Curaçao Driving Guide
Curaçao is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit
When you hear of tropical weather, laid-back island vibe, white sand beaches, islets, coral reefs, and cays, your travel-thirsty mind may take you to the Caribbean. There is so much beauty to discover in the region that you might just find it perplexing to choose which one to go to first. Well, kick-start your Caribbean escapade with a hint of Dutch by exploring Curaçao’s beautiful island, culture, and people.
Make your Caribbean tour your most exhilarating experience yet by driving in Curaçao. Access the country’s most stunning and crystal clear beaches, natural wilderness, historic communities. Moreover, enjoy its year-round summery weather, which makes Curaçao a perfect getaway destination if you like having plenty of fun under the sun.
How Can This Guide Help You?
This guide is an insider to everything you need to know and get prepped for, so you can fully enjoy your trip to Curaçao. You’ll discover the country’s hidden gems, learn about the driving rules in Curaçao, its culture, and what makes it a unique getaway for when you just need a breather from the nerve-racking grind of daily life. If you wish to know how it is driving in Curaçao, this guide will help you understand the country’s traffic laws, its road conditions, and give you tips for driving in Curaçao, the dos and don'ts, and whatnot.
To truly explore the island, you will need an international driver’s permit (IDP), which will be explained later in this guide. If you’re not sure how to secure an international driving license for Curaçao and where to find a good rental car, this guide has it all for you. Sit back and take your time, it’s going to be a long journey of reading, but it’s worth it.
Curaçao, a small island country in the Southern Caribbean Sea and shares a home with sister islands Aruba and Bonaire -- also known as the ABC islands, within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The country houses astounding historical sites and rugged landscapes. Ever want to explore western beaches? Curaçao boasts mesmerizing beaches that are hidden underneath coves and coral reefs that maintain Curaçao’s rich marine life. Curaçao is home to the Blue Bay, a popular diving spot that entices divers all around the world.
Willemstad, it’s the capital city, exhibits pastel-colored architecture derived from the Dutch colony. It’s home to the floating Queen Emma Bridge and the 17th-century Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. When you visit Curaçao, you are greeted with smiling faces of locals, and you know, there is no greater feeling than being warmly welcomed by the natives.
The small, Southern Caribbean island country of Curaçao sits 37 miles (60 km) north of Venezuela, in the South American continent. It’s the largest island among Bonaire, Aruba, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, which are all within the Netherlands Antilles -- the Caribbean portion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Curaçao is a polyglot nation, meaning that they speak different official languages. Spoken languages include Arawak Indian, Papiamentu Portuguese-based creole language spoken widely in the ABC islands; Dutch, which is used mainly for formal purposes like trial courts, and English. Minority groups in Curaçao also speak Portuguese, French, and German. Aside from these, Spanish also is widely spoken on the island.
The small island country of Curaçao has a total land area of only 444 square km or 171 square miles. It’s more than twice the size of the US' Washington, DC. Although small, it’s one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean Sea, It’s the largest island among the group of islands in the Netherlands Antilles. Its terrain is hilly, flat, and rocky, with its highest elevation being the Mt. Christoffel at 372 meters, and the Caribbean Sea as its lowest point at 0 meters.
The Arawak people from the Southern American mainland were the first settlers in Curaçao island and then later colonized by the Spanish. The story about how Curaçao became a Dutch territory stemmed down from the need for salt to preserve herring fish, and this led the Dutch to then-thriving taking over neighboring islands like Aruba and Bonaire. The Dutch were then a thriving trade company to aim at Spanish colonies and turned Curaçao into a trade center
In 1845, Curaçao became among the six dependencies in the West Indies and was reorganized into the Netherlands Antilles in 1954 and gained autonomy in internal affairs. The Netherlands Antilles were then dissolved in 2006 through agreements between its island nations and the Dutch Government. On October 10, 2010, Curaçao, together with Bonaire, Aruba, and Sint Maarten, became countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Being a “constituent country” of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao has a constitutional monarchy type of government. Its government works in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic country. Its executive branch comprises the prime minister as the head of the state and of a multi-party system, and is elected by the Parliament of Curaçao by legislative elections. While the king or the monarch as the chief of state, and appoints the cabinet.
In a small island country where several colonies settled and merged, you’d expect that Curaçao has a unique blend of different ethnic groups. Its current population of over 160,000 is composed of the ethnic groups of Arawak Indians, Black African descent, or Afro-Caribbean as the majority; You’ll also find ethnic groups of Latin American, French, Dutch, Asian, Portuguese, and Levantine as minorities.
The country shelters many of the most breath-taking beaches in the Antilles, with interesting architecture, history, and culture that shaped the nation into this interesting and beautiful land of a paradise. Tourism contributes to Curaçao’s strong economy. Visitors are stunned by the country’s natural beauty, and so they keep coming back. In 2019, Curaçao welcomed over 1.3 million foreign visitors, including those who cruise in the Caribbean region.
