As of March 10, the Dutch island of Curacao will no longer require testing for entry, regardless of vaccination status, and has eliminated all COVID restrictions, including the nightly curfew, mask mandates, and required vaccination for large-scale events.
The island is known for its rich history, diverse culture, colorful architecture, and lively locals. For travelers seeking memorable encounters and cultural immersions, the island is set to become a trending destination in 2022 and beyond. The island exudes a culture of creativity and inspired action, and is showcasing a variety of new of restaurants, craft cocktail lounges, nightlife venues, art workshops, immersive food experiences, and new hotels and resorts.
Foodies Rejoice with New Restaurants and Immersive Experiences
With more than 55 nationalities on the island, Curaçao is recognized for its diversity and multicultural food scene. Not only can travelers enjoy traditional Caribbean and island fare, but also enjoy new, fine dining options and elevated European cuisine, as well as a unique mix of food influenced by the destination’s proximity to South American and Latin cultures.
New restaurants have opened in Curaçao, providing travelers with noteworthy options like Bario Urban Street Food—a colorful and unique outdoor food court located in the artsy and mural-filled neighborhood of Otrobanda. Part of Bario hotel, the food stands and plaza is made of shipping containers and food stalls, including Lionfish and Mangoes, which specializes in sustainable dining, bringing travelers the opportunity to taste the unique fish in inventive ways—from quesadillas to tartare. Travelers seeking a locally trendy dining experience should head to the island’s first gastropub, BKLYN, which offers shareable food like jackfruit bao buns and cocktails in a lively setting with 90’s hip hop headlining the soundtrack. While the island is known for its Blue Curaçao, never has it been blended into cuisine, until the opening of Ceviche 91. Located in the historic Rif Fort overlooking the ocean and the iconic Queen Emma floating bridge, Ceviche 91 is home to the world’s first Blue Curaçao Ceviche, made with local fresh seafood and the iconic liquor. Other delectable new restaurants include SAL The Kitchen, which stands for “salt” in Spanish and celebrates the fact that the walls of the restaurant, and specifically the kitchen, were built out of coral, Serafina—the island’s quintessential Italian restaurant with a dreamy patio and handmade pastas, and the lively OBaAR Brazilian Lounge, which offers South American cuisine. When it comes to casual dining, travelers can enjoy the new De Broeders (Two Brothers) Café located in the heart of Willemstad that offers local cuisine with a modern twist, or Bliss the Berry, the new breakfast and lunch option in Mambo Beach known for fresh, tropical smoothie bowls.
Balancing out these new and modern options are immersive experiences that focus on highlighting ancestral cooking techniques and true Curaçaoan flavors. Vittle Art is a new bespoke cooking workshop that takes place in the cacti-filled countryside and focuses on generations-old techniques. Participants forage local and wild ingredients like vegetables, herbs, and plants that are grown on the property’s grounds and then learn how to create local dishes from scratch. A group lunch is enjoyed in a bohemian setting overlooking the hills and desert-like landscape. Further connecting guests with Curaçao’s history, the Pan Sera breadmaking workshop at Kas di Pal’i Maishi serves as a window into the daily routines of the rural population from 130 years ago. Small groups learn how to make traditional bread with resourceful tools, then enjoy an al fresco lunch, pairing their creations with traditional stews.
Nightlife Makes a Comeback
The popular, walkable district of Pietermaai, known for its boutique hotels, small shops, cozy cafes, and nightlife scene, is back in full swing. With its picturesque and pastel-colored buildings and a street donned with sparkling lights, Pietermaai is the quintessential Curaçaoan experience. Here travelers will enjoy the island’s first mixology-focused craft cocktail lounge, Ochenta Cocktail Bar; the lively and social Mr. Porter Cafe; and the iconic Cuban-inspired Mundo Bizarro Restaurant and Lounge. No night out in Curaçao is complete without a visit to “Truk’i Pans” or food trucks, with local favorite being BBQ Express, offering BBQ meats and french fry combo plates topped with flavors like local peanut sauce.
