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Located less than 40 miles from Venezuela in the southern tip of the Caribbean, the Dutch island of Curaçao is often overlooked in favor of neighboring Aruba — but Curaçao, also known as the Leeward Antilles, is a treasure trove of natural splendor, good food (including vegetarian offerings), and warm hospitality, with far fewer tourists and less American influence than its neighbors.
The Caribbean island is well-known for its namesake Curaçao liqueur (blue and otherwise), which is a must-try while visiting. But the compact slice of paradise has much more to offer. Here you’ll find dozens of public beaches and coastlines to explore, as well as a rich local culture with a unique blend of European and Caribbean heritage. The country has four official languages — Dutch, English, Spanish, and Papiamento — and the average citizen is fluent in all four.
Here’s our guide to the best things to see and do in Curaçao as well as where to find the best vegan and vegetarian food on the island.
Vegetarian Curaçao Guide: Where to Stay
Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao
Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao is going to be your best bet if you’re looking to experience classic all-inclusive resort comforts — without skimping on sustainability and eco-friendly practices. The city resort uses solar energy to power a portion of the property, purchases produce from local farmers and donates food waste back to them, and even sends its used kitchen oil to be transformed into sustainable aviation fuel. The eco-friendly property is also within walking distance to Punda, the oldest part of Willemstad, which is great for travelers who want to enjoy resort amenities but also get out and explore the local restaurants and attractions. hilton.com
Vegetarian Curaçao Guide: Eat & Drink
The oldest bar in Curaçao, Netto Bar is a must-visit for travelers in search of an affordable and unique watering hole. The whimsical bar is best known for its famous Ròm Bèrdè (green rum) — but also serves ice-cold local beer and various other cocktails and spirits in a totally unpretentious indoor/outdoor setting in the middle of Willemstad. instagram.com/netto.bar
La Bohème Curaçao
It can be difficult to find vegetarian local cuisine — but La Bohème Curaçao in the center of Punda is packed with vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes. The casual eatery is open from breakfast to dinner and features a handful of decadent Curaçao and Caribbean options including fresh vegan arepas, gezond sandwiches, and an abundance of fresh local fruit and vegetable smoothies and juices. instagram.com/labohemecuracao
The Iguana Café caters more to the tourist crowd — but it’s still worth stopping by for a colorful blue lagoon cocktail and a plate of cheese kroket. The café is perfect for boat- and people-watching as it’s located directly in front of the Queen Emma Bridge; a hinged pedestrian-style bridge that connects the Punda and Otrobanda neighborhoods and regularly swings open to allow boats to pass from the harbor into the ocean. instagram.com/iguanacafecur
Tucked into the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, Ç Spice combines classic Caribbean flavors and ingredients with European flair. The restaurant isn’t strictly plant-based but vegetarian and vegan eaters are welcome to call ahead and request a vegetarian tasting menu. The tasting menu is packed with flavor and includes creative dishes like beet and plantain ceviche, squash and walnut ravioli, and mushroom risotto. instagram.com/cspicecuracao
Vegetarian Curaçao Guide: Things to Do
Plasa Bieu Old Market
The dining at Plasa Bieu Old Market isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly, but it’s well-worth checking out as an attraction if you want to get a taste for local life — and you can make a veggie meal here with a little work. The community-style market features a few dozen picnic tables where locals and visitors can order Curaçaoan cuisine from various market vendors. Try the arepa di pampuna (Caribbean pumpkin pancakes) and fresh limeade and lemonade. Head outside to one of the many batido (Caribbean smoothie) trucks where you can get fresh fruit drinks made from local fruits like papaya and mango. facebook.com
Kura Hulanda Museum
The Kura Hulanda Museum should be on every traveler’s list while visiting Curaçao. The anthropological museum covers the history of the Atlantic slave trade with emphasis on the slave trade within Curaçao. The museum includes artifacts and historical documentation dating back to the eighteenth century and a large collection of historic and modern African artwork. Admission is just $5 USD; for only a few dollars more, a professional guide will give you a tour through the museum and make sure you get the most out of the experience.
Christoffel National Park
The Musée du Louvre is one of the most well-known tourist hubs in Europe. But things become touristy for a reason — and in the case of the Christoffel National Park is home to Christoffel Mountain; the highest peak on the entire island of Curaçao. Fair warning: Going all the way to the summit is considered an extremely challenging hike. Due to the elevation and the strong afternoon sun, those looking to climb to the top of the mountain are required to begin before 10 a.m. But, if you make the trek, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of fauna and flora that can be harder to spot at lower elevations, as well as breathtaking views of all of Curaçao and the turquoise blue waters surrounding the island.christoffelpark.org