Curaçao, like Aruba, is a desert island close to South America and offering a wide variety of beaches with surf ranging from placid to wild, sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, beach bars and great diving and water sports. Here are our picks for the best of Curaçao's sandy strands (note that many Curaçao beaches charge a small admission fee to visitors).
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These two coves make up Curaçao's most popular beach: the intimate Playa Kenepa (a.k.a. Knip Beach) is partly shaded by manchineel trees and has a cliffside lookout point, which makes for a nice photo op. (Cliff jumping is also an option, but there is no lifeguard on duty.) You can snorkel right off the beach, or swim out to the reef. There is a snack bar and a tiny restroom on site.
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The view from above Playa Forti is right out of a postcard, with the fishing boats and a panorama of the island’s western tip. Here you’ll find smooth pebbles along the shore and several snack bars. The Playa Forti Restaurant, which serves Creole food as well as burgers, is built on the ruins of an old English fort. The luxe Lodge Kura Hulanda Resort is nearby.
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Jan Thiel Beach
This beautiful open bay has excellent diving and snorkeling. Jan Thiel Beach is located in an upscale residential neighborhood east of the Curaçao capital of Willemstad, boasts a full-service dive operation, and has a kid-friendly wading area and a small water park. The African-themed Zanzibar Restaurant rents beach chairs, serves three meals daily and offers beachfront massage services.
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Curaçao’s longest and whitest beach is on Klein Curaçao, a tiny uninhabited island 8 miles off the southeast coast. Dive operators and charter boats like Mermaid Boat Trips and Miss Ann take passengers out to this oversized volcanic rock for beach parties, cookouts, swimming with turtles, and fantastic diving in coral caves. The island's photogenic lighthouse is a local landmark.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Blue Bay Beach
Located near the village of Sint Michiel, just northwest of Willemstad, Blue Bay Beach has soft white sand, a water sports center, bar, and restaurant, as well as a play area for children. The amenities and turquoise waters make this a favorite for both locals and tourists. The Blue Bay Resort has an 18-hole golf course and luxury villas and apartments steps from the water.
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Located right next door to Curaçao’s Sea Aquarium, this beach has several shops, popular restaurants and bars, and water sports equipment available for rent, making it a perfect option for families during the day. After sunset, the beach transforms into a popular nightlife scene with music and dancing at bars such as Mambo, Cabana, and Wet & Wild. Concerts are also hosted at this beach, as well as movie nights. The Sea Aquarium hosts marine animal shows and animal encounter programs, and the Lion's Dive Beach Resort is located here as well.