Its tourism industry is expected to continue booming over the years. It is expected to attract more tourists, especially that major airport upgrades are being made.
International Driver's Permit FAQs
Before you cheer for limitless adventures in the beautiful Curaçao island, you must first secure an International Driver's Permit (IDP). An IDP allows you to hire a rental car and freely wander around the country, at ease and stress-free. An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is a United Nations regulated travel document that allows you to legally drive and hire a rental vehicle in another country.
Obtaining an IDP means you’re granting yourself the freedom to roam around the island with your rental car, making the hidden gems of the island easier to access. Commuting can get uncomfortable, sharing the main space with different people, and the waiting game adds up to the inconvenience. With an IDP, you gain full flexibility, driving on Curaçao roads with a rented car at your own pace.
Is My Native Driver’s License Valid In Curaçao?
Most EU and US-issued licenses are valid in the country. If your license is issued outside of these nations, hitting the road with your native driving license in Curaçao may also serve you just fine. However, if local authorities observe road traffic flows when you’re driving on Curaçao’s heavily-visited cities and tourist spots, it’s highly necessary that you secure an international driving license for Curaçao to avoid future mishaps.
Does An IDP Replace My Native Driver’s License?
An IDP does not replace your native driver’s license. Your driver’s license supplements your IDP application, which, in return, secures that you don’t get in trouble with the police or get your car confiscated in case you get pulled over to the side of the road. It’s worth noting that an IDP is a translated document that explains to a local officer who doesn’t speak your language, that you are driving in the country legally.
Who Can Apply For An IDP?
Anyone of legal driving and renting age with a valid driver’s license can apply for an IDP. This is especially good for drivers whose native license is not printed in English. It makes it easy to communicate with local traffic enforcers and helps them understand that you possess the proper documents to drive and that you’re not the type to violate the driving laws in Curaçao. An IDP can also be used to drive in countries you wish to visit in the future.
How Long Is An IDP Valid?
How long your IDP is valid depends on the validity period you choose. We at the International Drivers Association offer a one to three-year validity period for your IDP. It only takes a few minutes to process your application, and once approved, a digital printed copy of your IDP is sent to your provided email address, and a physical printed copy is shipped to your address, or anywhere you are in the world.
What if I Misplace My IDP?
If you lose or misplace your IDP, the IDA will replace your lost IDP with a new one at no additional cost. The only fee you will be paying will be the shipping cost. You can avail the replacement program by contacting the customer service, and providing them your full name, IDP number and your current location. The IDA ships worldwide, so if you misplace your IDP while you’re in Curaçao, you’d still get it.
Renting A Car in Curaçao
If you wish to have an excellent driving tour of Curaçao island, hire a reputable rental company. There are tons of car rental companies that offer services that fit your needs. Of course, renting a car can be costly, especially if you are a budget traveler, but it’s worth shelling out a couple of bucks in exchange for endless fun in Curaçao’s best tourist destinations. To know more about where and how you can hire a rental car, read further below.
Car Rental Companies
If you’re landing near Willemstad or at Hato International Airport, you can book ahead online and have the car rental company pick you up at the airport, or you can rent a vehicle onsite upon your arrival. Car rental companies are everywhere in Curaçao, and here are the top car rental companies you can check out.:
- Economy Rent A Car
Renting a car in Curaçao is easy-peasy. You need to present any government-issued identity like a passport and a valid driver’s license. If your native driver’s license is not printed in English, the car rental company will ask for your International Driver's Permit instead. Most rental companies ask for an IDP rather than a driver’s license. To secure an IDP, fill out the form at the International Drivers Association.
With several car rental companies to choose from, you can always find the best car for you. You can opt for a compact, full-size or intermediate SUVs, premium or standard SUVs, compact, mini, full-size, economy or luxury car, standard or intermediate station wagon, pickup truck, and minivan or passenger van, or supplier choice. The good thing about renting a car in Willemstad is that some car rental companies here regulate rental health and safety measures to ensure that all vehicles are clean, sanitized, and safe for use.
Car Rental Cost
The cost of your rental car varies depending on what type of vehicle you drive, the care packages or amenities that come with it, the insurance, your baggage, and attached plans like fuels and tolls. To give you an idea of the price range of rental cars in Curaçao, here are the estimated prices per day. Note that the indicated price is not official and that the season can also affect the cost.:
- Compact SUV - $50/day
- Standard SUV - $55/day
- Premium SUV - $74/day
- Intermediate SUV - $53/day
- Full-size SUV - $63/day
- Standard Station SUV - $85/day
- Intermediate Station SUV - $85/day
- Economy - $29/day
- Mini Car - $25/day
- Luxury Car - $99/day
- Compact Car - $40/ay
- Full-size Car - $63/day
- Minivan - $67/day
- Passenger Van - $68/day
- Pickup Truck - $63/day
- Supplier choice - $34/day
The minimum age requirements for renting cars in Curaçao can vary per car supplier or what kind of vehicle you are going to rent. The standard and required renting age is 25 years old, but depending on your car supplier and the vehicle you want to rent, you could still rent if you’re at least 21 years old. With this rent, age comes with an extra fee, and you must have possessed your native driver’s license for a minimum of two years.
