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Curacao. Can We Say Choices?

Curacao. Can We Say Choices?

If you are trying to choose your next dive destination, you may want to look no further than Curacao. Who would have thought that an Island just over 444km² (171sq miles) would constantly be named one of the top dive destinations in the Caribbean so many years in a row by so many divers and so many dive related publications?

The word Curacao is thought to drive from the Portuguese word for heart, but we believe that it stands for “choices”.

As divers we like the fact that Curacao has 17 main shore dive beaches with some beaches having multiple dive sites adding up to some 40 dive areas; you can almost double this number when you include boat dives around Curacao and it’s little deserted companion island of Klein Curacao. Some of the top voted dive sites include: Alice in Wonderland an easy shore dive at Westpunt. Here expect to see lots of colorful fish, small invertebrates, and a resident turtle.

Almost all of the dive sites offered by Go West Diving are short boat rides with average underwater visibility of 100ft and provide unlimited opportunities for every photographer.

At a dive site named Mushroom Forest, many of the coral formations resemble snow covered dwarf pine trees, but since snow is unheard of on an Island that averages 28.9°C (84°F), we’ll just call these unique displays of multi-colored coral growth mushrooms too. Keep your eyes peeled here for eels, lobster, and octopus.

At Rediho expect to see slipper lobsters and seahorses near the coral heads, and southern stingrays half hidden in the soft light colored sand. Watamula, on the most western point is virtually unspoiled and teaming with life down its slopes and a great place for macro-photography. Also, the fuselage and remaining parts of a small plane rest between Watamula and Playa Kalki.

If you want to dive through something with more legroom, then dive the Airplane Wreck at Santa Martha. For more fin room there is extra cargo space on the 200ft long ship Superior Producer near the mouth of Williamstad Harbour. The cargo ship suddenly sank and was caught with her pants down at 100ft. On that last voyage, she carried a cargo of soon to be exclusively coral washed Levi’s jeans as well as valuable yoyo’s. For those on the island that benefited from the rescued jeans, the expression “wear your salty clothes” came to mean “casual attire.”

We haven’t had a chance to mention the double reef system at Porto Marie also known as The Valley, or the drift diving at Klein Curacao where you may spot Shark Cave, or the other fringing reefs that descend quickly from shore down to depths giving you a wide view of all the coral gardens and the local inhabitants, or mention that pilot whales and dolphins have recently been seen on the island in greater numbers, but we have to take you topside for a moment if we are even going to mention a fraction of all the cool attractions and activities you can do above water.

First, do you feel the need for speed?

We thought you might.

Curacao is home to the annual Amstel Curacao Race on bicycles and the Heineken Regatta Curacao with streamlined sailing vessels. You can also go ATV riding across the dunes and cliffs, or take a guided horseback riding tour; island style in the scrublands and along the shoreline or in the shallow waves.

If you’re more comfortable traveling by foot, perhaps you’d like a hike at Cristofel Park where you’ll find white tailed deer, orchids, and the Palabrua native barn owl. If you like really big birds, then you’re in luck, because the biggest ostrich farm outside of Africa, is right here on the island. You can hold emus and ostrich eggs, touch less than week old chicks, feed juveniles, and take photos of adults. There is a Zambezi restaurant where they serve African style ostrich cuisine and this is also where you just might see a slightly smaller sized humming bird fly by while you have lunch.

For another interesting hike, walk, or tour, you can visit the Hato Caves, which have limestone formations, a waterfall, pools, a famous Madonna statue, and a colony of long nose fruit bats who would rather ignore the tourists and keep to themselves. The Indian Caves in Westpunt is another cave and grotto area with fresh spring water and is thought to be an early shelter site of the early native Arawak-Taino islanders. For a walk through a botanical garden filled with exotic life, take a walk through the Curacao Zoo & Nature Reserve.

