Last updated on October 19, 2022 by Wandering our World
Are you looking for a new vacation spot off the beaten path? If so, Curacao might be just what you’re looking for. This small island in the Caribbean has plenty of things to do, from beautiful beaches to underwater caves and shipwrecks. You can also visit historical sites, tour the island, or do one of our favorite things – wildlife spotting!
There’s many incredible animals in Curacao that are just as unique as the island. From furry friends to finned ones, here’s a quick guide to some of the most common, rare, and dangerous animals in Curacao.
Seven Common & Beautiful Animals In Curacao You Need To See
1. Sea Turtles
Five of the seven kinds of turtle in the world’s oceans are found in Curacao’s waters. But when snorkelling, the green turtle will be the most common creature seen. You can often find them on the shoreline too.
Loggerhead turtles can be found in Curacao as well, but unfortunately they are endangered, as are leatherback turtles and hawksbill turtles. While green turtles and loggerhead turtles can be quite easy to spot in Curacao, the leatherback turtle likes deep water and isn’t observed as much.
The sunken tugboat at Caracasbaai, as well as Playa Lagun Beach, and the area surrounding Klein Curacao are the best places to enjoy an underwater encounter with a sea turtle. The turtles at these sites frequently approach people out of curiosity, but try to keep your distance regardless and never touch them.
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Flamingos have long, beautiful pink necks, enormous wings, short tails, and slender legs, and usually stand between 90 and 150 cm tall. And incredibly, you can find these iconic animals in Curacao!
They are incredibly social birds and hundreds-strong flocks can be observed wading in groups along the shore, as well as flying in long, curved patterns. Flamingos make an impressive photo opportunity as they pass above, with their legs and neck stretched straight, resembling white and rose crosses with black arms. Make sure you have your camera charged!
On Curacao, you can have the best view of these lovely birds near the Sint Michielsbaai and the Jan Kok Salt Pans in Sint Willibrordus, commonly known as the Salia of Rif-Sint Marie. There is also a lake where you can view the salt flats at Jan Thiel.
On the road to Kokomo Beach, there is another excellent place to observe flamingos. On Weg Naar Bullenbaai, you can find a lake on your left that frequently has flamingos.
The Iguana, often referred to as the Yuana locally, is most likely the first animal you will see on the island. This species is indigenous to tropical regions of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, and is also sometimes referred to as the American Iguana.
Fruits, flowers, and luscious leaves are a favourite food of this green lizard. The iguana can also easily climb up cacti to eat its fruit thanks to their firm skin covered in scales.
Iguanas can be found all around Curacao, where they are usually lazing on the ground or in tree branches as they are partial to a bit of sunbathing! The Playa Lagun and Kokomo areas are some of the best places to see iguanas.
The Hummingbird is the world’s tiniest species of bird and the wing movement of hummingbirds occurs at an extremely high frequency of around 40 to 50 wing beats per second!
To find a hummingbird and see them in action, try visiting Curacao Zoo & Botanical Garden for a closer encounter as they can often be found there.
Dolphins are incredible aquatic animals that can dive up to 1,000 feet! And during your vacation any dreams you may have about swimming with dolphins could come true as they are some of the most common marine animals in Curacao.
Some of the best places to watch wild dolphins are on a boat trip to Klein Curacao. But if you’re lucky, you may even see dolphins from your beachfront hotel room window, or you can visit the Dolphin Academy at the Curacao Sea Aquarium.
The Orange Troupial, also known as the Venezuelan Troupial, is one of Curacao’s most eye-catching birds and is consequently featured on several brochures, flyers, and advertisements about the island.
These birds have vivid orange colours that contrast with black neck and head, as well as a distinctive white stripe on the wings. The troupial consumes fruit, seeds, insects, and the eggs and young of other bird species.
On the island, bird-watching can be a fun hobby and all you have to do to find a troupial is to look upwards – they’re quite easy to spot!
