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Curacao is best explored by rental car. Carrentals.co.uk has over 5 pick-up locations in Curacao. This means there is always a pick-up location close to your destination.
The island of Curacao is one of the Caribbean's hottest holiday destinations and dazzles visitors with its fabulous beaches and aquamarine seas, eclectic activities and vibrant ambience. Historic buildings in the capital city of Willemstad reflect the island’s long links with the Netherlands. The island is small so beaches such as Playa Porto Marie and Playa Forti, as well as Christoffel National Park, are easily accessed through self-drive.
Major routes are in fair shape, but minor roads are often unpaved. Drivers need to be careful in wet weather because road surfaces may be slippery. Road signs are somewhat of a rarity and only really found in Willemstad and near the main tourist sites. Stray goats wandering across roads are a hazard for motorists.
Driving licences: an International Driving Licence is not required. Visitors from the UK can use their home licence.
Which side does Curacao drive on: the right.
Rural routes and Willemstad ring road: 37mph (60kph) or 50mph (80kph)
Residential areas: 28mph (45kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent, which is lower than in the UK, where it is 0.08 per cent. Offenders risk fines and the confiscation of their licence.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: obligatory for drivers and all passengers. A child safety seat is required for children under five years old. Older children should ride in the vehicle’s rear seats.
Mobile phones and GPS: laws here ban drivers from using hand-held mobile phones while behind the wheel. Violators are fined. GPS navigational aids are allowed.
Cost of fuel in Curacao: around half the price it is in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards can be used at some petrol stations and most island car rental agencies.
Insurance: most car rentals have third-party insurance but collision damage waiver is recommended.
Traffic and parking: parking in central Willemstad is metered and charged in 15-minute increments. After 18:00, it is free. There is a free car park in the Waaigat district of the city that is open 24 hours. Beaches and other attractions have car parks. Some offer free parking while others do not.
The only train ride visitors to the island are able to enjoy is aboard the Curacao Trolley Train around Willemstad’s historic streets. The adult fare is around £15 while kids travel for around £10.
There are taxi ranks close to all the major hotels in the Punda and Otrobanda districts of Willemstad, as well as at the airport. Fares between the airport and Willemstad are around £20 but increase by 25% after 11pm. Drivers of licensed taxis wear a badge and have a sign in their vehicle that identifies them. Journeys are metered. Shared mini-buses with a BUS sign on them are a cheaper option but do not have set departure times or fixed routes.
Konvoi are full-size, single-decker buses that cover most destinations on the island. Routes radiate out from two Willemstad bus stations. The station in Punda serves locations east, including Mambo and Salina. Otrobanda Station is the departure point for westbound services to locations such as Christoffel and Westpunt.
Despite the proximity of Aruba, Bonaire and Venezuela, there are no passenger ferries linking them to Curacao. Dependent on their size, cruise ships dock at either Mega Pier or Willemstad Harbour. Diving and sightseeing boat tours transport tourists to the marine park and coral reefs close to the southwest corner of the island. Sunset cruises start at around £30 per person.
Hato International Airport, close to Willemstad in the island’s north, is the main gateway. From the airport, all areas of the island can be reached by taxi or car hire, with taxi fares of around £20 for the journey into the capital. Hato International Airport does not receive direct flights from the UK, so UK travellers need to transfer in another European city such as Amsterdam or a US city such as Miami.
The 700-plus old colonial buildings in the historic quarter of Willemstad are finished in eye-catching hues and are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Several museums, the Water and Rif forts, and the Swinging Old Lady pontoon bridge are other attractions in the city.
Christoffel park is located at the top end of the island and features a 1,300-metre high mount with great sea views as well as a variety of flora and fauna. Three former plantations, hiking trails and horseback riding ensure the park is a must-visit for island visitors.
Shete Boka National Park stretches across the north coast of the island and abuts Christoffel park. The tiny coves here are vehicle accessible and contain deserted beaches, some of which are turtle breeding grounds.
The best beaches for sunbathing, swimming and other water sports are on Curacao’s sheltered western shoreline. Grote Kenapa, Kleine Kenapa and Jeremi are all near Lagun, and are characterised by long stretches of crowd-free golden sands shaded by lofty trees.
Kontiki and Mambo beaches are 10 minutes’ drive from Willemstad and are the places to be from dawn until the early hours. Dive trips and windsurfing, beach bars and a wonderful assortment of restaurants are among the draws here.
Curacao offers a temperate climate, with average temperatures ranging between 26°C and 33°C. August and September are the hottest months, and precede the wet season, which last through until December. Sea breezes take the humidity out of the hottest days. The island is outside the main Caribbean hurricane belt and is therefore a year-round holiday hot spot.