Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad, Curacao

Hospitable and always sunny, Curacao bids you a warm welcome. The friendly inhabitants, first class hotels, wonderful climate, crystal clear seawater, fascinating architecture, floating market, pontoon bridge, secluded bays, rich fauna and flora, and the many possibilities for excursions and entertainment make Curacao the tourist’s paradise.

The brightly hued island of Curacao, 42 miles east of Aruba, is part of the ABC chain of islands, which also includes Aruba and Bonaire. Legend says that an early governor suffered from migraines and mandated the pastel-colored houses, now a trademark of the Southern Caribbean island, because white paint aggravated his condition. Whatever the reason, there’s something wonderful about approaching by cruise ship and spotting buildings in shades like cotton-candy pink and deep, ocean-blue.

Willemstad is a very walkable city with lots of pretty pastel buildings and shops, cafes and museums. The city is divided in two by St Anna Bay, the largest harbour in the Caribbean. To the east is Punda, the oldest part of the city and Otrobando in the west, these are connected by a pontoon bridge known as the ‘Swinging Old Lady’.

Museum Kura Hulanda, the Maritime Museum and Mikve Israel Emanuel – the oldest synagogue still in use in the New World, are popular tourist attractions.

Curacao’s first 18 hold golf course is located in Willemstad, at the Blue Bay Golf Resort.

Curacao Sea Aquarium, the Dolphin Academy and Shete Boka National Park are all options for nature lovers and families alike.

The disabled cruiser visiting Willemstad

Where You’re Docked

Willemstad is split into two main districts by the Santa Anna Bay, a deep but narrow channel; Punda is on the east side, and Otrobanda, where cruise ships dock, is to the west. The port has two main docking spots. The Curacao Mega Pier is designed for large ships that can’t fit under the city’s famed Queen Juliana Bridge. The Mega Pier is located in West Willemstad, just a few minutes’ walk into downtown. Smaller ships dock at the Curacao Cruise Terminal. Both are within walking distance of the Queen Emma Bridge, which connects the two sides of the city. (Punda, the side opposite the cruise docks, features the main shopping and business areas.)

Curacao’s port facilities include ATMs, currency exchanges and port guides on site. Taxi stands are also available outside the port.

It’s an easy walk from the port to Willemstad, that features sidewalk cafes, funky museums and shops, and neat architectural touches like gables and arches.

Good to Know

Though exceptions are often made when cruise ships are in town, shops and restaurants are generally closed on Sundays.

Getting Around

On foot: 

By car: 

By bus:

Currency 

The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Florin, but nearly all vendors and shops take U.S. dollars. Several banks are located on the bustling street of Handelskade on the Punda side of town. Most have ATM’s, and money exchanges are available at the port with currency exchanges.

Language

Expect to hear English, Spanish and Dutch spoken widely, as well as the local language of the ABC islands: Papiamento. (Bon bini means welcome.)

Shopping

If you can’t bring back a bottle of Curacao liqueur, look for handmade crafts, such as painted wooden boxes or ceramics.

Try the famous Curacao liqueur or the locally brewed Amstel beer.

Goat stew and fresh fish dishes are among the many varied dishes served on the island.

Points of Interest

  • Willemstad – a seven-

Willemstad Accessible Excursions

Whether your cruise ship stops in 

Willemstad Accessible Guided Tour

This 4 hour accessible