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Posted On 04/08/2019 17:02:47
Trip Date 02/25/2019
Destinations | Cruises | Curacao | Willemstad | Irie Tours | Curacao Shore Excursions | Snorkeling in Curacao | Swimming with Turtles in Curacao | Wild Flamingos in Caribbean
During our pre-cruise research on the island destination of Curacao, we found several options that appealed to
both of us and also learned that some were already fully booked. As we did our homework on tour companies, Irie
Tours came highly recommended. Once we realized that the company's All West Beach Hopping Tour checked
most of our boxes, we knew it was the one for us.
If your Caribbean cruise docks in Willemstad, Curacao and you are in search of Curacao shore excursions check
out this post for a fun way to spend your day. If snorkeling in Curacao or swimming with turtles in Curacao sounds
appealing, this shore excursion has you covered. If you'd like to see wild flamingos in the Caribbean (and prefer
smaller groups versus the large groups typically joining cruise line tours), read on for an awesome option.
Overview of All West Beach Hopping Tour
The All West Beach Hopping Tour offered by Irie Tours is an excellent choice for those who want to make the most of their time
ashore rather than spending the day at just a single beach. In addition to learning some of the island's history along with
a few photo opportunities along the way, the tour makes the following stops:
Shete Boka National Park on the north coast for some time to stretch your legs while enjoying the park's
Playa Forti to soak up more of the island's natural beauty plus an optional cliff jumping opportunity;
Kenepa Beach and Porto Marie Beach, both popular for swimming and snorkeling as well as relaxing
on the sand or enjoying some people watching; and
Salt Flats at Sint Willibrordus to (hopefully) see the wild flamingos living on Curacao.
Included in the $65.00 USD per person tour price (paid at the end of the tour) is pick-up and drop-off at the port (or
hotel), entrance fees to the national park and beaches, snorkel and mask (no fins) plus bottled water, soft drinks (Coke
and Sprite; no diet drinks) and beer. Reservation requests and submission of questions can easily be completed online. If our experience is the norm,
you can expect to receive a prompt reply and/or confirmation.
Arriving into Willemstad, Curacao
The port at Willemstad, Curacao has two docks, both of which were occupied during our visit. Upon disembarking,
you'll likely be greeted by a dance group welcoming you to the island. After enjoying their performance, keep your eyes
open for the easily spotted Irie Tours sign providing directions to those with internet reservations. We were
instructed to walk to "Jackie" Voges Pier where we saw our guide dressed in his brightly colored t-shirt as we
approached the entrance to the adjacent pier. If you're a shopper, plan to disembark early so you have enough time to
check in plus spend some time wandering around the market set up under the covered port area.
Transportation around Curacao
Transportation around the island is in a brightly painted open air school type bus which we boarded just outside the port.
After brief introductions by our driver Yrad and guide Eddie, we quickly picked-up a few more passengers
at the nearby Renaissance Hotel bringing our total to 15.
You can't miss the Irie Tours Buses!
In addition to the points where we had time to get off of the bus to explore, we made a few other stops including:
Chapel of the Twins, known locally as Kapiya Di Oochi, the island's smallest church open only on
Williwood, Curacao's answer to the famous "Hollywood" sign in Los Angeles; and
the above ground cemetery and Church of Sint Willibrordus.
Curacao Tourist Attractions
With the large cooler stuffed full of self-service drinks and the island breeze ensuring a nice temperature, your ride around
the island is sure to be very comfortable. When Eddie wasn't sharing interesting tidbits about the island ("dushi" means
"happy"), the Caribbean tunes playing added to the island vibe! There are 160,000 inhabitants representing 80 different
nationalities living on Curacao, plus an assortment of wild animals including several tribes of goats who shared the road
Salt Flats at Sint Willibrordus
Our first stop was a short one but, to be honest, was a "must see" for us when making our plans for the day. Knowing that
viewing flamingos in the wild is limited to a few locations, we wanted to take advantage of one of the islands where it is
possible. The flamingos apparently came to the Salt Flats at Sint Willibrordus from the neighboring island of
Bonaire. Since the cool pink birds hang out in the waters of Salina Sint Marie, we walked past the
freedom monument and along the rocky muddy path to get as close as possible!
Curled up like a Pretzel!
Curacao's Favorite Pink Flamingos
The Flamingos at Sint Willibrordus
Shete Boka National Park
Although there are more than ten inlets (or bays), the name Shete Boka stands for seven inlets, which we learned
are protected for turtle breeding. A thirty minute stop will give you the opportunity to admire a small part of the national
park beginning at Boka Tabla. The short hike along a gravel and rock path leads down to a lower viewpoint as well
as an underground cave. The views are remarkably different as are the sounds of the waves crashing into the shore
depending on whether you are inside or outside of the sea cave.
Lower Viewpoint at Shete Boka National Park
Underground Cave at Boka Tabla
You'll still have time to hike the short distance up to the top of the limestone bluffs, so fortunately your visit won't be over
yet. Peering down from the upper viewpoint gives you yet another perspective of how high the water splashes each time a
wave crashes into the limestone. Although we couldn't even come close to walking along the entire coastline, we kept an
eye on the waves and walked along the northern coast of Curacao until our time was up.
View from Limestone Cliffs at Shete Boka National Park
Rumor has it that the restaurant at the park serves iguana soup!
We made an unexpected but very welcome stop at Playa Piskado (also known as Playa Grandi). With
many a local fisherman cleaning and selling fish from this spot on the island each and every day, it is a real life
Fisherman's Wharf. Because of the fish remains regularly found in the water, sea turtles now claim the water as
their residence and can regularly be seen swimming about as they wait for their next feeding. The feasting turtles have in
turn made the spot popular with visitors who come in hopes of swimming and snorkeling with the graceful sea animals.
