Anyone that has dived in the Caribbean knows that you can’t really get too much better than the scuba diving in Curacao. Located in the southern Caribbean Sea, north of the Venezuelan coast, Curacao consists of the main island as well as the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao.
Scuba diving in Curacao offers chances to see the normal highlights of the Caribbean including tons of sea turtles, dolphins, and schooling fish, but also epic white sand beaches and beautiful top-side scenery.
But we are also aware that sometimes planning the PERFECT dive holiday can be somewhat stressful, with the lack of useful information online.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In this guide, it is our goal to show you all of the best dive locations in Curacao, how to get there, what to expect, who to dive with, visa information, and more.
There are a ton of options when it comes to diving here, so we will tell you what makes each one unique and special, and once you decide where you want to go in Curacao, we’ll give you all the information you’ll need to make it happen.
Without the stress of not knowing what to expect!
Best Dive sites in Curacao
The Mushroom Forest
A favorite Curacao diving spot. Over the course of time, its coral formations have grown to resemble mushrooms, which is where it gets its name. All of them have an abundance of marine life living underneath them.
The Blue Room
Divers frequently visit this site along with the Mushroom Forest. This shallow, underwater cavern practically glows with an eerie, blue light. The inside is filled with a variety of marine creatures, including a school of glassy sweepers and several species of shrimp.
In this case, “The Valley” refers to a valley in between two parallel reefs. This area is absolutely teeming with colorful corals and schooling fish, some of which are difficult to find anywhere else. It’s a good place to find nurse sharks, parrotfish, groupers, and many other tropical marine species.
Alice in Wonderland
Also known as Playa Kalki, this is one of the most popular diving sites in Curacao. It’s aptly named, as the site features many mushroom-shaped coral colonies, and contains a number of different species of fish and rays. This dive is appropriate for beginning and advanced divers and is also a great place for a night dive.
This dive site features the largest pillar coral formation in the entire Caribbean Sea. Here you can spot barracuda, groupers, and jacks. Please be aware that the depth and currents here make it a spot for intermediate and advanced divers only.
This site isn’t visited as often as some of the others on this list, but it’s definitely worth checking out.This is one of the rare places in Curacao where you’re likely to see sharks and stingrays. Its out-of-the-way location also means its reef is as close to virginal as you’ll find in Curacao.
Don’t let the name scare you. This dive site is appropriate for divers at all skill levels. It was named for the strong current that was present at its original location. This is a good place to find tube sponges, brain corals, mushroom heads, barracuda, and sea turtles.
Because of the strong currents present at this dive site, it’s a spot for experienced divers only. If you feel up to the challenge, you can find an underwater cave at 24m where Nurse sharks are often found inside.
This site was originally named for the fact that divers rarely went there. This is a bit of an ironic name nowadays as it’s becoming more and more popular. It’s a very deep dive that features a sheer 90-degree wall. The depth of this site makes it suitable for intermediate and advanced divers only.
A popular wreck dive in Curacao. As you might expect, it features a sunken tugboat lying at a depth of only 5m, covered in sponges and corals. You can also find a shallow reef on one side of it, which is home to a wide variety of magnificent macro life.
Sometimes referred to as the 18th Hole. Part of the fun of this dive is its close proximity to the Blue Bay Golf Resort. This means you can search for lost golf balls while also swimming among barracudas and huge schools of fish. This dive is appropriate for both beginners and advanced divers.
Also known as Punt’i Piku, barracudas are known to follow divers at a distance at this spot. This is also a great place to find sea turtles and jacks, along with beautiful coral formations. Great for beginner and experienced divers.
This wreck dive features a tugboat lying in less than thirty feet of water. Even though parts of the boat itself are falling apart, a number of critters have made it their home over the years. These include blue chromis and rock beauties, among others.
This is just a taste of some of the great places to explore while scuba diving in Curacao. When you arrive in Curacao, your dive center or resort will tell you the best sites to dive, based on your experience level and what you want to see.
What to see when scuba diving in Curacao
Curacao is considered to be one of the best places in the Caribbean for photographing macro life. More than likely, you’re not overly likely to spot sharks here. However, you are likely to see turtles and definitely going to see a plethora of tiny critters that will be difficult to find anywhere else.
Here’s a small sample of what you can expect to see on your Curacao diving holiday:
Frogfish: These guys like to hide, so keep your eye out for them.
