Home to diverse dive sites with frequent and impressive sightings, Curaçao arguably has some of the best diving in the Caribbean! This little island in the southern Caribbean Sea is part of the ABC island chain which also includes Aruba and Bonaire. It’s known for its calm and clear waters, making it the perfect place to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Whether you’re looking for an easy shore dive or an unforgettable boat dive, you’ll find a satisfying experience in Curaçao.
Aside from amazing diving, there are lots of other things Curaçao is known for. So, after you’ve had your fill of the many incredible scuba diving sites the island has to offer, there will be more activities to engage in around the island.
Ahead of your Curaçao vacation, take a look at some of the best dive sites in Curaçao where you can experience dramatic drop-offs, amazing wreck dives, or easy-breezy shore diving.
If you’re planning a Curaçao dive trip, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the best dive spots before you get there. There are so many great places to dive in Curaçao, including shore diving and boat diving sites, so we took some time to detail five of the most popular sites and what you can expect to find at each:
Best for intermediate and advanced divers
The Watamula reef is off the northern tip of Curaçao and can only be accessed by boat. The boat ride to Watamula won’t take very long, and once you’re there, you can enjoy an open water drift dive. This kind of dive allows scuba divers to drift along the ocean currents, which gives the sensation of ‘flying’ underwater. You will be dropped off in one spot at the start of a dive and picked up in another by the dive team.
Watamula is a great choice if you’re looking to see the best of what diving in Curaçao has to offer. Sightings around this dive site include a vast number of diverse and impressive hard coral formations, several soft coral species, and a range of sea life including parrotfish, triggerfish, angelfish, porcupine fish, chubbs, crabs, shrimp, sea turtles, stingrays, moray eels and more. Divers who are especially lucky may also spot the occasional whale shark making its way through this area.
Best for divers of all skill levels
The Alice in Wonderland dive site in Curaçao is also known as Playa Kalki. This is a popular shore dive easily accessible from the beach. The Alice in Wonderland site is loved by both snorkelers and scuba divers.
This great dive site is especially easy to find — there’s actually a large rope connected to the dock that divers can follow to get to the reef. The rope spans about 30 feet and makes this site a fun feature for beginners. The reef at Playa Kalki has a drop-off from 30 feet to 100 feet. Divers can expect to see a variety of marine life here including trumpetfish, pufferfish, frogfish, moray eels, tangs, parrotfish, stingrays, and more.
Best for intermediate divers
The Mushroom Forest gets its name from the large, hard coral heads that can be found there. The coral heads have a mushroom-like appearance and make this dive site in Curaçao really stand out from others.
You’ll need to travel by boat if you plan on doing the Mushroom Forest dive while in Curaçao. To get there, you’ll simply have to take a short boat ride off the west coast, or a longer one off the east coast if you’ll be staying on that side of the island. The Mushroom Forest is protected by large surrounding cliffs, so you don’t usually have to worry about strong currents. While diving here, you can expect to see marine life including snapper, lobster, groupers, porcupine fish, moray eels, sea turtles, and more. There’s also an other-worldly cave known as ‘The Blue Room’ next to the Mushroom Forest that is also worth exploring while there.
Best for advanced divers
Selecting the best dive site to visit in Curaçao truly comes down to deciding what you’re hoping to see and the type of experience you’re looking to have. Divers looking for a shipwreck scuba spot will love the Superior Producer. This dive site appeals to more experienced divers as the wreck itself is about 100 ft (30m) beneath the surface.
The Superior Producer is a 400-ton, 165-foot long cargo ship that sunk in 1977 off the coast of Curaçao. The sinking of this ship was a major loss as it was filled with merchant goods, including perfume, whiskey, and clothing. The ocean has totally claimed this cargo ship, and, today, its remains are covered with the most beautiful coral. Among these artificial reefs, divers are likely to spot snapper, jacks, barracuda, tarpon, sea turtles, and more. The Superior Producer is less than 500 feet off the coast of Otrobanda, which is on the west end of Curaçao.
Best for beginners and all skill levels
Tugboat is a popular diving site in Curaçao thanks to the shipwreck found in this area. This dive site is off the coast of Tugboat Beach on the southwest coast of Curaçao.
The Tugboat site is appealing because it will allow even novice divers to get up close to the wreck. This is one of the more shallow wreck dive sites which makes it ideal for both snorkeling and beginner scuba diving. The wreck at this location was intentionally sunk and sits about 15 ft (5m) beneath the surface of the water. Tugboat is located near a pier, and some of the regular sightings here include tarpon, scorpionfish, yellowtail snapper, octopus, seahorses, parrotfish, shrimp, lobster, and sometimes nudibranch. The shipwreck at this location is a sight to see as it’s covered with tube sponges and a variety of soft coral.
