When it comes to gay travel in the Caribbean, Curaçao is leaps and bounds ahead of other islands and as a result, one of the most popular Caribbean islands for gay travellers.
Part of the ‘ABC Islands’, along with neighbouring Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao is everything you might expect from a southern Caribbean island – white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters and some of the most friendly people we have met.
Curaçao has a lot of charm, it’s full of character, culture and colour – it is so much more than a beautiful beach.
But what about gay Curaçao? Why do gay travellers visit and what makes Curaçao gay friendly?
Gay Curaçao Travel Guide
In this ‘Gay Curaçao Travel Guide’ we will share our personal experience as a gay couple in Curaçao, take a look at the best things for gay travellers to do and explore the gay bars and best gay friendly hotels.
Is Curaçao Gay Friendly?
Is Curaçao gay friendly? In short, as a tourist, yes!
Curaçao welcomed us with open arms as gay travellers and we felt very safe – it is the most popular of the ABC islands for gay travellers and therefore it’s no surprise it was a stop for one of the biggest gay cruises in the world.
It’s worth noting that like many places, the experience as a tourist and experience as a local are quite different. Whilst still safe, public opinion when it comes to local LGBTQ+ people is somewhat divided, however Curaçao is making hugely positive steps forward towards being more LGBTQ+ friendly…..see the next section.
Curaçao Gay Rights: Is same sex marriage legal in Curaçao?
As of December 2022 there have been some exciting developments in this area.
Whilst same-sex couples technically can’t marry (yet), the court has recently ruled that excluding same-sex marriage is in violation of the prohibition of discrimination within the countries constitution and that same-sex couples should therefore be able to marry.
This means that as long as the Curaçaoan government does not appeal, the ruling could take effect in 2023.
Things to do in Curaçao for Gay Travellers
Scuba Diving with Ocean Encounters Curaçao
This is an absolute must if you already dive, and if not, this is a fantastic place to give it a go!
Curaçao has some spectacular diving spots and this was number one on our list of things to do during our visit.
The coral reefs around the island are some of the healthiest and most bio-diverse in the entire Caribbean region – Curaçao often makes it into the top ten places to dive (or snorkel) globally.
Expect to see an incredible array of marine life and colour including sea turtles, rays, dolphins, sharks, eels, lion fish and species of fish exclusive to Curaçao.
Bonus points for Ocean Encounters having a huge Pride flag off the boat during pride week (and during our dive).
More at Ocean Encounters.
Otrobanda Walking Tour
When asked to describe Curaçao the first thing that pops into our heads is colour!
The island is well known for its brightly coloured houses and artwork throughout – in particular one of the most beautiful areas to explore (either by yourself or with a guide) is Otrobanda.
Otrobanda is one of the historically important quarters of Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao. The streets and walls are decorated in beautiful and immersive murals, artwork and graffiti all by local artists.
One of the most popular spots (on Instagram at least) is the multi coloured steps painted by local artist Avantia Damberg.
Snorkelling and Beach Excursion
A quick search of Curaçao will show you pictures of clear blue waters and pristine beaches. The majority of these beaches are small coves scattered all over the island and best reached by car.
You can hire your own car and plan your own trip, or book an organised tour including snorkelling.
As recommended by local lesbian travel bloggers @itsvabene, check out: Playa Porto Marie, Playa Hunku, Cas Abao, Playa Kenepa and Playa Jeremi to get you started.
Cooking workshop with Kris from Vittle Art
If like us you enjoy unique and local experiences do not hesitate to add a cooking workshop with Kris from Vittle Art to your plan.
Everything used to cook is either grown in their garden or sourced on the island. The cooking class is a lot of fun, and once you have prepared each course, be wowed as you enter the beautiful garden where you will be eating.
The food was incredible with the range and intensity of flavours akin to any fine dining restaurant you may find yourself in.
“They offer a taste of Curaçao’s enlightenment. A culinary experience of local vegetation in a unique and illuminated way. Experiencing and tasting the unique local vegetation provides a direct connection to the unique environment. Feel the uniqueness of the island.” – Curaçao Tourism Board
See more at Vittle Art.