Shallow coastal waters with temperate seas around islands like Curacao are home to many stingrays. These marine animals in Curacao remain primarily dormant, half hidden in the sand, and often only move in response to the tide. The stingray’s colour frequently mimics the shade of the seafloor, hiding it from giant rays and hungry sharks. They have pectoral fins attached to their heads, and a famed tail that trails behind.
The stingray’s mouth, nostrils, and gill slits are on its underside, while its eyes are on its dorsal side. Most stingrays swim by wagging their tails or flapping their sides like wings when they are in the mood to move. The tail’s primary function is protection, though it can also be utilized to move around in the water.
While they can be hard to spot in the wild, you can snorkel with stingrays in a secure, regulated setting at the Curacao Sea Aquarium in Willemstad.
The Top Four Rare Animals In Curacao To Look Out For
The Warawara is a solitary bird that lives in Curacao which scavengers the decomposing flesh of dead animals, as well as snakes, lizards, tiny turtles, fish, crabs, insects, and juvenile birds.
The sound they produce has been characterized by some tourists as very weird and something they have never heard from a bird before!
You’ll need a sharp eye to see these Curacao animals, but look out for them when travelling near Bandabou or trekking in Christoffel Park.
2. Curacao Barn Owl
Both male and female Curacao barn owls have primarily dark grey upper parts and dazzling white underparts with noticeable dark speckles.
This bird species is native to Curacao, but is unfortunately becoming more and more endangered due to injury in car accidents and ingesting rodent poison.
As such, only around 75-100 adults are estimated to be in the wild, so consider yourself lucky if you encounter one.
3. White-Tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer is one of the most famous animals in Curacao and is the only deer you will find on the island.
There are thought to be just 200 of these protected species living on the island. They can be found all around Curacao, but Christoffel Park is where you’ll find most of the herd. Since fewer than 200 live on the island, spotting one is quite a special event.
4. Yellow-Headed Parakeet
The Yellow-Headed Parakeet is a beautiful bird that has a rich orangish hue and green on its crown. Otherwise, it is primarily grass-green above and pale yellow-green below, with a chest that is either brownish or olive.
Many golf and beach resorts, as well as nature parks like Christoffel and Washington Slagbaai National Park, as well as the towns of Willemstad and Kralendijk, are home to the endemic Yellow-Headed Parakeet, so keep an eye out for them whilst on holiday!
The Top Four Dangerous Animals In Curacao To Be Aware Of
While Curacao generally lacks any animals that are harmful to humans, here are a few dangerous marine species you can come across and should be aware of.
1. Portuguese Man-Of-War
The deadly Portuguese man-of-war is often mistaken for a jellyfish, but it’s actually a siphonophore – an animal made up of a colony of organisms that cooperate together!
All around the world’s oceans, man-of-wars can be seen drifting in warm waters, often in groups of 1,000 or more. Some tourists have seen vast quantities of Portuguese-man-of-war close to Curacao’s shores in the past, and considering the sting from one can be deadly, it’s best to keep your eyes peeled when entering the sea.
Scorpionfish have feathery fins or skin flaps that help them blend in with nearby coral. When hidden among rocks or reefs, certain species of scorpionfish even appear brown or yellow, while other species are brilliant red or orange, making them almost invisible amongst colorful coral.
Unfortunately scorpionfish have venomous spines that can be hazardous. The venom is injected at the point of contact, and for humans, a sting from one of these spines can be excruciatingly painful.
Anyone who has witnessed a jellyfish’s dome-shaped body moving through the water with tentacles trailing behind will attest to how fascinating they are to watch.
However many species also have thousands of tiny barbed stingers and they can inject venom through their long tentacles. A jellyfish sting can result in immediate discomfort and irritated skin, but some stings can even be life-threatening.
On Curacao, jellyfish appear to be most prevalent when the wind blows toward the NE, or when there is no wind at all.
The lionfish is an invasive species in the Caribbean which is known to disrupt reef ecosystems. Because of that it is actually possible to hunt them in Curacao, as a way of trying to bring the population numbers down.
The head and body of a lionfish is covered in brown, maroon, and white stripes or bands. They are also covered in spines that can be very painful when stepped on, so take care.