With dozens of beautiful beaches, sprawling national parks, and a vibrant culture, Curacao belongs on any Caribbean itinerary. It’s also a large island with many different places to visit. Here’s what you should know when trying to choose where to stay in Curacao.
Why You Should Visit Curacao in 2023
Located in the Caribbean Sea, Curacao is a constituent country of the Netherlands and a popular destination for beach vacation getaways.
Curacao is one of over 700 islands in the Caribbean but stands out for its colorful architecture and largely unspoiled beaches. It’s also a little less crowded compared to some of the other islands in the area.
Neighboring Aruba receives more attention and visitors, giving Curacao less of a touristy vibe.
Outside of the hurricane season during late fall, the weather is great year-round. You can spend your time exploring the beaches, hiking the nature trails, or getting up close and personal with the underwater marine life.
The 5 Best Parts of Curacao
Curacao isn’t the largest island in the Caribbean, but it has many distinct neighborhoods and towns to consider staying in.
However, if you want to stay in a hotel or a resort instead of an apartment, the following places are going to be your best option:
- Punda: First-Time Visitors and Families
- Otrobanda: History Buffs and All-Inclusive Resorts
- Scharloo: Culture and Street Art
- Jan Thiel: Luxury Travelers and Shopping
- Westpunt/Lagun: Snorkeling and Secluded Beaches
The Best Areas & Hotels in Curacao
If you want to get the most out of your trip to Curacao, you should take the time to find the area that best matches your travel plans.
Whether you want to play in the water, lounge on the sand, or explore local sites, you may find that one part of the island has exactly what you want. Here’s a closer look at the best areas and hotels in Curacao.
Punda is the most popular district in the capital city of Willemstad. It’s in the heart of the capital and home to the largest selection of hotels, shops, and restaurants. It’s perfect for first-time visitors and families.
Punda has a wide variety of places to shop where you can take advantage of duty-free shopping. You’ll find many boutiques and local markets throughout the neighborhood.
It’s also the historic center of the city and includes great examples of the colorful colonial architecture that the area is known for.
In fact, the central district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Depending on the time of the year, you may also get to see a festival, parade, or cultural event. Many of the biggest events are held in Punda due to its central location and history.
You’ll also want to stay here if you’re looking to party, as Punda has the most clubs and bars.
The center of Willemstad includes hotels for every price budget, making it a good choice for both budget travelers and those wanting a luxurious stay, but it’s one of the most popular parts of the island. If you’re looking for more privacy and fewer tourists, consider one of the next few neighborhoods.
Things to Do in Punda
- Explore the historic sites of Punda, starting with the statue at Queen Wilhelmina Park
- Get food, drinks, or souvenirs as you stroll the bustling waterfront street of Handelskade
- Visit the Statue of Manuel Carlos Piar for a panoramic view of the coastline, the bridge, and the neighboring district of Otrobanda
- Learn more about the history of the island with a tour of Fort Amsterdam
Where to Eat in Punda
- La Boheme Curacao for affordable breakfast, lunch, or dinner in downtown Willemstad
- Mistral Bistro for local cuisine, sandwiches, drinks, and outdoor seating near the waterfront
- Cascada Rooftop Bar for drinks or an evening meal with views of the historic parts of Willemstad
- The City Curacao for casual fare with views of the Queen Emma Bridge
Punda Budget Hotels
- San Marco Hotel Curacao & Casino: This is one of the most affordable hotels on the island but offers comfortable rooms with a clean, modern look. It’s also home to a casino with slot machines and roulette tables, along with an on-site currency exchange.
- Boutique Homes Willemstad City Centre: Due to the limited number of hotels, this set of apartments is a popular choice for those wanting an affordable place to stay in the capital. Most of the apartments have a private balcony, kitchenette, and many other amenities.
Punda Mid-Range Hotels
- Wynwood Boutique Hotel: Located a short distance from Avila Beach, this boutique hotel has spacious rooms with vibrant décor. It’s a highly rated property with most guests praising the customer service and convenient location near some of the main attractions.
- Pietermaai Boutique Hotel: Just 66 feet from the beach, this hotel is a good option for those who plan on enjoying water activities. The rooms are colorfully decorated and include access to a two-level pool.