Relax at 8th Experience Spa Curaçao (at Coral Estate)
As you approach your final few days, check yourself in to this luxurious spa. Spending the day at 8th Experience Spa Curaçao was the perfect end to our trip.
The spa offers all the usual treatments with the wow factor of the massage rooms looking out from atop a cliff, with the most beautiful ocean view.
Following your treatments there are lots of pools and hot tubs to relax in, or alternatively you can head down to the beautiful beach, complete with snorkelling areas and a diving platform.
Attend a Vogue Class or Vogue Ball
A recent addition to the island, last year they had their first Vogue Ball and have since been running Vogue classes that continue to grow!
The classes are run by Maikel-Angelo Stokkel known as Boots (IG: maikelangelo.s) who is here to bring ballroom to Curacao!
Normally hosted at Gaze Bar, follow @kasdimasriku to see what is coming up.
Seabob with the Bearded Butlers
The “SeaBob” is the latest and greatest technology that serves as your own personal water sled. A great way to explore the crystal clear waters of Curaçao – you can simply speed up on the surface of the water or dive like a dolphin and admire colourful coral reefs, sponges, fish, turtles or shipwrecks.
Lunch at Lionfish Caribbean
Again, we love a unique foodie experience and this was certainly something new for us – from both a learning and culinary perspective.
We met Lisette who runs Lionfish Caribbean and who is very passionate about diving and preserving the local environment. Lionfish are a beautiful but invasive species found around Curaçao, and if left unattended can cause severe damage to the reef. Lisette hunts lionfish and sources them to her quaint café where she will (sometimes) show you how they are prepared before serving you up a treat.
We had never tried this fish before so for us this was something new and exciting, and we highly recommend! Also make sure to check out her handmade jewellery made from other parts of the fish too – Lisette aims to ensure that no part of the fish is wasted!
Gay Bars in Curaçao
Is there a gay bar in Curaçao? Yes! The name of the gay bar is Gaze Bar & Lounge.
Gaze Bar is relatively small but with a lot of character; expect karaoke nights, local drag performances and music to take you into the early hours.
Well worth a visit and like we always say, please support small local LGBTQ businesses!
Find out more information here: Gay Bars in Curacao.
Curacao Gay Beach
Is there a gay beach in Curaçao? Unfortunately the answer is no.
One of the hotels (mentioned below) tried to encourage San Juan beach to be the gay beach in Curacao but that is a work in progress.
However, how does a gay beach come to be in the first place? Maybe you should just head to San Juan beach and start calling it the gay beach in Curacao and other will eventually follow! Let us know how that goes!
Curaçao Gay Pride
Wow, just wow. Curaçao Pride was beautiful.
Curaçao Pride is celebrated with different events across the week. You can expect pool parties, boat trips, drag shows and of course a pride parade where all the local LGBTQ people and allies come together to celebrate and dance the night away. Outside of the Pride parade our favourite event was the NaviGAYtion Sea Parade with Blue Finn Charters, a full day out with an open bar, BBQ and DJ.
A small celebration is held in June for the official Pride Month and the Curacao Pride itself is usually held in September/October and is one of the biggest (if not the biggest!) in the Caribbean.
See what is coming up at curacaopride.com and watch our vlog below:
Gay Hotels in Curaçao
Like many tourist destinations, you are always going to find hotels that welcome you as a gay traveller. However there is one hotel that is classed as a gay hotel in Curaçao (see below, also check out our full Curacao Gay Hotel Guide for more options).
[THUIS]HAVEN is a small-scale adults-only hotel on Curaçao situated nearby some of the island’s most gorgeous beaches and within a short drive to the tourist hotspots in Willemstad. They offer the luxury of your own studio or apartment alongside some social elements of staying in a guest house.
There are six [THUIS]HAVEN studios and two off-site apartments, all of which include access to the colourful, artfully lit private garden, as well as the large (clothing-optional) pool with attached bar and lounge areas.
