Travelers come to Curaçao every year to experience its year-round warm weather, dry, desert-like landscape, and turquoise water. The island is located in the southern Caribbean, 40 miles north of the South American coast, enjoying an average temperature of 86 degrees.
It’s the beaches that draw travelers to this corner of the Caribbean. While each beach has its own unique look and feel, it’s the signature “cove”-like shape that makes Curaçao’s beaches extra special. Rugged limestone cliffs create a sense of seclusion and serve as a contrast to the white sand beaches and tranquil, turquoise waters.
Here are some of the best beaches in Curaçao to include on your next visit.
Sea Aquarium Beach (Mambo Beach)
Part beach, part boulevard, think of Mambo as an urban oasis set against a beach backdrop. It’s located just four miles south of Willemstad and is more built up than Curaçao’s other beaches.
Mambo Beach does a good job of exuding popular appeal while maintaining a local feel. Whether you’re in the mood to bar hop or snorkel, there’s something for every taste and temperament. It’s a “choose your own adventure” type of place.
Families will enjoy a visit to the Sea Aquarium—one of the best aquariums in the world—where adventurous visitors can snorkel in the natural lagoon alongside stingrays, sharks, and tarpon. In another area of the park, visitors see nurse sharks and lemon sharks up close, while feeding them through designated windows.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, take your pick of Mambo Beach’s many restaurants. Bliss the Berry is a new addition to the boulevard and specializes in all-day breakfast and lunch—think fresh smoothies, açaí bowls, pancakes, and fresh roasted coffee.
In the evening, head over to Chill beach bar for a front-row seat to the sunset. The bar is located right on the beach and set up with plenty of wooden tables and comfy hammocks. Order something off the grill, like their chicken, beef, or shrimp skewers or go all out with their “Chill” burger, served with a side of nachos.
Playa Kenepa Grandi (Grote Knip)
Kenya Grandi, also known as Grote Knip, is one of two beaches that make up Playa Kenepa. Grote Knip has an intimate feel to it, framed by cliffs at either end and backed by dense green shrub, and is a perfect place to disconnect from the world for an afternoon.
Chill out on one of the loungers and catch some rays, or go on a kayak or snorkel adventure. As with more remote, quiet beaches, you’ll find a snack bar here but not much else. Consider packing a lunch or bringing some snacks with you.
South of Grote Knip you’ll find Klein Knip, the other beach that makes up Playa Kenapa. This beach is smaller in size but stunning in its own way. The two beaches aren’t too far apart, so it’s possible to squeeze a visit to Klein Knip on the way.
Home to a sunken tugboat wreck, Caracas Bay is a premier spot for snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean. The tugboat has been underwater for some 30 years and the sea has absorbed it into the fold.
There are barnacles and coral growing along it and fish of every size swimming about. As beautiful as Curaçao is on land, Caracas Bay is a colorful reminder of all there is to uncover under the sea’s surface.
Fun fact: If you happen to see larger ships offshore, it’s because Caracas Bay has some of the clearest water on the island. Clear water makes it easier for ship repairers to perform inspections, repair broken parts and clean the vessels underwater.
Blue Bay Beach
Blue Bay Beach might be a 25-minute drive from Willemstad, but it’s well worth the detour as this is one of the top beaches in Curaçao. Blue Bay Beach has all the amenities you’ll need: water sports, snorkeling and sea kayaking gear, a bar, restaurant and changing areas.
Snorkeling here is one of the best things to do in Curaçao, and you don’t have to swim too far from shore to see colorful fish up close. It’s also a great spot to just do nothing—after all, what are vacations for? Reserve a chair at the Blue Bay Beach resort and catch up on a good book underneath the shade of the palm trees.
Blue Bay Beach Restaurant offers an extensive menu, with beachfront views and an open-air structure that provides welcome shade. Start with the Caribbean tomato chowder or the steak tartare with parmesan crisps and cured egg yolk.
For something more filling, try the mahi-mahi tacos and finish it all off with the Dutch apple pie with vanilla ice cream—a local specialty.
Set in the natural bay of Vaersenbaai, Kokomo Beach is among Curaçao’s most visited beaches. It’s a safe bet for families and small groups because there are so many different things to do. Go snorkeling, relax on a lounger—they are super comfortable—or sip cocktails as the sun goes down.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the beach bar for lunch and a round of drinks. The menu is fairly extensive, so there’s something for every taste.
Try a Caribbean cocktail made with the island’s signature Blue Curaçao liqueur, made from the peels of the Laraha fruit, a bitter orange native to the island. It’s still distilled and bottled on the island today and you can’t miss it as it’s colored bright blue.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Curaçao’s flamingos at Kokomo Beach. These wild birds are actually only part-time residents, and fly back and forth from Bonaire every day to care for their babies.
Kokomo Beach, as well as Jan Kok, are where they are spotted most, wading in in the shallows, showing off their pink plumage.
An array of colorful fishing boats greet you on Playa Lagun. Located on the west end of the island, Playa Lagun is considered the best snorkeling spot in Curaçao for swimming with green sea turtles (of course, safely and at a distance).
Sightings are hit or miss, but mornings are usually the best time to see the turtles.