Car Insurance Cost
Driving in a foreign land and not knowing fully what your rental car fee covers can take a toll on you, especially if you’re driving for the first time. Your insurance coverage depends on your car supplier, so choosing a rental company that charges cost inclusive of insurance is the way to go. The good news is that most rental car companies would often include insurance coverage in their fees.
If your car rental fee does not include insurance, you can purchase it separately from the rental company. Ask them questions and get a quotation if you feel the need to add more security and protection.
Car Insurance Policy
Insurance may cover the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that lessens or wipes off your responsibility when your car meets collision and gets damaged. The Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) will protect you from car theft, As for the Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) that covers your medical expenses if you get hurt from a road accident, while a roadside assistance cover lessens the burden on your part when your car breaks down, and it needs to be towed.
Road Rules in Curaçao
When you’re driving, it’s easy to violate road rules, and so is adhering to them; always go for the latter if you don’t want to get penalized. The driving rules in Curaçao are not complicated, and some of them are similar to European standards, so that most rules may sound familiar to you. When driving in Follow these driving laws in Curaçao, and you’ll never have to worry about paying fines or meeting with a jail guard.
When driving in Curaçao, there are important regulations you must follow to get around the country safely. Certain regulations for drunk-driving, hands-free devices, parking, and seat belt must be taken into consideration, otherwise, you may be fined for traffic violation.
Drunk driving is one of the most common causes of vehicular accidents that could result in fatal outcomes. While some nations in the Caribbean have a specified amount of alcohol content in your bloodstream, Curaçao does not have a special law that regulates Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) percentage. There is no specified alcohol limit here; when you’re driving in Curaçao, the government says that you cannot drive while drunk, and it’s deemed illegal to do so.
This may look like it’s alright to have no more than one drink before you get behind the wheel, but it's much better to simply not drink at all. If you drink and still want to drive, get another driver to drive your vehicle for you.
Seat belt laws are enforced for safety, and most drivers underestimate the protective power of seat belts, and it’s no doubt that it has been one of the leading causes of death among drivers and passengers. When you’re driving in Curaçao, the government mandates a traffic law that all passengers and drivers use a seat belt. Make it a habit to fasten your seat belt as you may encounter some occasional potholes. Adhering to this traffic law saves your lives.
If you’re driving with children under 5 years of age, they must be seated at the back of the car with a proper seating system. The same seating location applies to children under 12 years of age.
Parking dos and don'ts
- Do not park your car on the bridge
- Do not park within 5 meters (16 feet) of signs that indicate a bus stop
- When you park, pulling over to the side of the road by yellow stripes is prohibited
- Do not leave valuables inside your car as burglary is a common occurrence here, unfortunately
- Pay parking fees; an hour of parking usually costs 1 ANG, which is relatively low in price
- When you’re driving in Curaçao at night, always park your car in a well-lit parking space
The use of mobile phones are one of the leading causes of road accidents, and this is true all over the world. It's a conscious decision that turns into a horrible mistake committed by drivers, so always ensure that you keep focus on the road, and ditch texting or scrolling through social media while driving. Unless it’s a hands-free device, do not use cellphones while driving, as this is considered an offense. Failure to follow will result in a penalty or fine.
With common types in Curaçao, you can choose from automatic to manual transmission. If you’re used to driving with an automatic car, many European car suppliers can provide it for you. If not, you can opt for a manual car, which usually costs less. Eitherway, it always depends on your preference or your adventure style, and your budget. Availability also affects your decision, so make sure to book ahead.
Curaçao imposes general driving standards that are easy to observe to ensure that all drivers are safe on the road. Most roads in the country are well-maintained and fully asphalted but have a fair share of poorly maintained roads, as well. But don’t fret; below are some tips for driving in Curaçao to equip you for this journey you’re about to embark on.
One of the most important road rules when you’re driving in any foreign land, is to adhere to the driving speed limits as this can lead police officers into arresting you and giving you a ticket. The speed for driving range in Curaçao is at 40 kph (25 mph) is well-built or urban areas, and is applicable if you’re driving in a Curaçao City; 60 kph (37 mph) outside urban areas which is applicable when you’re driving in Curaçao villages.
When driving in Curaçao, tips on not going over the standard speed limits is to always observe limit signs as this can change the maximum limit, and then adjust it if needed. When you’re driving in Curaçao at night, consider lowering your speed limit as some drivers find it unnecessary to turn on their lights. Driving in Curaçao weather is all fun until the rainy season hits, so lower your speed as roads can get slippery.
Neglect of directions even when signposted are one of the most common causes of road accidents and disrupted traffic flow. At a three-way junction, always pay close attention when approaching the T-junctions on the dead-end and always give way to the other traffic that comes from left to right. Drivers of vehicles have priority over the non-drivers of motorized vehicles and do not right turn at a red light.
