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9 Under-the-Radar Things to Do in Curaçao

Susan Campbell , Fodor's Travel


There’s a lot more to enjoy on this island beyond the beaches and famous blue liqueur. The capital of Willemstad is the nexus of museums, history, and beautifully restored monuments, but this quirky little island has all kinds of hidden gems and cool adventures secreted throughout its eclectic neighborhoods and surreal desert-like interior.

Discover rejuvenated neighborhoods
The neighborhood of Pietermaai has transformed recently, with century-old heritage estates and buildings morphing into vibrant and colorful trendy restaurants, cafés, boutique stays, offbeat bars, and cool courtyards. It has its own electric vibe, and the close-knit community presents all kinds of special art and cultural events. You can also take a walking photo tour. Also worth sleuthing out is Scharloo’s new secret nightlife quarter called District 1850. By day, it’s a quiet historic neighborhood, but after dark it comes alive with seven bars enlivening a single block.

Discover a coral forest
Curaçao has many cool dive spots, but there’s only one where you can learn to plant a coral forest. The Coral Reforestation Foundation Curaçao is delighted to be celebrating their first anniversary this year with news that the juvenile staghorn and elkhorn corals they planted have grown large enough to be successfully transplanted to grow on their own. They now offer visitors dives among the coral forests and nursery with courses on how to undertake this crucial environmental work. The founders, Ocean Encounters, also offer PADI diving certification courses and excursions to all of the island’s best dive sites.

Make your own unique souvenir
No matter where you wander on Curaçao it’s hard to miss the ladies called “chichis." These statues come in tiny and midsize figurines and larger-than-life sculptures all over the island in eye-popping colors with avant-garde designs and themes. The brainchild of Serena Israel, who wanted to offer the island’s local female artisans a thriving industry, they have become Curaçao’s most beloved mascots. You can buy them prefabricated as unique souvenirs or you can create your own. Check Serena’s Art Factory website for when their walk-in workshops occur or make a group reservation.

Find the other "Under-the-Radar Things to Do in Curaçao", originally published November 2, 2016, on Fodor's Travel.