Beach Hop Beautiful Curacao Beaches in A Day

Are you visiting Curaçao with your Southern Caribbean cruise or staying near Willemstad? Rent a car and beach hop the Curaçao beaches.

When we booked our Southern Caribbean cruise with the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship, we were the most excited to visit Curaçao.

We would see colorful photos of Willemstad, beautiful blue waters, and flourishing markets and imagine ourselves in these photos.

Like our day in Aruba, we had a full day in Curaçao and were ready to explore this Dutch Caribbean island. Most people get off the ship and spend their days in the capital city, Willemstad, but as usual, we wanted to see more.

Specifically, Curaçao beaches.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t take some time to visit Willemstad at the end of our day.

In the year before this cruise, we yearned to be at the beach more than ever, evident that it was just months ago we were in Kauai for a week. We’ve always been beach people. But more than ever, we were craving the comfort of the warm sun, salty air, and the sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline.

Sadly, during our day in Curacao, it was rainy and gloomy. The sun wanted to come out, and it tried throughout the day. It threatened our attempt at beach hopping in Curacao, not as we had dreamed, but still memorable enough to return here and share it with you all.

featured blog image | curacao beachesPin

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The Curacao beaches here vary from tranquil and private to the more popular, wide-open public spots. Despite the rain, we explored a few beaches recommended by a local in Curacao and had a great time.

Curacao is well known for its snorkeling and diving. So if you’re looking to explore the underwater world, take your gear and get ready to explore.

In this article, we share how it’s possible to beach hop some of the beautiful curacao beaches and what not to miss in Willemstad. With anything we share, we hope you find some inspiration to plan you your tasty itinerary.

Curaçao Cruise Port

Curacaco Mega Cruise Ship Pier

Where do cruise ships dock in Curacao?

Cruise ships in Curacao dock at the Curacao Cruise Terminal in Willemstad. This terminal is just a few steps away from downtown and the popular Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.

We didn’t explore the Curaçao Cruise Terminal much, but getting in and out of the terminal was easy. Relatively quiet compared to other Caribbean cruise terminals. We booked a car rental to be picked up at the terminal.

Can you walk to a beach from the cruise port in Curaçao?

No, you cannot walk to a beach from the cruise port in Curaçao. You will need to rent a car or hire a taxi/uber or bus to get to the closest beaches near the port: Mambo Beach, Sea Aquarium Beach, or Pirate Bay.

How far is the beach from the cruise port in Curaçao?

The closest beaches to the cruise port in Curacao are about a 10-15 minute drive.

How to get around in Curacao: rental or taxi?

From the Curacao Cruise Port, you can walk to Willemstad, taxi to a nearby beach, or consider renting a car to explore Curacao. We recommend renting a car if you want to visit farther into the countryside and explore other Curaçao beaches as we did. It is so freeing to explore at your own pace, of course, within the time your ship is at the port.

There are pros and cons to it.

If you’re driving, you have to navigate on your own with a provided map or Google maps, and there is no tour guide to educate you on the local history and culture.

Having your own car means making as many stops as you want, going in the direction you want, and exploring local spots your tour guide may not show you.

It can cost as little as $50 for a car rental for the day. We suggest booking a car rental as soon as you have your cruise itinerary. The earlier you book, the better your rate and the faster you can secure a car rental, as they get booked quickly. All you need is a valid Driver’s License.

We booked a car with Avis.

green exterior of a car rental office in CuracaoPin
This is the office you’re looking for in the Curacao Mega Pier cruise terminal. Turn left at the end of the pier. The lime green structure is #9, with the faded Avis sign in the front.

The Avis office is right in the terminal. Once you check-in, they will bring you to your car. Now, the only complaint I have from the day was that we had to wait for our vehicle to be ready for about 30 mins, even though we booked it for a specific time.

Remember, you’re on vacation. Go with the flow.

Driving in Curaçao is easy and safe. There wasn’t much traffic, and the beach stops are mostly off of one major road. Most are free unless you’re heading to a resort beach.

– Don’t Miss: 25 Best Things About Cruise Vacations

Beach Hopping Curaçao Beaches

Did you know Curaçao has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean? We don’t scuba dive, but we do enjoy snorkeling.

At each one of the beaches we visited, there were many snorkelers and sometimes scuba divers. I watched one diver suit up by his car, hike the tank over his shoulder, and walk right down to the beach and into the water.

If you’re looking to beach hop on your own during your Southern Caribbean itinerary, Curaçao is probably one of the best islands to do so. Also, keep your eye out for flamingos; you never know when you’ll come across them.