Traffic Road Signs
Traffic signs in Curaçao follow European standards. Most road signs on the island are the same as those traffic signs you find in Aruba and Bonaire, as these Dutch Caribbean sister islands impose similar traffic rules, as well. Curaçao’s traffic signs are also similar to those of the Netherlands, so drive carefully; although they share the one-way signs, traffic in Curaçao may differ and can come from the opposite directions.
Right of Way
To help smoothen your driving tour of Curaçao island, do so by adhering to the right of way traffic rule. This lessens the burden of your fellow drivers and helps you reach your destination quicker — you wouldn't want to have an interruption and get into an argument with other motorists in the middle of the road. Each roundabout imposes its own rules and is usually unmarked; on a roundabout, traffic from the right has priority.
Legal Driving Age
One of the prerequisites to getting a driver’s license is meeting the required legal age. In Curaçao, the legal driving age is 18 years old and above. To drive and hire a rental car, you must be of legal age for driving range in Curaçao at 21 to 25 years old, depending on the car supplier and what types of vehicle you wish to rent. Possessing a driver’s license at a legal driving age has perks such as being eligible to apply for an International Driving Permit.
Laws on Overtaking
Overtaking is common but do not let it give you a boost of speed to the death valley when driving; it’s better to remain at your own pace than getting into a race excursion with another driver and get hurt. In Curaçao, you have right and overtake on the left, and on a two-lane road, you can overtake left as right. When you do this, though, wait for the signal coming from the other vehicles.
One key to driving in Curaçao safely is not only adhering to the law but also communicating with fellow drivers saves you both from a misunderstanding. You must always practice patience on the road.
As previously mentioned, road rules are similar to that of the Netherlands and Curaçao’s neighboring nations in the Dutch Antilles. In Curaçao, drivers drive on the right side of the road, and you, the driver, always have priority. If you’re an American driver, or if you have driven in the majority of the European nations that drive on the right side of the road in the country, driving in Curaçao should be an easy task for you.
Driving Etiquette in Curaçao
Following the fundamentals of driving rules in Curaçao is essential, but it is also essential to prepare yourself for all the unforeseeable circumstances that you may encounter along the way. You may find your car breaking down in the middle of a road trip, or police might stop you for whatever reason, or you may get a bit lost but not sure how to approach locals. Chill out and know that it’s possible to settle them with the right approach. Below are some of the things you can do to alleviate such situations.
This must be one of the top questions that pop up in your head before hitting the road. At times, a car break down happens almost inevitably during long travels, and this problem is common for low-maintained rental cars. Reputable rental companies have their vehicle regularly checked, but this does not mean they are exempted from breaking down. It’s important to consult your rental company about insurance coverage and whether you can have them tow or fix your vehicle, pick you up, or send a replacement car to your location.
Find a safe space for your car and have your reflective equipment ready, so an oncoming vehicle sees that there is a car on the side of the road. If you stay inside your broken down vehicle while waiting for help, roll down your window for ventilation. You can ask for help from drivers passing by, but be careful when doing this.
This can trigger a little scare in you, especially, if it’s your first time driving in Curaçao. A police officer could stop you over the most minimal and straightforward violation you may have committed by mistake. If the police stop you, calm down and kindly answer whatever questions they may have. If you commit a violation you aren’t aware of, be cordial and ask why you are being ticketed or penalized. Always remain courteous and keep your composure when interacting with a police officer.
It’s also a usual occurrence to be stopped by a cop to check if your seatbelts are fastened. They will check whether you have the proper travel documents like visa, passport, driver’s license, International Driving Permit, and check if your car is equipped with safety amenities provided by your rental car supplier.
Sometimes, relying on a GPS and on a driving map in Curaçao is not enough, and you may find yourself turning the wrong path. The people of Curaçao are usually helpful and courteous with tourists. Asking for directions from the locals is easy as one of the widely-spoken languages here is English. If you speak both Dutch and English, you need not worry about the language barriers. When asking for directions, do so with a friendly tone and greet them with a smile.
Most locals speak Papiamento, and the language can sound pretty alien to others as many languages do, so here are some phrases you can use to approach a local politely.
- Bon Dia - Good Morning
- Bon Tardi - Good Afternoon
- Bon Nochi - Good Evening
- Kon ta bai? - How are you?
- Ayo - Bye
- Por favor - Please
- Danki - Thank you
- Di Nada - You’re welcome
- Despensa - Excuse me
Checkpoints are completely normal, and it’s a way for local officers to find out whether you are carrying prohibited items in your car, or if you are obeying the guidelines on road traffic. If approaching a checkpoint, roll down your window and calmly follow the officer’s instructions. If they ask you questions, always answer in a polite manner. Provide proof that you are hitting the road legally by showing your driver’s license, insurance, and International Driving Permit.
