If you are taking a cruise through the Southern Caribbean, it is most likely that you will stop at the Cruise Port of Curacao.
It is easy to see this island with little planning! No port excursion is necessary to make the most of your time in Curacao.
The last of the ABC islands, Curacao is known for its iconic bridges across St. Anne’s Bay and the Punda district, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Luckily, since all cruise ships dock in Willemstad, you will have a chance to see all three of these with little effort!
Fun facts about Curacao:
- Before the Queen Juliana Bridge opened in 1974, cars crossed over St. Anne’s Bay on the (now) pedestrian-only Queen Emma Bridge!
- Like Bonaire, Curacao has its own little island, “Klein Curacao.” It is located two hours offshore, which may not be ideal if you are only visiting Curacao for only one day.
- Although it is a Dutch island, the US dollar is accepted everywhere.
Visiting the Cruise Port of Curacao: What To Do in One Day
Not all beaches in Curacao are created equally. We discovered this on our previous trip to Curacao when we ended up at a beach covered in broken coral.
It was not exactly what we had in mind for swimming, so this time we made sure to find a beach with sand.
We caught a taxi right from the cruise port and headed to Mambo Beach Boulevard.
Mambo Beach is a more built up, touristy area with a Starbucks, which means (for all of my cheap cruisers out there)….free wifi! You can do some shopping, have a bite to eat or go for a dip in the ocean.
Once inside the complex, we sat at the Madero Ocean Club. There are different colored chairs, so be sure to ask and take your pick of which level (price) you want.
I personally thoroughly enjoyed Mambo Beach. It is a GREAT beach for swimming. I swam to the raft, which was probably about 30 feet offshore, and must have jumped off about 50 times.
Although Mambo is a man-made beach, it is one of my favorite places to swim in the Caribbean. It has beautiful clear deep water, and it very calm and sheltered with powdery white sand. There is a water break that keeps the large sea creatures out, but I hear that the snorkeling is good just over the other side.
I could also say wonderful things about the Madero Ocean Club. Our waitress spoke 4 languages and was super friendly and helpful on the beach.
Mambo Beach is conveniently located close to one of the biggest attractions in Curacao- the Sea Aquarium. It is easy to hop over if the weather is not the best or if you tire of the beach. Both Mambo Beach and the Sea Aquarium are about a 20-minute taxi ride from the cruise terminal.
Ready for the most important part? Here it is:
On the way to Mambo Beach, you will cross the Queen Juliana bridge, which is actually unbelievable considering you were just admiring it from below.
On the way back to the cruise ship, ask your taxi driver to drop you off in the Punda district instead of the cruise port. Give yourself enough time to explore the Old Town market and do some shopping if you wish.
You can then cross over the Queen Emma pontoon bridge by foot on the way to the cruise terminal.
Beware the timing! The Queen Emma pontoon bridge swings open to let boats through. You do not want to find yourself stranded on the other side of the harbor squeezing in line for a ferry and risk missing the boat!
Bring your camera, as the moving bridge is a very neat sight to see.
One end turns on wheeled tracks while the free end is driven through the water by motors. It is not something that you would see in Canada! If you have enough time before you return to the ship, stay and watch it in action.
Please note that there are two piers in Curacao. Large ships, such as the Royal Caribbean Oasis class, will dock at the Mega Pier.
If you are traveling on a smaller ship, you may dock at the Mathey Wharf. Be sure to clarify which pier you need to return to.
I traveled here in 2017. As always, be sure to check your country’s travel advisories before booking any trips or excursions. You can check out the Canadian opinion here.