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An Itinerary for Curacao in One Day

An Itinerary for Curacao in One Day

by Mary Chong
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You’re in Curacao, and you’ve got one day to do it ALL.

Okay, maybe not ALL because it’s impossible to see everything in Curacao in one day!

But you do want to do a lot and see the most that you can given the limited time frame. I’m not talking 24 hours…I’m talking 8 hours, the clock is ticking, and you need a plan of attack for that special Curacao Day!

What are the best things to see in Curacao?

What are the best things to do in Curacao?

Where should we go in Curacao?

Read on for your perfect day trip itinerary…

This is the fourth part in a series of articles on Curacao.

I encourage you to read the previous three articles for detailed travel information and history for the sites mentioned below.

Part one: Curacao – The Meaning of Dushi
Part two: Curacao Beaches – Sun, Surf and Sand
Part three: Curacao – Restaurants with a View

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An Itinerary for One Day in Curacao. What to do, where to go and how to get there. #Curacao #Caribbean #Cruise #Beach #travel #traveldestination #itinerary

Here’s my quick rundown of what you should see and do when planning a Curacao itinerary.

Most people that are in the “one day” scenario are arriving via cruise ship, so my little tour here starts at the Mega Pier cruise port where you cruise ship will likely be docked. If you wish to make this day trip and you aren’t on a cruise ship – start at the Rif Fort.

1. Rif Fort

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Rif Fort

Walk out of the secure port area to your right-hand side and through the Rif Fort.

This unique structure was once the primary line of defence for the island from pirates and invaders. Now it has been redeveloped and lives on as a UNESCO world heritage site. Within its walls there is world-class dining and shopping experience. It is also home to a bustling nightlife, with live entertainment Thursdays – Saturdays. Head over to enjoy their outdoor bars and terraces.

The Rif Fort has this fantastic-looking infinity pool that looks like it is going right into the ocean.

You are on a mission now so don’t dawdle!

We’re going to tour the Rif Fort later on our return back to the ship.

2. Otrobanda

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller

You are in Otrobanda now, quickly browse the vendors on the west side of Emma Bay and take some photos of the beautiful coloured buildings across the Bay.

There are raised platforms next to the Queen Emma Bridge to give you a better view.

There are raised platforms next to the Queen Emma Bridge to give you a better view or you can sit on a cafe terrace to take in the amazing panoramic views of the water and the historic buildings.

This district dates back to the 18th century and it’s evident in the Dutch Colonial architecture. Walk the streets and visit the unique shops that line the streets. To learn more about the unique history of the area, take a minute to read the plaque at the entrance of the bridge to get a brief history of the bridge.

Read the plaque at the entrance of the bridge to get a brief history of the bridge.

3. Queen Emma Bridge

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge

Cross over the historic Queen Emma Bridge over to Punda. This hinged bridge that was built 1888, allows ships to pass through and pedestrians to make their way to the shops and restaurants.

If the bridge is open, don’t worry you can take the free ferry across the water.

Once on the other side check out the various patio cafés, restaurants and bars and plan where to dine later in the day.

4. Wilhelmina Park

Next, walk through a few of the streets and shop along the way.

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Shopping
A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Queen Wilhelmina Park

End up at Wilhelmina Park (named after the Queen whose statue stands at the centre of the park). This park is not only beautiful, it’s a great place to rest for a moment and take in everything that is Curacao. It’s an excellent people-watching spot. Bordering the park are lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants, so this may be a great place to grab a coffee or light lunch.

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Curacao Sign

Don’t forget, before you leave the park, pose and take photos of the famous DUSHI CURACAO sign.

5. Waterfort Arches

Check out the view from the Waterfort Arches. Originally built to store supplies like munitions, food and medical supplies, it also served as a watch point for allies to watch for Nazi submarines.

Snap a photo of your cruise ship from the ocean’s edge.

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller

6. Floating Market

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Floating Market

Walk north now through the side streets and shop/browse and visit the floating fruit markets and the local indoor market (large round building). The best time to visit the indoor market is early in the day when the local vendors are still operating. The prices are inexpensive and the variety is plentiful.

7. Hit the Beach

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao Calculated Traveller Cabana Beach Curacao

Grab a cab or take the local bus and head to one of the beautiful beaches such as Cabana Beach or Curacao Sea Aquarium and perhaps swim with the dolphins.

If you want to experience the beach like a local, you can stop by one of the most popular diving and snorkelling spots, Caracasbaai beach to relax or explore the underwater park if you are a snorkeler. The calm waters, this spot is popular with the islanders and has some quaint restaurants you can enjoy.

