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Willemstad, Curaçao

November 3rd, 2014
8:00AM - 5:00PM

Curaçao is a 40-mile-long, 3-8-mile-wide island located in the southern Caribbean, and is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Aruba, and Sint Maarten. It is located about 50 miles east of Aruba and about the same distance from Venezuela's Paraguaná Peninsula. Curaçao is known for its colorful harbor, unique architecture, coral reefs, historic Jewish community, and the blue liqueur that shares its name. Willemstad, the capital and largest city, is located on the western coast of the southern end of the island. 


Curaçao has a tropical savannah climate, with a dry season from January to September and a wet season from October to December. The weather at the beginning of November averages around 90°F high temperatures and 80°F low temperatures. 1 in 3 days in November usually gets rain.

Language and Currency

The official languages in Aruba are Dutch (since Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), Papiamento (a creole language spoken on Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), and English (which dates back to the early 19th century, when it was a British colony). Papiamento is the first language of at least 80% of the population, but most residents are at least bilingual.

The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG, NAƒ, or ƒ). The ANG is fixed at a rate of US$1 = ƒ1.79. Curaçao and Sint Maarten are in the process of switching to the Caribbean Guilder (CMg, CMƒ, or simply ƒ), which will also be pegged at a rate of  US$1 = CMg 1.79.

Getting Around

Cruise ships either dock at the Megapier outside the harbor entrance or at one of several locations along the channel.

Taxis are readily available. Fares range between US$8 and US$20 for a three mile fare, but prices are typically negotiable.

The traditional buses are called konvoi and leave from two terminals, one in Punda (near the circular market) that serves destinations to the east and one in Otrobanda (between the megapier and the wharfs) that serves destinations to the west. Most buses within the city run every hour, with longer distance westbound buses leaving every two hours. Schedules are available at the terminals.

There is also a system of on-demand vans called collectives or just BUS, which run more frequently and which can be requested by calling a customer service number. They are also available from the bus terminals. They will have "BUS" on the license plate and typically have a sign in the window with route info. Rates are not negotiable, but the driver may try to negotiate how close to your destination they will stop. Be sure to ask the driver if the bus stops at your destination before boarding.

To return to the city find a yellow Bushalte sign and flag down a passing BUS or konvoi. Taxi drivers may try to pick you up at the bus stops, so make sure to look for a BUS license plate on a van to avoid paying higher taxi fares.

Things to Do

  • Forts - There are six well preserved dutch ports on the island that date between 1634 and 1828. Waterfort, Fort Amsterdam and Riffort are close together near the harbor entrance and easily accessable from the cruise terminals.
  • Queen Juliana Bridge - The highest bridges in the Caribbean, this bridge spans the entrance to the harbor. The apex of the bridge is the highest point in Willemstad and offers great views.
  • Floating Market - This picturesque outdoor market in Punda, which despite its name is entirely on land, features merchants selling produce that they bring in on small fishing boats (mainly from Venezuela and Columbia).
  • Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue - The oldest synagogue building in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1651. Tours are $10, men need to wear long pants and women need their shoulders covered.
  • Blue Curacao Distillery - The Curacao Liqueur Factory at Landhuis Chobolobo produces the famous blue orange-flavored liqueur as well as a variety of other colors and flavors. Admission is free, and self-guded tours are offered in addition to tastings and a gift shop. It is located in Saliña Ariba, about 2.5 miles east of the cruise terminal.
  • Kleine Knip Beach - A beach on the northwestern side of the island famous for crystal clear water and good snorkeling.
  • Christoffelpark (Christoffel National Park) - The largest park in Curaçao and the home to Christoffen Mountain, the highest point on the island. There are several hiking trails as well as scenic car routes. Those who wish to hike the mountain are required to start before 11:00am due to the hot weather conditions. The park and mountain are named after Christopher Columbus.
  • Playa Porto Marie - A beach on the western coast of the island, near the village of Sint Willibrordus. There is a coral reef and an artificial reef accessible from shore, as well as a beach bar, restaurant, restrooms, and hiking trails on the shore. There is a ƒ3.50 entrance fee, which includes one free drink.
  • Blue Bay Beach - A golf and beach resort located northwest of WIllemstad. The golf course includes several holes on cliffs overlooking the ocean as well as more inland holes and is Pay & Play (no membership needed), although reservations are highly recommended. The beach is open to the public, although an admission fee is charged. There are lots of services, including rentals, bars, and restaurants near the beach.
  • Curacao Sea Aquarium and Seaquarium Beach - The Curacao Sea Aquarium features native fish and coral in tanks that are connected to the surronding ocean. They also offer dolphin and sea lion encounters. The nearby beach features bars, clubs and restaurants.
  • More Coming Soon...


