Curacao Travel

Driving in Curacao – 10 Things You Should Know

Driving in Curacao – 10 Things You Should Know Before You Go
Driving in Curacao

Willemsted at Night

A few months ago, we had a fabulous Fun Family Vacation in Curacao for a week filled with snorkeling, diving, and exploring.  During our stay we had a few hiccups while getting around.  Driving in Curacao is relatively easy, however there are a few things we wish we knew before our visit to the Island.

Car Rental is a necessity.  Unless you are staying in an all-inclusive resort or a resort with a shuttle service, you will need a car to get around.  Curacao is a big Island and the public bus service is not realistic for vacationers.

Google Maps and other smart phone directions apps do not work well on the Island.  Rent the GPS from your car rental company.  Most of them have the most popular attractions and beaches pre-programmed in the GPS unit.

Driving is on the right side of the road (same as the U.S.).

Be observant when pumping gas, both the diesel and regular gas nozzles will fit the gas tank. Diesel is colored black and regular is YELLOW. Double check to prevent filling your car with the wrong gas. *Read the labels on the pump as they may vary between gas stations.

The gas stations on Curacao do not take credit cards and do not sell anything but gas.  You will need cash to purchase gas.

As with all tourist destinations, Do not leave anything in your car even if a security guard is on duty.  Having visible items in your vehicle increases your chance of a break in. Take all your valuables with you and leave the car unlocked.

We found most drivers to be courteous, however inside of the roundabouts drivers will give you a short honk, to let you know they are entering the roundabout “out of turn.”  Don’t be surprised if you hear people honking as a “courtesy.”

Speaking of roundabouts, Curacao is filled with roundabouts.  If you aren’t used to driving through a roundabout, this could be a bit of a “driving-culture shock.”  You want to remember to yield to drivers who are inside of the roundabout, stay in your lane, and don’t stop once you are inside of the roundabout.  Roundabouts can be a tricky to maneuver at first; but they become easier once you have done it a few times.

Traffic on the main road is congested during the day.  Leave early to ensure adequate time to get to your destination.

PARKING: in some areas (including near the Willemsted floating markets) you will have to pay for parking.  The machines only take Antilles Guildersmake sure you have a few guilders on hand for parking. In downtown Willemsted, parking is 1 guilder per hour.

Curacao is a wonderful Island to visit, but could be frustrating for travelers who like to depend on public transportation to get around.  As mentioned above, public transportation is not geared toward vacationers and you’ll spend most of your time waiting for the bus.  Due to the sheer size of this Island car rental is a necessity to make the most of your stay here.

You Might Also Like:

Curacao Travel – Getting There

Exploring Curacao

 

Willemsted Curacao at Night

5 Things You Must Do in Curacao

 

5 Things You Must Do in Curacao

 

Top 5 Things You Must Do in Curacao

Curacao Sea Aquarium Dolphin Show

Dolphin Show at the Sea Aquarium

  1. Visit the Curacao Sea Aquarium Park. The Sea Aquarium Park has tons of activities including a Dolphin Show, Sea Lion Show, Nurse Shark petting/feeding, and a touch tank Animal Encounters Curacaofilled with various sea creatures for kids to touch and explore. We were lucky enough to experience the Animal Encounters program at the Sea Aquarium. They offer a unique opportunity to Snorkel or Scuba Dive inside of the aquarium while observing and interacting with marine life (including sharks) in their natural habitat.

 

 

  1. Visit Downtown Willemstad. Historic Willemstad is the most “touristy” area on Curacao.
    Willemsted Curacao at Night

    Willemstad at Night

    You can watch the cruise ships come in, see the floating market, shop till you drop, and watch the Queen Emma floating pedestrian bridge in action. The bridge is a large “pontoon boat” that moves when large ships come through the harbor.  Make sure you have a few Antilles Guilders in your pocket, as the parking meters here don’t take U.S. Dollars.

 

 

  1. Snorkel the Sunken Tug Boat. This was one of our favorite snorkeling sites during our vacation! Located on the East End of Caracas Bay, the tug boat wreck is easily accessible from Tug Boat Beach or via excursion through a company like Ocean Encounters. The sunken tugboat is about 100 yards from shore, located near 3 large pillars in the water.


 

  1. Eat at Equus. No Menu, no silverware, no plates, no problem! Just kebabs Equus Curacao Kebobs of Beef, Chicken, or Vegetables roasted over burning coals and served hot & juicy via hanging skewers over your table. Our food was seasoned perfectly and served with bread and a dill dipping sauce. Meat Skewers, Vegetable Skewers, and bread is all you’ll find here and you’ll have to visit on a Friday because that is the only day of the week they are open.