Of course you can always walk around the historical Dutch forts built from 1634 to 1828. The Riffort has currently been turned into fortified stores, shops and restaurants complete with cannons too big to bring home as souvenirs. A hotel was built right on top of Fort Waterfort which guarded Sint Anna Bay, the entrance to the harbour between the Punda and Otrabanda quarters of the capital city of Willemstad.

Visiting the Curacao Sea Aquarium and Dolphin Academy is a must for all divers and non-divers alike. Besides visiting aquarium tanks, touch tanks filled with stingrays and/or nurse sharks, you can feed sharks, dolphins, flamingos, and turtles, watch a sea lion or dolphin show, train dolphins, visit the Shell museum, or view the undersea in an air conditioned theatre.

Without a complete history lesson which you can choose to read later while sitting on a beach, it’s important to tell you that Curacao has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean and it’s GDP is ranked 46th in the world. The population is comprised of a majority of Afro-Caribbean descendants with sizable minorities of Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, East Asian, South Asians, and others. This makes the food served in restaurants internationally wide in variety with plenty of choices. You might like to try something delightfully unique like Pincho a Brazilian style sliced grilled beef with Caribbean pasta salad and potatoes.

Now all the aforementioned cultural infusion has also given rise to a class of local cuisine simply known as Krioyo which you can order at one of many authentic local restaurants complete with a scenic view, or you can try a wide variety of local seasoned Krioyo items at the Old Market Food Court where you order straight from individual vendors/cooks.

Well, we ran out of time, but not choices. The Curacao Liqueur Factory has a tour and five choices of liqueur you can choose to purchase. You can visit the  Kura Hulanda Museum and visit 15 buildings, which house cultural art, historical relics, and the chronicle of the Origin of Man, or you can choose to just relax on the beach and watch an iguana contemplate the Origin of Species.

No matter what you choose to do, we think you’ll like your choice of Curacao as your next dive, dine, and discover destination.


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Destination Spotlight: Curacao

Bon Bini! (Welcome!)

Where’s our next stop on our virtual tour of beautiful beaches, resorts, and dive destinations?

Curacao! (But you knew that already though, you cheated and looked at the title!)

One of the Caribbean’s hidden treasures and part of the “ABC Islands,” Curacao is famous for its vibrant culture, gorgeous beaches, and almost untouched marine life (which is pretty much everything we LOVE about a destination).

But what really gets our fins perked?

Spectacular dives! And let us tell you, Curacao’s at the TOP of the list. Voted as one of the top 3 locations for ‘Best Snorkeling’, ‘Best Shore Diving’ and ‘Best Macro Marine Life’ by the readers of Scuba Diving Magazine, it’s a given (and must-go) for divers of any level.

So, what’s it like diving Curacao?

We thought you’d never ask.

Diving Curacao

Much of Curacao’s dive sites are on the east side of the island, many of which are only accessible by boat. Since mainly divers and some locals (who respect the ocean and marine life) venture to these sites, the reefs are preserved and pristine.

We encourage photo-ops.

Spot and snap shots of turtles, eels, angelfish, barracudas, seahorses, lobsters, and plenty more. Divers have also recently reported spotting manta rays as well as nurse sharks on the East Point.

You can expect some mild currents and drift dives, which are easy enough for beginner and experienced divers alike. Most dive sites are reef dives with a gentle slope, nice overhangs, and even canyons at times.

Must-Do Dives

Basora: This site is abundant with as many species of coral and fish as you are likely to find in one place, it’s the most eastern dive site on Curaçao. And because it is on the point, the currents can shift quickly and the wave action is unpredictable.

Hell’s Corner:  For our advanced diver looking for some adventure and challenge, this could be the perfect dive site for you. Hell’s Corner has no protection from the open ocean and large waves crash against the rocks on the shore, hence the name Hell’s Corner.

Here you’ll find brain corals, tube sponges, mushroom heads, large gorgonians, abundant fish life, schooling jacks, barracuda, sea turtles, lobsters, and spotted and green morays.