  • Leo Plaate and Larry
    • Organized by carencpa
    • Not a company, private operators, excellent reviews on cruise critic, most comprehensive tour. 
    • Tour for 40 people on two 28 seater buses- plenty of room. Tour will be 6-7 hours or so- pick-up at 8:30 and return by 3:30 (ship leaves at 5pm).
    • For both Tours- $65pp, including drinks. Please mark your drink preference to be sure to have enough of each. (Waters for all, soda/beer/rum punch) 
    • Downtown tour includes- Fort Amsterdam, Otrobanda, Queen Juliana Bridge, Floating Market, Punda, Scharloo, & Blue Curacao distillery.
    • Then we head west to Knip Beach, Christoffel National Park (partial drive through park) and Shete Boka Nation Park & Caves (entrance included) We will drive partially through the park to get some great photos - Above is about 4-5 hrs- until 12:30 or so.
    • Meet at Café Latté-tudes, deck 5, at 8:10. Tour guide will meet us at 8:30. We will be back by 3pm. (That should allow time for "green rum" shots at end of tour!).
    • City & Kokomo tour
      • Considering this bus is not going to swim, guide proposes Kokomo beach for lunch. (http://www.kokomo-beach.com/restaurant/) 
      • PS- Look at the menu, etc. Sounds good! Just a nice, relaxing place to eat & drink. Remember, currently the rate of exchange is 1g=$.56, so the prices are about ½.
      • The main difference is we added the old Jewish Synagogue ($10 entrance fee not included) & want to do a lot of photo stops. 
      • Participants (22 Max):
        • (2) us- Robert & caren- caren cpa-#8168
        • (2) Sheri & Jeff- jbsteeler-#9066
        • (2) Bob & Gail- paws223-#7608
        • (2) Margit & Steve- greyt2dogs-#9077
        • (2) Steve & Julie- sj25-#8086
        • (2) Bette & Bill-#8602
        • (2) Joe & Barb- macwoman-#1566
        • (2) Michael & Betsy- safety tiger-#9504
        • (1) Bob- reese718-#3126
        • (2) Steve & Marcy- stevejco
        • (2) Wendy & Ron- BaileyBoo1312
    • City & Beach Tour
      • Then about 2 hours At Porto Marie Beach on own for lunch, drinks, swimming, snorkeling anything you want (own expense) Lunch also runs about $12-20. 
      • Participants (22 Max):
        • (4) Rose & Gary, Tim & Gail- flyers10- cabin #9584
        • (2) Carla & Dave- golfpccc- #7108
        • (2) Nancy & Mark- watch fish fly- #9042
        • (1) Phyllis
        • (2) Beth & John- cruising elf- #3564
        • (2) Kathy & Jerry- hayprizz- #7156
        • (2) Suzy & Rita- crusin Canadian - #3080
        • (2) Bruce & Judy- littleredy- cabin #?
        • (2) Sheila & Bill - siai92 - #7276
        • (4) Christine - Soxin2000 - #9658

      Eat and Drink

      • Coming soon...