Curacao is a wonderful island for a top-notch vacation. But, like any other tourist destination, Curacao has criminals who specifically target tourists. Enjoy the island, but pay a little attention!
Also on Curacao
Like everywhere else, you also have the (tourist) locations in Curacao where local criminals find it interesting to rob tourists. It happens on the Ramblas in Barcelona, at highway parking lots in France, in tourist spots in New York or Paris, but unfortunately just as easily in Charlotte, Miami, etc. Unfortunately, Curacao is no exception. Because we want to warn you as a tourist about this, below are some locations where you may be a bit more at risk of being mugged.
Is Curacao safe?
The question we frequently get is”Is Curacao safe?“. Our answer to that is simple: “YES!“. Of course, things happen from time to time, but in general, Curacao is a destination where you can vacation safely.
– Curacao is one of the safest countries in the Caribbean. Among others, one of the largest U.S. travel websites Travel off Path has Curacao (as part of the ABC Islands) Feb. 2024 declared “Safest destination in the Caribbean 2024“.
– Curacao has been given color code green as a travel advisory by the Dutch government: “You can travel to Curaçao. The security risks are similar to those in European Holland.” (status autumn 2023)
– Curacao receives the lowest possible risk level travel advisory from the U.S. and Canadian governments:“Exercise Normal Precautions” (status fall 2023)
Locations to be alert
You can pinpoint some places in Curacao where there is an increased risk of problems for tourists. Consider beaches that are not as crowded or places where tourists “briefly” leave the car to see the surroundings, not bothering to take valuables from the car.
Disclaimer: Despite the fact that nasty things happen somewhat more often at the locations listed on this page, it should be made clear that this is not something that happens daily/weekly. Even in these locations, by far the majority of tourists will not experience this and almost everyone will enjoy how beautiful Curacao is.
Directeursbaai is a beautiful little beach on the east side of Curacao. At Caracas Bay beach, drive straight along the coast, past Fort Beekenburg. You will end up at Tugboat and if you drive a little further at Directors Bay. The beach was the private beach of the director/director of Shell, who had claimed this little beach until 1985 (the year Shell left Curacao). In those days, when someone from the Royal Family was on Curacao, a quiet stop was also often made at this beautiful beach on a remote corner of the peninsula.
Because Directors’ Bay is somewhat remote and more difficult to reach than e.g. Mambo beach or Jan Thiel, it is a beach where it is usually not so crowded and where regularly come unsuspecting tourists who park their rental car without any suspicion and want to go and enjoy a quiet beach day. This is therefore also seen by “the guild of thieves” of Curacao as a nice place to empty cars of tourists: relatively undisturbed “work” and the police are not quickly on the spot.
Viewpoint Santa Martha
The viewpoint at Santa Martha is located near the village of Soto and was chosen for a reason, from this spot you have a magnificent view of Santa Martha Bay. Across the street is Country House San Nicolas, a beautiful large private property where you can rent a beach as a private beach for a day. You can overlook all of Santa Martha Bay, and with a little luck, you will also see beautiful large birds flying by.
But with a bit of bad luck, you’ll get mugged here. Because it is not a through route, on a poorly maintained road that rises steeply in some sections, not many people pass by here. So a great opportunity for people with bad intentions to raid a tourist car here. You can probably turn in all your belongings (phone, wallet, etc.) and possibly even the rental car. And there you are: there is no choice but to walk to Soto and seek help there.
Flamingos Jan Kok & St. Louis. Michiel
A well-known hot spot for tourists is to head toward St. Petersburg. Willibrordus to watch the flamingos that can be seen at Jan Kok in the salt pans, or at St. Michael’s Bay along the Road to Bullen Bay. Sometimes you see more flamingos than other times, but almost always at least a few can be seen. Fun to take on the way to or back from the beautiful beaches outside the city. And easy to drive to because it is right along the main road.
