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Written by Scuba Divers ~ DIVEIN.com's Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Curaçao

Weather in Curaçao

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Curaçao

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Antillean Guilder (ANG)
w

Language

Papiamentu / Dutch / English
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The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

The entire Caribbean is a spectacular destination for dive sites as it is the home to warm waters, biodiverse reefs, and vibrant island life. Curacao is one of the lesser known destinations, however, has continuously made it to the top scuba diving destinations worldwide.

The Island is located in the southern Caribbean and is part of the group of Antilles known as the ABCs. The other two islands in this collection include Aruba on the West and Bonaire on the east.

It has some of the most biodiverse reefs, stunning cultural heritage, tragic history, and fantastic tourist activities. All in all, not shortage in Things to see and do. 

 

There is an abundance of things to do ranging from visiting Dutch architectural buildings, swinging on a massive pontoon bridge, snorkeling the stunning coral, diving into the deep blue, and stunning nature. The air and water temperature is warm throughout the year, so you need to only bring your summer clothes and a thin wetsuit for your adventure.

The 15 Best Dive sites in Curaçao?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Recommended Level


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type


  1. Coral Reef
  2. Shore Dive
  3. Snorkel Friendly
  4. Macro
  5. Fish Life
  6. Wreck Dive
  7. Deep Dive
  8. Artificial Reef
  9. Boat dive
  10. Nursery
  11. Megafauna
  12. Current
  13. Experienced Dive
  14. Shallow Dive
  15. Wall
  16. Sandy Bottom
  17. Coral Garden
  18. Pinnacle Dive
  19. Sharks
  20. Photography

Show only the very best


  1. Yes
  2. No

Watamula

Probably the top dive site around Curacao, the name Watamula comes from the word “water mill” in dutch. The name refers to the two currents which meet here bringing together a wide range of marine species. The topography of this dive site is a fantastic playground for marine life and features extensive growths of soft corals, tunnels between hard corals, gorgonian sea fans catching nutrients from the currents, and a spectacular pillar collar. The currents mean this can be a fantastic dive destination for a drift dive, which allows you to cover a long stretch of reef with minimal effort.

  • Best dive site around the island
  • Large amount of sea turtles
  • Enormous biodiversity and density of fish species
  • Healthy and thriving coral
  • Drift dive from a boat

What you will see: This dive site has an enormous range of healthy corals in a range of corals. There are soft, and hard coral growths covering the underwater landscape. The thriving reef is also teeming with schooling fish along with reef fish. Sea turtles cruise through the area.


Intermediate Advanced Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Macro Fish Life Our Favorite

Booby Trap

This gently sloping reef presents diverse with a wide array of sponge, soft, and hard corals. There is also a large sandy plateau which proves an easy dive for beginner divers, while the currents tend to be mild with constant good visibility. The plateau has rubble with some large coral heads which act as a nursery for juvenile fish.

  • Great dive for identifying coral sponges
  • Lots of macro life with colorful corals everywhere
  • Fantastic spot for photographers

What you will see:

The highlight of this dive is the extraordinary variety of sponges. In contrast to corals which are complex, many celled organisms, sponges are simple creatures with no tissues. Sponges can grow in both fresh, and saltwater, and come in an impressive array of colors, shapes, and sizes. To capture their true beauty, grab a torch to fully illuminate their colors.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Macro Boat dive Nursery

Beacon Point

This is one of the dive sites that regularly has current, therefore it is better suited for advanced and experience divers. Its claim to fame however, is one of the largest pillar coral formations in the Caribbean. Pillar corals are found in the western Atlantic Ocean and resemble fingers or clusters of cigars growing straight up from the sea floor.

  • Large gardens of pillar coral
  • Frequent current so advanced certification is recommended
  • Fantastic spot attracting a myriad of fish

What you will see:

The coral gardens are mostly spread out over the shallow section of the dive, however there are many drop offs along which you can cruise by. In the deep blue, there are many species of large jacks, groupers, and barracudas who swim here to hunt and chase smaller pelagic fish.