Aside from overcoming stressful inevitable on the road, there are certain situations that happen worse than a car breakdown, or getting pulled over by a cop. Some might even get involved in a collision on the road. Below is how you could manage if you get into an accident.
What if I get into an accident?
The island’s main roads can get busy on weekdays, especially if you’re driving in a Curaçao City, and that’s why driving rules in Curaçao should be taken seriously to avoid a road accident. In case it happens, emergency hotlines are available for you to call; for an ambulance, call 912; for a hospital, dial 910. Call the Curaçao Road Services or ForenSys at 199 to report the accident and an injury.
The CSR extensively reports the event and is done in a fast and modern fashion with modern internet technology, and sending the information directly to the insurance company. Aside from providing reports, ForenSys gets to decide right then and there who is guilty of the accident. This saves you a headache and makes an efficient settlement between parties.
What should I prepare before driving?
Get your documents ready such as your passport, driver’s license, and IDP. Include your car registration and inspection paperwork and bind them in a folder. When you’re driving in Curaçao, tips to ensure that your rental car is fully functional is to check the tires, the brakes, meter, and headlights, and test drive it, so you can notify your rental supplier in advance about any issues you find.
Who shall I call during an accident?
And since thieves are common in Curaçao, don’t leave any valuables in the car. In Curaçao, Politur or police tourists protect visitors by monitoring any potential risks for tourists, preventing any criminal activities that could hurt you, keeping you safe and secure during your vacation on the island. Politur operates 24/7 and has four headquarters in the World Trade Center, Sambil, Boulevard, and Westpunt.
Driving Conditions in Curaçao
Before you get behind the wheel, knowing the road conditions and how is driving in Curaçao will help you lay out your plans during your stay on the island. You may find yourself asking, “Is driving in Curaçao safe?” Street crimes such as pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and stealing from cars happen on the island. But yes, it is generally safe to drive in Curaçao, just don’t leave your valuables in plain sight as this could attract thieves.
Vehicular accidents happen when you don’t obey traffic rules and practice precautionary measures. In Curaçao, over 12,000 road accidents happen every year, and many are a result of making bad choices such as disregarding seat belts laws, driving too fast at intersections, and driving near the vehicles in the front on a busy road. Lack of knowledge about traffic laws is also one of the main contributors to vehicular accidents in Curaçao. Simple decisions like using a mobile phone while behind the wheel drive the increase of accidents on the island.
Lots of visitors to Curaçao use rental cars as a mode of transportation because not only is it a convenient way to move around the island. Tourists rent cars in order to unlock the top spots in the country that cannot be easily accessed by public transportation. Among the ABC islands, it is the only nation that adapted hybrid cars. When you’re driving in Curaçao, Japanese cars are some of the most used vehicles.
According to Kayak, a popular rental car on the island that gets the most booking is the Hyundai i10 or similar type. As always, choosing a car for you should be complementary to your budget and style.
There are no toll roads in Curaçao. Urban road users pay tolls through the Auto-Pass system, an electronic collection that uses on-board units. This technology first expanded throughout Norway, where toll rings became fully automated. Drivers must hold an Auto-pass tag while using infrastractures like road networks, motorways, tunnels, bridges, ferry transport, and road user charging schemes.
Although you may find some potholes on the roads of Curaçao, most main highways in the country are paved and well-constructed. Most roads in Curaçao have adequate lighting, although they have less on other islands, so traffic congestion is seldom too rare. Curaçao has several complex intersections, and some markings and street signs are either nonexistent or hidden, so this can be a significant hazard; be careful when accessing roads with minimal signage.
On the streets outside urban areas, you may meet goats, iguanas, or donkeys; these animals can show up any time on the road. If you want to snap a picture of them, do not stop in the middle of the road and park your car to the side, instead.
Countries all around the world have their fair share of neglectful drivers. On the Curaçao island, you’ll see different drivers, and most of them are tourists and visitors from North and South America and Europe. You may encounter some drivers who drive too fast and love to tailgate; if this happens, keep calm and don’t change your speed and allow it to overtake you. Don’t allow the other driver’s stubborn head to get to you.
If a driver puts his arms out of the window, it could indicate that he goes into reverse or wants to park, or it could mean something as simple as wanting to wave and say “Hi.” Sometimes, two drivers may stop in front of you for a quick chat; be calm and patient, and just drive further away after.
Now that you have gained awareness of the road conditions in Curaçao, there are more facts you may want to know before you set off. How the distances and speed limits are measured matter, especially to foreign drivers who don’t use the metric system. Knowing the best time to visit the country and drive is also essential, and knowing the general directions to get around is just as important.
Are they using KpH or MpH?
Only a small percentage of countries in the world use mph as a system of measurement on the road. The metric system is widely-used in Curaçao. The distance is written in kilometers (km), while speeds are in kilometers per hour (kph). Non-metric users may find it confusing to read these units of measurement, but you can always rely on conversion apps. Any sign that isn’t marked in kph automatically means kilometers per hour.
