Curacao isn’t a large island by any means. However, driving straight through, it should take just over an hour to get from the northwestern side to the southeastern side.
Despite that, many people struggle to visit everywhere they want. So, where is the best place to stay when going to Curacao to see as much as you want?
The eastern side, near Willemstad, is the more popular place to be. It is a lot crowded in one area, including beaches, shopping centers, historical tours, and even an ostrich farm.
However, the western side has its perks if you are looking for a more nature-packed, peaceful vacation.
Keep reading to learn which each side has features and where you should pick for your next vacation.
On Which Side of Curacao Should You Stay At?
When it comes to a vacation in Curacao, most people recommend the city of Willemstad and the surrounding area. Willemstad is Curacao’s capital city and encompasses most of the southeastern side of the island.
If you want to be part of the life and soul of Curacao, then this is the place to be. Whether you stay inside Willemstad or you explore the local area, you will find plenty to do.
There are things for everyone, from the great outdoorsman to the shopaholic. You will be sure to find some way to spend your days in Curacao.
Why is it Better to Stay There?
Since it is the capital city, it is where most of the life of Curacao is and where they cater to tourists the most. A lot is packed into the city, so you can reach almost everything by walking.
Whether you want to shop, go out to eat, walk to the beach, or learn more about history, it’s all easily available in one town.
This area also caters to tourists, making it easy to find hotels, gifts, and fun places to visit.
While we enjoy the laid-back nature that comes with staying on the west side of Curacao, if we want to make the most out of our vacation, we often stay on the east side so that we can get a lot done at once, plus we don’t have to worry about renting a car to see all of the sites.
What is There to See?
There is plenty to see and do in Willemstad and the surrounding area. The most popular attractions in the area focus on the dozens of beaches.
It is no wonder with crystal clear, blue water and perfect sandy beaches. There are also piers and boardwalks full of life and history.
By planning, you can also swim with fish by booking a snorkeling tour through the reef or renting a Tugboat.
If you like history, there are also a few museums to check out that tell the history of the Dutch settlement and the African slave trade.
There is also a rich Jewish heritage in the area, and you can visit some of the city’s most important sites and learn more about the history. This includes cemeteries, plantation houses, and ancient Jewish districts.
However, that isn’t all there is to do. There are aquariums and dolphin academies in the area, where you can swim with dolphins and see other local marine life.
Bright historic buildings in the Punda and Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge area are not only for looking at but serve as boutiques, cafes, coffee shops, and more. Then, of course, there are also the mansions of Pietermaai if you are really into history.
If you want a tour of all of the city, there are those too, and for a pretty low price of around $20 USD. They take you through the town, to floating markets, Fort Amsterdam,
Not only are these buildings from the early 1800s, but they represent the history of slavery and oil mining. Many of them have been left as they were, but some have been turned into fancy hotels and restaurants.
If you want something a little more adventurous, there are also caves you can explore and learn more about. Plus, it’s a great way to get out of the heat if you need a break from the sun.
Or, for something a little more quirky that will be a great story to tell the family, check out the ostrich farm just outside the city, about an 11-minute drive from the heart of Willemstad.
Is There Anything to See on the West Side of Curacao?
While the west side isn’t nearly as popular, there are still things to do on the right side of Curacao. But, of course, the most popular attraction there is the Shete Boka National Park.
Full of natural bridges, water caverns, sea turtles, and pocket bays, you will find plenty to explore along with the coat. However, the total park is almost 10 kilometers (six miles), so you can easily spend a day in the park, taking in the sights.
Also, while the beaches on the east side have the benefit of being close to many hotels and other attractions, the beaches on the west side tend to be much prettier and are often far less crowded since everyone is going to Willemstad.
If you want to take a bit of a drive, there are Lanhuis (country houses) to visit along with the country. These old Dutch homes provide a rich history and give you an excuse to see more of Curacao outside the tourist-filled areas.
Final Thoughts on Curacao Island Sides
While the southeastern side of Curacao is the more popular side, with the capital city of Willemstad drawing in the most tourists, that doesn’t mean it is the only place.
If you want a more laid-back, relaxed adventure full of the great outdoors, then the west side of Curacao is well worth a visit too.
The west side shouldn’t be overlooked on your next trip with gorgeous, less dense beaches, national parks, and rich historical buildings.