Arrow Crabs: Can be identified by their long, spider-like legs.
Seahorses: Seahorses can be hard to find, but you’re likely to see at least a few of them.
Lettuce Sea Slugs: A gorgeous nudibranch that can be seen in three different color phases.
Spotted Snake Eels: Likes to bury itself in the sand with only its head showing.
Gobies: See if you can get a picture of these little guys.
Pygmy Angelfish: Gorgeous, sapphire-colored fish.
Moray Eels: The largest of all eels.
Blennies: Tiny fish that are fun to photograph if you can.
Many different species of shrimp: You’ll find several different kinds on nearly every dive.
Along with many other species of fish. Again, Curacao is a dream come true when it comes to macro life. If you enjoy photographing the smallest critters of the sea, then you won’t be disappointed.
Best Time to Dive in Curacao
Diving in Curacao is pretty much good all year. The dry season runs for most of the year, with the rainy season only running from October to December, so conditions and visibility are generally very good throughout the year.
If you want to see the coral spawning in Curacao, then you want to visit between September and October. Akin to the other Caribbean islands, the high season is between December and April. So if you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit outside of this window.
How to get to Curacao:
Getting to Curacao is very easy. You can fly there from virtually anywhere in the United States and many other countries. You can also get a direct flight from places such as Miami, New York, Amsterdam, and Newark.
No matter where you’re coming from, you’ll be arriving at Curacao’s Hato International Airport. This is located just outside the capital city of Willemstad. From there, you can get to any resort, diving spot, or any other point of interest fairly easily with a taxi or public transport.
The island is only 38 miles long, so getting where you want to go should never be an issue.
Visa info for Americans:
Visiting Curacao is pretty easy if you’re American. If you’re staying for less than 30 days, you won’t need a visa. All you’ll need is your passport and a return ticket back home. This can be extended for up to 90 days if you decide you can’t get enough of this island nation.
To get an extension, all you need to do is visit an immigration embassy in Willemstad. That’s really all there is to it. If you do decide to apply for a visa, you can do so at any embassy representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Best times to visit:
People typically arrive for Curacao diving all year round. It lies outside of the hurricane belt, which means its weather is largely unaffected by the seasons. In fact, the weather changes very little throughout the year. Even its rainy and windy seasons bring very small variations to the climate.
In general, the best time to visit Curacao is during the months of May to November. This has nothing to do with the weather itself, but simply because Curacao can be extremely busy during the holiday months.
You won’t have to fight as many crowds during the offseason. You’re also likely to find lower rates on hotels and airline tickets during this time.
Other Things to See and Do in Curacao:
There are many things to do in Curacao, besides scuba diving. One thing you should definitely check out is the capital city of Willemstad. The fascinating design of its buildings is reason enough to give it a look.
The buildings here are traditional Dutch-style architecture, but they’re painted in bright, colorful ways that really make them stand out. You can also find a lot of artistic murals painted on many of its buildings.
Plus, there’s plenty of quirky, little bars and restaurants you can find while wandering its streets.
Curacao is also a beach lover’s dream come true. It has an astounding number of beaches for such a small island, with 35 in total. These range from popular go-to spots like Playa Knip to more intimate, out-of-the-way locations. If you’re looking for the latter, you might want to give Playa Laguna a look.
You can also visit one of the island’s two national parks. Christoffel Park is the place to go if you’d like to do some hiking. Or you can go to Shete Boka National Park if you’re in the mood to see some of nature’s rugged landscape. Here, you can see waves crashing against rocky caverns, which truly gives you a feel for nature’s awesome power.
Want to know where the best beaches are in Curacao? Keep reading as we’ve covered the 14 top beaches below.
Where to stay in Curacao
Curacao is a relatively small island so wherever you stay you’ll most likely be able to access all the best dive sites we mentioned above. There are a few different neighborhoods to stay in Curacao, depending on your needs and preferences.
Pietermaai is a little more lively with a variety of bars, restaurants, and boutique hotels. This area is great fun at night and ideal for couples, friends, or groups. Blue Bay is a little more laid back and better suited to families and couples that want a more private experience. Here you’ll find resorts, boutique hotels and villas, and a gorgeous white sand beach. Check out Jan Thiel and Mambo Beach for a more upbeat vibe just south of Willemstad.
