For the last few days of our one week vacation in Curacao, we rented a car from D&D Car Rental. Having a car really helped us get a feel for the whole island and to hit up spots for the more adventurous traveler. I’m always nervous about driving in foreign countries though but rarely find information on how it is other than “it’ll be fine”. I’ll share how I felt driving in Curacao from the perspective of a Canadian and some tips that might help your drive!
I also recently did a road trip from Sydney that you should check out! The rules in Sydney were more similar to Canada but the big challenge was that it was left side driving!
Why You Should Rent A Car
- Access to Beaches: Most of the best beaches in Curacao are towards the west end of the island and you’ll likely have to drive to visit these beaches. I’ll be sharing a full post on the best beaches but some that you should check out are Playa Piskado and Klein Knip. Or if you can make it out to Klein Curacao it is truly the best beach hands down . There are also more commercialized beaches like Cas Abou and Playa Porto Mari if you like having the conveniences and the crowd.
- Variety in What you Eat: Tourism on Curacao is still developing so there are usually only a few restaurant options within walking distance from any hotel. There were lots of options in Pietermaai, but we wanted to visit other areas! We drove to visit Krakter (highly rated but a disappointing for us) near Playa Porto Mari. We also drove to Mambo Beach which had lots of cool restaurants like Chill & Grill pictured below.
- Explore Attractions at Your Own Pace: In order to visit some of the attractions like the Curacao Liquer Distillery, Shete Boka or the Ostrich Farm, you either need to join a tour or have a car. The attractions are not near any hotels and there are no public transportation options. We saw lots of tour buses come through but they always left quickly. Instead, we were able to leisurely stroll through, take our time and also take beautiful pictures by having our own car.
- Explore like a local: The island is quite small and it only takes an hour to drive from tip to tip. Therefore, you can afford to take some detours and see what it’s like to live in Curacao. In the photo below I saw these beautiful cactus and flowers on the side of the road so we just pulled over and decided to take some photos! We definitely didn’t see scenery like this in Pietermaai!
Driving Rules to Know
There are a couple things to note that are different from driving in Canada so I’ll share the rules that are good to know. But everyone on the island is friendly and I rarely saw cases of people tailing cars or driving aggressively.
- Some streets don’t have lane markings so you’ll have to judge and create your own lane
- Most of the streets are one lane in each way. But most of the time you can pass cars whenever you’d like.
- Look for through traffic signs. They look like a cross but one with a thick arrow and one with a skinny arrow. If you are driving and the thick arrow is pointing up, then you have right of way across the intersection
- The lights are on the sides not in front. At first I was getting confused about where I was looking
- Speed limit is 45km/h on most roads, and 80km/h on the “highway”
- Even when I made a wrong turn, it’s usually pretty easy to renavigate without having to do a u-turn
- Many of the hotels in Pietermaai do not have their own designated parking spots but you can park on the streets. It’s a little tricky to find but we were able to find parking for two nights with no issues. We didn’t experience any car break ins but we always hid everything before we left the car.
- People often honk to say hello to each other, it’s not used as a way to show annoyance
Car Rental with D&D
We chose the Small SUV ($55 per day) option which ended up being a pretty large Jeep (I think he actually gave us the Standard SUV). It was very spacious but as I was used to driving smaller cars it took a while to get used to. I would say a normal sedan ($45 per day) is more than enough for the roads in Curacao. There are a few uphills and also unpaved roads, but nothing that a newer smaller sized sedan can’t do.
D&D Car Rental is a lot cheaper than some of the larger companies on the island. I liked that they also included GPS for an additional $5 per day. This was super worth it as many roads in Curacao do not have names and there are also no road signs!
It was really convenient to rent a car only for a portion of our trip as D&D Car Rental dropped off the car for us in the Pietermaai area free of charge. We returned the car back to their office near the airport and then they provided transportation to the airport. Daniel was super friendly and trusting. You have to pay by cash but he’ll ask whether you want to pay now or at the end! The rate also includes taxes, insurance, so the price you see is the final price!
Overall I found driving to be slightly difficult but less likely to get in an accident than driving in Canada. It’s difficult because the roads in Vancouver are very straight so I wasn’t used to the curves. But there are WAY fewer cars on the streets which makes it easy to navigate when you are driving slowly. A lot of the roads are one lane each way so you don’t need to deal with merging either Lastly, everyone is generally courteous and will yield if you look like you are struggling! If you are able to drive in Canada, you’ll be able to drive in Curacao!
I received a media discount from D&D Car Rental.