Curaçao, Lesser Antilles, Dutch Caribbean RegionCuraçao’s unspoiled reefs, pearl-white beaches, and year-round warm climate and water temperatures make it a premium diving destination in the Dutch Caribbean region.
Geography of Curaçao
If you’re in Curaçao for its sunken gems, Shipwreck Point is a great place to start. It’s only 450 feet from the Otrobanda Coast, so diving in by boat or from the shore is fairly easy. The star of the show is the 160-foot coral and sponge-wrapped wreck of the Superior Producer, which sank in 1977. Keep your eyes peeled for massive tarpons, barracuda, angelfish, and sergeant majors hovering about and guarding the wreck.
Eel Valley, Newport
On the east side of Santa Barbara, just off the coast of Newport is a veritable diver’s paradise. Steep drop-offs between big rock coral formations abound, where you might chance upon stingrays and little critters hiding in the reef’s nooks and crannies. You might even spot snake eels with their heads sticking out of the sand.
A relaxed site suitable for boat, shore, and night dives, Vaersenbaai offers a breathtaking glimpse into the island’s marine biodiversity. Calm conditions and excellent visibility make this site a joy for both beginner and experienced Curacao diving enthusiasts. Be ready to see tons of car wrecks and tugboats overgrown with colorful corals and polyps on the seabed.
CRF Curaçao Nursery
Recreational and professional divers looking to give back to Curaçao’s reef can join local CRF (Coral Restoration Foundation) initiatives. Local divers may enroll in a PADI coral restoration specialty course so that they can outplant corals themselves, while visitors can join a guided nursery dive and work on the coral trees.
Mushroom Forest and The Blue Room
Dive between towers of star corals rising from a sandy plateau at Mushroom Forest. This storied dive spot is only accessible by boat or kayak. After traversing the site, divers would usually surface in the Blue Room cave for a unique experience.
The Blue Room is a cave bathed in blue light, hence the name. Catch the magical display of different shades of blue and moving silhouettes of marine life. The natural grotto’s shallower depths make it ideal for casual diving and snorkeling.
At the northwest-end shore of Curaçao lies Watamula, a favorite spot among locals and tourists for long and exhilarating dives. Here, current direction varies, so drift diving is the preferred technique to explore its over 100 feet of pristine corals and abundant marine life. Sometimes, divers would take days to fully navigate the site. Then they’d cap off the trip at the Watamula blowhole at Sabana Westpunt.
An intermediate or advanced dive at the western tip of Caracas Bay, this spot hosts the most impressive pillar collar formation in all of the Caribbean. There’s a chance to swim with reef sharks and stingrays, but the site is more famous for its exciting drop-offs and currents that offer a magic carpet ride for drift divers.
Nothing beats swimming with wildlife in the ocean’s sunlit zone. Diving at Eastpoint (Oostpunt) takes you up close and personal with turtles, eagle rays, and barracuda, and if you’re lucky, you might spot sharks too. Located at the eastern tip of the island, this windswept area boasts rugged coasts and a fringing reef system where myriad sea creatures thrive. Its inland bays also serve as a nursery for important species of reef fish
Smokey or Punti Sanchi’s reef rivals that of Belize with its untouched and impressive underwater scenery. It’s located southwest of Newport but in a more remote area. A rugged, shallow terrace fringes the cape so the only entrance to the dive site is by boat. The seas can be rough but the pristine seascape, sharp drop-offs, and dense coral overhangs make up for it. Plus, it becomes a drift dive east from Smokey that ends in another immaculate dive spot called Kathy’s Paradise.
Klein Curaçao is a tiny, uninhabited satellite island southeast of the mainland. After you step out of your 1.5-hour boat ride, all you’ll see is a patch of desert, a few huts, an abandoned lighthouse, and a shipwreck beached on the rocky shore. But below the ocean’s surface, circling the island, is an underwater wonderland. You can either dive in the protected southern reef from the shore or the windward side by boat. Arrange a trip with your dive operator or take a boat charter and enjoy a day marooned on a beautiful island with amazing dives.
- Crinoids - These marine animals have been around for over 480 million years. They float like lilies through the reefs and burst in myriad colors.
- Green moray eels - Some of the largest moray eels can be found in Curaçao’s numerous dive sites.
- Hawksbill turtle - These critically endangered sea turtles are widespread across Curaçao. They can be found foraging on the reefs and gliding through sandy channels.
- Red sea star - Eastpoint’s inland and outer bays are critical habitats for these vibrant sea stars, among other important aquatic animals.
- Sharks - There are several species of sharks that you’ll encounter while diving in the Dutch Antilles. These include the leopard shark, Caribbean reef shark, tiger shark, and the blacktip reef shark.
- Willemstad & Queen Emma Bridge - Catch rows upon rows of Dutch colonial buildings lining the natural harbor at Willemstad. As Curaçao’s capital, it’s where most of the tourist and local action is. It also has some of the best spots for après-dive dinner and drinks.
- Grote Knip Beach - The island has no shortage of sun-drenched white beaches, but Grote Knip is among the best. The strand has the perfect curve with verdant hills in the background, pearl-white sand, and azure waters.
- Floating Market - Shop for fresh fruit and vegetables from a fleet of wooden boats stationed along the banks of the Waaigat. The produce arrives here every day from nearby Venezuela.
How to Get to Curaçao
Hato International Airport (CUR), which can accommodate large commercial jets, is served by many air carriers like American Airlines, US Airways, KLM, Air Canada, WestJet, Avianca, and Jet Blue. Connecting flights are available but you can only fly directly from Miami, Newark, Caracas, and Amsterdam.
Curaçao is along the route of several major European and American cruise lines. Large ships can dock at Mega Pier, whereas smaller vessels can dock at the various cruise terminals within the harbor, such as Mathey Wharf. Owners of private boats or yachts are also welcome to dock in Curaçao.
Best Time to Visit Curaçao
Required Trainings & Certifications
Curaçao’s national currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder, also known as the florin. The abbreviations are ANG and NAFI. The exchange rate to the US Dollar is at a stable rate of US$ 1 = NAFl. 1.77 for cash and 1.78 for traveler's checks. Keep in mind that rates may vary slightly across stores and hotels, and that larger dollar or guilder bills are harder to cash. But traveler’s checks and Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted at most establishments.
Papiamentu, a Portuguese creole, is the most widely spoken language in Curaçao. Dutch is the sole language for legal and administrative matters, while English is also widely spoken.
Curaçao observes Atlantic Standard Time (AST) all year and does not use Daylight Saving Time.
Driving is done on the right-hand side of the road, so tourists from mainland Europe and North America won’t have a hard time adjusting to the flow of traffic.
The country code is +599.
ISO 3166 code
As a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao is assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code “CW”.
.cw is the Internet country code top-level domain for Curaçao.