Take Your Pick
Hato, Curacao
Curacao Largest Cave
Hato Caves - Even if you only have a 3 hour layover in Curacao, you should check out Hato Caves, mainly because it is a nice cave to visit, but it is also only a half mile from the airport. This 200,000 year-old limestone cave features striking stalactite and stalagmite formation, long-nose fruit bats, and plenty of photo opportunities. During Curacao's slave trade days, escaped slaves sought shelter here for long periods of time evidenced by the smoke stains on the caves ceiling. There is also a 20 minute self-guided Indian Trail walking tour that introduces you to Curacao's native vegetation and takes you past several Caiquetio Indian petroglyphs created over 1500 years ago.
Willemstad, Curacao
Curacao's Maritime Museum
Maritime Museum - Located in the former Hotel Venezuela, built in 1729, the Curacao Maritime Museum renovated the entire structure inside and out - then opened its doors in 1998. In the museum are three floors of exhibits covering more than 500 years of chronologically ordered maritime history in Curacao. Exhibits include antique miniature ships, nautical maps, slave trade depictions, and navigation equipment. The exhibits are then surrounded by portholes, ship railings, and gang planks to give it a "ship-like" feel. The third floor is reserved for temporary exhibits so each time you visit the island you'll find something new. Tours from the museum are also available.
Willemstad, Curacao
The Other Side
Otrobanda - Otrobanda is the "new" side of Willemstad and was established in the 18th century. The name Otrobanda means "the other side" in Dutch and is generally thought of as the poorer district, but there are still reasons to visit. First and foremost, you can see the wonderful Dutch architecture of Punda aglow in the various hues of the Caribbean. This view is what you see on nearly every travel brochure about Curacao. Here you will also find the 1828 Riffort - once a protector of the city and now a shopping and entertainment center. And finally, if you are a cruise boat passenger, this is the side you will be dumped off on. So enjoy it while you're here.
Willemstad, Curacao
Beautiful at Night
Punda - The Punda side of Willemstad is the oldest area of the city (established in 1634), the most colorful, and contains the most restaurants, shops and museums. Here you'll find the 18th century Fort Amsterdam and Fort Church, Mikve Israel-Emanuel synagogue (the oldest synagogue of the western hemisphere), the Maritime Museum, the Postal Museum (the oldest building in Punda) and the floating market. You'll also find high-end shopping intermixed with local shops and vendors selling art on the streets. Be sure to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge (also called the "Swinging Old Lady"). It is the only floating or pontoon bridge like it in the world.
Willemstad, Curacao
Historic Fort and Shopping
Rif Fort - One of the first structures cruise ship passengers encounter when visiting Curacao at St Anna Bay in Otrabanda is the Rif Fort. The fort was originally built in 1828 to protect the island from invasion by foreign nations and pirates. It is protected by five foot thick "bombproof" stone walls and at one time housed 56 cannons, soldier barracks, and a gunpowder magazine. It was again used during WWII to protect against German U-boats. Today the UNESCO World Heritage site is a dining and shopping complex. There are dozens of restaurants, cafes, art galleries and souvenir shops with live music playing nightly.
Willemstad, Curacao
Curacao's Capitol Building
Government of Curacao - Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherland, but for the most part governs itself and is fully autonomous. The Governor's residence, the Ministry, a handful of government offices, the 1825 United Protestant Church (Fortchurch) and the Fortchurch Museum are all located within the walls of Fort Amsterdam. The most important of the island's 8 forts, Fort Amsterdam was built in 1635 and is one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites. Be sure to check out he cannon ball in the southwest wall of the fort - it was fired by the famous Captain Bligh.
Willemstad, Curacao
Floating Market
The Markets of Willemstad - There are three bustling markets in Willemstad that are worth the visit for food and people watching; the Floating Market, the New Market and the Old Market (MarsheBieuw). The Floating Market is named for the small fishing boats that carry fresh produce and seafood from Venezuela, not because the market actually floats. Here you will find ripe watermelon, tasty bananas and crazy fruits this monkey has never seen. The New Market has a lot of the same fruits and veggies as the Floating Market plus some tasty sandwiches. And finally the Old Market is the place where locals eat. If you enjoy stewed goat, conch ceviche and salted fish - you'll love the Old Market.