Lying just 60 kilometres/37 miles off the Venezuelan coast, at 56 kilometres/35 miles long and between 4 kilometres/2.5 miles and eight kilometres/five miles wide, Curaçao is the largest of the ABCs. With just under 200,000 residents, Curacao is also the most populous of the three islands.
Curacao has more than 60 identified dive sites dive sites to choose from and most are accessible as shore dives. Wreck, reef and deep diving are all available along the reefs and walls that encircle the island.
Manta rays, stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, octopi and even seahorses all frequent Curacao’s reefs and wrecks, along with numerous other species of reef fish. And, don’t be surprised if you see dolphins or pilot whales.
Among the more popular dive sites is Alice in Wonderland (Playa Kalki), where a mini-wall reaching 18 metres/ 60 feet lies only a few minutes swim from shore. You’ll find lobsters, moray eels and a variety of reef fish here. This is also a great spot for divers vacationing with nondivers, who can enjoy snorkeling or just sunbathing on the cove’s beautiful sand beach while you dive with your buddy.
Another dive high on the list of favorites is The Valley (Porto Marie). The “valley” is actually the open sand area that runs between two parallel reefs. An easy shore dive, the first reef is at 15 metres/50 feet deep, and the second starts at 18 metres/60 feet. The typical 30-metre/100-foot visibility certainly helps you enjoy your sightings of nurse sharks, turtles, lobsters and abundant coral.
PADI Dive Shops and Resorts
Find contact information for all the PADI Dive Shops and Resorts on Curacao.
Most Famous Dive Site
The 60-metre/200-foot Superior Producer is considered one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. Sitting upright on the bottom at 30 metres/100 feet, you can visit the wheelhouse at 24 metres/80 feet and even enter the open cargo holds. Expect to see plenty of schooling fish, including barracuda. Due to the depth and often-present wave action and currents, this is a dive most enjoyed by experienced or advanced divers. It’s also a boat dive due to its distance from shore.
Recommended PADI Courses (hyperlinks):
Digital Underwater Photographer
With a population of 60,000, Curacao’s capital city Willemstad provides a memorable cosmopolitan experience in a tropical setting. While the Dutch influence is clear from the local architectural style, the buildings’ bright blue, orange and yellow colors are uniquely Caribbean. The effect is so stunning, Willemstad has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Sights worth seeing in Willemstad include numerous museums, the Floating Market and the Queen Juliana Bridge. With a height of 55 metres/185 feet, the Queen Juliana is the tallest bridge in the Caribbean and allows shipping to pass into the inner harbor without disrupting traffic with a drawbridge. Driving across it affords you picturesque, panoramic views of Willemstad’s unique architecture.
With Curacao’s cosmopolitan flavor and international influence (more than 50 different cultures), it’s no surprise that island cuisine is both excellent and varied, from road-side stands selling tasty local dishes to sophisticated restaurants offering world class fine dining.
The Curacao Sea Aquarium offers five different close-up dolphin encounters, including a reef dive, through its Dolphin Academy.
You’ll also want to plan some time for exploring the coves and caves along the coastline, as well as the interior of the island. In the Christoffel National Park, you’ll see Indian cave paintings, numerous species of iguana and, if you’re very lucky, the small, white-tailed Curaçao deer. In Christoffel National Park, you can also visit the plantation Savonet, with one of the island’s few remaining 19th century landhouses (in restoration).
Language: Dutch, Papiamentu, and English are official languages, and Spanish is also widely spoken. Most people on the island (85 percent) speak Papiamentu. While its origin is unknown and disputed, Papiamentu is believed to have originated from Spanish or Portuguese.
Currency: Netherlands Antillean guilder (also known as the florin), but the US dollar is accepted everywhere.
Tipping: 10-15% is typical and may already be added to your bill.
Transportation: Because shore-accessible dive sites and many topside attractions are spread out around the island, renting a car is advantageous, though there are numerous shuttles and tour buses.
Links to visa requirements: http://www.curacao.com/Plan-Your-Trip/Getting-to-Curacao/Entry-Requirements
Links to weather: http://www.curacao-travelguide.com/weather/
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