A car will take you to places you can't get to with public transport. Driving a car on Curacao is a must-see experience. If you keep an eye on a few things and the traffic rules, it will all be fine!
First of all, the traffic rules. When you see some cars on the road, it seems as if there are no rules. But that is of course not the case! You will have no problem with the traffic signs: they are almost exactly the same as in the Netherlands.
The same applies to most traffic rules. The most important rule: traffic from the right has priority. But this is immediately followed by an un-Dutch exception. This rule does not apply to T-junctions, where through traffic has priority. So if you approach a T-junction from a dead-end street, you must always give way.
In towns and villages, the speed limit is 40-45 kilometres per hour. On the roads outside the city, the speed limit (depending on the signs) is 60-80 kilometres per hour. This speed limit also applies to the ring road around Willemstad. This is a four-lane road, where the official rule is to overtake on the left. In practice, drivers often overtake on both the left and right, so be aware of that!
Most Curacaoans are very relaxed with the traffic rules. Besides overtaking on the left and right, it is often a matter of taking priority instead of getting priority. But beware: this is usually very amicable. Cars that incorrectly take the right of way often get the right of way from other drivers too. Why rush? Poko poko (go slow)!
The motto is therefore: give each other space. This is certainly wise, as some cars do not have working lights or indicators. Sometimes drivers suddenly put their hands out of the window to indicate that they want to turn.
As soon as it starts raining, everyone immediately slows down. This is not for nothing, because the wet roads on the island can be extremely slippery. This is especially common during the rainy season on Curacao (October to January). Sometimes it even happens that huge puddles appear on the road, because the sewer system cannot cope with the large amount of water. It goes without saying that you shouldn't rush through them and around Willemstad it is usually quite busy. You can even end up in a traffic jam in the morning. But most of the time, the traffic is moving along nicely and the roads are in good order. Outside the city, traffic jams are rare and you can drive a lot faster. But always keep your eyes on the road! Out of nowhere, gaping holes can suddenly appear, which can seriously damage your rental car.
Outside the city, there are often goats on the road, which farmers just let run free. Once they are in front of your car, they rarely give you the right of way. And another tip from someone who has lived in Curacao for years: never brake for lizards, because they are always faster.
The road network on Curacao is (especially in Willemstad) quite intricate. You should therefore definitely have a good road map. Many travel guides contain a road map with only the main roads, but that is not always sufficient. To be on the safe side, it is better to spend a few guilders on a good map. Alternatively, you can hire a navigation system from our car hire company.
Once you are at your destination, parking is usually not a problem. Outside the city you can park almost everywhere and in Willemstad there is a large, free car park just outside the centre (at the Waaigat). However, your car is unguarded and burglaries are relatively common on Curacao. It hasn't happened to me yet, but some people only park their cars in guarded areas.
Parking in the city's roadside parking bays (which are usually numbered) is often not free. You must then pass by a parking meter. Don't be too lax about this, because Willemstad is controlled quite well! Before you know it, you'll have a wheel clamp on your rental car.
Whether you are guarded or not, it is always important to remove all valuables from the car. Or rather, all your things. Of course, you should not leave anything on the dashboard. But that also applies in the Netherlands.
Do you need to refuel? Please note that at most filling stations on Curacao it is customary to pay in advance.
Curacao Road Service
In case you should have an accident on Curacao, it is good to know what the procedure is. In case of traffic accidents, usually not the police, but the Curacao Road Service will come. They are available 24 hours a day at 199 (or 5999/747-1333). They will send someone over as soon as possible to make a damage report. Also call Lowbudget Car Rental and our phone numbers are here.
If you need an ambulance, you can call 912. The general emergency number on Curacao is 911.
But hopefully you will never have to use those numbers and you will soon be driving around beautiful Curacao carefree!