Gay Friendly Hotels Curaçao
Avila Beach Hotel
Avila Beach Hotel is leading the way when it comes to gay friendly hotels in Curaçao. They are a proud member of IGLTA, offer same-sex ceremonies (hopefully weddings soon) and make sure that they get involved in pride – they also hosted our dinner on the beach on our first night, very romantic!
This is a beach-front hotel with two of its own private white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. You will also find plenty of dining options and an infinity pool on site.
Boutique Hotel ‘T Klooster
Boutique Hotel ‘t Klooster is a small-scale city hotel found in the colourful Pietermaai District. They offer a good breakfast (the pancakes are incredible) and a small pool to cool off in during the day.
It is a great location for walking into Willemstad and exploring attractions like Otrobanda.
Bohemian Boutique Hotel
In the heart of the popular Pietermaai district of Willemstad, the Boho Bohemian Boutique Hotel offers a quiet and beautiful retreat, again with a great central location.
Kura Botanica Hotel
The renewed boutique hotel, Kura Botanica Hotel is located in the Kura Hulanda Village, which is pinpointed in the downtown area of Curacao, offering a historic village experience of the 17 & 18 centuries in the centre of Willemstad. Spread over an eight- block area, this property offers a unique luxury experience in a botanical and tranquil retreat, which provides complete privacy and intimacy.
Places to Eat in Curaçao
Food is at the heart of any trip we go on and Curaçao did not disappoint. We spent 7 days in Curaçao and recommend you head to:
The Pen – Avila Beach Hotel
Our first meal was on the beach at The Pen and it was incredible – we highly recommend the tuna steak. The Pen is an exclusive semi-open-air restaurant with an exceptional menu offering ingredients and dishes from the region complemented by a stunning ocean view.
Restaurant & Café Gouverneur de Rouville
With great cocktails and a varied menu, this was a great stop for lunch. Located in the heart of Willemstad in an authentic Curaçao building with lots of character and a stunning view over Sint Anna Bay and the famous “Handelskade”, Gouverneur’s Restaurant & Café is one of the most picturesque places you will find in the island.
Bario Urban Street Food.
Lunch or dinner, this was a winner. Barrio Urban Street Food is a market style eatery with lots of different food windows, each with its own speciality.
We feasted on a range of tapas because we could not decide on one dish. We were also lucky enough to be there during the live entertainment featuring local singers who were excellent!
Blue View Sunset Terrace
If you are looking for a casual lunch with a view this is the perfect lunch stop.
Choose from fresh fish, local specialties such as stewed goat meat, grilled iguana and a variety of seafood. For the less adventurous, they also offers burgers and sandwiches.
To finish off we enjoyed a Baileys ice cream sundae!
Perhaps our favourite place for lunch, Karakter is a beach front restaurant offering a delicious selection of tapas and sandwiches. After we had enjoyed lunch we relaxed on the hammocks and cushions, and jumped into the sea.
Koraal Rooftop Terrace
Our final meal in Curaçao was at the Koraal Rooftop Terrace.
This is open all day but was ideal for a sunset cocktail and an evening meal.
Practical tips for visiting Curaçao
- Curaçao is warm all year round, rarely dropping below 80°F so pack accordingly.
- There are a LOT of mosquitos on the island so some long sleeve options and bug spray are a must.
- The standard plug type is a two-pin ‘Type A’ power plug as used in the US. Some hotels and apartments do have 220V outlets. These outlets are easily identified, as they require the standard European plug
- The local currency is the Antillean guilder (ANG), the US Dollar is also widely accepted and you can withdraw either at most ATMs.
- Tap water is drinkable.
- Whilst there are a number of local dialects spoken on the island, both English and Dutch are very widely spoken.
Traveling to Curaçao
Curaçao has one airport called Curaçao International Airport. It receives flights internationally with the main airline carrier being KLM (a Dutch airline).
Curaçao is also a popular cruise stop so if you are looking at testing out the island for the day, take a look at what Royal Caribbean have on offer.
Gay travel in the Caribbean can be tricky in some places, however when it comes to Curaçao you can leave the guesswork at home and enjoy the island whilst being your authentic self!