And that is directly why this is a great opportunity to raid you. You put your car on the side of the road to “take a moment” to look at the flamingos. A few minutes and then drive on, so you don’t feel like taking your valuables out of the car. While you are mostly watching the flamingos, you have just lost sight of your car with the chance of it being emptied. And by the time you get back to your car after a few minutes, the crooks have long since driven away. Locking your car properly doesn’t help much, they just smash a window to snatch your bag(s) from the car. If you make a stop here to view flamingos, take everything of value with you. Surveillance may be present here during the day, but not usually on weekends and evenings.
Parking at the beaches
Curacao has plenty of beautiful beaches along the south coast. Wonderful to go to for a day and you can do that just fine by car. You can usually park your car right up to the beach, but the parking lot is often (partially) hidden from view by plantings. and that is where the lesser criminal sees his/her opportunity. In the meantime, while you are still settling down on the beach, a window of your car is already being smashed and things are being stolen from your car. But this also happens in the city; e.g., in the large parking lot of Mambo, unfortunately, you also regularly see glass from smashed car windows.
There are certainly some neighborhoods on Curacao where, as a (white) tourist, you can quickly become a conspicuous target. Remember that many people in Curacao really do live in poverty, so if you end up in the wrong neighborhood there is an increased risk that you will be screwed. Neighborhoods like Souax and Seru Fortuna are best avoided.
What are you doing about it?
So is this all a reason to set out on Curacao full of fear, or even to avoid Curacao as a tourist? No, of course not! This, unfortunately, falls under the “standard” crime you find everywhere. If you go to southern Spain, the Greek islands, other islands in the Caribbean, Mexico, South Africa, etc. or closer to home to e.g. Zandvoort or Scheveningen, this can happen to you as well. Fortunately, still some 99% (exact figures are not known) of tourists will not encounter this. Only if you are just that 1% that does have to deal with it then of course it is a huge bummer for all the vacations. Even if it’s just the hassle it causes you because you have to start arranging all sorts of things with insurance companies, blocking your bank cards, arranging new phones, etc.
Still, there is something you can do to minimize the chances of it happening to you:
It sounds cliché, but just pay a little attention. When you are in “vacation mode” you literally & figuratively only see life from the bright side. But sometimes it’s good to take an extra look around you. Especially if you want to park your car in a tourist location.
If you come to a deserted beach where there is really no one else, then on the one hand it is really wonderful to go and enjoy it. But it might sometimes be wiser to then drive on to the next beach where you’re somewhat among people and social control is a nice tool.
Nothing in the car
Do not leave anything, but really anything, in the car when you park it anywhere (e.g., even in a city parking lot). We know -unfortunately- the stories of people who only had an empty bag in the back seat and even for that a car window was smashed. If you do want to leave something in your car, don’t go hiding it in your car somewhere in the parking lot. Often the criminals are already on the lookout in the bushes and are perfectly aware that you are hiding something somewhere.
Also, park your car in as visible a spot as possible, and perhaps it will help if you just overly obvious everything out of your car.
It doesn’t help prevent these woes, but it does save (substantially) on the cost of taking care of everything after being mugged: a decent travel insurance policy. Because those costs can add up considerably so if you don’t have this taken care of, that’s another bummer.
Calling the police
If you have been the victim of a robbery or car break-in, you can contact Politur, the police special for tourists.
– Politur World Trade Center, Piscadera Road, Unit T.M.I. 29 and 20, tel no. +5999 463 6273
– Politur Mambo beach, Bapor Kibra, tel no. +5999 735 0044
– Politur Westpunt, Westpunt z/n, telnr. +5999 864 0000
– Politur Sambil Shopping Mall (further details unknown)
If it is urgent, e.g., because the criminals are still in the area, call 911 for the police emergency line.
Don’t be frightened
All in all, of course, this is a negative side of Curacao, but this happens everywhere so it would -happily- be an illusion to think that Curacao is completely free of such crime aimed at tourism. Also at the locations mentioned above. Just go on vacation and pay a little attention. On yourself, but also e.g. on the belongings of the people next to you on the beach when they go for a swim. And despite all precautions, it can still happen to you. Huge bummer, but on a weekend trip within Europe (including the Netherlands) you have just as much of a chance that something bad will happen. Furthermore, do not let this scare you and above all, enjoy how beautiful Curacao is!