Superior Producer Wreck: If you travel outside cruise ship season you can dive the Superior Producer Wreck, offered by Lions Dive & Beach Resort. This is definitely a must-do as the ship is a colorful 240-foot long feast for the eyes. Corals, sponges and micro-life cover the ship as fish and barracudas swim about.

Curacao can provide a wide range of accommodations from full service and all inclusive  resorts to boutique and small properties. There are many good dive operators and with the proximity of the dive sites, divers have the opportunity to dive and experience a large number of sites like Mushroom Forest, Klein Curacao, Tugboat and many more from most hotels.

Other must-do dives include: Klein Curacao, Airplane Wreck, Kabes di Baranka/ Beach Point & Caracasbay Lost Anchor, Vaersenbay Car Wrecks, Halfway, and much more.


If you’re in the mood to shop, the historic capital city of Willemstad is a place to visit. There you can also find great restaurants, nightlife spots, and of course its world-famous sherbet-colored buildings and floating bridge.

Still into sea-life even outside the water? Us too.

So, a visit to the Seaquarium and Dolphin Academy is a must. The Seaquarium has several aquarian and interactive programs with sea lions, turtles and sharks! Experienced divers can even partake in a special dolphin dive. (We know that isn’t really topside, but we’re divers – we can’t help it.)

It’s also well worth the effort to rent a car and explore the other end of the island where you’ll find spectacular beaches amongst the cliffs and magnificent aqua blue waters.

Curacao has a mix of over 50 different cultures, so food here’s going to be varied and we love that! A variety of influences from Dutch, Spanish, Creole, Indonesian, and more can be found at Curaçao’s famous old market, Marsche Bieuw in downtown Willemstad. We can’t get into all the delicious dishes so we’ll leave that for you to discover for yourself. But don’t leave without trying: fried plantains, kokada, bami, sate, and kònkòmber!


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Must Do Dives: Curacao Pt.II

A continuation of our 10 Must Do Dives: Curacao

As we mentioned in our Must Do Dives: Curacao Pt.I,  Curacao is an unbeatably popular dive destination that is only growing amongst divers.

Below are the last 5 must-do-dives of Curacao.

Happy Diving!

Mushroom Forest

Photo Courtesy of

This expansive area of coral flats is named for the extensive, striking mushroom-shaped, coral formations. One of the top dive sites of Curacao and a great place to practice your navigation while spotting the colourful reef life. Most life is found around the 40-ft to 50-ft mark, where gigantic, mountainous star coral formations are still evident and attract giant moray eels, porcupinefish, barracuda and lobster.


Between Klein Knip and Playa Jeremi, there is a bit of paradise! This dive site is reachable by boat only. A great variety of big hard coral colonies and colourful sponges are found here and is home to many barracuda, green morays and lobsters. The best depths to experience this reef is between 30-ft to 70-ft. Along the shoreline, there is also a small cave that can be accessed on calm days, where you will find large schools of glassy sweepers, numerous lobster varieties and crabs.


Courtesy of Ocean Encounters

Deep water currents provide this rarely visited dive site with excellent visibility and make it a good site to spot some larger marine life. Probably, the best change to spot seahorses, as well as eagle rays. Mooring depth is 15-ft, so the safety stop is spent hovering around numerous soft and hard corals. Beautiful sandy channels and steep topography give this dive site a unique feel. Eagle rays, turtles, Barracuda and porcupinefish are regularly spotted here. A unique dive site with a best viewing depth between 35-ft to 85-ft.

Superior Producer Wreck

In Willemstad, just west of the Santa Anna Bay. The hull lies at 100-ft and the top deck of the wreck is at 77-ft. The wreck sunk in 1977. Thirty-five years later, this cargo vessel has an abundant growth of coral and sponges, and is home to abundant marine life. Curacao’s largest, deepest, and most famous wreck makes this a must do dive.