Advanced Coral Reef Macro Boat dive Current

Superior Producer

If you are an advanced diver who loves wrecks, then this is an absolute must do on your trip to curacao. The Superior Producer is the best wreck dive in the Caribbean and is at a depth of 100 ft (30m). The 200 ft cargo ship sunk in 1977 and now has become a beautiful artificial reef attracting marine life from the deep blue. Divers can enter the cargo holds and swim around the interior of the wreck. One of the high lights is the wheelhouse which is at a depth of 80 feet.

  • A fantastic deep dive site
  • Cargo wreck from the year 1977
  • Abundant fish life circling around the wreck.

What you will see:

Since the wreck has been sitting on the sand for almost fifty years it has grown a microcosm of reef life on top of it. The anemones and orange cup sponges have attracted invertebrates, reef fish, and the eerie silhouettes of barracudas can be seen hanging around the wreck itself.


Advanced Coral Reef Wreck Dive Deep Dive Artificial Reef Our Favorite

Paradise

Do you love caves? Because then paradise is a paradise dive site for you. The cave is the home to many sea turtles and a thriving reef with hardly any other boats or divers around. To reach this dive site, you need to travel on a boat after which you can spend your surface interval on a nearby beach.

  • Boat dive to a little visited spot
  • A cave dive, so bring your torch!
  • Plenty of sea turtles cruising around

What you will see:

The beauty of caves is that with patience, you will be able to see many critters that usually hide from the light. Keep your eyes peeled for the reflective eyes of invertebrates, cave dwelling big eyes, and the occasional sleeping turtle if you do visit at night. The reef all around this dive site is healthy and has extensive and complex coral structures intertwining and fighting for space in this rich community.


Advanced Coral Reef Snorkel Friendly Boat dive Megafauna Current Experienced Dive Our Favorite

Tug Boat

Tugboat is one of the most popular dive sites in Curacao, as it’s shallow and ideal for beginner divers and snorkelers alike. The small depth at which the sunk tugboat sinks, means divers can enjoy long dives and non-diving members of the travel team can catch glimpses of spectacular marine life. There is also a near by pier, which is worth stopping at since that is where many creatures hide.

  • Shallow dive site perfect for snorkelers
  • Artificial reef created on a sunken tugboat
  • Great array of macro marine life

What you will see:

In this shallow dive site, you will have the chance to spot a sea horse, octopus, scorpion fish and other masters of camouflage. There are also large schools of tarpon, pelagic fish, and shimmering schools of fusiliers.


Beginner Intermediate Advanced Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Boat dive Shallow Dive Our Favorite

Director’s Bay

This is a great dive site for divers and snorkelers alike, since its easily accessible from the shore and features stunning coral and marine life. If you are a macro photographer, this is definitely a spot to bring your camera and torches to see what critters you can capture with your lense. If you leave the car at the beach, make sure to not leave any valuables in the car because car burglary occurs at the parking.

  • Shore dive ideal for beginners or snorkelers
  • Wide array of macrofauna
  • Old decaying shark fence overgrown with coral

What you will see:

This dive spot is famous for the large amount of frogfish, eels, flounders, sea horses, and octopus hiding among the coral reefs. The old shark fence has now been over grown with sponges, soft corals, and sea fans.


Beginner Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Boat dive Shallow Dive

Klein Curacao

The boat ride out to this dive site is roughly an hour and a half, as the reef is 15 miles off the coast of Southeast Curacao. The little Curacao, which is what ‘klein’ means, is an uninhabited island so the surrounding waters are pristinely clear. The dive site promises to deliver spectacular coral reefs, fantastic visibility, and incredible array of marine life. It is a tiny desolate volcanic rock which is encompassed by above water, and under water life!

  • Isolated island with incredibly healthy and biodiverse reefs
  • Massive megafauna swimming all around
  • An hour a half long boat ride from the mainland

What you will see:

This isolated island attracts megafauna including the Mola mola also known as the sunfish, which is the heaviest bony fish in the world. There are also turtles cruising, and occasionally you will be able to spot a variety of shark species in the dark blue. A particular favorite at this dive site, are hammer heads sharks.


