Though just six miles wide and 37 miles long, Curaçao is the largest of the Lesser Antilles islands and the most populous. The island offers dozens of beaches, first-rate diving, and picturesque towns full of colonial Dutch architecture.
Hit the Beach
There are more than three dozen beaches on Curaçao, ranging from tranquil bays to secluded coves. While rugged waters make swimming on northwest coast difficult, families will find more tranquil waters in the sheltered bays on the west coast and the island's best beaches along the southern coast.
- Seaquarium Beach (a.k.a. Mambo Beach), just east of Willemstad, offers placid waters perfect for swimming as well as on-site restaurants and amenities.
- Playa Lagun, in the fishing village of Lagun, is a prime spot for families thanks to its protected cove and calm waters. You'll find a snack bar and dive center. Changing rooms are open on weekends.
- Blauwbaai, northwest of Willemstad, is the island's largest and most popular beach. Along with showers and changing areas, families will find a restaurant and plenty of shade umbrellas.
- Daaibooi, south of Willemstad, offers pristine white sand and fabulous snorkeling in clear reef waters.
Ride a Choo-Choo
To get oriented and give your kids a fun train ride, take the 75-minute trolley tour on which a brightly colored train engine pulls open-sided cars past many of Willemstad's historic sites. The tour begins and ends at Fort Amsterdam, built in 1635 to guard the vital entrance to the harbor, and takes in the Floating Market on Sha Caprilleskade; the historic Scharloo neighborhood; Bolo di Bruit, the much-photographed “wedding cake” house; Pietermaai Cathedral; Queen Wilhelmina Park; and the Waterfort Arches fortress.
Feed an Ostrich
One of the largest breeding facilities for ostriches outside of Africa, the Curaçao Ostrich Farm offers safari-style open-top bus tours that give you up-close views of these huge birds roaming on the farm. You can also feed, pet, and even ride an ostrich.
Right next to Mambo Beach, the Curaçao Seaquarium is the Caribbean's largest aquarium and home to more than 400 species of local marine invertebrates as well as nurse sharks, sea lions, dolphins, and sea turtles. There's a touch tank where kids can pet marine invertebrates and feeding holes where they can feed sharks. There is an on-site natural lagoon and a coral reef where you can swim with stingrays, tarpons, and parrotfish. Other experiences include dolphin shows and sea lion and dolphin encounters.
Tour Ancient Caves
Take a guided tour of the 200,000-year-old Hato Caves located on the north side of the island, and explore the stalagmites and stalactites of Curaçao's highest limestone terrace. The caves feature an underground lake and 1,500-year-old cave paintings.
Learn All About Fish
To find out everything you ever wanted to know about fish, head to Marco's Fish Farm, where young kids can craft their own fishing rods and catch tilapia or participate in a fun scavenger hunt-style activity through the grounds of the farm. Along the way, they need to find the answers to questions about peacocks, lizards, fish, and plants.
At the Substation Curaçao in Willemstad, you can take a 90-minute underwater tour aboard the Curasub, a real submarine that takes you to a depth of 1,000 feet. The Curasub descends four times a day, taking passengers to view the colorful fish, coral, and old shipwrecks.