The snorkeling is easy and varied. Visibility is good, if the spot is reasonably sheltered.
There are several good snorkeling spots so it is a matter of choosing according to the wind direction
The tradewinds can mar sites facing South/ Southwest, in which case, when the winds are strong, or from
slightly the wrong direction, it is best to head to inlets on the West coast up North.
There are enough fish (not always as abundant as below but quite a variety) to make things
interesting. There are both hard and soft corals.
Surprisingly, sponges and especially algae, are abundant and add significantly to the colour and variety
and so improve the photos.
Curacao is in the South of the Caribbean Sea, only 60km north of Venezuela. It benefits in many ways from
it's strong Dutch association. English is widely spoken, as is Spanish.
It is a small, island of 61km long and on average, 7km wide, with a population of 150,000. Being
there is low scrub and cacti but quite a deal of wildlife. Plus, some stunning little white,
coral sand beaches (playa).
The main town - Willemstad - is very pretty with pastel coloured buildings, harbour with floating bridge
and appealing architecture. One dinner in town in restaurant over the
water was very good.
The people are, as those of us who follow West Indian cricket would expect, very friendly and very
helpful. None of the St Lucian 'attitude'.
Where else would a taxi stop and give a free 200 metre lift to your hotel, 'cos you look hot mun'?
You feel very welcome and very safe in Curacao, despite the driving. We still haven't worked it
out. There seem to be two types of round-about. On one you have right-of-way, but the other!
Once we learned that the rule is that you can do anything you want, provided you aren't certain
you will cause an accident, then it all works just fine. Hardly any aggro anywhere. Very
few honking horns. A rental car is an absolute must.
Curacao is outside the main hurrican belt, although occassionally it gets a hit or a 'glance'.
Rainy season is October to December, which must be avoided, as we found to our cost in Bonaire.
Below covers a few of our favourite coves up North on the West coast.
There isn't much detail needed because all of that is done for us by Galen and Nicole in their eBooks
which are available at
I have no fnancial association with Galen and Nicole. I buy eBooks from them for my own use.
Put simply, don't leave home for Curacao without
buying the eBook first. The books are great. They are detailed, accurate and written totally with
snorkeling photography in mind.
The price is reasonable. They are worth a lot more in saved time. Read and hit the best spots.
On our visit, October 2013, the winds prevented us exploring Galen's favourite sites, Director's Bay and
Tugboat Bay, as they were too turbulent.
In desperation we did go in at Galen's highly recommended Jan Thiel and now know what a cork in a
washing machine feels like.
It wasn't dangerous but the surge made visibility poor and photography impossible.
From what we did see, we think the coves up North are just as good for coral and fish. We
preferred their easy access, beauty and calm.
Personal choice I guess, or we just didn't see Jan Thiel at its best, as Galen and Nicole clearly did.
Jan Thiel - (a Southern Galen favourite)
Originally this must have been a beautiful cove.
Now, its allure depends upon whether shops, bars galore and rows of deck chairs appeal or not. I
suspect if you are young you will like it.
The car park isn't expensive. But, that is all shore-side stuff. Water access is totally easy.
There is either one large snorkeling area outside and between the two breakwaters, or Galen suggests
it be divided into three, shorter, dives.
If it is calm and sheltered, it will be worth the visit.
And nearby is Director's Bay and Tugboat Bay.
Our favourite. Pretty, calm and choice of two snack bars/ restaurants.
A small bay with very easy access. Like all the bays, there was a swell or surge but the bay
itself was very calm.
On the right hand side there is a snack bar up on the cliff offering very good views of the bay and
getting up close and personnal with iguanas and several birds.
Easy access and calm, with the usual surge. Probaby slightly bigger than the other two bays.
Swimming out to the small island right next to the left hand side cliff is a must.
Visibility improves near the island, as do the fish and a lot of our fish shots came from here.
Apart from shade and benches, there weren't any facilities to speak of. Popular with the locals.
Easy access and calm, with the usual surge.
A very small bay with hardly any facilities but popular with the locals.
The salina meant that visibility on the right hand side was limited.
The plus side was that this attracted silversides which in turn attracted the impressive frigate bird.
Three West coast coves we liked up North:-
- Playa Kenepa
- Playa Lagun
- Playa Santa Cruz
It is likely that you will choose to stay further South.
This is closer to the main town of
Willemstad (shown by a 'W' on the map).
Curacao is a small island. The drive North is not a problem.
The trade winds come in from this side ie the East.
Also shown are three Southerly spots which Galen highly recommends.
Due to wind-driven surges,
we were unable to access these places but from their descriptions, they sound essential places
to go when conditions are right.
The places are:-
- Jan Thiel Beach (Jan T)
- Tugboat Bay (Tug)
- Directors Bay (Dir)
For coverage of all the snorkelling spots on Curacao, we strongly recommend buying Galen and Nicole's eBook from
(captions below needn't be read as you will have seen them with the gallery pictures -
repeated below so are visible to Google/ search engines)
captions to Curacao 'fish n critters' gallery pictures
captions to left 'fish n critters' thumbnails
- School of yellow goatfish out by small island on left side of Playa Santa Cruz
- Trunkfish are common in all three Northern Bays. This one on the left hand side of Playa Kenepa,
with shadow of the overhanging cliff as the backdrop.
- Not that common but almost always in pairs, which usually just swim out of camera
range, This one in Playa Kenepa was more interested in food.
- The ubiquitous queen parrotfish in our favourite bay, Playa Lagun.
- In the foreground, an intermediate phase yellowtail damselfish and further back is a
juvenile, without the yellow tail. Living amongst blade fire coral in Playa Lagun.
captions to right 'fish n critters' thumbnails
- Not a great shot but apparently this eel is very uncommon. This goldspotted snake eel
was in very shallow water with its head in the sand in Santa. Cruz.
- This mix, of smallmouth grunts, french grunts and yellowtail goatfish, was swimmg near
the island on the left hand side of Playa Santa Cruz.
- Perhaps inappropriately named, this Ocean surgeonfish was in very shallow water near the
shore of Playa Lagun.
- Quite common. This Atlantic trumpetfish was very approachable,
on the left hand side of Playa Kenepa.
- West indian sea egg. A type of urchin quite common in Playa Kenepa.
- A surprised looking Smooth trunkfish, swimming over algae, waiting for his photo to be taken
in Playa Kenepa.
captions to Curacao 'seascape' gallery pictures
captions to left 'seascape' thumbnails
- Star coral into which a plankton-feeding, Christmas tree worm has burrowed. These pretty
little worms come in various colours. Snapped at Playa Santa Cruz, with overhanging cliff
creating dark backdrop.
- Interesting shape, although lacking in colour. A pillar coral in Playa Lagun.
- Ridged cactus coral at Playa Santa Cruz.
- A sea plume coral, which was quite deep for our snorkelling, at Playa Lagun.
- A netted barrel sponge at Playa Santa Cruz.
captions to right 'seascape' thumbnails
- Orange cup corals, some with polyps extended, competing with encrusting sponges on the
rock face at the edge of the bay in Playa Lagun.
- A stove pipe sponge at Playa Lagun.
- Brown clustered and variable sponges, on an interesting wall at Playa Lagun.
- A fairly impressive sponge between 2 and 3 metres tall. We have not yet identified
it. At Playa Kenepa.
- Another netted barrel sponge at Playa Kenepa.