Probably because it was a weekday during the fall and rainy, none of the Curaçao beaches we visited on this day were crowded.

So I can’t speak to what a summer day is like with a cruise in town. So if you do beach hop the Curaçao beaches and arrive at a crowded beach, you can always get back in the car and head on to the next one.

sign for playa kenepa grandi in curacao

Here are some beach hopping tips:

1. Have your own vehicle so you have the freedom to explore. OR, book a beach-hopping tour.

2. Designate a certain amount of time you’ll spend at each beach. If not, you get caught up at the beach and miss out on the hopping part. If you decide to stick to one beach, that’s okay; make sure everyone in your party agrees.

3. Have at least a water bottle and a couple of packaged snacks between beaches. Even though I ate breakfast, I got lightheaded and thirsty at some point—a complete failure.

4. If you plan to snorkel, have all your gear ready.

5. Wear your swimsuit. Facilities are sparse.

6. Don’t forget the reef-friendly sunscreen.

Beach Packing List

This beach packing list covers all the essential items you will need for you and your family. Add this beach vacation packing list as part of your beach planning. Time to have some fun in the sun!

Curacao Beaches

Daaibooi Beach

Daaibooi Beach: Curacao BeachesPin
I loved that even on a rainy and stormy day, you can still see the beauty of those turquoise waters.

We came across a few cruisers here at Daaibooi Beach. It’s a great first stop. And if you need any snorkeling gear, there is a hut on this beach renting snorkeling and diving gear. We ended up purchasing fins for hubby here.

Now when you snorkel here, you want to go left of the rocks. Beautiful fish are in that area, and you may spot a sea turtle.

Daiboo Beach | 6W68+R4 Sint Willibrordus | Google Map It

Playa Jeremi

Sandy beach shore from afar with a man walking in with scuba gear, a peek of cacti and cliff in distancePin
See the man in his scuba gear?

The sky was a bit overcast still when we made it to Playa Jeremi in Curacao, but it was still beautiful here. As we gathered our things in the parking lot, we watched as a man with his scuba gear walked into the water, disappearing.

The beach has some beach chairs and umbrellas that you can rent. It was quiet, but not sure if it’s always like this or if it was a product of the rainy day.

There was some great snorkeling here, too.

Playa Jeremi | Google Map It

Grote Knip

A pristine beach with white sand and blue waters with yellow beach chairs in CuracaoPin

Absolute pristine water and is worth the drive north to visit this beach. Snorkeling, according to hubby, is some of the best yet. You may also spot a turtle!

You can rent chairs here. Since we were beach hopping the Curaçao beaches and not staying too long, we didn’t.

There is a snack bar and a bathroom you will need to pay to use.

Grote Knip | 9R2X+PC Sabana Westpunt | Google Map It

Tour Ideas:
Swimming with Sea Turtles & Grote Knip Beach [book here]

Playa Forti

Playa Forti - Curacao Beaches
Here’s a shot of Playa Forti on a beautiful day.

When we went for lunch at Blue View Sunset Terrace, we found Playa Forti. So after lunch, you can guess where we spent a good portion of our time.

There is a spot you can watch people cliff-jumping from; the local teens were having a great time. We chose not to but were entertained watching during lunch.

Playa Forti | Sabana Westpunt, Curaçao | Google Map It

Cas Abao Beach

Cas Abao Beach in Curacao

Are you looking for a resort-style beach in Curaçao? Or a beach to have lunch and lounge for the rest of the afternoon? Cas Abao Beach is a great option.

You can get off the cruise and head straight to this beach to lounge under a palapa for the day. This beach has it all: massages, snorkeling, kayak rentals, a beach bar, and a restaurant.

Cas Abao Beach | 6WH5+64 Willemstad, Curaçao | Google Map It

Explore Willemstad, Curaçao

One of the best things about this port is you can leave your cruise and, in minutes, be in Historic Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site. So if visiting the Curaçao beaches or touring the island doesn’t interest you, you can take a free walking tour of this dutch town filled with European colonial history.

After our day of beach hopping, we returned to the car in the late afternoon and then to the ship to freshen up. Our cruise ship didn’t leave until 8 pm, so we had a few hours to explore Willemstad. Since it stopped raining, we wanted to make the most of the port.

We did not explore Willemstad at the best time as the markets and shops started closing. However, we got a feel for this beautiful town. It was reminiscent of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with its historic, colorful architecture and cobblestone streets.

