island being very popular, it can get crowded at times. So, when you want to enjoy the water on your own, this private yacht will give you a whole boat to yourself and some time to relax and enjoy the water.
This tour will take you along the coast of the island and lead you to a private beach where you’re able to layout and have some fun in the sun while enjoying some cold beers, fresh-cooked chicken, and as much water as you need to stay hydrated.
This island is known as Little Curacao and is known for the appearance of turtles. So, you will want to have a camera nearby for when one turtle decides to come close enough to get a good shot.
12. Guided Jet Ski Tour
With only a half-hour ride to the shores of Caracas Bay, you will be able to ride on a jet ski for a fast-paced excursion that will boost your energy. Before you hop on the jet skis, you and your guests will get an instructed safety lesson on how to use the skis correctly, and what to do when you need some help out on the water.
Once the informational session is over, you will then be able to get on your jet ski and head out onto the water of the bay. You will be guided around the around as you take in some of the local sights and views along the way and zip over to an area where you have deep enough waters for snorkeling. All gear for snorkeling is included in the price of the jet ski tour ticket and you’ll have a guide that will show you how to put on and adjust all equipment.
13. Kenepa Beach (Grote Knip)
If you are wanting to just have a day to lie down or take in the ocean air then heading to Kenepa Beach (otherwise known as Grote Knip) is a lovely way to spend your day. The beach offers no water sports rental equipment, so there is no sound from jet skis or boats nearby. The white sandy beach is warm with a cool breeze and has a snack bar for small food items and drinks.
There are plenty of trees nearby that offer shade when you are done laying in the sun, and you have rocky areas that are great for exploring and taking pictures. If you have rental gear, or you’ve brought your own from home, you can also choose to go snorkeling in the waters if you’d like some underwater adventure.
14. Sunscape Sunset Resort Pass
If you don’t want to have to choose between a day at a pool, at the casino, or having some of the amenities of home, you can get all of these things with a Sunscape Resort Pass. The resorts in the area offer day passes to access their amazing facilities, from gyms to casinos, and even indoor swimming pools, you will get to enjoy all of them for the day.
There is a kids zone where kids can climb around on rock walls, play board games, or even hook up a gaming console. With a day pass including unlimited drinks at the hotel bars – including the swim-up bar at the main pool – and all restaurants on-site, you and your family can feast on great in between each activity for a full day of fun.
15. East Side Tour
Curacao is known for its colorful buildings and quaint Dutch-Caribbean architecture, so getting to see the best side of the island is easy with a tour of the East Side. This area is filled with all the most colorful and well-kept buildings of the island and offers travelers a chance to feel the spirit of the Caribbean by seeing multi-colored neighborhoods and feeling the laid-back atmosphere.
Each house on the East Side is painted a bright color, which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With a tour of all the best looking neighborhoods in this area, you will get a half-day tour of the coolest houses around.
This guest post was written by Justin Stewart.