Curaçao is the biggest island in the ABC chain, which also includes Aruba and Bonaire, along the southwestern coast of the Caribbean Sea. On this Dutch island, you will discover some amazing beaches that are home to rich marine life and thriving coral reefs, which makes it the perfect snorkeling destination. Curaçao is known for the wonders of its exciting marine world.
In this article, you will learn more about some of the best snorkeling spots in Curaçao and Klein Curaçao (an uninhabited island situated six miles south of Curaçao).
Insider tip: Curaçao has steadily increased in popularity over the years with international travelers. So much so that the island became Sandals’ latest destination with the all-inclusive Sandals Royal Curaçao resort!
Curaçao has more than 30 beaches in total, but the best beaches in Curaçao can be found in the sheltered bays along the island’s west coast. To the west of the country’s capital, Willemstad, you can find some of the best locations for swimming and snorkeling. We’ve listed some of our favorites below:
A short drive from the town of Sabana Westpunt will take you to Playa Lagun, a beach found nestled in a cove along the west coast of the island. If you’re still a bit new to snorkeling, the calm waters of this beach are the perfect place to have your first big snorkeling adventure. Early morning trips may yield special rewards! There is a greater chance that you’ll get to swim with the green turtles at that time of day.
Snorkelers will enjoy the turquoise waters and the array of snapper, parrotfish, moray eels, and other sea creatures that have made this beach their home. Visibility is also decent at this location, just another reason you won’t want to miss out on visiting this beach while in Curaçao.
Along the north coast of Curaçao lies Little Knip Beach, also known as Kleine Knip or Playa Kenepa Chiki. On this lovely beach, you’ll appreciate the amenities and services offered, such as the parking lot made for your convenience and a rental service that offers umbrellas, snorkeling equipment, and even beach chairs.
Once you get to the beach, you can hop into the water and head to the left side of the bay, which is the best place to snorkel. Beneath the waves, you’ll find many varieties of coral, barracuda, angelfish, octopus, pufferfish, and more. Watch out for rocks along the way and hard coral buried beneath the sand.
Playa Piskado, also known as the “Fisherman’s Beach”, is a popular snorkeling spot where vibrant coral reefs can be found below the surface. Thanks to the wide variety of fish on this beach, it is a favorite for fishermen looking for the catch of the day. You’ll get to be a part of the experience as you dive beneath the waters and swim among the fishes and the friendly sea turtles of Playa Piskado.
After exploring the ocean, you can lounge under the shady manchineel trees and, on weekends, indulge in some treats from the snack bar. For a small fee, you can rent beach chairs and access the restrooms on-site. Overall, this is a great beach spot to spend a couple of hours snorkeling, swimming, and lounging on the beach.
Playa Forti is a pebbly beach that is only a swim away from Playa Piskado. Unlike Piskado, it is usually not very crowded, which gives you plenty of room to swim amongst the moray eels, squid, sea turtles, and spotted drums.
The coral reef can be found about 30 feet below the surface. It is mainly made up of cup corals joined by tube and elephant ear sponges. Cliff jumping is popular in this area as the beach has cliffs ranging from 40-75 feet tall. You can watch the cliff jumpers when you’re done snorkeling, or you can give it a try yourself if you find somewhere safe to do so.
Director’s Bay is a beautiful beach in the southern part of Curaçao. Director’s Bay was privately owned until the 1980s when it became public property. Now, Director’s Bay is one of the best locations for snorkelers, divers, and beachgoers to enjoy.
This beach is located between the Tugboat Wreck and another dive site called Small Wall. Its unique location makes it a cozy home for a wide variety of marine animals such as barracudas, frogfish, pufferfish, seahorses, angelfish, and many more. Snorkelers and scuba divers alike will certainly enjoy the perks of this coral stone beach.
Tugboat is a shipping wreck that sank more than 30 years ago in Curaçao. Since then, vibrant corals and tube sponges have made its surface their home. Since Tugboat lies only about five meters below the surface, it can easily be explored by snorkelers and scuba divers.
You will see lots of shrimp, yellowtail, octopus, seahorses, and scorpionfish swimming in and around this shipwreck. Excursions such as reef snorkel tours are exciting adventures led by fun, experienced tour guides that can tell you all about the island and Tugboat.
This quiet, white sand beach on the west coast of Curaçao is a great place to unwind, relax and enjoy the day. For a small entrance fee, you can lounge on the beach or go snorkeling and catch a glimpse of sea animals such as blue tangs, squid, crabs, wrasses, groupers, and sea turtles.
If you’re an experienced snorkeler, you might want to check out the drop-off at Blue Bay where you will find some wonderful coral formations and even more colorful fishes. This beach is equipped with a restaurant and restroom facilities.
The Blue Room is a cave in western Curaçao that gets its name from the effects of the sunlight as it refracts off the water’s surface. The effect makes you feel like you are diving in a sea of the bluest water. It’s best to visit this cave in the late afternoon, at about 4-5 p.m., to catch the full vibrance of the sun’s rays on the water.
You will enjoy the wonders of this picturesque cave and come face to face with fishes such as the Glassy Sweepers. You can take a boat trip to the Blue Room, swim there, or even hike to the location.
Playa Kalki is a wonderful snorkelling site in Westpunt, Curaçao. It should take you less than an hour to get to this beach from Curaçao’s capital of Willemstad. Playa Kalki is an ideal location for a fun-filled and relaxing day of snorkeling and scuba diving.
