Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Maximize your stay by following our recommendations for effective beach hopping!
*Disclaimer: We don’t receive any endorsements from any of the recommendations we mentioned. Free Walking Tours Curaçao prides itself on giving an honest opinion from a local’s perspective, and we always try to imagine putting ourselves in your shoes.
Welcome to Curaçao! You’ve made it, now the fun begins (and possibly the planning or execution of your plan). This article should help you effectively visit as many beaches as possible and maximize your time on the island.
Curaçao is known for its old town and, of course, its beautiful beaches. Curaçao counts 38 beaches spread across the island. The more touristy beaches are in the east of the island and the picturesque (Read: Google images of Curaçao beaches) are located further out in the secluded West.
While Curaçao is a small island of 444km2, don’t be fooled. While a straight line would measure that East to West is about 60 km, there are more than a thousand kilometres of windy asphalt and dirt roads (not to mention the traffic during Rush Hour).
Given our experience growing up on the island with lots of trial and error, we’ve decided to help you with a guide on where to go, when and how to visit different beaches during the day.
We’re going to focus on the beaches circled in red (8 in total + Playa Piskado not shown) and the Christoffel mountain.
Before we continue: A word on Transport
While you can take a taxi or a beach hopping tour bus (or risk public transport); car rental would be your best bet for flexibility and going at it on your own pace.
Plan 1: The “day after arrival”
Let’s say you arrived on Curaçao and needed Day 0 to get used to your surroundings, pick up your rental car and adjust to the time zone. Then, Day 1 could be your “let’s take it easy” day.
We recommend visiting the beaches closer to civilization. While slightly more touristic, it’s never too busy to get a chair. These are the perfect beaches to go to if you plan on waking up late.
Jan Thiel Beach or Mambo boulevard Beach (sea aquarium beach on our map) would be our recommendation. We wouldn’t recommend visiting both in the same day due to the distances from one another. Both beaches offer food, beachwear shops, and dive shops.
Depending on when you wake up you could combine day 1 with an early morning or late afternoon stroll through Punda and Otrobanda and soak up some culture.
Please note that both beaches require an entrance fee ($3USD) and beach chair rental prices vary depending on the type of chair you rent (3USD to $9USD).
The BEST (Banda Abou) beach hopping combinations
This is probably the reason you came to Curaçao; to view amazing beaches and take pictures from iconic points like the one below.
We’re going to propose a few options that include either just Beaches, Beaches with turtles, an underwater cave and a trail hike.
For all the options below, we recommend waking up early to avoid the traffic and the beach crowd.
Plan 2: 3 Picturesque beaches, a BBQ and a scenic dinner tour (without Turtle watching)
Stop 1: Cas Abao or Porto Marie (both halfway beaches > see map)
Cas Abao Beach was voted one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Alternatively, you can head to Porto Marie beach and check out the beach pigs (real pigs!) roaming the beach and being lazy. Both beaches offer food and dive shops.
Of course, you could visit both on the same day or, but the adventure on this Beach hopping trip is about working your way to the western most point.
Arrive here early (9am) soak up some sun for a few hours and move on the to the next beach.
While there’s an entrance fee to the beaches, the trade-off here is that you can bring your own ice box with drinks if you wish to do so. The entrance fee of Cas Abao is $5.50 per car and $3USD per person in Porto Marie.
Stop 2: Grote Knip
Grote Knip (Kenepa Grandi) is a free entrance beach. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, it’s where you can take that iconic picture that you find all over the internet when you look up Curaçao beaches (see picture below). There’s a cliff you can jump off from, you’ll see it.
Grote Knip: Photo credit unknown (your picture? Let us know!)
The amenities are fewer here; there’s a small snack bar where you can purchase simple foods like fries and burgers, but the real benefit of coming here is that you can bring your own drinks and set up your own barbecue. Be sure to buy a bag of ice beforehand at any of the supermarkets//snack bars along the way.
Stop 3: Playa Forti (scenic dinner/late lunch spot and an epic cliff jump!)
Welcome to the end of the island, literally, the roads all end here and curve back to Willemstad
Playa Forti is simply peaceful, quiet with a daunting adrenaline filled cliff-jump!
Along the edge of the cliff, there’s a nice restaurant. It’s a perfect spot to have a nice dinner, watch the sunset and reflect on your amazing day.
Plan 3: Turtle watching with two picturesque beaches and a BBQ
If you’re big on turtles, you need to simply flip the schedule and replace Playa Forti with Playa Piskado.
Stop 1: Playa Piskado
Playa Piskado is a bay where, traditionally, local fishermen dock and offload their catch of day. The turtles are quite fond of the area. This is because fishermen always throw parts of fish or leftover bait into the water. You need to come in early to be able to see the turtles. Be sure to bring your snorkel set though.
Tip: additionally, you can find an underwater statue of Neptune.
NOTICE: Please do not touch the turtles or swim too close or above them. Turtles might contract disease and also need to come up for air.
Stop 2: Groot Knip (again great for a BBQ setting if you have your BBQ gear)
Stop 3: Porto Marie or Cas Abou (Feel free to bring your own drinks)
Plan 4: Turtles and the Blue Cave (Departure Santa Cruz Bay)
Another nice itinerary that is both relaxing and entertaining is combining the Turtle Watching (or simply any of the beaches you fancy) with a boat trip to the blue cave in the afternoon.
The blue is a short boat trip away and it’s entrance is slightly under water.
A short 5-second dive under some rocks puts you in a magical cave that due to the reflection of the sunset radiates a magical blue colour.
Your departure is going to be Santa Cruz Bay, a quiet and scenic beach that is also simply pure bliss.
Captain Good Life departs there daily; and the boat trip will take you along many other fun little things like an underwater Buddha.
Blue Cave Entrance(Photo credit: Inspirock)
Inside the Blue Cave (Photo credit: Inspirock)
Plan 5: Hiking up the Mountain and enjoying a beach
Our last proposed plan. While not a beach hop per se, this trip combines something for the hikers at heart.
Wake up super early (don’t drink too much the night before) around 6AM and make your way to Christoffel park at 7AM. It gets warm so it’s recommended to be early to escape the heat.
Pay the entrance fee and make your way to the foot of the mountain by car and proceed to hike up the 400 meter “mountain”. While you’re going to feel the warmth and possible humidity, it’ll be well worth it when you hit that windy breeze at the top and see the scenery from the highest point on the island.
Christoffel Mountain Photo credit unknown (your picture? Let us know!)
Christoffel Mountain view from the top Photo credit unknown (your picture? Let us know!)
After your descent, you can head down to Grote Knip or Playa Forti and relax after your pre-lunch work-out by grabbing a cold drink or diving into the cool Caribbean Sea. You should be able to visit both beaches. All this fun will work up an appetite. So if you end at Playa Forti, you can grab a late lunch at the restaurant.
There you have, these are (according to us) your best options for maximizing your stay on Curaçao.
Of course, in typical Caribbean tradition, feel free to mix it up, there’s never a right or wrong way to spend a holiday.