Curaçao's Best Beaches
Playa Kalki is really the first of a long string of beaches running north to south along the northwest side of the island. At Kalki you will find insanely beautiful water, a white sand beach, and facilities to use. They have a small restaurant and rent chairs for use. As I talk about more below, this is where Go West Diving is located, and just off the beach are several of Curaçao’s best shore and open-water dive sites. This is probably one of my favorite beaches, but for some reason we never seem to stay all that long. I think it’s probably because Kalki is usually our first stop in the long line of beach stops for the day, and we are usually excited to keep moving and see the other beaches. The snorkeling is good here, and even though it’s one of the more beautiful beaches, there are usually less people because it is a coral beach. Bring water shoes if you can so you can easily get in and out of the water without hurting your feet.
Also at the far end of Westpunt, Playa Piskado (also known as Playa Grandi) is a famous little beach where local fisherman sell fish daily. From Jaanchie’s, if you take a right you will immediately see the painted octopus on a rock, signaling that’s the way to the beach. Note: the road is small, there’s very little parking and sometimes it’s difficult to get in and out on a busy weekend. In addition to the fish you can purchase directly from the fisherman, there is also local food, serving fish soup and chicken on the weekends at the fishermen’s huts. There’s also a small concession stand that sells beers for $3. Occasionally there is also a DJ playing local music.
Playa Lagun is one of my favorite little beaches. The photograph above with the colorful boats on the sand was taken here. Rocky cliffs adorn the sides of this little cove, while fishing boats rest on the sand. Playa Lagun is a favorite site for divers and snorkelers alike (there is a dive resort and restaurant located on the cliffs to the right). Playa Lagun is accessible and easy to find and located right in the village of Lagun. Reef fish are plentiful along the cliffs and at the drop-off, where you will also see healthy coral coverage and large sponges. Immediately after playa Jeremi is the town of Lagun. The beach and the dive shop will be on your left. The dive shop now serves lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday, with live music one night a month. The snorkeling as well as the diving is great here. Bahia Inn nearby also serves dinner every night and snacks or lunch during the daytime.
If you head back on the main road (heading towards town) from Playa Knip, you will drive through the roller-coaster like roadway with a sign that says “spasm”, warning you that there’s a bump in the road. Just after that, you will see the turnoff for Playa Jeremi. This beach is a favorite among locals so it can tend to get a bit crowded on weekends. Playa Jeremi is one of the few beaches on Curaçao that has a different sand structure in the water; the sand is made of tiny lava stones so it's a different but very pleasant experience compared to the other beaches. The water here is crystal clear--perfect for snorkeling--and if you go on a weekday you will have a big chance of having this beach for yourself. Entrance is free. There are no facilities, restaurants or water sports companies here, but there are a few palapas that can be used for shade. Do not leave valuables in your car though—this place is notorious for theft. Don't let that discourage you from going there, I just say that so you know to be safe.
Playa Forti (Cliff Jumping)
After the church you will see Playa Forti. You can have a drink at the restaurant and take some fantastic photos of Westpunt Bay. The view from above Playa Forti is right out of a postcard, a perfect shot of the fishing boats and a panorama of the island's western tip. Here you'll find pleasantly different coarse, brown sand and tiny smooth pebbles but almost no shade. There are several snack bars and a restaurant at the parking area above Curacao Playa Forti, with a steep ramp and steps down to the water. If you’re particularly adventurous, you can jump off the cliff right there at the restaurant. It’s about a 40 foot drop, but is easy if you can be sure to land straight (Ladies—hold on to your tops. It’s a far enough drop to take it right off!).
Grote Knip & Klein Knip
A couple miles down the road from Playa Fort is Playa Knip. A knit is a greenish red cherry-like berry, that is similar in appearance to a miniature plum. Landhuis Knip nearby has a slave museum with a lot of fascinating information about Tula, the leader of the Curaçao slave revolution. Entrance to the landhuis is only $3 and they offer guided tours (in English) if you would like. After you turn down the small road to get to the beach, you will first find Klein (or little) Knip, which is a cute, quaint little beach. You can dive here but it’s a relatively long surface swim from the beach to the reef. The snorkeling is also great here because of the rocks. They now have beach chairs to rent as well.
At the end of the road to Playa Knip is Playa Cas Abao. It is picture perfect. They sell food and rent chairs here as well. Knip Beach lets you swim and sunbathe in one of the most beautiful surroundings on Curaçao. For decent swimmers, the reef can be reached from the beach, and the snorkeling from here is insane. For children and the less advanced swimmers, snorkeling can also be done much closer to the shore near the rocks on either side of Knip Beach.
Playa Cas Abao
Just down the road is a newly developed community called Cas Abao. You can’t miss it—there is a giant, brightly colored sign along with billboards advertising their newly built homes for sale (they are some of the nicest on the island). Cas Abao is a great beach with beautiful views and a lot of amenities. Those amenities come at a cost though—it costs 10 guilders ($6 per car) to get in and 5 guilders per chair. Cas Abao has a little bit of everything though; there’s a waterspouts shack that rents dive gear, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards, food, drinks and beach chairs. You can even get a massage. The first time we came to this beach in 2013, the beach was still one of the more popular ones but was not developed. Our visit this year revealed that they are putting a lot of work into the beach, adding a bar and restaurant with beachside seating, and most of the beach was under construction.