8. Kura Hulanda

One day Itinerary for Curacao by Calculated Traveller Kura Hulanda

If the beach is not your cup of tea, visit some of the many museums. Curacao has 16 museums in town, so there is plenty to see. Personally, I would head back to the Queen Emma Bridge and visit the Unesco site Kura Hulanda Museum if I wasn’t planning a trip to the beach. Built on the location of a former slave yard and merchant’s home, Kura Hulanda Museum contains the most extensive collection of African art and history in the Caribbean.

A One Day Itinerary for Curacao water front restaurants

9. Time to Chill

End up back at the waterfront patio to people watch, rest up from your busy day.

Chill with a drink and snack and then head back over the bridge to the Rif Fort on your way back to the ship!

Curacao in One Day. An itinerary to maximize a short visit by Calculated Traveller

Please check out our Caribbean archives for more itinerary suggestions for other cruise ports.

So…I hope this solves your “what to do in Curacao” question. So tell me, what fabulousness did YOU see in Curacao in one day? I’d love to hear about it…

Looking for more Caribbean content?
White Sand Seclusion at Governor’s Beach Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Avoid the Cruise Ship Crowds at Sapphire Beach, St Thomas USVI
A Walking Tour Itinerary for One Day in San Juan Puerto Rico

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Rita May 8, 2019 - 4:20 pm

Hello, I will be spending about 7 hrs here and appreciate your comments. Is there any way to get a guide or do I have to print it all?

Mary Chong May 8, 2019 - 10:05 pm

Unfortunately, you will have to print it out. A guide is in the works but it isn’t ready yet… Thanks so much for your interest Rita!

Daphne January 13, 2015 - 12:38 am

Hi Mary,
Loved your whole write up on Curacao. We will be visiting the island in about 2 weeks while on a cruise. We have found that touring these wonderful islands on our own, rather then take excursions offered by the ship, is really the best way to really enjoy each island and all they have to offer. We have taken a few excursions in the past, but with each cruise, it is less often (We are doing back-to-back cruises this time and between the two of them we are only doing one tour). This will be our first visit to Curacao. Thank you for posting your “Curacao In a Day” schedule. It gives us a jumping off point and some great ideas.

Mary Chong January 13, 2015 - 4:29 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words… I’m so jealous! Back to Back Caribbean? Good for you! Enjoy!

Stephanie Gaunay August 23, 2014 - 2:49 pm

Hi Mary!

Just got back from Curaçao for 9 days, but my favorite “1 Day” itinerary consisted of:

1-2 hours in morning for Rif Fort, Punda & Floating Market

Rental car from Renaissance Marriott to Shete Boka National Park (the coves, caves & natural bridges are breathtaking.

Knip Beach on Westpunt (saw sea turtles snorkeling there)

Jaanchies Restaurant for lunch (very local dishes, beautiful atmosphere)

On way home passed by the flamingo area to watch wild flamingos right off the road.

At night: Club Bermuda.

Amazing, wonderful, stunning island.

Irene @ CuracaoRentalHomes December 18, 2013 - 4:27 am

Hello Mary! Glad to see you managed to do so many things in one day, but this island is so beautiful that it’s a pity to spend such little time on it. Whenever you decide to return, if you’re looking for accommodation, Curacao Rental Homes will welcome you with open hearts and arms. Have fun in your following trips!

Nicole @ Suitcase Stories June 12, 2013 - 8:12 pm

I went to Curacao for a day trip while on a cruise. Out of the 11 islands we visited this was my favorite! Id love to go back again and explore a little more. Your suggested itinerary is almost exactly what we did actually! The beaches there are some of my favorite worldwide! The water was so clear you could see straight through to the bottom even at 6 feet deep. Thanks for reminding me how wonderful this island is!

Mary Chong June 15, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Thanks for commenting Nicole. I’ve been to most of the islands in the Caribbean and I do agree…the water is incredible here and the island is very relaxed and safe.

Jessica - A Passion and A Passport June 12, 2013 - 8:51 am

I’ve been to numerous Caribbean islands, but haven’t gotten to curaçao just yet! Your day plan really makes me want to spend at least a day there! Thanks for the suggested itinerary! :)

Meagan @ Life Outside of Texas May 26, 2013 - 8:14 pm

Really smart idea! I think so many people will find this useful.

Sheedia May 21, 2013 - 4:44 pm

This is a really cool idea. A lot of people arrive on Cruise ships and don’t really know where to go. You find them wondering around without anything to do. With your guide they can stay active and feel like they’ve accomplished something.

Mary Chong May 21, 2013 - 4:51 pm

Thanks Sheedia. I plan on doing one for every island so stay tuned!

noel May 18, 2013 - 12:55 pm

Hi Mary,

I think your tips on doing locations like Curacao in one day are fantastic especially when most those tours tend to be from cruise ships with limited shore excursion time. Thanks for sharing the highlights.


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