The 19th-century Rif Fort

1828 Rif Fort in Curacao

On your way to historic Willemstad, Punda, you will walk through the 19th-century Rif Fort. What was once a fort built to defend the island from pirates is now a shopping mall. You will find a variety of shops, bars, and eateries here.

Queen Emma Bridge

Bay of water, the Queen Emma Bridge and colorful structures behind it of WillemstadPin

We didn’t know the Queen Emma Bridge was a popular attraction until we started walking from the Otrabanda to Punda. This floating bridge connects the two sides of the city. And you may want to make it to Punda to explore; it’s where you’ll find the colorful town you see in photos.

As I was saying, we started to cross the Queen Emma Bridge, and in the middle of our crossing, a horn went off, and the barriers at each end of the bridge closed down. We had no idea what was going on. To say we were bewildered would be an understatement. Everyone around us was either as confused or completely overjoyed by what was about to happen.

View of Colorful Willemstad from Queen Emma BridgePin

Beneath us, our feet, we felt a sudden vibration. Within minutes the bridge began to move in a lateral position to give passage to another boat through St. Anna Bay.

Right place and the right time. We enjoyed the unexpected experience.

Fun fact: The Queen Emma Bridge is also known as the Swinging Old Lady.

Explore Historic Willemstad

A heart shaped sculpture full of locksPin
I almost edited the feet out but decided not to, as it made me laugh. This sculpture will be surrounded by people when you see it. Let’s keep it real.

Once you’re off the Emma Bridge and in historic Willemstad, you will quickly see the “Lock Your Love” sculpture to your left. Like in Paris, you can take a padlock and secure it to the sculpture.

European architecture in Willemsted, Curacao

When exploring Willemstad, you want to look at Dutch European architecture. Colorful Willemstad is worth walking through. You will find lots of shopping and tourist shops.

Curaçao Sign

Larged sculpted sign that reads CuracaoPin

On the Punda side, you will also find Curacao sign the further you walk into town. In the same square, you’ll find the justice buildings and police station.

The Floating Market

Sadly, this is permanently closed. We were so disappointed.

It’s one of the things in Curaçao we were looking forward to the most, and we found out that it no longer exists. We figured we’d let you know, just in case you had it on your list or heard of it.

We missed this, but here are some things you can fit into your itinerary if you’re planning a day in Willemstad:

Curaçao Tours You Can Take from Willemstad

Not interested in beach hopping or exploring Willemstad? Been there and done that, but you’re looking for something adventurous. Perhaps one of these Curaçao shore excursions will pique your interest.

Tip: Don't wait to book a tour. As cruise or travel dates approach, the best tours get booked quickly. 

Read more: 11 Helpful Tips for Booking Shore Excursions Independently

Where to Eat in Curaçao

Blue View Sunset Terrace

It started to rain again after leaving Grote Knip, so we decided to break for lunch. We came across Blue View Sunset Terrace right at Playa Forti, and with everyone coming and going from the parking lot, we decided it had to be good.

This eatery was super casual with island vibes and the best ocean view. On the menu, they had iguana. I could not get myself to try it. Where I come from, the iguana is not normally -I mean, ever- on the menu.

Have you tried iguana? How do you like it?

What we also loved about this restaurant is that the terrace has the most amazing views of Playa Forti. We sat at the counter, facing the ocean, and watched cliff jumpers dive into the water on the other side of us.

You’re probably not going to be impressed by what we ordered as we didn’t venture outside what we’d eat back home. That’s okay because we enjoyed our Blue View Sunset Terrace lunch.

The BBQ chicken wings were one of the best I’ve ever had. They were crispy, not soggy, and their homemade BBQ was sweet, smokey, and just fantastic. I enjoyed them.

I had some of hubby’s fries, and they were cooked perfectly. Everything was great tasting and of great quality.

Blue View Terrace | Weg Naar Westpunt, Westpunt | Google Map It

Old Market at Plasa Bieu

We did not make it to the Old Market in Willemstad. However, it is on my list for authentic Curaçaoan eats. If you’re exploring Willemstad and hungry for lunch, head to the Old Market.

Try one of the many food stands serving some local classic eats. Enjoy it on one of their picnic tables and maybe do some souvenir shopping when you’re done.

Note: The Old Market is not open on Sundays.

Old Market at Plasa Bieu | De Ruyterkade, Willemstad | Google Map It

Whether rain or shine, the Curacao beaches are worth exploring. There is amazing marine life in Curaçao. This is a great place for avid snorkelers and scuba divers to explore sea life.