Photo Courtesy of Scuba Board

North side of a sandy patch, full of barrel sponges and also small nudibranches like the purple headed sea goddesses. Further north of the mooring, squid are frequently in the shallows. The reef ranges to between 30-ft to 50-ft, with interesting photo opportunities. The south sandy patch of this reef structure provides the opportunity to see stingrays and squid in the shallows directly in line with the south mooring.

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Must Do Dives: Curacao Pt.I

Curacao is a unique, southern Caribbean, Dutch influenced island that has quickly become a popular dive destination. We’ve witnessed this islands popularity increase among scuba divers; especially, within the last 5 years, as a variety of dive sites have been discovered.

Courtesy of

Counting down the 10 Must Do Dives is no easy matter! How can you choose just TEN amazing Curacao dive sites? We needed a little help, so we asked two of Curacao’s leading dive operators, Jnolo Ambrosi of Ocean Encounters and Bryan Horne of Go West Diving, which of the 60+ dive sites made the cut.

Of course, we all have our favorite spots but after careful consideration of all factors (and some wine), we picked 10 sites every diver can enjoy. They’re the best combination of diving experiences from fringing reefs to shore diving, plateaus, wrecks, and more – all along Curacao’s coast and an off shore island.

To be extremely fair (and we also couldn’t choose which goes where) we decided to list these destinations in ABC oder for your reading (and diving) pleasure.

We hope you enjoy our list! Let us know your favorites via Facebook, Twitter, or just shoot us a comment.

Alice in Wonderland at Playa Kalki

Alice in Wonderland is the beautiful house reef of Go West Diving and is located just 100 feet straight out from the pier. This is a great choice for an afternoon dive after a busy morning on the boat. Either direction offers a varied dive experience. Look for a concrete hand at 10-ft, about 50 yards right of the pier, and don’t forget to say hello to Donatello, the house turtle. A reference rope runs from the end of the pier down to the coral reef and beyond 100-ft, but the best diving lies between 35-ft to 80-ft. Green morays, lobsters, lettuce sea slugs and sharp tail eels also make their home here.

Black Rock

Black Rock

Farthest East dive site with a mooring 5 miles before east point. Mooring is at 27-ft and the slope drops to 180+ ft. Very large star and boulder coral. Staghorn and elkhorn coral are abundant in the shallows, and there is a better chance of seeing large green morays, rays, sharks, turtles (bigger stuff). 20% of the East coast of Curacao is owned by one family. The family has yet to develop the area; therefore, there are no hotels, roads, beaches, houses, or people for that matter. This means that the coral formations are extremely healthy, and are exactly as nature intended it.

Drift from Blue Bay Wall West to Snake Bay

A wall dive to 132 feet. This wall dive is accessible only by boat. The wall is lush with coral, and there is a better chance of seeing larger fish and big schools along the wall. One of Curacao’s only true walls, coupled with nutrient rich currents, provides a spectacular show as you cruise along the pristine reef.

Kathys Paradise

The point past Newport along the South East Coast. A plateau from 12-ft to 28-ft and then drops off to 120 feet. This site is a drift dive beginning near smokeys and heading west. There is a small wall from 27-ft to 50-ft with lots of cracks and crevices for critters to hide in. At the beginning of the dive there is a brain coral the size of a mini cooper. Anytime you have a point along the coast, this creates nutrient rich currents making the reef and marine life both healthy and abundant. Plus, it makes for a nice relaxing drift dive.

Klein Curacao

Klein Curacao

Located 18 miles southeast of Curacao. This is a shallow plateau dropping to 120+ feet. Everything is bigger at Klein Curacao. Ocean triggerfish are abundant and seeing 5 turtles on 1 dive is not rare. Fish life is uninhibited with the absence of local fisherman. This and other uninhabited islands away from the mainland will invariably make for phenomenal diving. Especially when the conditions are right and you can drift the windward side of the island.

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