Curacao geography information
Curacao is one of the ABC islands together with Bonaire and Aruba. The total area is 444 km2 (171 sq mi) and with a population of approximately 160,337.
Curacao is said to be like a little piece of Europe at the edge of the Caribbean with hidden beaches perfect for snorkeling and diving. It has rugged landscapes and lots of fun in the sun.
Capital city of Curacao: Willemstad
Closest neighbors to Curacao: Neighboring countries are Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire, Aruba, and Venezuela.
Best times to visit Curacao: You can go whenever you want except for September to December where it rains a lot even though Curacao is outside the hurricane belt.
How to get to Curacao: It’s easy to get to Curacao, there are direct flights from the US and Europe to Curacao’s Hato International Airport.
Visa requirements for Curacao: Visa is not required to visit Curacao although you need a valid passport good for 30-60 days and a return ticket.
Currency of Curacao: Netherlands Antillean Guilder (ANG) is the currency of Curacao.
Official Language of Curacao: Official languages of Curacao are Dutch, English, and Papiamento.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Curacao
There is 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site in Curacao.
- Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City, and Harbour, Curaçao
14 Best Beaches of Curacao
If you are planning a Caribbean getaway, and want to know what are the best beaches in Curacao, look no further! Here is a list of the top 14 curaçao beaches you need to visit!
While there are so many terrific places to see here, the most famous and popular would, of course, be the many amazing beaches in Curacao. This beautiful island nation is the perfect place to go for that dream vacation or to spend an extended period of time.
1. Blue Bay Beach
Blue Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Curacao. The amazingly soft white sand shoreline is loved by locals as well as tourists.
It has many facilities including restaurants, a children’s playground, dive school, showers and toilets plus much much more. There is a water sports center where you can rent equipment including kayaks, snorkeling and diving equipment, and boards of all types.
Swaying palm trees provide a lot of shade, and of course, you will find lounge chairs and umbrellas there for your use. This is one of the best Curacao beaches for families with children as the seafloor has a gentle slope to it so the kids are safe playing in the water.
2. Boka St. Michiel
Boka St. Michiel, which is also known as Boka Sami, is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Blue Bay for Curacao beaches. It is a small beach with little sand and no shade but is a treasure to visit.
It is a traditional fishing village, and you will see the many small fishing boats floating in the bay. The waters are fantastic for swimming and snorkeling, and there is a pier from which you can jump into the beautiful water or try your hand at fishing.
There is a dive club on the pier which does have public restrooms and a restaurant. For some unforgettable food though, you will want to try one of the restaurants in the village and sample their authentic seafood dishes!
3. Daaibooi Beach
Daaibooi Beach is one of the best beaches in Curacao for snorkeling and scuba diving. As you get a little further out to sea, you will find an amazing reef filled with several types of sponges, star corals, pillar corals, brain corals, elkhorn corals, and gorgonians as well as lots of typical reef fish.
There is a rocky ledge closer to shore as well as a small fisherman’s cove that is both great for snorkeling where you can also find a wide variety of marine life.
4. Seaquarium Beach
Seaquarium Beach is another one of the most popular Curacao beaches. It is the picture-postcard type of beach with its sugary white sand and palm trees swaying in the breeze.
There are several shops, food vendors, and bars right there to keep you satisfied and relaxed all day. Many times there are movies and concerts held right on the beach for all to enjoy.
No matter what water sport you want to try, you will find facilities here that can provide you with the equipment you need to make your stay perfect.
5. Jeremi Beach
Jeremi Beach is one of the beaches in Curacao where the sand is made of finely crushed lava stone. It is such unusual sand that you will want to check it out.
It is set in a beautiful narrow cove and is not usually very crowded. There are times when you may even be able to enjoy having this amazing place all to yourself.
Escaping the crowds and sunbathing on this spectacular bit of paradise while watching an amazing sunset is why this is often considered one of the best beaches in Curacao.
6. Klein Curaçao
Klein Curaçao is the uninhabited island of the country and is certainly one of the best places to see in Curacao while you are here.
Basically an oversized volcanic rock, it is well known to have the longest and whitest beach in Curacao with amazingly clear waters.
The island is accessible by boat, and you will find many charter boat companies that will be happy to take you and your party out, and some companies will even fly you there in a helicopter.
