Yes, the Caribbean IS a Great Place for Female Solo Travelers
So you might think traveling in the Caribbean is only for people who are:
60+ years old and on a cruise
Super rich and stay in high-end resorts
That's what I thought too, but we were both wrong dude! The Caribbean is a lovely place for female solo travelers. And while it's not the MOST budget-friendly destination, you can do it for fairly cheap too!
I currently live in a place where snow is a thing. 🙄 So for my February birthday this year, I treated myself with an eight-day solo trip to the Caribbean—the island of Curaçao, to be exact.
So, is the Caribbean paradise Curaçao worth it for a solo traveler? YES. Is it affordable, is it safe, can you meet other solo travelers, etc.? Keep scrolling and I'll tell ya.
What's so cool about Curaçao? 🤷🏻♀️
Guys! Look at this place!!! I didn't filter this photo.
I've been to 36 countries. I've seen insanely gorgeous beaches around the world, from the Philippines to Costa Rica. I lived less than a mile from the beach in San Diego for years. And Curaçao put all those beach experiences in my past to shame.
So if this looks like a place you wanna hang out, read on.
I've never heard of Curaçao. Enlighten me. 🧐
I actually hadn't heard of it either before I booked the flight. I knew I wanted to go somewhere warm in the month of February: that was it. So I used this handy trick in Google flights to find round-trip travel from Nevada to the Caribbean for $390. (I also had a 12-hour layover during the day in Miami, so it was like two trips in one!) 👇
So Curaçao is a "constituent country" of the Netherlands, so this area is called the Dutch Caribbean. This means that:
the currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (though credit cards and USD are widely accepted)
languages spoken include Dutch, English, and Papiamento. (Seriously, everyone there speaks these three perfectly, and they usually speak a few more, too. It's very easy to get around in that sense.)
Curaçao's buildings look like a tropical, technicolor version of Amsterdam.😍
Curaçao is ~50 miles north of Venezuela. It's part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). Many people choose to visit two or all three in one trip. I didn't, and I'm glad: I heard from travelers that the other two are more touristy, and that Curaçao still maintains its local flavor and culture more than A & B do.
Um. How do you pronounce Curaçao? 🙈
I had to look this up before I went. In English, it's cure-uh-sow. Like curing a sow of an illness. It is NOT cure-a-cow. It's cure-a-sow. (But in Spanish, we said "coor-uh-sao".)
Is Curaçao expensive? 💰
Kinda. It's starting to become a more popular cruise port 😭 which means that lodging, taxis, and restaurants aimed at tourists aren't exactly cheap. I did eight days there for right around $1,000, and that includes my flights and a couple of splurges (two nice meals, a $30 henna tattoo, private taxis to and from the airport).
But I saved money by:
Staying in a hostel ($25/night for a bed in a mixed dorm)
Sharing a rental car with other travelers I met
Doing excursions on my own/with other travelers rather than paying for tours
Eating most meals from the grocery store (cheese or peanut butter sandwiches)
And I could've saved a little more money if I had brought my own snorkel gear instead of having to rent it, and if I'd brought enough bug spray and sunscreen instead of having to buy it once I arrived.
Is Curaçao safe for female solo travelers (FSTs)? ⛑
I thought so. I didn't do much wandering at night, or even that much wandering on foot outside the walkable "city center" area, to be fair. I stayed in the tourist areas, except when I was traveling by car with people from my hostel. But in my experience, I really never unsafe in Curaçao as a female solo traveler.
I swam with my phone and wallet in my bag on the beach without worry. (I mean, some worry, bc anxiety. I never left my stuff unattended for hours. But I felt my belongings were safer than when I'd swim on the beach in San Diego).
I didn't feel like guys were staring at me/creeping on me. This was a big problem for me on my recent trip to New Orleans, where I often got harassed walking down the street in broad daylight as a female solo traveler. But in Curaçao, I almost felt invisible at times, which is a good and relaxing thing for an FST.
Take normal precautions, obviously. But you can rest easy knowing that Curaçao seems to be a safe place for solo female travelers.
Where should I stay in Curaçao? 🏨
There are some beautiful resorts, but for cost-effectiveness and for meeting people, I (as always) recommend hostels.
I stayed at Bed & Bike Hostel, their Petermaai location. (Yes, their Jan Thiel location is nearer to the beach, but that beach is far from the most beautiful in the area. You'd need to rent a car to see the best beaches either way, and at least the Petermaai location has more of a "city center" nearby that you can walk to for restaurants, grocery stores, to see the colorful buildings, etc.)
This hostel is new and clean. It was pretty social too; I met other solo travelers from Germany, Brazil, England. The beds are pod-style with a privacy screen for each, which I LOVE. They rent snorkel gear and cars (manual transmission only) right from the hostel. I met some other travelers and we rented this little green car together (lucky for me, bc I don't know how to drive manual cars. They'll help you find a place that rents automatics, but they're more expensive). It was $40 a day for the car, and the snorkel gear was like $6 a day.
My only complaint about this hostel is something they can't really help: MOSQUITOES. All the common areas are open-air, which meant that I got eaten alive whenever I was hanging there (especially problematic for a remote worker like me who sat working in these areas for 8 hours a day). I even got bites when I was in the shower. But I met some people who got no bites at all, and I didn't get bites anywhere else on the island. 🤷🏻♀️If you forget bug spray, you can buy it at local pharmacies.
