A short stop from Bonaire, Curaçao’s colorful, historic, cosmopolitan Dutch city of Willemstad offers something for the non-diver, so it’s poplar with diver/non-diver couples and as an extension to a Bonaire sojourn. The beauty of diving around the island of Curaçao lies in its diversity, allowing you to experience deep and shallow walls, sloping walls, deep and shallow wrecks and drift or cave diving, all within the same day. Average visibility is about 80-100ft (24-30m) and the average water temperature ranges between 78° -84°F (26-28°C). Many of the dives off Curaçao are within the Curaçao Underwater Park. Outstanding beach dives from protected coves on the northwestern side of the island, which is usually calmest and has easy access by car.
Best Diving Destinations in Curacao
Boulder Star coral formations can be seen rising as high as 10-15ft (3-4m) from the ocean floor.
Another top site, the vertical wall here drops from a 20ft (6m) ledge straight down to 180ft (54m). The wall is lush with coral formations of Star Coral, Brain Coral and Black Coral in deeper water.
This site teems with marine life and some of the largest colonies of soft brown Sea Rod Coral seen in the Caribbean.
Established in 1983, Curaçao Underwater Park stretches along the eastern end of the southwest shore from East Point to the Princess Beach Hotel. Central Curaçao Underwater Park continues from the Princess Beach Hotel to Bullen Bay while Banda Abao Underwater Park runs from the Cap St. Mary lighthouse to West Point.
Curaçao is rich in both shipwrecks and reefs. The 61m (200ft) Superior Producer, a coastal freighter that accidentally sank in 33m (110ft) of water just outside the harbor in 1977, is the premier wreck in the area. Swept by currents, she sits upright, blanketed with orange cup corals whip corals, anemones and sponges. The ship’s wheelhouse is at a depth of 25m (82ft). The Tugboat is a popular wreck dive, especially for photographers. She lies in the 5.5m (18ft) of water near the eastern side of Caracas Bay. Upright, intact and instantly recognizable, this wreck is Curaçao’s unofficial diving emblem. Just over 8m (25ft) long and small enough to be photographed. The boat is sufficiently shallow to be enjoyed by snorkelers as well. The wheelhouse is carpeted with orange cup corals while brain coral and gorgonians cloak the outer hull. The engine room portholes allow for easy penetration by ardent photographers. Parrofish, moray eels and French angelfish are all resident in the boat. On the seaward side of the wreck, a vertical and sometimes overhanging wall rich in stony corals and orange elephant ear sponges drops from 9m (30ft) to 30m (100ft) before shelving gradually deeper.
When to Visit Curacao
With no more than three degree’s difference between average summer and winter air temperature and very low annual rainfall, the main factor affecting diving in Curaçao is the wind. The trade winds blow year-round, but are highest from January through April. The best dive months are June through November. Very little diving is done on Curaçao’s north coast because of rough seas. However, for short periods between August and December, the water is calm enough to allow diving. Water temperatures vary from mid-70°F (23°C) in the winter to mid-80°F (29°C) in the summer.