When you’ve been driving for a while in countries that use the metric system, you will surely get the hang of driving in kph. Besides, all facilities on the island use the metric system, such as liters when you buy from a restaurant, so familiarizing yourself with it will be easy.
Is it safe to drive at night?
Is driving in Curaçao safe at night? Plan your route and drive on familiar ones, and night driving can be safe. Be careful when driving in a rainstorm as roads can get slippery. Access only well-lighted and well-traversed streets for easy driving. Take a good look at your rearview mirror and check up on your fuel, so you don’t have to get out of your vehicle for gas during night driving. Driving safely is a conscious decision you can make, so follow traffic rules for drunk driving, wearing a seatbelt, and speed limit not only saves your life; it saves others too.
When is the best time to drive?
Driving in Curaçao weather and beach days are much more enjoyable as this tropical country gets hot all year-round. The average temperature can go up to 84 degrees, and it gets the warmest between January through September, while the rainy season begins in October through December. The best time to travel here is between the two seasons, so visiting the beaches and tourist spots in the month of August and October to November would be perfect
How to get around?
If you refer to the map, Curaçao is just a small dot compared to some of its neighboring Caribbean islands and South American nations, so you won’t really go that far wherever you end up. For driving directions in Curaçao, easily navigate the island by accessing a GPS app, or you can search for a downloadable or printable driving map of Curaçao online.
Getting to Curaçao International Airport from Willemstad is accessible via Schottegatweg Noord, with a driving distance of 13.5 km. If you leave Willemstad, driving into Curaçao beach of Playa Lagun, access Weg Naar Westpunt with a 40.1 km travel distance. If you wish to drive to Bapor Kibrá from Willemstad, travel a driving distance of only 6.9 km accessible via Seru Loraweg.
When driving in Curaçao village of Sint Michiel from Willemstad, it’s accessible via Schottegatweg West route with 15.6 km distance. Sint Willibrordus is accessible via Weg Naar Westpunt from Willemstad at a 25 km distance. If you plan on driving in a Curaçao beach like Blue Bay, it is accessible via Schottegatweg routes at a 16.8 km distance.
Things To Do in Curaçao
More than just a bucket list filler, Curaçao has more to offer for foreigners who wish to start a new beginning in this paradise of a country. The island is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so basically, you are in a European country, but with beautiful beaches, sunny weather with little rain, and friendly locals.
If you want to work in the country, relocate, or want to become a citizen, there are a few caveats that you need to settle to fully enjoy all the perks that Curaçao offers.
Drive as a Tourist
You can drive in the Curaçao as a tourist as long as you have all the necessary documents you need. When driving, always carry your passport, native driver’s license, car insurance, and your international driver’s permit. Your IDP is a valid translation of your native driver’s license into twelve widely-spoken languages, which are commonly understood by local authorities of the country you are visiting.
Most checkpoints in Curaçao ask for these documents, especially from foreign drivers around the country. And remember, practice safety and adhere to its traffic laws.
Work as a Driver
With your gained knowledge from this guide about Curaçao’s traffic laws, you could land a job as a driver. The average salary for a driver is CZK 267,945, depending on your skill. But to work here legally, you must obtain a work permit, along with a residence permit. Working a job or engaging in any paid labor on a tourist visit is not allowed in Curaçao. Non-Dutch nationalities are required to apply for a work permit along with a residence permit.
Your residence permit alone does not allow you to secure a job in Curaçao unless you are given the permit to work and engage in any paid activities. In addition to this, you have to process your work permit application from your country of origin before you can live and work in Curaçao.
Work as a Travel Guide
If you wish to work as a travel guide, you must first obtain both a residence and work permit. If you are a Dutch national who wishes to work and reside in Curaçao must obtain a Verklaring van Rechtswege, a residence permit that allows a Dutch visitor to engage in a paid activity during a tourist visit on the island, and such permits can be processed in Curaçao. Remember that engaging in paid labor without these permits is illegal in the country, even for Dutches.
Apply for Residency
If you’re not a Dutch citizen but wish to reside on the Curaçao island, you can apply for a residence permit, but it should be done through sponsorship. It could be your employer or your partner, for example. Your sponsor must process your residence permit application via the local authorities in Curaçao. Once approved, your sponsor will be notified by letter that your permit is ready for pickup. To collect your residence permit, a long-stay visa may be required.
A residence permit is especially a good option if you’ve stayed on the Curaçao island for longer than 90 days. The advantage of your residence permit is that you can acquire a work permit and seek jobs in the country while enjoying the Caribbean feels.
Other Things to Do
It may not always be easy to land an opportunity in Curaçao as employers may prioritize locals over foreign nationals due to the high unemployment rate. So, some may require you to study the local language before you can avail a job.
Are There Other Work Opportunities in Curaçao?
Once you avail a work permit, you can start searching for jobs on the island. Before you decide to seek employment in Curaçao, you have to gain fluency in the Dutch and Papiamentu languages; otherwise, opportunities for you can become limited. You can apply for jobs in the tourism sector, teach English at schools in Curaçao, or you can do volunteer work and teach kids how to read and help older people learn about computers.
