Curaçao offers some of the best diving in the Caribbean… in fact, in 2004, SCUBA Diving Magazine readers voted Curaçao one of the top three Caribbean dive destinations! Its dozens of spectacular dive locations provide some of the most colorful and awe inspiring scenes imaginable. The shallow dives are often more vibrant and active than the deeper sites, though you’ll find lots of marine life and excellent coral density almost everywhere, and you won’t find lots of broken coral as you will in some Caribbean destinations. Boat diving is very popular, and there is also excellent shore diving and shore snorkeling with over 35 distinct dive sites (if you’re planning on shore diving outside the resorts’ house reefs, you’ll definitely need a rental car).
Visibility averages 100 feet, and the water temperature averages 80 degrees (a little warmer in summer, a little cooler in winter). All the diving is alongside the shoreline, and the reef generally starts in 15-20 feet.
At Habitat Curaçao, the house reef is known as “Nos Cas” (“Our House” in Papiamento) – after doing a giant stride entry form the dock and a short 2 minute swim through scattered coral heads and tropical fish, you’re on the drop off! It begins at about 20 feet, and is marked with a rope leading down to over 100′. You’ll find lots of tropical fish, beautiful healthy coral, and fantastic night diving. At Habitat, you’re welcome to dive anytime you like, 24/7. Their philosophy is that you’re a certified diver and you know what you’re doing, so there’s a refreshing absence of “rules” – as long as you’re a competent diver, you’re welcome to dive solo, follow your own profiles, and in general take advantage of total diving freedom! They only ask that you limit your boat dives to a one-hour bottom time, other than that feel free to do what you like (of course, you’re welcome to accompany the divemaster if you prefer guided dives).
At Sunset Waters there’s also a beautiful house reef within a few minutes’ swim from the shoreline, with remnants of an airplane wreck to enjoy. You can gear up at the Sunset Divers’ shop and walk across the beach to the shore entry and dive to your heart’s content, 24 hours a day! Sunset Waters is well-located, within a 20 minute boat ride to both the famed Mushroom Forest and Porto Marie, two of the island’s most famous dive sites. There’s always a divemaster in the water and you’re welcome to take advantage of a guided dive, or set off on your own and follow your own profile. Full service dive shop, gear rinse and storage, very friendly and attentive staff who welcome questions and are eager to make your Curaçao dive vacation a memorable one.
At Kura Hulanda the house reef is known both as Playa Kalki and Alice in Wonderland – and it’s an awesome dive! It’s tucked into a sheltered cove so the water’s almost always calm, and it’s ideal for snorkelers as well. The wall drops off just a few minutes swim from shore to a depth of over 100’ but it’s a gradual dropoff, so the dive is suitable for novice divers. Look for green morays, lobsters, fish swarms and a variety of smaller marine life. Ocean Encounters West is the onsite operator, a PADI 5-Star Facility and National Geographic Dive Center offering instruction at all levels, and gear repair and storage – as well as 2-diver kayaks known as Dive Yaks, where 2 divers can set off on their own, tie off at buoy-marked sites, and experience a completely new type of diving!
There are dozens of excellent sites within a 15-20 minute boat ride from all these hotels and you’ll get to visit a wide variety of sites…. among them, Mushroom Forest is probably Curacao’s most famous dive… its name come from the many large mushroom-shaped star corals, eroded at the base so the site resembles a huge expanse of mushrooms! It’s a very diverse dive site with lots of color and life, best at 50’ or so though there is a drop-off here. Watamula is the northernmost site, located in a break in the cliffs between Westpunt and Noordpunt… not always diveable since it’s on the point of the island and it can be a little tricky with currents, but some would say this is the island’s best reef dive. Very lush, diverse and vibrant and a good place to see rays as you drift over a unique dive site. Porto Marie has 2 separate reefs, separated by a valley between them. Gorgeous coral heads, very healthy with plenty of marine life: angelfish, parrotfish, groupers, brown chromis, yellowtail snapper, triggerfish trumpet fish, cornet fish, sea turtles, lobsters and sting rays. Playa Largu or Long Beach, starts fairly shallow then slopes down to 130+… amazingly vibrant on top of the reef, like most of Curacao’s dive sites. We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that there are plenty of exciting sites to keep you happy for at least a full week of diving in Curacao!
Bay Adventures Inc. | P. O. Box 530745 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0745 | 888-599-3483