It’s been about a month since returning from Curaçao and I already want to go back. The capital Willemstad is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and divided into two parts: Punda & Otrabanda (the other side). My hotel provided free shuttle service to Punda and I took advantage when I did my solo explorations. If you’re not into snorkeling, scuba diving, or water activities, here’s a list of things to do in Willemstad, Curaçao as a solo traveler or on a quick cruise stop.
Do Some Shopping
Searching for the bus to go back to my hotel, I discovered the floating market. Here you can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. In addition to purchasing food, you can also visit the local shops for souvenirs and gifts for friends and family. On my first trip to downtown Willemstad, I surveyed the area after my visit to the museums. The cruise ships stopped in the Otrobanda on the second day, so I did most of my shopping in the morning before the “big rush” came in.
Enjoy Curaçaoan Cuisine
My first night in, I had no choice, but to eat at the resort, but once I went to town, I found my way to Plasa Bieu (The Old Market). I was pretty early for lunch, but John from Grasia di Dios hooked me up with stewed iguana with rice, veggies, plantains and cucumber souse (Souse is a pickling method of preparing meats and vegetables). Since my family is from the Caribbean, I told him to bring the pepper sauce so I know it’s real.
On my visit to the Kura Hulanda Museum, I made a stop at the cafe to have Keshi Yena which is an Aruban and Curaçaoan main course dish, consisting of a large round ball of cheese stuffed with spiced meat, served steamed or baked. It reminded me of chili with cheese on top. Because it was at their resort, the price was high, but the food was very good. I needed to find this in the old market.
Visit the Museums
Randomly walking around Willemstad, I stumbled upon the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. I then learned this is the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere dating back to the 1600s. It was $10 admission and architecture were beautiful. Admission included entry to the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum containing artifacts of over 350 years of Jewish settlement in Curaçao. Pretty cool.
The Kura Hulanda Museum is an absolute MUST see when visiting Willemstad. It is located a few blocks from the Ferry stop to the Otrobanda (or walk across Queen Emma floating pontoon bridge) and there is so much knowledge stored in this place. It covers topics from the days of Abraham down to present-day covering African kingdoms and culture, the slave trade in the West Indies and North America as well as post-reconstruction. I literally spent two hours here and still don’t think I saw everything. I loved every bit of it and encourage anyone who is interested in world history, Caribbean, or African culture to visit.