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kyfriedchipper
10-11-2007, 01:21
Looking to get ideas from anyone who has been diving in Curacao. My wife and I are going in February for over 2 weeks and are going to do a ton of boat diving and shore diving. I already have a dive-boat operator picked out and reserved. What I need is advice, internet links, information/insights about good shorediving sites that have a dive shop on the premises. Could be house reefs, public beaches, or anything in between. My wife and I are happy to go shorediving, but would prefer that someone be on premises and at least knows we went out. Any info/help appreciated!

diversteve
10-11-2007, 02:14
A group of us went last April. What we liked with a rundown on facilities etc:

Some general info: Most of the dive sites on Curacao have some sort of facility on the beach or adjacent. All the dive resorts, Kura Hulanda, Sunset Waters, Habitat, Lions Dive etc. are on named dive sites. So you pay a usage fee and rent tanks/weights from them. Other shore sites have on-site dive operations, some collect a small usage fee in guilders and most let you bring your own tanks.

Also plan more time than you'd think to go between sites. The roads are pretty bad in some areas and you generally drive 10-15mins. into a site from the main road then back out and on to the next one. Once out of Willemsted street signs are almost non-existent.

Starting on the far West End and generally working East:

The dive at Lodge Kura Hulanda is Playa Kalki/Alice in Wonderland. It's done off the dock of Ocean Encounters West. I thought it was one of the best shoredives we did. Unfortunately it's a 45min drive from town so we didn't get back there.

btw - the best boat dive on the island is Watamula, around the tip of the island from there.

Going east the next site we dove was Playa Jeremi. It's the only site we dove with no faciliities. You could pass on this one and not miss much. There's some cliffs on both sides of the entry and I had as much fun looking for critters along there as I did on the dive. Long swim out also.

Farther south was Playa Lagun. There's a diveshop at the turnoff and there's a beach chair/boat vendor on the beach. Both close around 5pm. I didn't dive it but my friends said it was pretty good.

Then we dove Sunset Waters renting tanks from Sunset Divers. Nice operation, very accommodating but I was a little disappointed in the dive site. It's good to the east but the west was hurricane damaged and there's a bay/small boat channel to swim across to the west for better stuff. And the "airplane wreck" is a big disappointment, it's a Cessna frame with the skin removed and the tail and wings dropped nearby. My buddy thought it was a big fish trap when I pointed it out. In 40' of water.

Next was Habitat Curacao. We really liked their setup, lockers and tanks right on the divedock and a really interesting dive both ways. We liked it so much that we drove back there another day for afternoon/night dives. Had some interesting dives there, there's some big morays (6-8'), flounder in the shallows west of the divedock and a resident octo just offshore. Someone marked his home with coral rubble so ask for directions.

2 minutes down the road from Habitat is Porto Marie. They have a diveop/outdoor restaurant with facilities so there's a usage fee.

The next site we dove was Varsenbaai - also called Police Beach. There's an on-site diveop there for tanks/weights and he charges a fee to dive. It's a great dive, go east to the big pontoon boat in about 80' of water. Ask the dive operator how to find the Seahorses and coming back in along the sand flats there's turtles feeding in the grass in 6' of water. And I saw about 100 squid just off the divedock.

From there my buddy and I did the Ocean Encounters/Sea Aquarium Dolphin Dive. I was kind of disappointed - for $200 the dive is limited to 1/2 hr. And the dolphins cruise the reef for the 1st 15mins. until the trainer brings them over. They are pretty cool though to dive with, you get sonared and one was fascinated with her reflection in my video port.

The last shoredive we did was the Tugboat to the East of Willemsted. It's a small tugboat in 20' of water. It's better to go past the boat and around the point to some nice reef then drift back in on it. My friends were in the water when a cruiseship dayboat dropped 100 snorkelers on their heads. So go in the afternoon when the cruisers leave. There's an onsite diveop but as I recall they didn't charge us since we brought tanks.

The only boat dive we did was Lost Anchor. We were looking for seahorses but no luck.

My friends g/f is an Instructor/Guide on Curacao. Sites she recommended that we didn't get to are Caracasbaai and Snake Bay. I can put you in touch with her if wanted. She's here now but I think will be back by Feb.

A couple of good links:
http://www.curacao.com/ActivitiesEvents/DivingSnokeling/DiveLocations.aspx
http://www.curacao-actief.com/index.php?id=3

Also the DiveBus people come highly recommended:
http://www.the-dive-bus.com/

Some pictures my buddy took:
http://members.cox.net/setasea/index.html

kyfriedchipper
10-11-2007, 16:44
Awesome - this is what I needed - thank you. I have also checked out www.shorediving.com - they have some good suggestions and reviews. I woul dlove it if anyone else had input out there...

carib_traveler
10-11-2007, 19:02
I recently did my OW at Marriott's dive operator Caribbean Sea Sports (http://www.caribseasports.com) which I can definitely recommend. We went to Coral Gardens (boat dive, sea horse and turtles, very cool) and to the reef at Porto Marie (so-so) and the house reef at Marriott of course (pretty good, but too many excercises to enjoy it :smiley2: ).
After I got the OW I also went to the tugboat but as Steve said the tugboat itself is not very interesting, the wall beyond the boat is though (saw several morays and a lot of coral and sponges).
I know the people at Kura Hulanda Lodge (http://www.kurahulanda.com) sunk an old Fokker airplane off the coast and that's supposed to be good (there's a video on their site I believe). Even though the Kura hulanda is pretty far out, it's a really cool place to spend a day lounging around (and take in a dive for good measure :D )
And I also hear good stories about the Dive Bus (steve linked to them). They'll take you where you want to go and they know all the good spots.
Sorry, I can't give you any other first hand experiences. :(

kyfriedchipper
10-31-2007, 18:26
Thanks for the info. I'm inquiring to see if anyone knows the name of the dive shops in these 2 locations: Porto Marie and Police Beach (AKA Vaarenbaii). Any information much appreciated!

diversteve
10-31-2007, 20:11
Porto Mari:

Porto Mari Sports (http://www.portomarisports.com/WebsiteCuracaoEngels/index.htm)

I don't know who runs the dive op at Varsenbaai but I'd personally bring tanks and just pay the fee to dive there. They have a cleanliness issue.