Curaçao for Families

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Curaçao for Families
Like many tropical islands, Curaçao is a kids' paradise. Kitesurf on the beach, get a playful look into the island's history at Serena's Art Factory, or sip delicious batidos (Cuban milkshakes) from one of the outdoor carts. No matter what you're in the mood to do, here are some of  Curaçao's best family attractions!
By Ashley Castle Pittman, AFAR Contributor
Photo by Ashley Castle
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    Picnics and Play
    Every Sunday, all across the island, Curaçao's beaches transform into spaces for picnicking, socializing, and play, so bring your family and join in the fun. If you want something more tailored, head to the the new Mambo beach area, which has play centers, restroom facilities, hammocks, and a multitude of outdoor dining and ice cream options. Porto Mari is well-loved among families for its snorkeling and diving, and there's even an onsite bar and restaurant so the older folks can unwind too. Playa Lagun is good for a chill afternoon spent swimming around a cove and searching for turtlesw with the kids; there are a couple of restaurants by the beach if you need.
    Photo by Ashley Castle
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    Water Sports and Hikes
    Outdoor activities are easy to come by on Curaçao. To get into or onto the water, families can go snorkeling right off the shore at many of the island's beaches, or stay above the waterline in kayaks—either independently or as part of a tour. Those with an interest in the deep can get SCUBA-certified at one of the registered schools. Wakeboards, kitesurfing gear, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis are also available for rent across the island. Landlubbers can take advantage of the hiking trails in Mount Christoffel National Park. The summit is more than 1,200 feet above sea level—providing excellent views. Keep your eyes open for indigenous wild orchids, owls, and the Curaçao white-tailed deer.
    Photo by Henry Beeker/age fotostock
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    Street Markets
    Visit the local vendors at the markets in downtown Willemstad and have the kids pick out something colorful for their rooms back home. Most of the art is child-friendly, and many of the items are made specifically for young ones. Walk the streets of Punda, lined with brightly colored buildings, and explore the area's floating bridges. After shopping, grab a batido (fruit smoothie) at a stand, and head over to Plasa Bieu for a traditional Curaçaon meal. Though the market is known for local specialties like iguana stew, you can also find kid-friendly foods like mac and cheese.
    Photo by Ashley Castle
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    Family-Friendly Dining
    Families with smaller children will find lots of restaurants to choose from in downtown Punda—La Boheme serves classic sandwiches and burgers, while Indosur serves heaping plates of rice and chicken. Grab traditional Dutch desserts from Dushi Wafels on Thursday afternoons. Plasa Bieu at the Old Market has picnic-bench seating with handmade local food being served hot off the griddle. Typical dishes include fish with polenta, beef stew, pumpkin pancakes, and cactus soup. Out on the beach side of Westpunt, Rancho El Sobrino is an ideal pick for breakfast or post-swim meals for its range of local to international dishes, from pasta to burgers, and local fare like iguana soup for the adventurous kids. For older children and a finer dining experience, Gouverneur de Rouville and BijBlauw are solid picks, one with stunning views of St. Anna Bay and the other directly by the sea.
    Photo by Veronika Studer/age fotostock
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    Fun after Dark
    The Punda district in Curaçao's capital city of Willemstad is alive with color during the day, with its UNESCO-recognized buildings and shops. At night, the area takes on a different kind of energy, with a beautifully-lit up Queen Emma floating bridge and surrounding buildings glowing in different colors—a magical setting for an evening stroll. Live music is often playing on the streets of downtown, and restaurants line the waterway. Thursday evenings are the liveliest at the weekly free Punda Vibes event, featuring an outdoor arts and crafts market, live music and dancing, and food specials at participating restaurants, ending with fireworks over the bay. Sit out under the stars, get something to eat or drink, take in the capital's multicultural pulse, and enjoy the reflections of the lights coming off the buildings on the Handelskade, the most recognized colored facades in the Caribbean.
    Photo by Ashley Castle
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    Educational Activities
    Curaçao has a rich history, diverse background, and a number of cultural traditions that continue to the present day. Museum Kurá Hulanda, situated on a former slave yard in Willemstad, is an excellent anthropological museum focusing on Africa and the impact of the Transantlantic Slave Trade on the Caribbean, making it a solid introduction to the cultures of Curaçao and the wider region. Younger children can get a playful look into the island's history at Serena's Art Factory, home to the Chichi—a special doll that originated on Curaçao and which symbolizes a loving, wise, and fun older sister. Tour the property and pick out your hand-painted Chichi doll of choice, or take a class and paint your own. Serena's Art Factory is alive with color and energy, and is a fantastic family-oriented and educational activity. Another great way to immerse teenagers and older children is to sign up for a three-hour walking tour with Dushi Walks—you'll explore the heart of Otrobanda's colonial past and present, through art, architecture, and stories of local families.
    Photo by Ashley Castle