Parking is free and this beach houses a snack bar and a dive shop. Be sure to wear some solid shoes for the steep path to the beach. About 30 feet into the ocean lies a reef that you can explore and find fishes and other sea life including stingrays, frogfish, parrotfish, and barracuda.
Klein Curaçao is a small, tropical island about six miles off the coast of the main island of Curaçao. If you’re looking for good snorkeling in Curaçao, this is a great place to go. It only takes about two hours to and from the mainland and boat tours are usually provided from the nearby Caracas Bay and Spanish Waters.
This island remains uninhabited and untouched, which adds to its authentic nature. Snorkelers can enjoy the clear waters at this snorkeling spot as well as the sights of butterflyfish, flounders, bonefish, sea turtles, coral reefs, and many other aspects of marine life.
Though snorkeling is one of the amazing things Curaçao is known for, there’s a lot more you can get up to while on this charming little island. Here are some of the interesting things you can do when you’re not busy exploring the ocean:
Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, is a big, bustling city that is split into four quarters: Otrobanda, Punda, Scharloo, and Pietermaai. Punda to the east and Otrobanda to the west are joined by the Queen Emma Bridge, and many of Curacao’s most exciting attractions can be found in these areas.
The preservation of the Dutch architecture and the colonial structures of Willemstad has been recognized by UNESCO. In December 1997, this capital city was officially listed as a World Heritage site. You can enjoy Willemstad by taking sunset sailing trips, doing Aquafair tours, and even swimming with the dolphins. Day tours around the city will prove to be both fun and educational. If you’re feeling adventurous, a half-day tour to the Sheta Boca National Park may offer just the kind of excitement you are looking for.
Did the idea of swimming with dolphins pique your curiosity? Well, this fun activity is a very real possibility in Curaçao. During your Curaçao vacation, you’ll be able to set up a tour where you can interact with these calm, friendly sea creatures that love humans just as much as we love them. The Dolphin Academy in Willemstad can take you out for a fun, safe swim in the ocean with dolphins. People of all ages, including children and the elderly, can participate in this activity.
At Dolphin Academy, a guided dolphin swim can last about two hours. The cost of this experience varies as it depends on the type of excursion that is chosen. Regardless of which package you select; you are guaranteed to have a fun time with the dolphins.
Along the north coast of Curaçao lies the rocky terrain of the Shete Boka National Park. This park covers about ten kilometers of land and is a great location for those who love adventure. The park features limestone cliffs that line the north coast of the island and has an underground cavern where crashing waves turn into huge splashes on the land nearby.
The Shete Boka National Park is commonly used as a nesting ground during turtle nesting season. The park is protected to allow these turtles to nest safely. For a small fee, visitors can enter the park and learn more about its history through guided tours.
Christoffel National Park is a large, luscious, green park in Curaçao, which is quite the contrast to the smaller and rockier Shete Boka National Park nearby. In fact, Christoffel is the largest park on the island and has a rich biodiversity.
There is so much to do and see at this park! You’ll find a wide range of flora and fauna here, including the national white-tailed deer. The Savonet Museum is also housed in the park, and there are at least seven hiking trails for you to explore. Plus, there are weekly activities, events, and guided tours that you can participate in when you visit.
Expert tip: If you love the outdoors, spending time at the Christoffel National Park is definitely one of the things to do in Curacao that you won’t want to miss out on.
Generally, the best time to visit Curacao is between the months of mid-December and mid-April, which is the island's peak season. There’s usually a lot more going on the island around this time, which can make your vacation more exciting overall.
If you’re looking to spend most of your time in Curaçao snorkeling, though, January to April would be the best time for this particular activity. While Curaçao is usually pretty dry, especially compared to some of the other Caribbean islands, there is a lower chance of rain during the first half of the year. Temperatures are also much milder between January and April compared to the summer months, making this the best timeframe for outdoor activities like snorkeling. Trade winds from the east, particularly in the spring, also tend to cool things down a bit.
The tropical climate of this island means that temperatures remain warm throughout the year. As the temperature doesn’t drop below 79°F, the water is fairly warm too. This means you can enjoy snorkeling in Curaçao at any time of the year!
With beautiful beaches, friendly natives, amazing weather, and rich flora and fauna, you simply can’t go wrong with a visit to Curaçao. The island offers some of the most unique snorkeling experiences in the region. You’ll feel like you’re floating inside a stained-glass window if you visit the Blue Room, and the majestic turtles you’ll encounter while snorkeling in Curaçao will make the trip more than worth it. Plus, you can follow up your underwater adventures by exploring some of the historical sites in Willemstad or even hiking at the Christoffel National Park. Adventures abound in Curaçao!
When visiting this island for a snorkeling trip or a vacation in general, make it a point to stay at an all-inclusive resort in Curaçao, which can be an experience on its own! All-inclusive resorts often offer professional-quality snorkeling equipment at no additional cost, so you can pack a lot lighter! Staff at the resort will be happy to guide you on the best snorkeling spots and the proper use of the equipment. On top of that, you’ll enjoy quality inclusions that extend beyond snorkeling, such as unlimited gourmet dining and cocktails, day and night entertainment, land and water sports.
The combination of snorkeling in Curaçao with the worry-free environment of an all-inclusive resort makes for an unforgettable stay in an island paradise!