Top Destinations in Curaçao
Exploring Curaçao is like enjoying a piece of Europe with a melting Caribbean icing on top, under sunny beach weather. It’s home to many of the Caribbean’s hidden and breathtaking beaches and coves, untouched landscapes, raw, scenic views and secret getaway spots, which is why tourists love driving around here. If you’re a nature lover, you will fall in love with Curaçao’s crystal clear and blue waters that are perfect for snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
Before you go on a road trip, plan your route, and although Curaçao stretches only 63 km from southeast to northwest, a day trip wouldn’t be enough to explore all of its beauty. Buckle up, grab your snacks and get your reggae and Latin music on the car speaker, just to set the mood — if you’re into that stuff. Explore the amazing Curaçao road trip destinations, and get ready to be charmed.
Christoffelberg National Park
The Christoffelberg National Park is the most diverse and the largest protected nature reserve of the Leeward Dutch islands. A visit here will give you a whole new perspective on how rich nature is. The park is best enjoyed if you turn off all of your tech gadgets and just indulge in a more personal feel of connection with people around you. Make sure to bring snacks, hammocks, and your favorite drinks.
- From Hato International Airport, head west onto Weg Naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit, then continue onto Weg Naar Westpunt.
- Continue onto Weg Naar Westpunt.
- The destination will be on the right.
Things to Do
Have you been dreaming about an adrenaline-rushing hike in the mountains, or stargazing with friends under a peaceful night sky, or blending in with nature? The Christoffelberg National Park is one of the top Curaçao destinations you wouldn’t want to miss if you want that dream to come true.
- Get your heart pumping and climb up the Christoffelberg Mountain.
The mountain is Curaçao’s highest one at 372 meters and offers a stunning panoramic view of the rolling hills from the top and of a diverse flora and fauna of the Christoffelberg National Park once you reach the summit. Hiking the Christoffelberg Mountain offers different hiking trails with varying difficulty levels; it’s challenging but quiet and adventurous.
Many tourists hike up the mountain before sunrise because the heat level in Curaçao can cause problems during your trek. Christoffelberg Mountain is easily accessible by car on a day trip.
- Stargaze on a quiet night at the park.
You can light a campfire, and just chill under a peaceful and starry night sky. You can book a night stay here for $200 with up to 9 friends at no additional fee. One of the rangers at the park will stay with you for the night and tell you amazing stories about the national park and the island.
- Discover species that can’t be seen elsewhere.
What makes the national park so diverse are the species that made the park their sanctuary. If you love flowers, a variety of flowering plants are found here, such as the Bromeliads (Teku), orchids, and lichens, just to name a few. Species of mammals, reptiles, and birds are also found here. Enjoy seeing Curaçao’s native white-tailed deers, green iguanas, barn owls, and white-tailed hawks.
Shete Boka National Park
Located in Willemstad, Shete Boka literally translates to “seven mouths,” which represents the seven inlets along the seashores of northern Curaçao. This national park will complete your Caribbean getaway. A quiet destination for you to explore as you won't have any food spots, souvenir shops, houses, or cruise ships on sight. Tourists love to come here for all sorts of fun and relaxation.
- From the Hato International Airport, head west onto Weg Naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit, then continue onto Weg Naar Westpunt.
- Turn right; the destination will be on the right.
Things to Do
The national park won’t give you a break from the fascinating sound of waves the ocean produces when they crash on cliffs and caves. Make the most out of your visit by simply exploring each inlet.
- Soak up the view of the ocean and hear the soothing ocean waves.
Sightseeing at Shete Boka gives you a refreshing, raw feeling of being one with nature. The island is loveable for the way it is; seeing huge waves crashing against cliffs of limestones will quench your thirst while traveling the roads under the sun.
- Spot some sea turtles.
Drive along the coasts from Boka Tabla to other smaller inlets where you'll see many sea turtles. You’ll also enjoy the refreshing view of the park and the sound of powerful surf thundering into a cave, and it's quite impressive.
- Take a road trip to Boka Pistol.
From Boka Tabla, you can drive to Boka Pistol. It’s narrow inlet that makes stunning, and explosive ocean waves when the waves roll in. Getting to Boka Pistol is easy by car, but you can take the peaceful hiking trail, which takes about an hour.
This capital city of Curaçao is home to pastelled, colorful colonial houses. Punda, Fleur de Marie, Otrobanda, and Pietermaai are colorful quarters you can visit. Tourists love to come here to explore colorful buildings and street arts, boutiques, hotels, and bars. The vibrant areas are so colorful that every corner you turn to, you’ll see homes and architectures of different colors; most are inspired by Dutch colonization.
- From Hato International Airport, head southeast on Franklin D. Rooseveltweg.
- Turn left onto Cabo Verdeweg, then drive along Suffisantweg, Schottegatweg Noord, Cas Coraweg and Santa Rosaweg.
