If shore diving is your favourite way to dive then Curacao is the place for you. With over 60 dive sites, most of them accessible from the shore, there are endless opportunities right off the coastline meaning hours of fun for you, no groups to contend with and the freedom to enter and exit the water as you please. Sounds great right?
Curacao is the largest of the ABC Islands and although it's the most populated, you can still get that relaxed island feeling and with so many dive sites to choose from, you'll feel the same under the water. You have a choice of deep diving walls, great wrecks, coral reefs and gardens and much more.
The calm, clear waters boast excellent visibility so you can spot the sea life such as mantas and other rays, turtles, lots of reef fish, octopi and macro life that all photographers will enjoy like seahorses and juvenile fish. You might even see a dolphin or pilot whale if you're really lucky.
There are dive shops and resorts located all over the island, where you can rent a tank or go by boat to the outer reef on a day trip. The best way to dive the island is to hire a car, throw your gear in the back and drive to the designated diving spots. You will most likely pay a parking fee but it's minimal.
Playa Kalki (Alice in Wonderland) is a popular area, with the reef just a stone's throw from the shore. The mini wall is full of lobsters, eels and reef fish or The Valley (Porto Maria) an open sandy area with amazing visibility where you can see sharks, turtles, lobster and pristine corals. Playa Kalki and Cas Abao are other sites that you can drive to the shore, rent a tank and jump into the water. All these place are also great for snorkelling and relaxing on the white sandy beaches if you have non divers with you.
If you prefer boat diving with a guide then just a few minutes off shore you'll reach sites such as Watamula with beautiful coral formations or Porto Marie for incredible macro life such as seahorses and cleaner shrimp, also Mushroom Forest is another lovely site.
The wreck of the Superior Producer is a great deep dive for advanced divers, this 60 metre long vessel is filled with schools of fish. The site called Seldom is rarely dived but it will excited drift diving fanatics with its vertical wall and healthy coral life.
Safety is always a factor when diving without a guide so be sure to always have a good buddy, check your equipment properly, get a local area orientation and take care under water to keep an eye on your air. Experienced divers will get the most out of diving in Curacao, you can spend hours on the gorgeous reefs, it's the ultimate diving experience.
(By Kelly Luckman)
Curaçao is one of the so-called ABC Islands (Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba) that are part of the Netherlands Antilles, is an autonomous region of the Netherlands. Diving in Curaçao, surrounded by reefs, walls, has some sunken ships and even an airplane wreck. The island has more than 60 marked dive sites. To reach many of the sites you simply have to walk offshore from the beach of some resorts or into the water on some secluded beaches, to see multi-hued corals, barracuda and other fish.