No trip to Curaçao would be complete without a journey into its Second world beneath the surface.
A visit to Curaçao is an all access pass to several different types of vacation. Above the surface it is part luxurious beach getaway, part centuries old European port town and part untamed desert island. All are filled with life, color and countless opportunities to explore. However, just below the water line lives another world, easily accessible and ever changing.
From the untouched sanctuary of the island’s only National Marine Park in the east to the seemingly bottomless depths of the western reef walls, no two trips to Curaçao’s underwater paradise will ever be the same. More than 300 individual species of fish call these waters home. Regal French Angelfish, cloud like schools of Blue Tang and curious flat bellied Trunk Fish roam freely through the coral. Steely eyed barracuda guard the wreckage of the Superior Producer, a cargo ship which sank just 60 meters off shore in 1977. In the waters around the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao, sea turtles glide peacefully among the snorkelers and scuba divers. Every fall the coral spawning draws thousands of feeder fish who gather by the thousands into moving spheres to enjoy the feast.
There are more than 60 unique dive sites surrounding Curaçao, and half of them are accessible directly from the shore. The island is also well known for its many shallow water reefs bustling with activity just a few feet below the surface. This means that everyone from the total novice to the seasoned scuba pro can enjoy undiscovered adventure, making it an ideal diving destination for couples, friends and families.
For those not quite ready to take the full plunge, the snorkeling is also considered some of the best in the world. Nearly every beach offers a chance to wade into the action. Equipped with a mask and snorkel, which are widely available for rent, visitors can explore everything from the rocky, untamed wilderness off the shores of Playa Santa Pretu to the underwater park found in the man made Reef Balls at Porto Marie.
While many vacation experiences geared toward families feature separate activities for children, teens and adults, exploring the underwater wonderland that surrounds Curaçao is an adventure everyone can take part in together. Children as young as 10 years old are able to learn the basics and begin diving with a parent or guardian alongside a PADI certified professional while preteens ages 12-14 are eligible to become Junior Open Water divers. Amanda Jones who visited the island with her daughter Emmy, then 12, recalls their trip as a unique bonding opportunity. “Learning to dive together was an incredible experience. It opened up a fascinating new world that I hope we’ll continue to explore for years to come.”
Over 30 knowledgeable and experienced operators cater to groups large or small and to every type of dive experience imaginable, from dive buddies seeking new thrills to couples looking for a unique aquatic location for renewing their vows. Many hotels and rental apartments such as Atlantis Diving are also specifically tailored to divers. With direct water access, guides, instructors and full equipment available, these accommodations will ensure that your diving adventure is as simple as possible so that you spend the most time having fun!
Shore diving is where divers don’t need to venture to a site by boat. They slip on gear, grab a buddy, and head off into wild blue yonder. Should you wish to explore this type of dive, you can ask at your hotel, local dive shop or purchase a Curaçao dive guide with explicit directions on how to find any of the dozens of shore accessible dive sites.
Check our map of some of the island’s best locations to explore with your friends and family!
- Playa Kalki – Go West Diving Come explore this full service dive operation to one of Curacao’s best shore dive sites, Alice In Wonderland. They also offer a short boat ride to dive sites such as the Mushroom Forest, Watamula, and the Black Coral Garden.
- Sabana Westpunt This popular dive location is next to a picturesque public beach filled with tiny colorful fishing boats anchored in the blue water. Before reaching the reef drop-off, there is a gradual slope covered with healthy coral, sponges and hanging vine like algae.
- Klein Knip & Knip Chikitu This is the perfect place for shore diving! After a short swim over the sandy ocean floor where you can sometimes spot gentle eagle rays, you will reach the vibrant coral reef. The Star Coral formations begin at just 10 meters below the surface and continue along a reef wall which descends more than 30 meters for more advanced divers.
- Playa Jeremi This remote beach is accessible by a sloping staircase or a concrete ramp which can be used for hauling your gear. The beauty of the reef is just a few kicks from shore where you can enjoy the sights of brain coral and flower-like anemones. You may even spot green Moray Eels as well as larger fish like grouper in the deeper waters.
- Playa Lagun Check out this western hideaway which is an ideal beach for both divers and snorkelers. Wade directly onto the colorful reef known for being a frequent home to sea turtles. After your dive, you can relax at Lagun’s own restaurant and bar.
- Santa Cruz This is a great spot to use as a base for accessing the island’s best west side boat dives as well as the nearby Playa Santa Pretu and the world famous Blue Room. The large, sandy public beach has many free picnic table and tiki huts available and several boat operators will happily take you to explore.
- Cas Abao This great beach has full facilities and an on-site dive shop. The reef is a short swim out across calm waters and has many colorful fish and corals. You may see sea horses and possibly even a frog fish.
- Porto Marie This is a wonderful full service dive operator situated on one of Curaçao’s most beautiful fully equipped beaches. The unique double reef is accessible directly from the shore where you can cruise through the large schools of Blue Tang and curious Trunk Fish who are exploring the man-made habitat balls.
- Daaibooi This secluded spot is home to a variety of marine plant species including star, pillar and brain coral. Take the chance to spot a rarely seen pod of squid swimming amongst the underwater forest.
- Boca San Michiel Also known as Boca Sami, this relatively isolated beach has several easy points of entry for a relaxing shore dive including a small boat ramp. Swim out through the tiny fishing boats before descending to the shallow reef where hard coral abounds.
- dive.bluebay – Piscadera Bay Accessible directly from the shore lies the seemingly endless wall reef at Blue Bay. Beginning very close to the surface and continuing in a vertical slope to a depth of over 30 meters, this famous house reef is not to be missed. A full service dive shop is conveniently located right on the beach.
- Superior Producer This famous cargo ship, which sank off Curaçao’s coast in 1977, is the site of one of the island’s most popular dives. Roughly 30 meters below the surface this massive wreck looms like a living ghost, brimming with aquatic life.
- Atlantis Diving Look no further for Curaçao’s finest one stop shop! Atlantis offers both a 5 star dive center as well as fully equipped apartments ready to rent. They will help you organize everything you need to explore many of the island’s best dive options.
- Ocean Encounters Curaçao’s own PADI certified 5 star dive center caters to divers of all experience levels from novice to seasoned pro. They offer specialty boat dive trips to premier locations such as the Mushroom Forrest and Klein Curaçao.