Easy, pristine Diving in the Historical Caribbean
Season: Year-round diving
Water Temperature: 26-30°C/79-86°F
Along with Bonaire, Curacao is regarded as the top shore diving destination in the Caribbean. One of the five islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles and the ‘C’ of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), it is an island steeped in history that now places great emphasis on tourism, particularly divers! With a large array of accommodations, a navigable series of roads, intriguing culture and towns Curacao is a great destination for those seeking a relaxed break with delightful diving.
Although it has almost no natural resources, Curacao has been valuable for hundreds of years due to its protected harbour where war and trade ships could shelter. It became a Dutch colony after Spain lost the island in 1634. Curacao became a major transit hub for slave ships during the seventeenth century and more recently the oil industry has been a major employer due to a large refinery built to store Venezuelan oil. Nowadays Curacao enjoys showing off its diverse roots and culture to the visiting tourists and is enjoyed for its friendly atmosphere, unspoilt landscape and of course, great diving!
Curacao is not the typical lush Caribbean island of many people’s imaginations. It has a rugged limestone coast and inland areas are covered in cacti and thorn bushes. This long, narrow island 37 miles in length and just 8 miles wide runs in a North West/South East direction and almost all the diving is done on the leeward southerly side of the island, home to over 65 dive sites, away from the windward north side. The island enjoys a shallow fringing reef perfect for shore diving and many of the sites are drop offs. Current is minimal though some sites are enjoyed as easy drift dives. It is a great place to learn to dive due to the easy conditions, and many of the sites are very shallow. These factors also make Curacao a great destination for photography.
Pristine hard corals, a splendid selection of macro critters and invertebrates as well as constant visit from colourful Caribbean reef fish mean that divers will be kept well entertained under the waves. Spotted Eagle Rays regularly pay divers a visit as does the occasional Mobula Ray!
The most famous sites include Mushroom Forest so named due to the mountains of eroded star corals growing vertically give the appearance of mushrooms! The eroded coral heads harbour invertebrates whilst the larger overhangs might be a resting place for a sleepy Nurse Shark. The crevices hold several anemone species and moray eels. The wreck of the Superior Producer lies between 24 and 34 metres. This coastal freighter is completely intact and sits upright on the sandy bottom. In 1978 the ship was sailing out of the harbour with a huge load of clothes when she began to take on water and sank shortly afterwards. The wreck is not especially laden with marine life, rather divers enjoy marvelling at the superstructure and exploring the various compartments at various depths. Hell’s Corner is prone to currents and should be attempted by advanced divers. It is a sloping shelf that drops off at about 40 metres. Due to the currents the site is frequently visited by pelagic creatures such as Spotted Eagle Rays, Mobula Rays, turtles and tuna. The shallower sections of reef are known for excellent gorgonian growth and anemone replete with cleaner shrimp, but macro diving is never the order of the day in the currents here! Almost every dive destination in the world seems to have a dive site named Barracuda Point, and Curacao is no exception. Scenery is dramatic here with rugged shelves of elkhorn and staghorn coral as well as fire coral and several large gorgonians. Naturally there are a number of medium to large sized Great Baracuda here that will inspect divers as they work their way down and back up the shelf.
Typically, divers rent a car as part of a hotel and dive package so that they can explore the island and access the many shore diving sites at their own convenience.