Intermediate Advanced Coral Reef Macro Boat dive Megafauna Wall

Mushroom Forest

When you jump underwater in the mushroom forest, you will be met with an alien landscape as far as you can see. The great visibility, shallow depth, and warm water will just add to the fantastic view of the endless view of sprouting mushrooms. The coral structures around here are unique and resemble fungi, however, feature a wide array of colors and attract an abundance of fish life.

  • Truly unique mushroom like topography of coral growth
  • Boat dive into easy dive conditions
  • The extensive coral reef coverage means you have to be careful about finning

What you will see:

Try and spot how many different types of coral you can see on this dive. Boulder coral, staghorn coral, soft sponge corals, and whip corals are just some of the easier identified growths. Reef fish are also plentiful here, as are turtles, and moray eels hiding in cracks and crevice’s in the complex coral reef structures.


Beginner Coral Reef Boat dive Current Sandy Bottom Coral Garden Our Favorite

Coral Restoration Foundation Dive

Coral Restoration Foundation is an organization which started off the coast of Florida and works to maximize the growth of corals, to help outplant corals onto damaged reef. They focus on trialing different growing methods and preparing for the more frequent bleaching events that will be associated with rising sea temperatures. They also provide education opportunities to local communities, outreach programs, and studies into coral reef resilience.

  • Support coral reef restoration projects
  • Check out a dive site to see how ocean warriors are working to protect reefs
  • A great spot to learn about the asexual reproduction of coral

What you will see:

The coral reef foundation has created Christmas like tree underwater structures which feature coral fragments hanging off like decorations. These fragments which were taken from resilient mother colonies, are now hanging in the nutrient rich current water so they can grow. The mid water positioning means their growth is accelerated as they do not have to worry about competition from other coral, predators cannot reach them, and the small coral fragments focus most of the energy gained from food for accelerated growth.


Beginner Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Macro Artificial Reef Pinnacle Dive

East Point

A pristine reef stretching from the eastern most point of Curacao that requires a boat journey to reach, provides some of the most beautiful dives in the country. There is immaculate corals, and a large amount of megafauna that is attracted to this spot. There is a spot, where the coral reefs have combined over time to create an impressive natural bridge structure.

  • Can only be reached by boat
  • Often done as a trip in combination to Klein Curacao
  • Opportunity to see sharks and rays

What you will see:

This dive site is popular for the vast number of gorgonian fans which cover the dive site, catching nutrients from the currents passing through. There are also many healthy hard corals and sponges growing sporadically over the colorful topography. Large schools of tarpon and another pelagic swim around. It is also a spot where diverse frequently spot reef sharks, eagle rays, and barracudas in the deep blue.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Boat dive Megafauna

Small Wall

This wall of coral is small, however is still a worthy dive site to add to your list. It has a large amount of overhangs and sections where marine life like to hide, and with fantastic visibility and mild currents, it proves a fantastic dive site for people of any scuba certification.

  • Wall dive featuring a large amount of healthy coral
  • Nooks and crannies where marine life hide
  • Great spot for photographers

What you will see:

The crevice’s and coral over hangs make this reef a particular favorite for reef, schooling fish. You will find many groupers and trout hiding, grunts, and soldier fish swimming around. Soldier fish and damsels are very protective of their young, so if you find yourself near their eggs, you might get viciously attacked by the small CD sized fish.


Beginner Coral Reef Boat dive Megafauna

Eel Valley

This dive site is located on the eastern side of the Santa Barbara resort, just near the golf course. Divers enjoy heading here to collect gold balls off the sandy plateau while enjoying spotting macro life in the water. Nearby there is a drop off from the sandy area into deeper waters where hard corals have come together to form impressive formations.

  • Dive site near a golf course for golf ball collection
  • Easy, shallow, macro dive sites
  • As you may imagine, there are eels hiding in the crevice’s

What you will see:

The steep drop off features a wide arrange of hard corals amongst which reef fish hide. If you have keen eyes, you will be able to spot small invertebrates, eels, scorpion fish, along with butterfly fish, surgeon fish and usual reef inhabitants.