There are many dive companies as well that will take you out for some of the best diving you could imagine. The water is so clear it is not uncommon for visibility to be over 100 feet.
7. Jan Thiel Beach
Jan Thiel Beach is perhaps the most well-known of the Curacao beaches amongst tourists. There is excellent diving and snorkeling in this bay, especially as you get further out to sea.
A dive shop is centrally located where you can get all of the equipment you need, as well as hire a boat to take you to the best dive spots.
There are some resort hotels nearby so you can walk straight from your room to the beach, which has all of the facilities you need to make your day stress-free and perfect.
8. Kokomo Beach
Kokomo Beach, which was once called Vaersenbaai, is among the most wonderful places to see in Curacao. It has all of the convenient facilities, including showers, plus a beach bar for added fun.
There are restaurants and bars where you can enjoy amazing food and your favorite cocktail right in the comfort of your lounge chair. Magnificent palm trees provide the right amount of shade when you are through sunbathing.
Scuba diving is very popular here, and there is a diving school that will help you, whether you are a beginner or a more advanced diver. A pier extends out into the ocean, and at the end of it, there is a dive platform that provides easy access for everyone.
9. Cas Abao
Cas Abao is another one of the beaches in Curacao that has amazingly white, pristine sand and crystal clear water. The beautiful landscape surrounding the beach provides a magnificent background, and with the swaying palm trees and gazebos on the beach for shade, this is one of the most picturesque beaches in Curacao.
There are full facilities here which add to your stress-free visit. With all of the vendors right there, there is no need to bring your own food and beverages either.
There are spectacular reefs that make for some of the best diving and snorkeling you will find.
Caracasbaai is another popular beach in Curacao amongst the local residents. The beach is made up of coarse sand and small pebbles, which is beautiful and has a wonderful feel to it.
The area is part of an underwater park, which makes it an ideal place for diving and snorkeling. There is so much fascinating marine life that you will spend a lot of time here viewing it.
There are places to get some great food and drink while enjoying the magnificently calm waters of one of the lesser-known but most amazing Curacao beaches.
Kenepa, also known as Knip, made up of two coves, is surrounded by beautiful manchineel trees that provide very nice shade. The view of the ocean is simply spectacular, especially from the parking lot that sits above the beach.
There is a cliffside lookout point between the two bays that provides the most breathtaking view you could imagine. There is a ramp and set of stairs that lead from the parking lot, and a very nice path that leads through the underbrush from the lookout point down to the beach.
There is a reef just offshore a bit that provides for some terrific snorkeling, and the amazingly blue water is ideal for swimming and playing in.
12. Playa Forti
Playa Forti is also known as WestPunt or West Point Beach is one of only three Curacao beaches with black, or dark brown, sand which is very stunning to see.
It is named West Point Beach because it is located at the very west tip of the island. With fishing boats bobbing in the water and the fantastic view out over the ocean, this is a wonderfully relaxing place to spend the day.
The highlight of the area, for those not faint of heart, is the spot where you can safely jump into the ocean from a height of about 40 feet! It is such a thrill!
This beach is not usually very crowded and does have food and drink vendors as well as a restaurant so you can enjoy a very peaceful day.
13. Playa Kalki
Playa Kalki is also located on the western side of the island. There is a terrific dive shop here where you can get everything you need, and possibly even lessons for those less experienced.
There is wreckage of the old airplane, the Fokker Fairchild F27, that divers love to explore along with the myriads of marine life that live here.
This beautiful cove is surrounded by trees and limestone cliffs that have steps leading down to the stunning white sand beach. There is also a floating platform here that you can sunbathe on or jump into the water from.
There are several places to get something to eat and drink, as well as shops that can provide the gear you need for whatever water sport you want to try. This is certainly one of the top beaches in Curacao that has something for everyone.
14. Playa Lagun
The rocky cliffs that fall directly into the ocean provide for some great opportunities to see beautiful marine life. There also is a reef that has some amazing coral and large sponges along with the wide variety of fish that live here.
Set in a little cove, with fishing boats floating in the water or pulled up on the sand, this is a very charming and picturesque area. It is in the small fishing village of Lagun where you can eat some of the best seafood dishes and mingle with the local residents and get a real sense of the island’s culture. It is certainly one of the most enjoyable places to see in Curacao.