Top 10 beaches of Curacao
Just 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, lies a small Dutch island, Curacao. It is one of three Dutch islands that make up the Netherland Antilles. Curacao is famous for its absolutely stunning beaches and with over 40 beaches to visit, it is a hard choice which ones are the nicest. We set out to see them all and selected our very best top 10 beaches of Curacao.
Our number one pick is Playa Jeremi. Crystal clear water, soothing waves that lap the shore and picturesque cliffs with very cozy restaurants on two cliffs facing each other.The beach and parking are free. There are stairs that you need to take to get to the beach. This might be the only beach where you will be completely alone. You can cliff dive from the restaurant or snorkel along the cliffs. Not much of a sandy shore as it is mostly made up of volcanic rocks. It is the solitude and sense of having a beach all to yourself is what separates it from all others.
2. Karakter Beach
Karakter Beach has tons of character to back up the name. It is luxury redefined. To get to the beach and restaurant, one must drive to Coral Estate resort. It is a very upscale property where you can rent or own a villa. you have to pass through a security checkpoint where you will be asked to provide your driver’s license. Once that step is done, you will be provided a laminated pass that you put on your dashboard and go through. A short drive later, you can park at the main guest area and head to the restaurant. There are two restaurants on the property: Karakter and Koraal. Koraal has an infinity pool, loungers, music that is free if you spend 75 FL per person. Karakter is simply a stunning restaurant that is designed so every single table faces the sunset. Even in the slow season, the place is packed. Reserve your seat or come early. The drinks and menu are top-notch so is the service. Apart from the restaurant, there is a small, secluded beach that has crystal clear water that is great for snorkeling.
3. Jan Thiel
Jan Thiel has it all. Restaurants, shops, loungers and of course, white sand beach. It costs 3.5 USD for entrance and parking. Since this is the only man-made beach, the sand is powdery white, no rocks or broken shells are to be found. It caters to both families and adults and there is tons to do in the area. The only downside, no public washrooms so if you come with kids, it might get problematic. Zanzibar restaurant has a chilled vibe and you can eat right on the beach. As with all just about every beach, it is snorkelers paradise. If that’s not your idea of fun, the bay keeps the waves out so floating on water is a great option too. As it is a very popular beach and it is easily accessible, it gets quite busy!
4. Tugboat beach
Tugboat beach is not really a beach per se. To get there, you have to follow GPS instructions as there are no signs leading to this place and the drive and nearby area is quite sketchy. Once you get there, it is very rocky and not only that, they repair huge ships nearby. So why go there, you may ask? For the absolutely best snorkel experience. Swim a hundred yards or so towards cement pillars, dive down and prepare to have your breath taken away. Five meters below the surface lies a tugboat that was sunk and became a refuge for hundreds of fish and corals. The undertow does get strong and it is not an easy swim but the experience is worth it. People say that if you continue to swim past the tugboat around the bend towards Director’s bay, there are sea turtles there.
5. Mambo beach
One of the most popular tourist spots in all of Curacao. A popular hangout for both locals and tourists, Mambo beach is very similar to Jan Thiel. The difference is that Mambo beach is free and closer to Willemstad. Parking and entrance is free and loungers and palapas are around $3-5 USD. The beach is immaculately kept and the bay is protected by the rocks. The rocks keep the waves out so it feels like swimming in a giant infinity pool. Mambo gets very busy! As with all beaches in Curacao, it is family-friendly and there are showers, bathrooms and tons of stores. We skipped the loungers and went straight to a restaurant on the beach called Grill and Chill. You can get drinks and food and mere steps away, jump straight into the ocean. At dinner time, Grill and Chill has a cool promo happening called hanging skewers. You order the skewers and they hang them from the umbrella that is fixed at your table.
6. Playa Piscado
Playa Piscado is located on the western tip and is a bit of a drive (1 hr by car) from Willemstad. The beach is quite small, the area rocky and it has a dock for fishing boats that bring and clean their catch every day. It is one of the most popular spots for one reason only: sea turtles!! Come at noontime and you are almost guaranteed to see huge leatherback turtles that are hanging around for scraps from the fishermen as they clean their fish. At peak periods there might be up to 100 turtles in one area. They are quite used to people and are more interested in eating fish chunks than paying attention to the swarm of people around them. The sad reality is that people are showing go pro cameras in their beaks, trying to grab them, kick them when they swim under their feet. The behavior of humans is deplorably disgusting. We were extremely upset at all the pandemonium that was happening, and to realize that we are visiting during the offseason, I can imagine the horror that is going on during peak season. Should you swim out a hundred yards further east, you can have the ocean all to yourself and see the majestic turtles swim around without any people.
7. Kokomo beach.
One of our favorite spots. It is the “it” spot where every single Instagram influencer must visit to take the photo with the famous swing on water. There is a restaurant with some good food and you can swim out to a huge floating dock out in the open. The swing is why everyone goes though. The loungers are 5- 10 florins and there is plenty of shade. Clear water that has some good snorkeling right by the shore and tons of parking. There were some sketchy people hanging around the parking lot but as long as you take your stuff with you, nothing to worry about. One nice feature about Kokomo beach were the chickens and roosters walking on the beach, navigating the lounger maze. They are so used to people that they will wait by your side while you are eating fries to get one.
8. Klein Knip
Free beach. The locals call it Kenepa Chiki and it is a small, rocky beach that has some fantastic snorkeling available. The sand strip is quite thin but it doesn’t matter, as most people come for what’s below the water anyway. The rich coral life attracts tons of fish, turtles and even manta rays. The lookout on the left side of the beach has a nice view. Locals sell monster coconuts right on the beach too.
9. Cas Abao
Most websites rank Cas Abao as the number one beach to visit in Curacao. The beach is quite big, the sand is powdery white, the waves are inviting and snorkeling is great. So why would we rank it near the bottom of our list? For starters, it is not free. Entrance, lounger, and umbrella will take you back 20$USD. There is very little shade and the shaded area by the trees is full of garbage. It is a fantastic place for pictures and the rocks on the northern side offer great locations for pictures.
10. Playa Porto Marie
Wild pigs!!! Why travel to the Bahamas to swim with the pigs when you can do it in Curacao. The water is turquoise and clear blue just like the famous drink, but it is the pigs that people come to see. They are quite tame and are very greedy, expecting handouts from all tourists.
They do bite and there are signs all over asking you to refrain from touching them. Pro tip: if you are coming for the pigs, make sure you arrive in the morning as they become lethargic in the afternoon and just sleep in shade. We didn’t spend a lot of time there and came by just to see the “attraction”.
We hope you visit as many of our top ten as you can and send your thoughts on which beach should be at the top of the list.