Punda Luxury Hotels
- Elements Hotel & Shops Curacao: This highly rated hotel is as close to a luxury hotel as you can find in this part of the capital, but it’s a lovely place to stay with a long list of amenities and special features. Each room has a kitchen with a fridge and access to an on-site restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and other facilities.
- Scuba Lodge & Suites: This beachside hotel has a pool, laundry facilities, and a free breakfast each morning, along with an on-site restaurant and bar. Several of the rooms also include views of the ocean or the city.
Otrobanda is another district in Willemstad, across the bay from Punda. It’s not as busy but still offers a little bit of everything. This area is also home to more historical sites compared to Punda, which makes it a great place to stay for history lovers.
You’ll find more colonial buildings in various stages of restoration as you explore the city’s streets. Visitors also come to this neighborhood for the Floating Market.
Venezuelan boats dock at the bay and offer fresh produce and fish. During the day, you can easily get around the neighborhood on foot as you navigate the quaint streets and waterfront promenade.
If you want to venture to the Punda neighborhood or beyond, you can hop on the Otrobanda-Punda ferry, which is a short ride and offers a great view of the waterfront area.
While the area has a few hotels, it’s also the top destination for all-inclusive resorts. Everything you could need is available in one spot, so you don’t need to drive anywhere if you don’t want to.
Things to Do in Otrobanda
- Explore the area’s historic sites, starting with the Basilica Santa Anna in the center of the neighborhood
- Shop and dine at the waterfront entertainment center at Renaissance Mall & Rif Fort
- Learn about the legacy of the slave trade in the Caribbean at the Kura Hulanda Museum
- Try your luck at the Wind Creek Carnaval Casino
Where to Eat in Otrobanda
- Topogigio Snack Center for delicious fast food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- Gill’s Home Cooking for casual fare from a popular restaurant near the center of Otrobanda
- Restaurant & Café Gouverneur De Rouville for fine dining with a view of Punda’s waterfront shops across the bay
- Netto Bar for an authentic Curacao experience at the island’s oldest and most popular bar
Otrabanda Budget Hotels
- Harbor Hotel & Casino Curacao: This affordable hotel isn’t too close to the beach or downtown, which should give you a little more peace but also increases time spent traveling to places. Some of the highlights include ocean views, free breakfasts, and an on-site casino.
- Curacao Suites Hotel: Save money with a stay at this budget hotel near Avila Beach. Useful features include an on-site ATM, a grill, and a terrace with a view of the city.
Otrabanda Mid-Range Hotels
- Kura Botanica Hotel: This popular hotel has a swimming pool, terrace, garden, and bar to help you enjoy your stay. It’s also a short walk from several attractions, including Queen Emma Bridge and several parks.
- Brion City Hotel BW Signature Collection: Located near the bay, this hotel includes many of the features you expect from hotels in Curacao, including a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and swimming pool. However, this place stands out for its fantastic views of the bridge and the main downtown waterfront areas.
Otrabanda Luxury Hotels
- Courtyard by Marriott Curacao: This hotel is one of the most luxurious places to stay on the island but doesn’t cost too much. It also includes many great amenities, including a picnic area, a snack bar, security, and an on-site coffee house.
- Renaissance Wind Creek Curacao Resort: Here, you can stay right next to the casino so you can spend more time at the tables. This casino resort includes a restaurant with international cuisine, a bar, a fitness center, and a jogging trail, along with casino games.
Scharloo is yet another district in the capital city and one of the few places with hotels and resorts instead of just apartments. It’s north of Punda, which places you closer to the action compared to Otrobanda but further from the beaches.
Scharloo is more of a residential area and tends to attract fewer tourists. If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, Scharloo is one of the best places to stay. You can spend time in the local markets interacting with residents rather than standing shoulder to shoulder with throngs of tourists.
Scharloo is still a short distance from Punda and the beachfront area. You may need to travel a little further, but you can save on your hotel.
While most of the hotels and resorts throughout Curacao are relatively affordable, this is one of the cheaper places to stay on the island. You’ll find lower prices on food, lodgings, and most purchases.