Beginner Coral Reef Macro Boat dive Wall Coral Garden

Smokeys (Punti Sanchi)

Large spans of healthy reef, fantastic visibility, and pristine diving conditions. What else could you possibly want from a dive site? Smokeys is another spot around Curacao that is seldom visited and therefore has some of the most untouched coral reefs in the world. It is a 30-minute boat ride from the main island and gives divers the opportunity to see bigger creatures. Also, a fantastic drift dive where you will fly towards the east!

  • 30-minute boat ride from mainland
  • Isolated dive site which attracts sharks and sting rays
  • Fantastic year-round visibility

What you will see:

Since this dive site is a little further away than many of the other frequently visited spots around Curacao, it has the added advantage of less tourism and thriving coral reefs. Its proximity to deep blue drop offs also means that sharks and sting rays are frequently spotted here.


Beginner Coral Reef Boat dive Megafauna Current Sharks Our Favorite

Snake Bay

Along with an enormous number of beautiful soft and hard corals, this dive site is famous for the large variety of fish life. Photographers are fans of this site as the huge schools of fish provide a fun challenge and contrasting background to the colorful reef.

  • Dive spot where wild dolphins have been spotted
  • Frequent sightings of turtles and another megafauna
  • Healthy and thriving coral reef

What you will see:

This dive site is best known for fish traffic jams from the sheer volume of marine life cruising above the coral. You will be able to spot everything from big jacks chasing bait balls, Caribbean Chromies, Creole Wrasses, Southern Rays, Green Turtles, and the occasional passing shark. If you grab your torch and peek under the coral reef formations, you will also have the chance to spot scorpion fish, sleeping sharks, and octopus.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Shore Dive Macro Boat dive Megafauna Photography

Diving in the Curaçao offers something for everyone, whether divers are taking their very first fin stokes or have years of experience under their weight belts.

Read a personal Curacao Dive experiance from Bruce Campbell: 

For the third night in a row I found myself drifting off to sleep with visions of a small emerald island in the Caribbean Sea. In my mind’s eye, I could see a plane gently gliding in for its final approach. We pass slowly over the vast majority of the 40 mile length of the island.

The sea was deep blue except as it approached the island where the water was shallow and became a turquoise blue.

Everything but the diving is like Amsterdam

After landing and catching a cab, our cabbie quickly informed us that the buildings we would begin to see would be in a wide variety of pastel colors.

The short drive from the airport to the resort was interesting. While we were driving through the City of Willemstad I noticed that many of the buildings reminded me of buildings I had seen in Amsterdam. I should not have been too surprised because Curacao is a Dutch Antilles island.

There are quite a few resorts in Curacoa. We had selected one which was all inclusive and had a close connection to the dive shop that we had read about, Ocean Encounters.

Diving the House Reef

We got settled in at the resort and we where ready to begin diving the next day. Our first dive was on the “house reef”.

I had relatively low expectations for this dive because in my prior experience of diving “house reefs” they had been pretty beaten up by divers who had abused the reef, and with fish life being almost nonexistent.

This dive was quite different.

Scuba diving in Curacao

Bruce Campbell

The reef was in good shape and the fish life although small was substantial. I was quickly immersed in looking for many of the reef’s small inhabitants. They included small fish.

For instance, there were many blue chromis as well as peppermint gobies which were not much longer than a fingernail.

The corals included brain coral, star coral and pillar coral. The corals attracted many small schools of fish. I quickly lost track of how many angel fish I had seen, and began to take photographs of as many animals as I could in the hour we were underwater.

Shooting wide angle or macro

As we continued diving during the course of the week, it occurred to me that the most difficult choice I had to make everyday was whether I was going to shoot wide angle or macro photographs.  The benefit of shooting wide angle was that anything large such as a dolphin, a turtle or a moray eel could be captured with some surrounding reef structure.

However, if the only wild life that showed up on a dive was small, shooting wide angle was like taking a picture of a pea in a box car. While you might see the pea it was lost in the box car. Thus, shooting a Blue Chromis with a wide angle lines meant it would be hard to see the fish in the picture.