Other Related Southern Caribbean Itinerary Articles:

Top Things to Do in Bonaire in a Day

An Adventurous Day in Aruba Cruise Port

Swimming with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

How to Spend Less than One Day in Key West

Pinterest Marketing Pin | beach hopping in curacao for a dayPin

Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. These beaches look absolutely beautiful to me! It’s a bummer though that it was rainy. That’s not how you want to experience beautiful beaches.
    I’d love to snorkel there and see the fish and sea turtles!
    You have incredible pictures here and love the videos too!
    Glad you had some good eats too. Those iguanas though that are hanging out by the restaurant should run for their lives! Maybe they want to stay close by to where they last saw their family member??

    That colorful little town looks like a great spot to explore too. Do cruises ever stay in certain spots more than one night? Just curious.

    I loved your post as always! I wish I could be the third wheel on ALL your trips!?

    1. When I saw those iguanas (after I ate), I was like, “RUNNNNN!” They have no clue what’s cooking in the back. LOL

      Willemstad reminded me a lot of San Juan, PR. It felt a little like been there and done that, however, the bridge was super cool and I’m glad I was at the right place, at the right time.

      Some cruises do stay overnight or in some spots for more than a day. When there were cruises to Cuba, those were overnighters for the most. And from NY they have cruises that go to Bermuda and are there for 3 nights… you should check it out… hint hint.

      Thanks for reading all my posts and being one of my biggest fans. I feel like one day I’ll convince you to cruise. Yeah?

  2. The beaches look absolutely stunning–I loved all of the pictures.

    I cracked up at the lock-heart with the feet. I am glad that you left them in the picture–how funny!! It’s also so interesting to see what gets swarmed by tourists.

    We always debate renting a car when we travel, but like you, we usually do: it’s much more freeing. We also find that the more that we do it, the more we get used to international street signs, policies, and just driving in general. After driving on the other side of the road in Ireland and then in a blizzard in Iceland, we feel somewhat confident these days: not to mention the crazy-ass small Sicilian streets. It’s still nerve-wracking and requires planning like you point out. I’d imagine that the islands would be a tad more chill than some of the super busy cities. I love when the rental place is RIGHT there, too.

    Did I ever tell you that I got pulled over at 5 AM in Latvia for a breathalyzer test? We were driving to the airport after one of their holidays and both the cop and I didn’t understand each other lol. I ALSO got pulled over in Galway–apparently our rental car was registered wrong, lol. It wasn’t our fault, thank gosh. BUT STILL, WE LOVE DRIVING, and I’m glad that we aren’t alone. You guys are so adventurous and take your cruises to the next level.

    I still have never seen a floating market, and I lived in Asia for a year…sigh.

    K, I am reading to beach hop!! Let’s go…

    1. Christine – Your comments always makes me smile and why I love reading your blog posts as well. Driving is something new to us. We only started doing it in the past few years. Honestly, back in the day I imagined getting stopped, hubby, having to take a breathalyzer and heading straight to jail. My vacations consisted of hiring a driver LOL. I hate to drive and I just didn’t need the stress. Nowadays, things are different and we are open to driving. Well, hubby is. I really hate behind the week myself – you know, long commutes for work. I DO LOVE DRIVING AND EXPLORING on our own as you do.

      The floating market in Curacao sounded so interesting. Venezuelans would come from their country to sell their produce and goods to the locals in Curacao. Due to the political stuff going on in Venezuela, that’s been put to a stop. Oh, so I read. Sadly, it no longer exists.

  3. I always think it’s kind of fun to have to wear your swimsuit underneath, it makes it a lot easier, and if the sun’s out, it’ll dry pretty quickly too! The Queen Emma bridge experience sounds so fun!! What a great moment. The colours from that video–stunning! Everything looks so clear & vivid. I’m a beach girl too, as you know, so this was an exceptionally enjoyable read 🙂

    1. You are so amazing, Macey! Please tell me how you keep up with school, your blog and IG, and then coming on here to read?! I need to know the secret.

      I truly appreciate your comments. I do believe you’d love this island. Laidback vibes, pretty beaches, and sea life.

  4. I just got back from an impromptu Curaçao trip and I’ve never been happier. I’m from the West Indies but I live in New York. Something about clean beaches… I can’t get enough. I thoroughly enjoyed Mambo beach and parrot bay. I went on an excursion riding a scooter 20ft under water! My life is made. The people are so friendly & warm and the food is delicious! I’ll def be back! 🤗

    1. Sounds like a wonderful trip! So happy you loved Curacao. It’s such a wonderful island. I can’t wait o go back. I’m going to keep in mind Mambo Beach and Parrot Bay. Thanks for sharing!