Stores in Curacao Image: Curacao Tourist Board
Shopping in Curacao is possible and rewarding in spots all over the island, but the majority of the outlets and best bargains are found concentrated in the capital of Willemstad. This is natural for the capital and main city of any small island that is also a major international port for cruises. Luckily for visitors, the Willemstad markets and stores in Curacao are extremely convenient for visitors as the area of the capital where they are found is quite small.
Curacao Floating Market
Curacao Floating Market
You can start at the colorful Curacao Floating Market that is part of the shared history of the island and nearby Venezuela on the mainland of South America. A thousand or so years ago, Venezuela’s Caiquetio Indians pulled into the island’s natural harbor in canoes loaded with tropical fruits and other produce to trade with the Arawak Indians. Virtually all of the products you find in the Curacao Floating Market today are still brought here by Venezuelan traders who arrive with their goods on small boats and set up shop along the Waaigat Canal, which is coincidentally the location of the Venezuelan Embassy.
Most of the goods available at the Curacao Floating Market are fruits, spices, produce, and household items, making this a good place to shop if you’re staying in vacation rentals. It’s an excellent place to visit, especially first thing in the morning, to get memorable photographs of the merchants who use the boats as their floating living quarters setting up shop.
The Floating Market is located in the small Punda District, about five square blocks where the shopping in Curacao is dizzying in its variety. Nearby is Jo Jo Correa Plaza, where there are Curacao markets for local artists and artisans to sell their handcrafts. After you’ve visited these two spots, move on to find the shopping you expect in one of the major ports of the entire Caribbean. While this is not a completely duty free port, the import duties are very reasonable, which translates into bargains for you. You’ll find bargain price for designer clothing from Italy; name brand perfume from France; finely crafted leather bags, belts, and shoes from South America; fine crystal from Ireland; embroidered goods from Asia; and handmade jewelry from around the world. Since this is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you’ll also find plenty of Dutch souvenirs—from five-pound wheels of Gouda cheese and Delft porcelain to wooden shoes. The Netherlands also has a long colonial history with Indonesia, and there is a significant population with Indonesian ancestry here, so you will find plenty of Indonesian souvenirs as well.
Much of your shopping in the Punda District will be done in 200 or more sophisticated boutiques and stores in Curacao located in centuries’ old buildings that make shopping excursions virtual sightseeing tours. Take a break from pounding the sidewalks for bargains, and visit Punda’s historic Fort Amsterdam. Enjoy a lunch break at the Marshe Bieuw (Old Market) dining on traditional specialties. Then head across the channel of St. Anna Bay to Otrobanda where you can visit the Museum Kura Hulanda. Otrobanda literally means “the other side,” and is the newer section of the city. The shopping in Curacao on this side of the harbor is generally a bit more expensive than Punda, but you can still find excellent bargains.
More stores in Curacao can be found elsewhere in the island. Virtually all of the resorts and luxury hotels have upscale boutiques, jewelry and perfume stores, beachwear and shops with snorkeling and diving gear. The Breezes Curacao property houses the Bert Knubben art studio where you can buy exquisite coral sculptures and jewelry crafted from black coral, mother of pearl, queen conch, coconuts, and shark teeth.