Eating, Drinking, and Shopping in Curacao (Where to Party, Eat, Iguanas and Buy Souvenir)

Curacao is an underrated party island that every Caribbean-loving tourist must visit, and live even just for once. Apart from its relative lack of attention, thanks to being overshadowed by its bigger Caribbean neighbors, Curacao has the energy that makes an interesting, and sometimes unforgettable Dutch Caribbean experience.
Eating, Drinking, and Shopping in Curacao
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From drinking and partying in hip districts in Willemstad to eating Iguanas outside of town, to overlook Curacao is missing out on a lot of interesting things. This Dutch Caribbean Island packs a lot of things to try, see, eat, and even buy. Take a chance on Curacao.

Is Curacao a Party Island?

Curacao might be the ABC Islands’ biggest, but it usually gets overshadowed by the interesting evenings of gambling mecca, Aruba. The island itself is also one big party, with plenty of things to do day and night, like food trucks, beach bars, and tons of clubs that meander across Willemstad.

The island’s nightlife is one of the best things to check out in Curacao, apart from its 40 beaches, of course. You can kick off your exploration in Curacao during the Carnival that is usually celebrated in February annually, and if you prefer to go visit in the middle of the year, you can celebrate the Dutch traditional celebration of King’s Day in April.

Some of the best places to go for your nightlife fix in Curacao are bars like Iguana Cafe on Sundays and Wednesdays, enjoy a cocktail and live music. Caracas Bay is also home to many bars and restaurants that offer you a prime Curacao nightlife experience like the Pirate’s Nest for good music.

If you want to drink, and dance the night away, make sure to head on to the Pietermaai District from Thursdays to Saturdays. This is is the coolest, hippest, most pulsating area of the island. You can see historic homes and buildings refurbished into bars and restaurants.

Where Is the Party in Curacao?

The Pietermaai District in Willemstad is known for its pulsating nightlife as it is home to many bars and restaurants that cater to tourists’ (and even locals’) needs for a fun evening. You can visit Bar 27, for Rock ‘N Roll music, Mundo Bizattp for lively music, great food, and a lot of dancing, which is always a must-go in Pietermaai.

If you want more music, visit Miles Jazz Cafe for a splendid night full of good music, from reggae, rock, blues, to jazz. You can check out other places by treading along the entire expanse of the Pietermaai District.

If you want Beach parties, Curacao has it covered. The island’s beach party scene is probably the most recommended to check out when you visit. You can head on to Hemingway, Madero, Ocean Club, Wet & Wild, and Cabana Beach at night from Fridays to Sundays.

Hemingway is a bar and restaurant at Lions Dive & Beach Resort with live music, perfect for early evening, to set the mood for a full night of fun. Then, you can head on to the Madero Ocean Club, Wet & Wild, and Cabana Beach, for partying complete with DJs, live music, and discounted drinks during certain hours of the night.

What Is There to Do in Curacao at Night?

Often considered one of the Caribbean’s most underrated party islands, enjoying the nightlife and party scene in Curacao is one thing in itself. To be on an island as exciting as Curacao, there are plenty of things that you can do.

Before heading to the best party places, you can check out restaurants and cafe that is speckled throughout Willemstad and they become even more special at night. Cafe and restaurants in Curacao have a reputation to be filled with good live music that plays music like Reggae, Jazz, and Blues.

You can also try the numerous dishes served in food trucks found all over Willemstad, especially if you’re looking for cheap and good eats at night when everything closes down. Food trucks serve a wide variety of food, from barbeques, grilled specialties, fried goods, like fries, fruit shakes, even pure coconut water.

Other than partying, if you have more than enough cash to spare, you try your luck in the island’s few casinos like the Carnaval Casino, in Renaissance Curacao Resort, the largest casino on the island has 19 table games, and 335 gaming slots for you to enjoy.