 

 

 

  1. Hike Christoffel Park – There are 8 hiking trails for various skill levels. The
    Top 5 Things You Must do in Curacao

    Picture Credit: ChristoffelPark.org

    most strenuous being the Christoffel Mountain Climb. Due to extreme heat, hikers aren’t allowed to begin the mountain climb after 11am – but we are told the prize view at the top is worth the effort. They also offer bird watching, deer spotting, guided hikes, & safari mountain tours. This was on our top “to do” list during our visit, but a stormy day cancelled our plans. Ah well, just another reason to return to Curacao!

 

Christoffel Hiking Trails

Photo Credit: ChristoffelPark.org

Other Posts You Might Like:

Top 5 Things You Must Do in Curacao

*This Post Contains Affiliate Links

Animal Encounters Curacao

Animal Encounters Curacao

Ocean Encounters Curacao

 

ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS CURACAO

 

*Sponsored*

While researching family friendly activities in Curacao we found Ocean Encounters, a tour operator located next to the Curacao Sea Aquarium. They offer both shore and boat diving packages as well as family friendly excursions including snorkeling, fishing, and boating trips. Ocean Encounters also operates the Animal Encounters Experience within the Sea Aquarium Park.  Animal Encounters is a unique opportunity to Snorkel or Scuba Dive inside of the aquarium while observing and interacting with marine life (including sharks) in their natural habitat.   Because both our boys and myself snorkel, and Dad is a Scuba Diver, we jumped at the chance to try both the Snorkel Encounter and Scuba Encounter as a family. As parents, we were also excited about the opportunity for our children to watch their dad Scuba Dive.  Further piquing their interest in marine life and future Scuba Diving.

The cost of the Snorkel Encounter starts at $69 and the Scuba Encounter starts at $99.

There is also a Discover Scuba Dive Encounter for non-certified Scuba Divers available for $150.00

The cost of the Animal Encounters experience includes all of your equipment, wet suit (if needed), and admission into the Sea Aquarium Park.

TIP: Make sure your leave yourself time either before or after your encounter to fully explore the Park.  The Sea Aquarium Park has tons of activities including a Dolphin Show, Sea Lion Show, Nurse Shark petting/feeding, and a touch tank filled with various sea creatures for kids to touch and explore.

Curacao Sea Aquarium Dolphin Show

Sea Aquarium Dolphin Show

 

The Animal Encounters experience lasts anywhere from 60-90 minutes, depending on how many people are in your group. They take up to 6 guests per group encounter. However, if you have a larger group, contact them and they may be able to provide extra guides with advanced notice. Anyone who signs up for the Scuba Encounter must present a current PADI or other Scuba certification. Experience is not necessary for the Snorkel Encounter, however some previous snorkeling is suggested. Family members or friends who do not wish to scuba or snorkel can relax on their patio or watch from the “viewing boat.”  The viewing boat has special windows at the bottom, allowing you to see your loved ones as they snorkel/dive and interact with the animals.

 

Underwater Viewing Boat Sea Aquarium Curacao

Underwater Viewing Boat

 

Kids must be at least 8 years of age to feed the fish.  Younger children may be allowed to snorkel and watch from the surface, if they can swim and use snorkel equipment. Our 6 year old has been snorkeling for about 2 years and was able to demonstrate that he could swim and use his snorkel well enough to maneuver around the aquarium with us. While he wasn’t able to feed the fish, he had a blast observing all of the marine life and watching his Dad feed the Sting Rays Below him. Safety is a number one priority and kids should be in possession of a swimming diploma and/or demonstrate their ability to swim and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

 

 

Our Animal Encounter began with an explanation of the rules and guidelines to follow as well as a lesson about the animals we would encounter while exploring the aquarium. We hopped in the Aquarium and immediately began to interact with some of the fish and marine life around us.

The entire experience from beginning to end was AMAZING!!  Both of our kids got to see fish and other marine life up closer than they have ever experienced before.

 

 

 

Whether you are visiting Curacao for a week, or a day on a cruise ship, we highly recommend Animal Encounters at the Sea Aquarium Park. This was truly one of the best family vacation experiences we have had to date.

 

Dive Operators Curacao

We suggest adding the Animal Encounters Photo Package to your tour

 

ANIMAL ENCOUNTER TIPS
  • All equipment is included in the price (or you can bring your own).
  • Admission into the Sea Aquarium Park is included in the price.
  • Wear the provided wet suit. The water can get chilly after a while.
  • The Stingrays don’t have stingers.
  • If you don’t have an underwater camera, no problem! Your guide will bring a camera and you can purchase a flash drive filled with all of the pictures.
  • As with any scuba trip, it is customary to tip your guide if you had an exceptionally wonderful dive.

 

Along with the Animal Encounter at the Sea Aquarium, Ocean Encounters offers many other activities suitable for families. They offer a “bubble makers” scuba class for kids ages 8-10, a Dolphin Dive (for divers and non divers) in the lagoon, as well as fishing and snorkeling excursions. We suggest their afternoon snorkel trip to “The Tugboat,”   a really cool sunken tug boat that is easily viewed from the surface. A wonderful location for both divers and snorkelers!