Things to Do in Scharloo
- Discover the history of Curacao at the Curacao Maritime Museum
- Explore Scharloo in search of the unique displays of street art
- Wake up early to watch the merchants arrive for the Floating Market
- Catch the latest blockbuster movie at The Movies Curacao theatre
Where to Eat in Scharloo
- Villa Fiesta Curacao for cold drinks and a cozy atmosphere off the beaten path
- Beyglz for a large, filling breakfast of pancakes, waffles, or bagel sandwiches
- Waaigat Bar & Restaurant for Chinese cuisine and a view of the Princess Amalia Bridge
- The Wine Cellar for fine dining and a wide selection of regional wines
Scharloo Budget Hotels
- Centrally Located Apartment: As the area only has one or two hotels, this apartment is one of the most affordable places to stay in Scharloo. It’s a cozy place located in the center of the neighborhood and a short walk from the aquarium.
- Cozy One-Bedroom Apartment: This apartment is next door to the previous recommendation and is equally affordable. It includes a full kitchen with a fridge and stove.
Scharloo Mid-Range Hotels
- The Ritz Village Hotel: This is the sole hotel in the immediate Scharloo area and is a great place to stay for those wanting to explore this neighborhood. It’s located between Scharloo and Punda and includes access to a bar and restaurant.
- The Ritz Residence: Located next to the hotel, this rental unit includes everything needed for a fun stay, including a full kitchen, living area, and TV. When you’re ready to eat or drink, you can choose from two on-site restaurants and a café/bar.
Scharloo Luxury Hotels
- Boutique Hotel Klooster: This boutique hotel ensures that every guest receives the celebrity treatment. You can enjoy lunch at the on-site restaurant or explore the nearby commercial area that includes many bars, restaurants, and clubs.
- Terra Boutique Hotel Curacao: This fancy hotel is a little closer to the Pietermaai neighborhood but still within walking distance of the top Scharloo attractions and street art. The hotel boasts wonderful ratings and luxurious rooms with balconies or sea views.
4. Jan Thiel
Jan Thiel is a town found further down the coast, on the other side of the popular Mambo Beach. It’s got a more upscale atmosphere compared to the capital and some of the smaller towns.
This makes it the favorite destination for luxury travelers, but less popular among budget travelers. Jan Thiel is a beachside town, so you’re never far from the sand and water.
The area is known for its beautiful beaches with clear blue waters and access to many water activities, including snorkeling and kayaking. While the capital has more individual shops, Jan Thiel is also a popular shopping destination.
The area has a few shopping centers and several markets offering an endless selection of goods.
Jan Thiel is still near some of the best attractions in Curacao, including the aquarium and the Aloe Vera Plantation. It’s also a short drive from the capital, so you can easily hop on over to explore Willemstad for a day.
Things to Do in Jan Thiel
- Snorkel among the turtles and other marine life in Caracas Bay
- Those with dogs can take their pooches to the Doggy Beach Curacao while everyone else can hike the nearby trails
- Spend the day on the sand, in the water, or exploring the nearby shops and cafes at Jan Thiel Beach
- Book a ride on a powerboat for a tour around the coastline
Where to Eat in Jan Thiel
- Don’s Restaurant for tasty breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a quiet spot away from the beach
- The Pier for grilled sandwiches and cold drinks at a restaurant overlooking the bay
- Mojitos & Bites for pizza, wings, drinks, and a view of the sea
- Tinto Bar Y Cocina Restaurant for a romantic beachside dinner with live music
Jan Thiel Budget Hotels
- Adonai Hotel Boutique: This boutique hotel is a short walk from a variety of shops, restaurants, and a supermarket. The rooms are comfy and brightly decorated to match the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
- Bed & Bike Curacao: This budget hotel offers a mixture of room types to suit any traveler, whether you want a private room with a balcony or a bunk bed with a shared bathroom. The private rooms include queen rooms, double rooms, and family rooms at great prices.
Jan Thiel Mid-Range Hotels
- Casa Brasa Jan Thiel: Create an unforgettable vacation with a stay in this mid-range hotel, which is nestled in a secluded spot surrounded by lush vegetation. While it’s further from the beach, it includes an outdoor swimming pool and a large garden.