If it helps you understand where stuff is on the island, here's a map. I stayed down where it says "Willemstad." The southern part of the island seems to be where most people stay. But all the good beaches and most of the snorkeling is up on the north side.
How do you get around Curaçao? 🚗
Rent a car. You can get to some beaches by bus—but none of the best ones. Plus, the buses come quite infrequently (every hour) and I found it hard to figure out routes/lines.
From Petermaai, you can take bus 6A south to Mambo Beach (v touristy. Shopping mall + beach) or Jan Thiel Beach (where there's a nice resort you can chill at. Go after 4PM and the lounge beds are free.) But neither of those beaches are that amazing compared to the others.
That's why I recommend renting a car so you can drive to the beaches on the north side of the island. (Download the offline Google Map of the island before you go. The navigation will still work!)
What are Curaçao's best beaches?
They're all in the north. I met some people at the hostel and we rented a car together and spent the weekend exploring these beaches. I liked that there was a good mix of locals and tourists at most of these. We went to:
Tugboat Beach. The beach itself isn't special, but if you swim out a little bit, you can snorkel around a sunken tugboat, which is where lots of pretty, tropical fish like to hang out. 👇
Playa Lagun. You'll get that "hidden away in a secret cove" kind of feel at this picture-perfect beach. 👇
Playa Jeremi. Lots of cacti frame this picture-perfect beach. (These are the beautiful Brazilian friends I made at the hostel! Lucky for me, they both knew how to drive cars with manual transmission.). 👇
Playa Kenapa. The color of the water at this beach literally made my jaw drop. 10/10 the most stunning beach I've ever been to (that picture at the very start of this post was taken there). Good for cliff-jumping. There's a lunch shack there if you need food (pricey). Beautiful sunsets. You could spend a whole day here.👇
That was day one. On day two (we only had the car for half a day), we did:
Playa Grandi (it seems to have a few different names. But ask anyone where the turtles are, and they'll direct you here). YOU CAN SWIM WITH SEA TURTLES HERE OK? My favorite moment of the trip. They throw food into the water at the doc, so there are lots of turtles there–but also lots of tourists. Swim out away from people and you'll find some on your own. We saw an octopus, too! 🐙
Kuta Hulandesa resort. It's $6pp to enter the grounds of this resort. We did it because we wanted to see this cenote. It was tiny, but pretty. We had lunch at the resort's buffet which served local-ish cuisine with an incredible view. And then we had free access to the beautiful beach on property too. 👇
How long should you stay? 🗓
I was in Curaçao for eight days, but I worked eight hours a day for five of them. So for me, it was just the right amount of time. But if you were on 100% vacation and had nothing but free time, that might be a little long. You could see all the best beaches and do everything in 4-5 days.
Where's the party? 🍹
There's not much for nightlife in Petermaai that I saw. Maybe a few bars. If you want more of a young people, beach-party vibe, check out:
The Mambo Beach pool party (10pm-2:30am) on Friday nights. My hostel friends and I asked the hostel to call us a taxi—buses don't run late. DJ, full bar. (Pictured to the left.)
The Zanzibar party in Papagayo Resort in Jan Thiel on Saturday night (ended early, like midnight I think). DJ, full bar.
Curaçao fun facts 🐢
The coldest temperature ever recorded on the island was 68 degrees F (19.7C).
Five of the seven species of sea turtles can be found in the waters of Curaçao!
Over 100 different nationalities are represented on the island.
Curaçao is below the “hurricane belt,’ so they almost never get hurricanes.
The capital "city" of Willamsted is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Anything else I need to know about Curaçao for solo female travelers? ❓
Petermaai is right on the water, but it's rocks/cliff—no beaches. EXCEPT: There is one little "beach" in Petermaai, within walking distance of the hostel. It's behind the City Hotel. It's TINY and barely counts as a beach, but if you want to get your feet wet one day, it's an option.
I arranged a private taxi from the airport with my hostel via email beforehand, because my flight arrived at 11pm. There's a city bus that goes into Petermaai, but it doesn't run that late and it only goes every hour. The taxi was PRICEY ($35), but worth it. Otherwise, I never saw taxis around the island—I think most are unmarked/unmetered. So if you need one, get a hostel/restaurant to call you one. There's no Uber on the island.
US citizens need to fill out a visa form for Curaçao online before arriving. (If you don't, you'll just have to wait longer in the customs line).
Yes, Blue Curaçao liquor is from here! It's bright blue and pretty sweet. You can do the Blue Curaçao Experience where you see how it's made, or you can order a cocktail with it at most any restaurant on the island.
The Curaçao sun is HOT. You will burn very quickly, even just walking around the town (I did). Apply and reapply your high-SPF sunscreen.
Remote worker? I didn't find a ton of places to work from, so I just did my stuff from the hostel. There is a coworking space in Petermaai, but there's no short-term membership option for travelers.
I got henna there by an amazing local artist, @negrita_negrita, to commemorate my swim with sea turtles! She free-handed it 100%. She's awesome!
So if you thought the Caribbean was just for couples, think again! I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Curaçao for any solo female traveler. It's safe, warm, beautiful, can be done relatively cheaply, locals are friendly, and you'll be able to meet other travelers, especially if you stay in a hostel. Bon voyage!