Curaçao’s breezy spirit makes LGBTQIA+ travelers like me feel welcome, thanks to a friendly and welcoming culture, catered nightlife, events and accommodations, and a Pride celebration.
Though its neighbor and sister island Aruba often steals the spotlight, Curaçao is a hidden gem known for its saying “Biba i laga Biba” which translates to “Live and let live.”
LGBTQIA+ travelers that descend upon Curaçao are welcomed by this attitude and surrounded by plenty of natural beauty, pristine waters, and coral reefs, not to mention 70 dive sites, 35 alluring beaches, and adorable Dutch Caribbean architecture throughout.
Curaçao’s record on rights and protections for LGBTQIA+ travelers isn’t as strong as some of the other options on this list, but the tiny island is making progress, and attitudes are already friendlier to queer travelers than most other places in the Caribbean.
Discrimination laws are in place for queer people and same-sex sexual activity is legal, but same-sex marriage itself is not legal yet despite there being an ongoing debate and movement for that to change soon. Rights for trans people are currently nonexistent.
Where to go: Though I haven’t been during the festival itself, Curaçao hosts a Pride parade and other year-round events catered at queer individuals, and there are several LGBTIA+ associations on the island.
The annual Carnival celebrations — filled with costumes, floats, dancing, and a celebratory mood — happen in February and have long drawn queer travelers like myself. Meanwhile, Mambo Beach is a gay-friendly beach with multiple trendy beach clubs.
Despite its smaller size, Curaçao also has good nightlife options for LGBTQIA+ travelers, including the dedicated Rainbow Lounge and Bar. Cabana Beach has a mixed, friendly crowd, as does Wet & Wild Beach Club, which hosts a popular Sunday Funday-style day party.
On the island, take ATV rides through Shete Boka National Park, hike the highest peak on the island at Christoffel National Park, or opt for underwater aqua safari tours, snorkeling, and diving.
For a bucket list experience, book a private boat charter to the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao, “Little Curaçao,” where you’ll enjoy secluded and pristine beaches, a jaw-dropping shipwreck, and a lighthouse.
Where to stay: The majority of hotels are gay-friendly and the island has seen a surge of new openings in the past two years, including Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino, and soon, couples will enjoy the first Sandals on the island — Sandals Royal Curaçao.
My suggestion is the gay-friendly Bario Hotel, which has reasonable rates on studio, suite, and apartment-style accommodations.
Baoase Luxury Resort is another queer-friendly favorite and has an island-chic, welcoming atmosphere, and villa-style rooms, many of which contain private plunge pools.
Other tips: In the main port town of Willemstad, Pietermaai is a trendy neighborhood that attracts queer visitors and is similar to Miami’s Wynwood, filled with murals and trendy places to eat and have a night out.