Casino Awasa Sports & Race Book in Otrobanda Hotel, a casino that has it all. Here you can enjoy slot machines, betting games, like sports betting, poker, and many more. Lastly, Curacao Marriott’s Emerald Casino is one of the most beautiful casinos on the island. You can enjoy a wide array of games like Blackjack, Craps, and Poker.

Is Curacao Safe at Night?

If you take into account the experiences of previous visitors to Curacao, you can surmise that Curacao is generally safe, even at night. However, just like any city in the world, there is no guarantee that city streets are safe a hundred percent of the time. There will always be some sort of small-scale criminal activity that can happen at any given time.

Gang violence and illegal drug activity, which is a reality in many countries across the world, rarely involve tourists. Unless you put yourself in situations that involve doing criminal activities then you’ll be in trouble. The ABC Islands are known to be 3 of the safest islands in the Caribbean, but the government still encourages practicing normal precautions.

What Is the Drinking Age in Curacao?

The drinking age in Curacao is 18 years. Whether drinking and buying low alcohol content drinks like beers and wines and stronger drinks like spirits and other hard liquors, this policy applies to both.

Is Alcohol Expensive in Curacao?

Curacao, just like its sisters, Aruba and Bonaire can be pretty expensive. You can see this if you compare products like beer and other alcoholic beverages with other places. A 16-ounce of local beer in restaurants and bars in Curacao can cost around 2.44 USD while in Cancun, a famous tourist mecca in Mexico, is only 2.01 USD.

Meanwhile, market prices for the same kind of beer can cost around 2.14 USD, while it only costs 1.42 USD in Cancun. By comparing the cheapest possible kind of alcoholic drink, you can surmise how Curacao can be pricier than other touristy places.

What Kind of Beer Do They Have in Curacao?

If you go to Curacao, you might notice that the go-to beers are Polar and Amstel Bright, even though these beers are not brewed and made on the island, but are rather inspired by the island. Another popular beer on the island is Montana, proudly brewed in Curacao.

Polar or Cerveza Polar is a Venezuelan-made beer that is a hit on neighboring Curacao, its Pilsen kind of beer. Amstel is a pale lager beer made in the US, that is made with inspiration from Curacao. Montana Blonde is a golden ale or blonde ale, while Montana Red, is an Irish, or red ale – brewed on the island itself.

Another notable beer that has a huge sale on the island is the Dutch-made Heineken Beer, usually a go-to by Europeans, and US Americans.

How Much Is a Beer in Curacao?

A domestic beer like Montana has a market price of 2.14 USD in Curacao, while an imported beer can cost around 2.47-50 USD. Prices slightly hike if they’re bought from restaurants, with domestic beers can cost up to 2.44 USD, and imported beers can cost around 2.51 to 3 USD.

What Kind of Food Do They Eat in Curacao?

Curacao’s cuisine and local dishes and delicacies are almost similar to that of Aruba’s. This means it has a lot of Latin American and Dutch influences. Most of the island’s dishes are fusions of different cuisines and styles of cooking from different cultures. If you’re a country that has been occupied one too many times by former colonial powers, chances are the modern-day food culture is a mishmash of flavors.

Keshi Yena is widely considered the signature dish of Curacao. This dish is a perfect example of the island nation’s fused influences – steeped in history. It is a large round ball of cheese – Edam or Gouda, stuffed in meat, either chicken or pork, olives, capers, onions, and tomatoes then baked.

If you know anything about the Dutch, chances are, you know what a Bitterballen is. A traditional Dutch bar snack, Bitterballes is one of the many dishes that the Dutch passed on to Curacao. It is a meatball, usually filled with either beef or veal.

Curacao’s African-Caribbean roots are evident with the Funchi or Tutu. A dish made of cornmeal, resembling a polenta, and is usually served as a side dish. And when it comes to stews, Stoba, a Caribbean staple, is a hearty stew made from goat meat, and vegetables.

Of course, Venezuela also has its contribution to Curacao’s rich food culture. Arepas are also very popular on the island. They are corn-based patties that resemble pita bread, but bigger. They tend to be crispy on the outside, and soft inside. Your stuff in different ingredients such as cheese, meat, corn, and avocado.

