When i went to Curacao in May (2011) last year we originally transitted through Aruba, spent a week on Curacao and then a week later flew back to Aruba.
From memory i don't recall paying a departure tax getting out of Aruba (unless it was included on my DAE ticket) but i do recall when my travel partner and i left Curacao we had to pay a $32 US departure fee each before we could leave Curacao, We actually got turned back by customs as initially we didnt think it applied to us, but it applies to ALL travellers regardless of nationality (I believe it's one of the most expensive departure taxes in the world)
It was also a foreign concept to me because here in Australia departure taxes etc don't exist!
Our fares on DAE (http://www.flydae.com) worked out to be around $150 US return, my experience go with DAE, we initially looked at Tiara and Insel but decided to pay more and go with DAE as they were the biggest and seemed to be the most reputable. Also the day we flew out of Curacao both Insel and Tiara cancelled their flights with no explanation (Probably due to lack of numbers) and our flight was the only one still running. Whilst i'm sure Tiara/Insel would have most likely compensated their customers to me it was the piece of mind of paying a little more knowing you were actually going to get there.
Don't get me wrong, DAE aren't faultless, We had 2 flights leave late with them. (although fortunately we didnt have ongoing connections)
My advice, DON'T go to Curacao on a day trip! There's SO much to see and to do you will barely scrape the surface, especially if you don't have a car.
To drive from one end of the island is approx 120km (or 100 miles) so basically you'd spend most of the day in the car, especially if travelling to spots such as
"Boca tabla national park"
"Playa lagon" (best snorkelling i have EVER experienced....and i'm Australian remember!)
"knip beach" (Absolutely stunning beach with great swimming) etc
in other words to me a day trip would be a waste of money not to mention it actually took us an hour to clear customs to get into Curacao (Quite a few people ahead of us from South America getting scrutinised, when we finally got up the front they stamped and waved us straight through)
I'd say you should book at least 2/3nights or 3/4 days, we stayed at the renaissance in downtown Willemstad which was Brilliant!!!! Reasonably priced, beautiful rooms (we went for the oceanview upgrade.....SO worth the extra $100 a night!)
it's connected to Rif Fort in the otrobanda area which is an area full of Restaurants. Our favourites were Steak & Ribs which had the most beautiful swiss chicken, plus steakfare etc and Chihuahua bell which is a mexican restaurant.
Another good restaurant we found on the Punda side is the Iguana Cafe, great burgers and pasta!
For more budget conscious travellers i'd say the Howard Johnson Hotel in otrobanda (although beware that area is a little seedy at night) The San marco on Punda side although again it can be a little isolated at night,
The breezes resort just out of town (Although truth be told it did look a little shabby) or another area outside of town with a nice looking and reasonably priced hotel is the lions Dive on mambo beach which is a resort beach with quite a few beachside bars
Other than that you've got your standard Hilton, marriott outside of town and the Avila beach which is a beautiful resort on the other side of the island or the kura hulanda, an expensive but beautiful hotel in otrobanda.
We found the people REALLY friendly and i would love to go back to Curacao.
Anymore questions feel free to ask me
The following text was posted by me in my own "Aruba story" thread, but Andrea had advised me to copy and paste it in a proper Curação thread since it's about our day trip to Curaçao, so people who aren't exactly interested in my honeymoon trip but are considering some island hopping may read it. There it goes:
Curaçao and Punta Cana were the two other options for our honeymoon. We ended choosing Aruba after reading an article on one of the best travel websites in Brazil; it was about how to choose the "right" Caribbean island, depending on your interests, travel companions, budget etc. We ruled out Curaçao after reading that it would be better to stay in Willemstad and rent a car to be able to go to the beaches. But I love history and culture, so, after choosing Aruba for our honeymoon, we decided to spend a day in Curaçao so we could go to the Dolphin Academy and I could visit Willemstad old town.
We got a decent fare with Insel Air, and my only worry was guaranteeing we would fly the bigger MD-83 jets instead of the (Brazilian-made btw) much smaller Bandeirante airplanes.
We arrived at Reina Beatrix around 6.15 AM for check-in, which IMHO was lacking organization. No airline employee there to tell us which line to enter, or if we could just use the self-service machines since we didn't have luggage. We had to discover everything by ourselves. There were two lines, one for check-in and another one for paying the departure fee (I wasn't expecting that, since the Insel Air fare already included "fees", but maybe I should have read more about it), almost US$ 35 per person.
The flight itself was ok, right on time (takeoff 8.10 AM, landing 8.40 AM), immigration in Curaçao was quick, and we left the airport and took the taxi to the Dolphin Academy. Talking about taxis, it may happen that, when asked the price to go to a certain place, the driver answers just a number. Be sure to ask if the price is in dollars or guilders!
Lonely Planet calls the Dolphin Academy "controversial", and I can understand why. If you read what I wrote about the birds in cages at the Radisson, well, the same thought applies. Anyway, we went there to meet the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, but before that we managed to see a nice show, but Cristina and I were unable to understand what the dolphins were trying to warn us of (kudos to anyone who catches the reference).