Curaçao is a great place to dive year-round but there are certain times of the year when you might have an even better experience. The dry season for the island (from April to November annually) is generally the best time to visit Curaçao.
During this time the weather tends to be more consistently clear and calm with fewer chances of rain showers that might interrupt your diving plans. Water temperatures during the dry season are usually warmer (around 85°), while the rest of the year sees water temperatures around 79°. Ultimately, Curaçao is warm and sunny most of the time and you’re likely to have a good dive trip regardless of when you go.
Curaçao is a beautiful Caribbean island that stands out for its tropical Dutch flair. While in Curaçao, there are lots of tours you can go on to explore the sights and see why this island continues to gain popularity with people from around the world. Here are some of our favorite attractions:
Vibrant and colorful, Willemstad is an amazing Caribbean city to stroll around in. This is the capital of Curaçao and the architecture in this area has a distinct Dutch colonial style. There are lots of historic and cultural landmarks in the city that are worth visiting, including Fortchurch, which is an exceptionally large, bright yellow colonial church that was built in 1769. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is another stand-out feature of this Caribbean city; it was built in 1888 and opens regularly to accommodate passing boats. This floating bridge connects two of the four quarters of Willemstad - Punda, and Otrobanda. Both are great areas to explore and shop in while in Curaçao.
Mambo Beach in Curaçao is a real double threat! This gorgeous stretch of sand and azure water on the southwestern coast of Curaçao is also home to a number of trendy beach bars. You can bask in the warm sunshine as you meander this white-sand beach, take a refreshing dip in the ocean or grab a cocktail and socialize with some of the locals at the nearest beach bar. There are also a variety of great restaurants nearby where you can enjoy all types of cuisine from sushi to local favorites. No matter how you choose to spend the day, you’ll never get enough of the awesome views, great food, toe-tapping music, and friendly ambiance that you’ll find on Mambo Beach and in the surrounding areas.
A visit to the Christoffel National Park is great for a serene and memorable day out in Curaçao. This national park is huge and consists of 4,500 acres of protected land near the northern tip of Curaçao. While at Christoffel, you can hike or mountain bike along the many trails where you might see hummingbirds, white-tailed deer, and lots of brassavola nodosa (also known as the lady of the night orchids), which are quite striking.
Near the Christoffel National Park, you’ll find the Shete Boka National Park. This spot is loved by nesting green sea turtles, and you may spot a few of them while you’re in this area.
There are lots of things to see and do in Curaçao. If you want to make the best of your trip, it’s a good idea to get on at least one boat trip so you can see the island from beyond the coast. One way you can do this is by setting up a day trip to explore Klein Curaçao, which translates to Little Curaçao.
Klein Curaçao is an uninhabited island just off the southern end of Curaçao. A trip to this island is just one of many fun things to do in Curaçao. It’ll take about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to Klein Curaçao by boat, so it makes for a great all-day activity. While on Klein Curaçao, you’ll be able to explore the island, have a picnic, and spend some time on Klein Beach, which is the longest beach in Curaçao. To get to Klein Curaçao, you can either charter your own boat or schedule a tour, but either way, this experience will be one of the highlights of your vacation.
Insider tip: Want to spend lots of time enjoying the water while in Curaçao? Resorts like Sandals have unlimited water sports that you can try throughout your trip. Sandals watersports include motorized and non-motorized sports. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also on the list of inclusions!
Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and the same goes for vacations. As fabulous as it will be to walk the colorful streets of Curaçao, you won’t feel like you’ve truly explored the island until you see what lies beneath its depths. Come face to face with vibrant marine life and experience the beauty of the natural and man-made reefs surrounding this fabulous little island. There’s so much to experience!
While diving probably is at the forefront of your mind (it is one of the top ten reasons to visit Curaçao after all!), selecting accommodation for your Curaçao vacation is very important. There are some impressive all-inclusive resorts in Curaçao, such as Sandals Royal Curaçao, that can be the perfect place to stay on your dive vacation. In addition to inclusions like gourmet dining, premium drinks, day and night entertainment, and more, Sandals includes daily diving (up to 2 tanks per day) and professional equipment for free. The Sandals dive team will help you choose the best spots according to your skill level, and you’ll even be able to get PADI® certified at the resort if you aren’t already.
Free diving plus luxury accommodation? Most definitely a vacation worth diving into!