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.
Trade winds continually blow over the island leaving one side of the island too rough to dive, but the other protected side of the island containing all of the dive sites (those that visitors generally dive). Curacao offers good wall diving, reef diving and some wreck diving.
The outstanding beach dives from protected coves on the northwestern side of the island have easy access by car.
Best Diving Destinations in Curacao
The diving in Curacao is all done on the protected side of the island, and typically most dive sites gradually drop off, but there are a few sites that do have sheer walls.
The arid climate of Curacao means that there is little island run off and hence the visibility is always above average for the diving.
Most dive sites have a shallower section above the wall to dive on, and a deeper section, down the wall, which to dive on. Soft and hard corals, along with a variety of sponges color the walls and reefs.
Typical marine life to be found includes, goat fish, grunts, trumpet fish, giant orange elephant ear sponges, lobsters, spotted drums, spotted moray, green moray and chain moray.
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.
Also worth a look, the wreck of the Saba is a tug sitting in 20 feet of water and offers good snorkelling for non divers, and the wreck of the Superior Producer which stands upright, and was sunk in 1978, sits in 34 meters of water.
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.
Map of Curacao
The island of Curacao, situated 55kms north of venezuala, is part of the Netherland Antillies. The island is an arid desert like terrain (not the typical lush tropical island), with trade winds blowing mostly from one side of the island. The official language is English and the official currency is the Netherlands Guilder, although US dollars are excepted everywhere. The main town is Willenstad which is a modern town with a population of 165,000. A full range of restaurants are available for dining, and the seaquarium can be visited as a shoretime activity.