We had booked the "Dolphin Encounter", in which groups of 6 people standing on an underwater platform (water at waist level) can meet a dolphin up close, touch him (ours was a male, Copan), kiss and get "kissed" by him while being photographed, and so on, while the trainer tells us a lot about dolphins and their behaviour. It takes a bit less than half an hour, and we did love it, it's something we may never have the chance of doing again and the dolphin is really cute and funny. The Academy has other programs that allow you more interaction with the animals, but these are way more expensive than the Encounter.
The Curaçao Sea Aquarium, where the Academy is located, is a very nice and entertaining place, but it looks like it's under development. Almost all information signs about the fish displayed were missing. They have sea turtles, sharks, lobsters, lionfish (the only ones we saw during our trip, fortunately) and many other different and beautiful fish, besides a place where you can feed turtles, a pelican and flamingoes, who look like they're always fighting each other.
After the Aquarium we went to downtown Willemstad, and the old city is really, really beautiful. Much more beautiful than Oranjestad, if you allow me to compare towns. We visited the synagogue with sand floor, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Americas. There I discovered a lot about the "Brazilian connection" -- many of the first Jewish families that arrived in Curaçao had come from Brazil; they fled the country after the arrival of the Portuguese Inquisition, or after the Portuguese took back parts of Northeastern Brazil that had been invaded by the Dutch in the early 1600s. The synagogue also has a beautiful museum.
After visiting it we walked along the Sint Annabaai promenade on Punda side, did some shopping (Cristina found Armani sunglasses for half the price charged in Aruba or Brazilian duty free shops), crossed the Queen Emma Bridge to Otrobanda (not without seeing it open -- I wanted to remain on the bridge while it was opening, but I was persuaded not to). Unfortunately I couldn't see the Kura Hulanda museum (said to be one of the best of the Caribbean), because we arrived there 5 minutes prior to its closing (at 5 PM). Without much else to do other than sit close to the channel and admire the skyline of Dutch colonial architecture, which we did for a while, we decided to take a bus to the airport, where once again we had to pay almost US$ 35/person of departure fee (at least they accept cards in Curação; in Aruba it was cash only), and the flight (scheduled for 7.30 PM) had a 30, 40 minute delay, apparently because of a passenger who had checked in but somehow failed to find the correct boarding gate.
Did we like it? Definitely yes. The Dolphin Academy is very interesting, despite the controversy. And Willemstad is a very lovely, beautiful town that may deserve even an extra day of sightseeing. But at the same time the day trip showed us that we had made the right choice by going to Aruba, where beaches are easy to reach, even by public transportation, and the tourism infrastructure is way better. People who have spent more time in Curaçao say beaches there are very beautiful, and I don't doubt them, but at this time I wasn't willing to pay the price to get there. Maybe in the future.
Anyway, if you are considering a day trip to Curaçao, just think of what you're planning to see and do, and check if the extra US$ 70 per person in departure fees are worth it. Cristina and I weren't happy to pay the fees (which we considered absurd given it was just island hopping) but were aware that we may not have a similar opportunity in the near future.
The "sand' is a coarse crushed coral. Resorts import white sand such as what you find in Aruba.
The underwater experience in Curaçao is spectacular.
The more I think about it, it is pretty difficult to get the real feel for Curaçao if you are only there for the day. It is a LARGE island.
Area 444 sq km
Size: 38 miles (61 kilometers) long and 3-5 miles (5-14 kilometers) across
Area 193 sq km
Size: 19.6 miles (30 kilometers) long and 6 miles (9 kilometers) across
In my mind, a day to explore Willemstad and an additional day to explore the island of Willemstad.
Especially if you want to make the departure taxes worth your while. I understand why they charge them, but imo, why not just add it to the airfare.
wondering how hard it is to go to curacao and back...thru customs, etc
is it easier to come back to aruba early a.m.?
it is pretty easy for a day trip.
you can be at the airport early morning, and check in and immigration and a quick 20 - 30 minute flight to curacao.
the tax is high leaving aruba and returning from curacao.
please read the thread that i listed. it is a trip report from marcio campos
Marcio and Cristina's honeymoon in Aruba - May 10th to 19th
check out this thread also
check out this thread
Last edited by Andrea J.; 09-15-2012 at 09:45 PM.
We did a day trip there a couple of years ago. Only a 30 minute flight and small planes so customs was a breeze. Left Aruba at 7:30am and flew back to Aruba at 8pm the same day.
"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts." - - Marcus Aurelius
33rd trip to Aruba - May 2016
San Fran/Napa Valley - Sept. 2016
Barcelona, Mallorca, and Andorra - Nov. 2016
You do have to pay a airport fee.. I think it was $65. one way. That was just last Nov.
Playa Linda Resort
facebook - Scotts Brats Aruba
Someone else just went and posted the tax was $65 or $70 per person round trip.
the taxes, make it not worth the trip
the taxes are nearly 3/4 of what a ticket costs. we were going to do the dolphin academy, but the taxes make it not worth going, so well do a snorkel cruise.
you go from $200ish total for 2 people round trip, to close to $320-330 total. $120 isn't a lot, but considering it's going to taxes, that is a huge tax fee.