- Livingstone Jan Thiel Resort: With a children’s pool, a standard pool, and a variety of activities, this hotel is one of the best places for families to stay. It also features a colonial-style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Jan Thiel Luxury Hotels
- Morena Resort: This luxury resort includes a collection of villas and apartments available without a minimum number of nights. Whether you rent an apartment or a villa, you gain access to the on-site swimming pools, bar, restaurant, and free breakfast.
- Papagayo Beach Hotel: This beachside hotel has a bar and restaurant, along with a wide range of amenities to help you feel at home. Use your free time to work out at the fitness center or take a swim in the outdoor pool.
Westpunt and Lagun are the two biggest towns on the northern end of the island. This area is further from the bustling capital and one of the most secluded places to stay in Curacao.
You can really enjoy the natural beauty of Curacao, including its rugged coastlines with rocky cliffs and stunning beaches. Westpunt and Lagun are also the top places to stay for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The western side of the island is closer to large coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life and various underwater caves. Between the two towns, you can find several hotels, apartments, and condos to stay at.
Westpunt and Lagun are the best places to stay for those wanting more privacy and fewer tourists. However, if you’re looking for historic architecture, nightlife, or shopping, you’ll want to stay elsewhere.
Things to Do in Westpunt/Lagun
- Navigate the rocky terrain of the northern point of Curacao to reach the scenic Watamula Hole crater
- Hike through the Christoffel National Park to reach a viewpoint with a 360-degree view of the island
- Sprawl out at any of the many beaches that line the coast between Westpunt and Lagun, including Playa Kalki
- Rent snorkeling equipment or book a tour from one of the beachside rental shops
Where to Eat in Westpunt/Lagun
- Tur Tur Snack for ice cream and snacks a short walk from the beaches in Lagun
- Sol Food for delicious pizza, steak, and other American dishes with a view of Grandi Beach in Westpunt
- Kunuku Pachi Cola for fish and other seafood dishes in a rustic setting
- Jaanchie Restaurant for large family meals at a restaurant that’s popular with the locals
Westpunt/Lagun Budget Hotels
- Bon Bini Lagun Curacao: Located just over 100 feet from Lagun Beach, this budget hotel is a convenient place to stay for those who want to spend more time in the water. It’s also one of the few hotels in the region.
- Marazul Dive Resort: This resort offers affordable rates and comfortable rooms with views of the sea. It’s about 50 feet from Forti Beach and a short walk from at least four other beaches in the area.
Westpunt/Lagun Mid-Range Hotels
- Marazul Dive Apartment: If the hotel and resort are out of rooms, you may need to try some of the apartments, starting with this mid-range option near Forti Beach. It has a fully equipped kitchen, an outdoor pool, and a terrace with sea views.
- Seru Papaya Cabin: Enjoy a stay in a secluded tropical paradise at this beachside cabin, found about five miles from the entrance to the Christoffel National Park. It also includes a spacious deck and all the luxuries of home.
Westpunt/Lagun Luxury Hotels
- Lagun Blou Resort: As one of the few resorts in the area, this place is a popular choice. It’s also a luxurious spot with an outdoor swimming pool, an on-site bar, and a private beach area.
- Cliff Villa: Built near cliffs overlooking the sea, this luxury villa has the most fantastic backdrop on the island. It’s also well suited for large groups, thanks to four separate bedrooms and a large living area with an open floor plan.
So, Where Should You Stay in Curacao?
|🏆 Best for First Timers||Punda|
|🏰 Most Historic Area||Otrobanda|
|🏛️ Best for Cultural Experience||Scharloo|
|🛍️ Best for Shopping||Jan Thiel|
|⛱️ Best for Beaches||Westpunt/Lagun|
Curacao is a beautiful island with lots to see and do, but most visitors tend to stay in or around the capital for access to shopping, restaurants, and hotels. However, there’s something for everyone, from the secluded beaches in Westpunt and Lagun to the luxurious resorts and hotels in Jan Thiel.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Curacao has to offer. Happy travels!