On land, you’ll spot different creatures. Although they camouflage themselves well, you can usually see iguanas basking in the sun or draped in the trees.
They’re native to the island and are surprisingly great swimmers. As with many of Curaçao’s beaches, Playa Lagun can get a little rocky and water shoes really come in handy.
If cliff-jumping, or more sensibly, watching cliff-jumping is on your bucket list, look no further than Playa Forti. This small, somewhat rugged black-sand beach is the perfect place to get your adrenaline pumping.
The jump from the promontory is roughly a 40-foot drop, so definitely not for the faint of heart, although you’ll see plenty of people making the leap.
The good news is that regardless of whether you take the plunge or not, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the island and some great panoramic photos from the top of the cliff. For when you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Restaurant Playa Forti on the cliff for red snapper and piña coladas.
Craving some alone time? Playa Jeremi is your best bet. The beach itself is covered with fragments of volcanic lava debris. Water shoes are a must here, as there are a lot of stones on the seabed.
Divers and snorkelers love Playa Jeremy because of the coral reef and easy swimming conditions. Since there aren’t any amenities or shade on the beach, this might be a beach to skip for the family.
Otherwise, pack a lunch, fill up that water bottle and you’re ready to go. Remember sunblock, too, as there’s not a lot of shade at this beach—and if you plan to spend a lot of time in the water, a rash vest will protect you, too.
For a truly local experience, make your way to Daaibooi. It’s a 30-minute drive from Willemstad but well worth the detour. Barbecues are allowed here–a rarity among most of Curaçao’s beaches–and locals take full advantage.
On any given day you’ll see families of all ages listening to music as they grill meat alongside a hearty portion of potato salad. You might not have a grill to join in the festivities, but you can still go and enjoy the ambiance. If you do get hungry, there’s a small snack bar to tide you over until dinner.
Playa Kalki is a small cove that has earned the nickname of “Alice in Wonderland” due to its mushroom-shaped coral formations. This is one beach where you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes.
To reach the beach, there are steep stone steps leading from the parking lot down to the cove. About halfway down, you can stop for a snack under the shaded area of the dive shop. Getting into the water can involve negotiating rocks, so make sure to pack your water shoes.
Located on Curaçao’s west side, Playa Hundu is a rubble beach surrounded by cliffs on either side. This is a popular dive spot, and for good reason. Colorful fish, reefs, and sponges sway in the calm, still waters.
If you’re not a diver, enjoy the remoteness of the beach from the shore. You’re in luck, as the palm trees do provide a nice shady area to keep cool.
Cas Abao is among three of Curaçao’s best beaches on the southwest side of the island for snorkeling. Warm water temperatures, gentle currents and calm waves make for ideal conditions to see all the marine life below.
When it comes to amenities, Cas Abao covers all the bases. Palapas are spread along the beach to keep shade from the sun, and lounge chairs are available for rent. There’s even free wifi–just ask the restaurant staff for the password. Restrooms and changing rooms are near the bar.
Visitors can either pack their own snacks or head to the beach bar and terrace. The menu isn’t too extensive but covers all the basics. Quick bites include hamburgers and fries, salads and sandwiches.
Finish it off with an ice-cold brew or a flavorful cocktail. You can either eat at the bar or take your food and drinks to go in eco-friendly disposable containers.
Playa Porto Mari
This beach really has it all; white coral sand, clear and calm water, a restaurant, bar, dive shop, and changing facilities. It’s sustainably managed, too. For example, the boardwalks are made of discarded pallets.
Located close to the village of Sint Willibrordus on a private stage called Plantages Porto Mari, the “double” reef makes this a starting point for many scuba diving and snorkel excursions.
If you’re up for a hike or a mountain bike excursion, there are three nature trails accessible from the beach, too.
Little Curaçao (Klein Curaçao)
This beach is the stuff dreams are made of. Sitting just eight miles off the southeast coast of Curaçao, Klein Curaçao is an uninhabited island with some of the longest and most pristine beaches around. Affectionately known as “Little Curaçao”, the beach is wonderfully remote and only reachable by boat.
Getting to Klein Curaçao from the mainland takes about two hours each way—it’s 15 miles from Curaçao—but well worth the added effort as this is one of the top beaches in Curaçao. The historic coral-colored lighthouse makes for a great photo opportunity.
Little Curaçao is mostly untouched, the white sand beach and turquoise waters making this an irresistible stop on your tour of the island.
Playa Santa Cruz
Last but definitely not least, Playa Santa Cruz is the closest beach that will get you into Blue Room Cave. As its name suggests, this is a cave accessible via a small opening at water level.
You can either join a snorkel excursion or kayak to the entrance and tie your kayak to a pole. Then, depending on the tide, it’s anything up to a six-foot kick under water to emerge in the luminous blue of the cave. The color is caused by the sun’s rays filtering through the water.
Assuming you aren’t claustrophobic or at all hesitant to hold your breath underwater, this is a bucket-list item for sure. You do need to be in good shape, though, and a confident swimmer.
Curaçao’s desert-like landscape and turquoise waters lay claim to some fantastic beaches. Browse our luxury cruises to Curaçao and book your beach getaway today.