What Is Curacao’s Famous Food?

Curacao’s most famous food just happens to be one of its best traditional food, if not the best. The famous Keshi Yana is a signature dish with the perfect mixture of the fusion of cuisines that helped shape Curacao’s culture today.

The island’s unofficial national dish is fused with Dutch, and Afro-Caribbean influences. A large ball made out of Edam or Gouda cheese stuffed with spiced meat, usually chicken, and then baked to perfection. You can enjoy this Dutch-African fused dish with rice and fried plantain.

Where Can I Eat Iguanas in Curacao?

Perhaps the most famous place to eat Iguanas, or rather Iguana-based food, cooked in different manners, is Jaanchies. A local rustic restaurant in Westpunt, Jaanchies serves Iguana as their specialty, in one form or another, mostly stews.

Iguanas are known to be a pervasive animal in many tropical countries, one thing to handle them is to put them in plates. The restaurant’s rustic vibe is complemented by its laid-back setting and warm service, and you get to meet Jaanchies.

Is Food Expensive in Curacao?

Food in Curacao can vary depending on the restaurant you’ll eat in. But, the average price for meals in one day is around 51 USD, for inexpensive food places. If you plan to eat at mid-range to fancy restaurants, expect that you’re spending to be bigger than that. It’s best to gauge the prices before getting into restaurants.

Is Curacao Good for Shopping?

Curacao’s Breedeastraats in Punda and Otrobanda are testimonies to Curacao decent shopping scene. These places can be crowded with tourists at times, which means, there is plenty of good stuff to buy from them. Due to huge pedestrian traffic, roads are blocked off.

Shopping in Curacao may not be duty-free but duty-relaxed, or rather shop owners pay low duty. The island also has low sales tax laws making shopping a good idea for retail lovers, because of the abundance of good deals.

The best places to go shopping in Curacao are the Mambo Beach Boulevard, Renaissance Mall & Rif Fort, Zuikertuin Mall, Promenade Winkelcentrum, and Bloempot.

What Should I Buy in Curacao?

Curacao has a rich culture that is evident in their food, society, and general attitudes, so it’s no surprise if you find a lot of exquisite crafts, and interesting food to buy around the island. From handicrafts, signature staple food, to plant specialties, there are a plethora of ideal purchases in Curacao.

  1. First off, if you’re already on Dutch Caribbean Island, the best thing to buy are Dutch products, especially the famous Dutch cheese. With the island’s history as a Dutch territory, you can find an abundance of delicious Gouda and Edem cheeses around the island. A wheel of these is a great purchase no matter the occasion.
  2. As a tropical island, Aloe Vera is widely grown and harvested in Curacao, often made into a variety of products, from hair to skincare products. This plant has great healing powers, packed with vitamins, and is famous as a cooling remedy for your sunburnt skin if you enjoy yourself a little too much under the Caribbean sun.
  3. If you’re thinking of artisan crafts, Curacao, just like Aruba, has the famous Dutch Delft Blue souvenirs as well. A typical Dutch-style pottery hand-painted in blue and white, with great attention to detail, these little beauties are great for gifts or decorations at home.
  4. A popular symbol of Curacao, the colorful hand-painted chichi doll do not only makes a fun, quirky gift or souvenir, it also holds a deeper meaning. Chichi means “older sister” in Papiamento symbolizing the older women who are revered in Curacaoan society. This would make a symbolic gift for International Women’s Day, or even Mother’s Day.

What Should I Bring Back from Curacao?

The best things to bring back from Curacao are little charms that remind you or symbolize the beauty of the island, as well as your respect for a newfound culture.

The best things to buy and bring back home are the Chichi Dolls, Dutch Delft Blue souvenirs, paintings made by the local artists, and the famous Curacao Orange Liqueur, for that obligatory alcoholic drink purchase for home.