The large population and diverse culture mean that Curaçao's nightlife is without a doubt the best in the ABC islands. The best time of year to visit for the die-hard reveler is during Carnival, which runs for several weeks, ending on Mardi Gras, and features about two dozen parades through the main streets of Willemstad. During this time, the sides of the road are lined with chairs and makeshift spectator stands. The parade route is about 5km (3 miles) long, and the seemingly endless parties start early and end late.
During the rest of the year, the island nightlife works on a timeshare system: Each club has its unofficial "night" when the crowds gather under its roof and the fun lasts long into the early morning hours. Pick up a copy of the weekly dining and entertainment guide K-Pasa at any tourism office or hotel lobby, or log on to www.k-pasa.com to find out what's happening where.
Because the island is densely populated with a happy, social bunch of locals, the nightlife scene is geared for the residents as well as the tourists. The hot spots move around like shifting dunes, and the locals all have their fingers on the pulse of each evening's beat. The Salinja district is the heart of Curaçao nightlife, but ask a Curaçaoan for the best place to go on any given night. If so inclined, you can stay out late and dance till dawn to great live music. The local brothel even has a ladies' night that's apparently quite popular among local women and men.
One of the island's best and most memorable venues is Blues, a restaurant and bar in the Avila Beach Hotel, Penstraat 130 (tel. 599/9-461-4377). Perched over the water, this tiny treehouse of a bar is packed every night except Monday, when it is closed. Live jazz plays Thursday from 7 to 11pm and Saturday from 8 to 11pm -- and you won't ever have to pay a cover charge. Mambo Beach, at the Seaquarium Beach (tel. 599/9-461-8999; www.mambobeach.com), features food, music, and a great beach bar that, on Tuesday nights, shows classic movies under the stars a mere stone's throw from the water. Sunday night is salsa night, and the place is usually packed. While the revelry can be heard and seen from the far end of the Breezes resort, unless you are a good swimmer, it's a long walk or a short cab ride to this perennial hot spot.
Another longtime favorite, especially for happy hour, is Hook's Hut (tel. 599/9-462-6575; www.hookshut.com), on the beach of the same name at Piscaderabaai z/n. Asia de Cuba, Zuikertuintjeweg z/n (tel. 599/9-747-9009), has live Cuban music and a Pan-Asian decor and cuisine. Grab a mojito and belly up to a high-top table near the dance floor to watch the locals as they show off Latin moves so good you'll think you're in old Havana. The Sopranos Piano Bar, in Renaissance Rif Fort Mall (tel. 599/9-567-0007; www.sopranospianobar.com), has nightly dancing, cocktails, and live music. The bar is open from noon to 3am (or later). A pontoon boat, Mi Dushi, on Baya Beach at the end of Caracas Bai St. (tel. 599/9-747-4489; www.midushi.com), is a floating club with a dance floor, three bars, and a full barbecue. Mi Dushi sails every Friday, costing $34 for adults and $20 for children 6 to 14.
You'll find plenty of gaming action in the island's casinos. The fun usually starts at 2pm, and some places stay open until 4am. The Princess Casino at the Breezes Curaçao resort, Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. 78 (tel. 599/9-736-7888), is the liveliest on the island. The Emerald Casino, at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, Piscadera Bay (tel. 599/9-736-8800), features 149 slot machines, four blackjack tables, two roulette wheels, two Caribbean stud poker tables, one Texas bonus, two Texas Hold em' tables, and a craps table. The Holiday Beach Hotel & Casino, Pater Euwensweg 31, Otrobanda (tel. 599/9-462-5400), also offers gaming. The newest and flashiest casino on the island is the Carnaval Casino (tel. 599/9-435-5087) at the Renaissance Curaçao Resort and Casino, which features flashing lights and noise from the slot machines (including hilarious themes such as Betti the Yetti and Revenge of the Moolah, featuring cows in spaceships). Nightly live music is a nice touch.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.