- Drive to Las Almas.
Things to Do
Willemstad has a lot to offer, so you’ll never run out of things to do here. From enjoying its colonial beauty, to exploring colorful districts, to tasting new dishes and one of the best liquors, it’s truly a pretty destination for tourists who wish to get to know the country.
- Cross the Emma Bridge.
Named after a Dutch royal, the floating Emma Bridge was built in 1888 and is an evidence of the Dutch influence in the capitals architectures. Its 16 pontoon boats allow people to cross between the districts of Punda and Otrobanda. The bridge is impressive as it swings open laterally, enabling ships to enter and exit St. Anana Bay. You can dine in here, or grab a cup of coffee while watching boats sailing though its opening.
- Take an enjoyable walk through Punda and Otrobanda.
There’s nothing like exploring these colorful districts on foot. You can take a walking tour through the vibrant Dutch architecture, and fall in love with its colonial vibe with pastel buildings.
- Taste the most authentic and delicious Caribbean dishes around.
You can check out the best tasting Caribbean dishes around. Satisfy your hunger with recipes and specialties that have been passed from generations to generations. Try out lobster and shrimp quesadillas, white sangria, key lime pie, coconut shrimp, green rum cake with ice cream, and chicken tenders.
- Check out souvenir shops and more.
What is even a vacation without shopping for things that will remind you of your best memories in Curaçao? Check-in cute souvenir stores around, clothing shops, and colorful restaurants that lie beside the water.
- Discover how Blue Curacao is made.
If you’re a liquor aficionado, you might have heard of Blue Curacao, an amazing drink that is native to the country. Take a guided tour around Curaçao Liqueur Distillery and learn about how this delicious drink is made, the history behind it, and how it used to be an ingredient to make tropical cocktails around the world. You can have a taste of it, along with other liquors produced using the same process since the late 1800s.
Beaches of Curaçao
Of course, what is a Caribbean getaway without a beach day? Curaçao may be tiny, but it’s packed with stunning white sand beaches that you just couldn’t afford to miss. The island is packed with bright blue-hued and crystal clear waters worth visiting. Chill by the beach while sipping on a cold beverage, or reading a book, swimming under the sun and let your hair soak salty water, or simply chill as a typical tourist would.
Visit the stunning beaches of Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Playa Lagun, and Playa Kalki to have the best of your visit to Curaçao. Each beach is very close to each other, so driving to each spot is easy. Follow the driving directions to each beach below.
Driving directions to Grote Knip:
- From Hato International Airport, head west on Weg naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- Drive along Weg Naar Westpunt, then turn left.
- Drive to your destination.
Driving directions to Kleine Knip:
- From Hato International Airport, head west on Weg Naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- Drive along Weg Naar Westpunt, then turn left.
- Drive to your destination.
Driving directions to Playa Lagun:
- From Hato International Airport, head west on to Weg Naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit.
- Continue onto Weg Naar Westpunt, then turn left.
- Destination will be on the right.
Driving directions to Playa Kalki:
- From Hato International Airport, head west on Weg naar Hato toward Plasa Margaret Abraham.
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit.
- Continue onto Weg Naar Westpunt, then turn right.
- Turn left and then turn right.
- Destination will be on the left.
Things to Do
It’s no wonder that Curaçao, together with its sister islands, is one of the top destinations for cruise ships for tourists who wish to have a taste of the Caribbean treats. Below are some of the most beautiful beaches you can check out on the island.
- Enjoy snorkeling in Grote Knip (Kenepa Grandi Beach).
This stunning beach is a location at the west side of the island. If you’ve ever seen a tourism brochure for Curaçao, chances are that you’ve seen a photograph of the beach on the cover. Grote Knip is a popular spot to snorkel because of the nearby coral reefs, you can do so by the rocky portions on the left and right sides of the beach.
- Have a calming and relaxing time in Kleine Knip.
This pristine water beach sits between the villages of Westpunt and Lagun on the west side of the island. Leine Knip is small but is rich in tropical marine life that you can explore with snorkeling. Chill by the seashore and read a good book while enjoying the calming atmosphere. The beach gets busy on the weekends, so make sure you visit Klein Knip during weekdays, so you have the beach all to yourself.
- Go on turtle spotting and fishing activities in Playa Lagun.
This beach sits in a small bay near the village of Lagoon in the western. It’s 30-meter narrow cove is covered by rocky cliffs and is best for snorkeling. You’ll see some random green sea turtles that visit the bay, and the chances are that you’ll spot them in the morning. If you want to fish, you can reach the rocky portions of the bay for better fishing sights.
- Discover rare coral formations in Playa Kalki.
Here is another Playa on the list; this small cove sits in Westpunt, near Kura Hulanda Lodge, where you can also find food spots. Playa Kalki’s sandy beach and cliffs are a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. Its unique coral formations attract tourists and called Playa kalki an “Alice in Wonderland” site. If you’re not so much into snorkeling, you soak up the quietness of the atmosphere.
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