Art Takes Center Stage
With murals at every turn and an energy that draws creatives from around the world, Curaçao is proud to welcome visitors to experience its thriving art scene. Two of the more artsy neighborhoods of Scharloo and Otrobanda have seen a resurgence with a plethora of new galleries, walking art tours, and experiences. Travelers can learn how to paint with one of the island’s most renowned artists, Francis Sling, at his newly opened Art Cave, which serves as his home, gallery, and workplace. Travelers can also book firsthand abstract self-portrait workshops with local artist Dewi Maja from Studio Tropicana. With a plethora of unique art galleries and experiences, ranging from fine art to sculptures, travelers can see the island through its artful lens by visiting the Zanolino Art Gallery & Atelier, the Jean Girigori Art Gallery, the Nena Sanchez Art Gallery, or visit Yubi Kiringdongo’s sculpture garden made with reused debris and rubbish. In addition, travelers can now visit Landhuis Bloemhof, a cultural center surrounded by a natural park. Here contemporary artists exhibit their work in this historical environment that can be traced back to 1735 and walk through the magnificent Cathedral of Thorns—a full-sized illuminated art-filled labyrinth by the award-winning Dutch artist, Herman Van Bergen.
Where to Stay in Curacao
Curaçao has seen a surge of new and re-branded hotel developments backed by the world’s top hospitality brands, as well as unique boutique and independently owned properties. Options range from a fully renovated Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort and Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino, to a brand-new Curio by Hilton Collectionproperty, Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao Resort, the all-inclusive Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa and Casino, to the Wyndham-branded Kunuku Aqua Resort. Leading into 2022, the momentum does not stop with the recent grand opening of Zoëtry Curaçao Resort & Spa and the upcoming grand opening of Sandals Royal Curaçao in Summer 2022. Travelers that prefer independently owned and locally-inspired accommodations can enjoy artful and inspired new boutique hotels, like the 8-room BOHO Bohemian Boutique Hotel in the heart of Pietermaai, the nature-inspired Terra Boutique Hotel, or the colorful 18-room Bario Boutique Hotel, located in the artsy district of Otrobanda. For travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience and to get to know Curaçao outside of the capital city of Willemstad, the island offers diverse options, such as the eco-tourism focused Mondi Lodge, the private and remote plantation home Landhuis de Bouvrie available on Airbnb, or the quirky and intimate Bed & Bike Boutique Hotel located in the famous Jan Thiel Beach area.
New Tours and Transportation Partners
Curaçao is a destination that is safe, easy to explore, and best experienced by renting a car and stepping outside of the resort or the capital city of Willemstad, but with the arrival of Taxi 24/7, the island is more accessible than ever. Taxi 24/7 is the easiest way to request a cab on-island, offering its own app, on-demand rides, and a simple, user-friendly experience. The capital city of Willemstad is recognized for its hidden gems, rich history, art galleries, shops, and pastel-colored buildings. While the city is easily walkable, travelers can now experience it more comprehensively through motorized tours like Step by Step Curaçao, which offers electronic step bikes or through Curaçao Green Wheels, on fast and fun electric scooters.
Ocean Exploration and Conservation Prevails in Curacao
With more than 35 beaches throughout the island and more than 65 dive sites, Curaçao is recognized worldwide as a paradise for ocean lovers and some of the most pristine, untouched marine life. Travelers can now experience the underwater world in a whole new way through Uboatworx, the largest submarine conglomerate location in the world. Most recently Uboatwork launched a three-seat Super Yacht Sub, and in Spring will introduce a 5-passenger submarine.
In addition, Curaçao is home to the development of PROTEUS—the world’s first underwater research center under development through famed diver and ocean conservator Fabien Cousteau. Built as an underwater version of the international space station, PROTEUS is on a mission to create the world’s first map of the ocean floor, starting with the island of Curaçao.
New Entry Requirements and COVID-19 Protocols
Curaçao announced that starting March 10 COVID-19 testing will no longer be a requirement of entry into the country. Regardless of country of origin or vaccination status, travelers worldwide are welcomed on-island.
In addition to the change in entry requirements, restrictions surrounding nightly curfew, mask mandates and proof of vaccination for large-scale events have all been removed. The relaxed measures apply to the destination, though hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, and tour operators may enforce protocols at their discretion. Subsequently, it is recommended that travelers verify specific requirements or protocols directly with each venue.
Curaçao will continue to require travelers to complete its standard process for entry via its entry portal at dicardcuracao.com.
The necessary steps for entry into the country as a follows:
- Complete the digital immigration card online before departure
- Digitally fill out the Passenger Locator Card (PLC) form 48 hours prior to departure and carry a printed document of proof with you.
For more information, visit curacao.com.
Cambodia, Costa Rica, Canada and Belize have also updated it’s entry requirements. Australia is planning to reopen. Papua New Guinea is also welcoming International travelers and Brazilhas updated vaccine requirement for kids 5 and older. Plus, St. Maarten moves to endemic strategies.