On the other hand, if I where to use a macro setup I would be able to get up close to many of the small reef animals, but it meant that if there was a large animal the best I could do would be to capture a partial portrait.

In my experience, if the toughest decision you have to make is whether to shoot macro or wide angle, it is going to be a great day.

Regardless of my decision, I would miss some shots that I would love to have, but there was always an abundance of subjects to shoot during every single dive.

Diving the mushroom forest in Curacao

Scuba Diving the Mushroom forest

Bruce Campbell

One of the dives that I knew I would have to shoot as a wide angle was the mushroom forest. In the dive site known as the “mushroom forest” there are a number of large star coral formations many of which are over six feet in height.

Many years ago the bottom of a number of these large star coral formations was attacked by a disease. The disease ate away at the bottom of the star coral, but left the top more or less intact.

Eventually the disease died out, but left many of the large star corals looking much like mushrooms. The day we dove the mushroom forest the water clarity was gin clear. There were fewer small fish in the mushroom forest dive, but we saw quite a few moray eels, all of whom looked well fed.

Scuba diving with Dolphins

One of the other dives that we did was a night dive near a site known as the tug boat. This was definitely a macro dive. There were nudibranchs and other small molluschs that were available for shooting. There were also banded shrimps that were hiding in the crevices of the coral.

One of the highlights of the trip was when we encountered two bottle nose dolphins. The dolphins swam around our group of divers for five to ten minutes to see whether there was any danger involved in coming near us. Eventually, they came closer and closer to us.

Over the course of about 20 minutes they swam in an around our dive group. I was amazed at how long the mother and her baby could stay under water on a single breath of air. I was equally amazed at how fast they could move through the water.

It reminded that this was their home and I was a stranger. With a single flipper beat they could move easily 10 to 15 feet through the water. It would take me 10 to 15 fin kicks to get the same distance. Eventually the dolphins seemed to grow bored of us and moved on.

Wreck diving in Curacao

On our final day of diving we went back to the Tug Boat site during the day. We explored around the pier near the tug boat where we found sea horses and squid. The squid were very quick and it was very difficult to get close enough in order to take a picture.

Scuba diving on Tug Boat in Curacao

Bruce Campbell

They were numerous. There were easily 40 squid in the school. Towards the end of the dive we made our way over to the Tug Boat. It has been on the bottom for about 30 years. The Tug Boat is in about 15 feet of water which allows both snorkelers and scuba divers to observe it.

On the starboard side of the Tug Boat there is a whole in the hull. Inside the hull of the Tug Boat were hundreds of glassey-eyed sweepers. They moved slowly within the Tug Boat, paying little attention to the divers.

What about you

With all of the possibilities for diving in Curacao it is only a question of how long it will be before I return.

Have you dived in Curacao? Or do you have any plans of diving there in the future?

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THE AUTHORS:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

Torben Lonne

Scuba Instructor and editor

Torben has a huge passion for Scuba diving and traveling. He's also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of divein. 

2 Comments

  1. Thomas Bang Petersen

    I was in Curacao last year, and stayed at Lions Dive & Beach Resort (I guess it’s the same place you stayed with Ocean Encounters right next to the resort).
    The diving was great, and the night dives on the house reefs always spoiled us with octopus and lobsters.
    We had hoped for sharks and other large animals, but I guess Curacao is not the place for this – we met a local diveguide at one of the many divesites, and he told us he usually sees one (1) shark per year.
    The diving center was not in best form the time we stayed there. We had rented 2 cars to drive around the island for different divesites, and we just to had to inform them how many bottles we needed and how many of those should be nitrox. There was no point in giving them specific nitrox mix, as this would vary from bottle to bottle – and not match what we ordered. More than one time we found out, that a bottle was only half full or less – not fun after hours of driving to the other end of the island 🙁
    But none the less a great trip, but I will not be coming back to Curacao, as I prefer Egypt with better visability, bigger animals and more sun 🙂
    Pictures from the trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pudekamp/sets/72157638151789633/

    Reply
    • Bruce Campbell

      I understand your desire for bigger animals. I hope to one day get to Egypt. Here is a link to the video I shot while in Curacao of dolphins.

      Reply

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