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Renting a car in Curacao: a few things to know

The best (and actually only) way to get from A to B on Curaçao is by car. Renting a car on Curaçao is very easy and also very common and ensures that you can travel all over the island. Because even though Curaçao is not very large (444km²), the distances are still quite large if you had to cover them without a car. In this blog I will give you some tips and recommendations about car rental in Curaçao.



A few things to know about car rental in Curacao

Curaçao is a wonderful island and the many sights and beaches are not all close to each other. From east to west, there is something to see and do everywhere on the island and if you want to get there you really need a car. Although there are taxis and buses, taxis are expensive and buses do not run frequently or at set times. Waiting an hour for a bus is really no exception on Curaçao and that is what you call a considerable waste of time.

You can see the highlights of Curaçao with organized tours or excursions, because the tour operators are generally really good. But the best thing is to discover the island on your own and to cross the island yourself. Renting a car is easy and time-saving and you can often take it with you immediately upon arrival at the airport.


Curacao car rental companies

That said: there are several car rental companies on Curaçao. I personally prefer to book my car at Veilig Auto Huren Curacao. Veilig Auto Huren Curacao is reliable, has a lot of options and types of cars, but the most important thing is that you are always insured. This way you can immediately get on the road without having to pay attention to fine print.

With some other companies where you are not standard insured, you have to pay attention that you take out the right insurance and especially that you do not insure yourself twice. They often try to persuade you to insure your car when you pick up the car, while you probably already did that when you pre-booked online. Being double insured is really a waste of money. At Veilig Auto Huren Curacao you don’t have to think about that; it is always well organized.


Where can you pick up your rental car

  • There are basically three options: at the airport, at your accommodation or in the city.
  • It is easiest to pick up your rental car at the airport immediately upon arrival. This way you don’t have to take a taxi to your accommodation, but you can drive yourself straight away;
  • If you have a shuttle to your hotel or if you have a package holiday that includes transport, you can have yourself taken. It is possible to book your car later through your accommodation;


What to pay attention to when picking up

Before you sign and drive off, it is important to check the car thoroughly. Together with an employee of the rental company, you walk through the entire car and check it using a checklist. Every scratch and dent should be noted down to avoid surprises afterwards. Also check whether the air conditioning works, whether the windscreen wipers work and whether there is a spare wheel.

In Curaçao they love Toyotas and Chevys and there is a good chance that you will get one of these two brands. Your rental car won’t be one hot off the press. Cars are broken into a lot in Curaçao and there is also a lot of vandalism, so rental cars are often not new. That’s nice in itself, because that way it’s not so noticeable that you’re driving a rented car and you don’t necessarily have to worry about burglary.


Driving a car on Curaçao

Driving a car in Curaçao can be quite a challenge. Although all roads in Willemstad are paved, not all are of good quality. It’s common to have a hole or a few bumps in the road (or a carcass on the road), but you get used to that as you drive more often. On Banda Abao outside the city there are really paved, but also many unpaved roads, so if you want an off road adventure you should go to Banda Abao, but make sure your car is suitable for it.

In principle, signage on Curaçao is fine and the roads can all be found in Google Maps or Maps.me. The signs along the road are blue, just like in the Netherlands, although they used to be green and are very clear. You certainly don’t have to get lost, although the street signs more often do not have an inscription. House numbers are also not really common, so if you are looking for a specific house or building, it is often a bit of a gamble.


Traffic and traffic rules in Curaçao

Also in terms of traffic it can be a challenge to drive on Curaçao. There are indeed traffic rules, but they are not always (read: almost never) followed. On paper, the right has the right of way, but in practice the person with the largest car has the right of way. Overtaking on the right is officially not allowed, but it happens more often than not, especially on Schottegatweg. The difference between driving left and right as we know in other parts of the world (driving on the right, overtaking on the left) does not exist in Curaçao. If you feel like driving on the left, you drive on the left, even if the one on your right overtakes you. Even when the person to your right is at the same speed as you; the traffic that drives behind you may not be able to pass, but that is of minor importance in Curaçao.

Speed ​​limits exist, but not everyone adheres to them and, moreover, they are hardly checked. The use of seat belts or child seats is not common for everyone and insuring cars is something many consider a waste of money. Car accidents are very common and the fatality rate has been alarmingly high for years. In short, the traffic is not what we are used to and you will really have to find your own way in the Curaçao traffic.


To fuel

Refueling on Curaçao is a party because it costs you about half of what you pay in the US or the Netherlands. For a small car you have your whole tank full for 50 guilders and with that you can cover a lot of kilometers. At most gas stations you pay in advance at the counter and it is customary in Curaçao for employees of the gas station to fill the tank for you. I always tip them when they’re done.

Parking on Curaçao

In the city you have to pay for most parking spaces. My advice is to do this, because it is strictly controlled. Whether this is also possible with a debit card or only cash depends on the device, but keep in mind that you need cash. On the Waaigat on the side of the Scharloo district, across the cinema, there is a large parking lot where you can park for free. You can walk to Punda in three minutes via the Wilhelmina bridge. There are covered parking garages in both Punda and Otrobanda (near the Riffort/Renaissance). The one in Renaissance is free.

Most beaches have their own parking space and at some you have to and at some you don’t have to pay. Furthermore, parking outside Willemstad (Saliña, Pietermaai, Piscadera, etc.) is free in most places. Parking apps do not exist on Curaçao and neither do blue zones. If you park somewhere where there are no parking signs (and therefore no prohibitions), you can assume that you can simply park your car there.