Further down the road is the turn for San Juan. If you see the San Juan Snack, you’ve just missed the turn. The entrance to San Juan is on private land and will cost 8 guilders (or about $5) per car, but once inside the property you have access to a number of beaches here. These are all coral beaches, so you will need water shoes, but because of this they are almost always completely deserted. The snorkeling—because it’s a coral beach—is excellent too.
Just after Car Abao on the main road heading to the airport, you will come to an intersection with the Willywood sign, which is where you will find the flamingos. There is a shallow bay here that is home to the beautiful pink birds. Park on the left, and then across the street you will find Landuis Jan Kok and Nina Sanchez’ art studio and gallery.
Playa Santa Cruz
Playa Santa Cruz is the next beach. It’s one of the more picturesque beaches, but the water is a bit murky due to the amount of sand. Here you will find "Captain Goodlife" of Let’s Go Watersports, who offers water taxis for hire, diving tours, snorkeling tours and kayaks for rent.
From here you can also take a water taxi service to the Blue Room. Captain Goodlife will drop you off for a dive and then come back and get you. I've also heard the kayak route out to the Blue Room is one of the more enjoyable ways to get there. It’s about a half an hour paddle to get to the Blue Room, but a nice enjoyable little trip. Ryan de Jong also offers guided kayak tours through the mangroves and out to the Blue Room.
Playa Largo is another beach that boasts a great shore dive. "Beach" is maybe not the correct word because there is hardly any sand here. The beach is covered with coral rocks and pebbles. This is not a good beach for sunbathing or relaxing, but wonderful for diving and snorkeling. Just off the shore you will find a great variety of Elephant Ear sponges, large Touch-me-not sponges, Tube and Stove-Pipe sponges, Barrel sponges, Vase sponges, several types of Encrusting sponges and large Rope sponges. On the shoulder of the reef, there are also large amounts of soft coral. There are no facilities or dive tanks here, so you have to bring your own. It’s a small dirt road that’s not advisable for small cars, so jus be careful if you got stuck with one of those tiny little island cars (side note: we always rent a small SUV because there are so many dirt roads in Curaçao).
Nestled between the spectacular rocky cliffs by the beautiful sparkling clear waters and sunny skies lays beautiful Daibooi Beach, which is. a favorite with
both locals and tourists for its unspoiled nature and excellent facilities. This beach has a lot to offer. Hikers can walk on several trails in the area on both cliffs enclosing the beach and in the so called Saliña, a dusty gray landscape in the dry period and wetland in de rainy period boasting a variety of flora and fauna. Local fisherman are often seen working on their boats, while visitors of the beach enjoy barbecues, kids playing in the sand, tourists sun bathing and enjoying the calm water at the other end—this is a typical Curacao beach scene.
Daaibooi is also known for shore diving. Divers can find numerous types of sponges, star corals, pillar corals, brain corals, Elkhorn corals, and gorgonians as well as lots of typical reef fish.
Playa Porto Mari
You will drive straight in front of the church to get to Porto Marie. This is the beach with the pigs and is one of the island’s more popular beaches. Playa Porto Marie has an entrance fee of 3.50 guilders and also charges for sun beds. There is also a dive shop here, as Porto Marie has a double reef to dive and the snorkeling is also good. This beach is known for turtle and manta ray sightings. They also have a masseuse and a nice restaurant here. The restaurant serves pannekoekens, which are traditional Dutch pancakes that are thicker than a crepe but much thinner than American-style pancakes.
Kokomo Beach is a really cool beach with a restaurant and other facilities to enjoy. The beach is small, but the convenience of a full service restaurant makes this place a must-see stop on the list. They often have live music in the evenings too. It's also one of the most Instagram-worthy spots on the island. Chances are, if you look up #Curacao on Instagram, you'll catch a few dozen photos of people on the swings in the water--these were taken at Kokomo beach.
Mambo Beach is a well-known party beach located on the eastern end of the island. If you've noticed a pattern, you might have seen that I don't focus on many beaches on the Eastside. That's because I personally think the beaches on the west end are better, as they usually have less people, are less developed, and the water is often much clearer. But Mambo Beach, located just outside of Punda, is worthy of making the list. The official name of this beach is Seaquarium Beach.
Mambo Beach has a number of open-air boutiques and restaurants, with chairs to rent out on the sand and plenty of water sport rental opportunities. It is often crowded though, so keep that in mind before going. On the Eastside of the Seaquarium beach, where Lions Dive is located, it is more relaxed though. Here you can lay between the palm trees and you don't have to sit in rows. Keep in mind that non Lions Dive guest will have to pay for the sun beds and beach chairs. The club at Mambo Beach is also the most frequented on the island. They do day parties and have something going on just about every night.
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