 

Tug Boat Snorkel Curacao

Our Youngest Son Diving Down to the Tug Boat

 

 

Ocean Encounters Excursions

Ocean Encounters Excursions

Disclaimer: Tickets to The Animal Encounter were provided by Ocean Encounters. All opinions contained within this post are our own.

 

Plan Your Trip to Curacao to Visit Animal Encounters Today:


Airfarewatchdog

 

*Post Contains Affiliate Links

Sea Turtles in Curacao

Feeding the Fish and Sea Turtle at the Caracasbaai Pier Curacao

The Caracasbaai Pier

Sea Turtles in CuracaoAfter spending Thanksgiving day lounging around The Limestone Holiday, we headed to the dive shop, Curious 2 Dive, to pick up our diving dad. They are just a 5 minute drive from The Limestone Holiday, located at the roundabout at end of the main road Caracasbaaiweg.  Dave (aka dad) had gone on a full day dive in the West End of Curacao shore diving from both Playa Lagun and Playa Jeremi.

 

Curious 2 Dive Curacao

Even if you are a non-diver, the Caracasbaai Pier is a fun place for a quick visit. There is a restaurant directly in front of the dive shop and the waters around the dock are like a mini-aquarium. You’ll see lots of sea life; sea turtles, lobsters, barracuda, grouper and other fish. The owner of Curious2Dive, Hans, let the boys feed the fish and sea turtle while we were waiting the divers to finish cleaning their gear.

 

 

Fish at Caracasbaai Pier

FEED ME!

 

Dave enjoyed his dive with Curious2Dive.  They dive in small groups, usually of 4-5 divers, which gives you a more personal experience.  We’ll be posting diving videos soon. Make sure to “Like” our Youtube channel!

 

Plan your Curacao Vacation:

 

Check Limestone Holiday Availability

 

Curacao Airport code: CUR

Airfarewatchdog


Allianz Travel Insurance

 

You might also like:

Curacao Family Vacation

Curacao Travel – Getting There

Exploring Curacao

The Limestone Holiday Rentals

**This post, “Feeding the fish and sea turtle” Contains Affiliate Links

The Limestone Holiday – Curacao

Curacao Travelog – Thanksgiving Day

 

LIMESTONE HOLIDAY

 

Limestone Holiday Rentals Curacao**SPONSORED PROMOTION**

While dad enjoyed a full day of Scuba Diving, the boys and I spent the day at The Limestone Holiday Resort. Most of the guests were out exploring so we had the beach and pool to ourselves.

The water at the beach is calm and nice for young kids. The boys both practiced snorkeling in Practicing Diving underwater with our Snorkel!preparation for our Animal Encounter, at the Curacao Sea Aquarium Park, with Ocean Encounters later in the week. I felt comfortable enough to let them remove their vests and practice diving under the water with their snorkel.

 

 

 

After a few hours of relaxing by the beach and lounging in the hammocks, we headed to the

Hammocks near the beach

Hammocks near the beach

pool. If you are a family like us, with both divers and non-divers, The Limestone Holiday offers plenty to do while you wait for your diver(s) to return. In addition to the small beach and pool,

they have free kayaks for guests to use, a motorized boat available for rental, and a massage therapist on site. Of course, they are near several popular public beaches and local attractions if you want to adventure out nearby. TIP: On the weekends they allow people to purchase a “day pass” so the weekdays are less busy in the common areas.

Vacation Tips Curacao

Sunrise from the Pool

TIP: Most dive operators will pick up/drop off divers from their location. A nice touch for those without car rental or sharing a rental.

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are staying in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment on the 2nd floor. Each bedroom is air conditioned with both a double bed and a single bed. We have a water view of the marina, small beach below, and lovely palm trees from the balcony. There is a small living and European style kitchen area that includes Satellite TV and a stove, refrigerator, and coffee maker.  We spend most of our vacations out exploring, (not a lot of time inside), so the size was perfect for us. The dining area is on the covered balcony, making for a beautiful dinner time setting.

 

Limestone Holiday on YouTube

 

 

For dinner we opted for a local Wood Fired Oven Pizza and Italian Carry out.  A non traditional yet relaxing Thanksgiving dinner.  When you’re are a family that is always “on the go” during holiday, it is nice to take a day to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

 

Plan your Curacao Vacation:

 

Check Limestone Holiday Availability

 

Curacao Airport code: CUR

Airfarewatchdog


Allianz Travel Insurance

 

Disclaimer: This travelog is partially sponsored by The Limestone Holiday. All opinions and reviews contained are our own. Post contains affiliate links.

 

You might also like:

Curacao Family Vacation

Curacao Travel – Getting There

Exploring Curacao

 

Best Travel Prep List