Ready to Snorkel at Playa Piskado
Snorkeling with Sea Turtles at Playa Piskado
Playa Piskado is a great place to visit even for those who don't wish to snorkel as the view from the Banco di Caribe
Pier is just as good.
Sea Turtles Feasting at Fisherman's Wharf
Just a couple of minutes away, we made stop for the daredevils to go cliff jumping while the rest of us enjoyed the view.
We only had one person in our group willing to take the plunge, so the stop was a quick one. Fortunately we had a great
vantage point to witness the jump ... and also watch a lone turtle pop up every so often as he swam about below.
Cliff Jumping at Playa Forti
Playa Kenepa Grandi
You'll have about an hour to spend at Playa Kenepa Grandi which, along with Playa Kenepa Chiki, is one of two
neighboring beaches on the island's quieter west side. Popular with both locals and tourists, the beauty of the beach can
first be enjoyed from the vista atop the rocks surrounding the area.
Viewpoint above Playa Kenepa Grandi
After taking a few photos, it's time to make your way down the flight of concrete stairs to the white sandy beach to pick
your favorite spot - either with full sun or a more shaded spot to escape the rays. (Sun loungers and parasols are available
for rent at a cost of $5.00 USD and $10.00 USD respectively - or a combo deal including 2 loungers and one parasol for
Enjoying Playa Kenepa Grandi
Don't miss out on spending at least part of your time either swimming or snorkeling in the beautiful blue water. Even
without fins, the snorkeling is enjoyable as you'll find colorful fish not far from the shore.
Snorkeling at Playa Kenepa Grandi
Schools is in Session for the Yellow Striped Goatfish
There's more than just Fish in the Blue Water
Hiding under the Coral!
If you're hungry or thirsty, there's also drink and snack options available from a food truck vendor located in the parking
We had two options after the longest ride of the day which brought us to Playa PortoMari, our last stop. Those
preferring an early return to the ship had a quick 20 minutes to see the beach before the bus ride back. The remaining
five of us chose to spend two hours people watching, snorkeling and relaxing on the sand while waiting for the bus to
Playa PortoMari is more than just a beach with a swim platform. You'll find a restaurant and bar, toilets and a shower, a
dive shop, kayak and beach chair rentals, and even a masseuse! With a unique double reef, the beach is a favorite of both
divers and snorkelers.
Snorkeling at Playa PortoMari
Blue Striped Grunt
Swimming with the friendly Fish!
Smooth Trunkfish in Curacao
Although we never saw them, a population of free roaming wild pigs are also residents of Playa PortoMari. We did,
however, see some cool lizards roaming about the sand and shoreside rocks.
Local Residents at Playa PortoMari
Before leaving the beach, make sure to climb the tower to get a good view of Playa PortoMari.
Tower at Playa PortoMari
White Sand and Blue Water of Curacao's Playa PortoMari
Exploring the Port of Willemstad
Even with spending two hours at our final stop, we had plenty of time to explore the port area before our 6:30 PM all
aboard time. If your ship doesn't depart until the evening, take a little time to read the seven signs as you walk the short
Historical Walking Tour. Walk through the RIF Fort (originally built in 1828) that is now home to shops
RIF Fort in Willemstad
Make sure to ascend the old fort wall stairs for some awesome views.
Colorful Dutch Colonial Architecture in Willemstad, Curacao
Peering through a Fort Wall Window
The "WE Did It!" Evaluation
Our day spent with Irie Tours during our Curacao port of call was an
excellent choice for The Wordy Explorers. With multiple stops, the All West Beach Hopping Tour gives visitors a chance to learn a little about the island, experience
beautiful scenery, beaches and, for those who wish, snorkeling and cliff jumping.
Priced at $65.00 USD per person, our excursion included the entrance fees for the national park and the beaches plus
transportation from the port and drinks. The most comparable tour offered by Celebrity Cruise Lines was the 3
1/2 hour Fun Beach Express, Sightseeing and Snorkel tour priced at $59.00 USD per person described as:
"Explore the tropical scenery and hidden treasures of Curacao's west coast aboard the Beach Express, a one-of-a-kind
open air bus. Discover a world where nature reigns supreme as you encounter incredible wildlife, historic plantation
houses, panoramic mountain views, salt flats and the island's most famous inhabitants, the pink flamingos. After your
exciting island tour, you'll visit the famous Curacao Beach for some leisure time to relax, swim or snorkel."
While Celebrity does contract with Irie Tours for some excursions, none included all that we had the opportunity to
see in our 7 hour tour. In our opinion, the longer full day tour with more stops along the way was certainly worth the extra
$6.00 as compared to the cruise ship excursion offering.
If you enjoy snorkeling and your cruise itinerary calls for a port visit to the Caribbean island of Bonaire, take a look
at our suggested private shore excursion. Our post, Two Stop Snorkel Tour with Aqua Fun Bonaire, includes all
that you need to reserve your place on the boat. As always, we've included plenty of photos to help you confirm that the
excursion is right for you and your travel companions.
What is your favorite island in the Caribbean and why is it at the top of your list?
Created On 04/08/2019 10:31:44
Updated On 04/14/2019 23:07:48
Scheduled On 04/08/2019 16:02:47
Posted On 04/08/2019 17:02:47
Last Editor Stacy
Location Mega Cruise Terminal, Willemstad, Curacao