Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles)



Unique Formations
Curacao diving is unique for many reasons. It is set apart from other Caribbean destinations by its diversity and its density of sea life, its many underwater landscapes, and its reef's proximity to shore. reefs surround the island, attaching to the shore like a narrow fringe. I some places they are tropical fish. In others, massive coral formations extend into the depths with deep-water fish patrolling the plunging walls. The reef walls on Curacao vary from moderate 45 degree angles to steep 90 degree angles. There is plenty to see both dolphins playing, turtles sunning, or even pilot whales migrating.

About 87 million years ago Curacao was born near the Galapagos Islands during a dramatic volcano eruption. Over thousands of years, when the earth shifted and continents were being formed, the island was pushed into the Caribbean sea. About 87 million years later, Curacao was left the four distinct geographics area: the lava rock foundation, formed deep beneath the
ocean's surface and said to be5 km thick; the knip formation, made up of the skeletons of billions of small sea creatures compressed into giant folds of rock- the largest example being Mt. Christoffel; the Middle Curacao formation, originating from compressed sediment on underwater slopes, pushed up during a period of earthquakes; and the Seroe Domi formation and the limestone terraces, which were createfrom age old coral reefs. Curacao's connection to the underwater world has had early beginnings. Thanks to the different formations of the island, the underwater landscapes are distinct and more varied than the nearby islands of Bonaire and Aruba. Divers can enjoy easy, sloping terraces such as Mushroom Forest and dramatic steep slopes of Blue Bay. At Caracasbaai you can move from shallow reefs to walls that drops to over 260m(850ft) then, only a few miles off shore the water plunges to 1000 m

Coral, Sponges, and Fish Life
Curacao reef is said to rival the best on earth, with 57 Coral species and a vey high occurence of hard corals(in places over 40 percent). The island has the perfect environment needed for coral reefs. Coral thrive in the sunlight that penetrates clear, shallow water and growth takes place in water which is never colder than 22 degree C, (72F) nor warmer than 27C(81F). Thewater must be clear and have a high, consistent salt content, and corals must have a hard bottom such as rock to develop on it, not mud or sand. hard corals are the reef builders, teaming up with algae that helps them deposit limestone for the foundation. Beginning as on polyp, corals grow by budding off, forming a small colony. The polyps grow on the surface of their limestone skeleton and are easy to recognize on brain corals and star corals. Look for them on your dive but don't touch. If you do not only will the polyp die, but the coral may sting or scratch and not heal for a over a week. Your next night dive is the ideal time to see coral feeding-most corals rest during the day. Corals without the hard, reef building skeleton are soft coral, gorgonians and black corals. The first two spieces can be seen on the lush, shallow terraces swaying gracefully in the current. Black corals prefer deeper water. Sponges are primitive animals lacking organs-instead they have specific efficient, pumping thousands of  liters of water a day through their filters to trap food. On any dive around the island you will see sponges in many shapes and sizes:look for the common do-not-touch-me sponges, tube sponges, fluorescent sponges, elephant ear sponges, vase and basket sponges.

Even the most experienced diver will find the fish life of Curacao entertaining. even sometimes dramatic. Instead of exploring the whole reef in one dive, choose one coral-covered spot and just float above the coral heads and watch life go on. there are over 500 species of fish inhabiting the Caribbean reefs, so you are sure to see plenty of activity. Look closely and see small cleaning fish maintaining larger fish, warrior-like fish protecting their habitat, gardening fish tending their algea crops, bird-like fishi scraping the hard coral for lunch, even fish just hanging out upside down in little crevices. If you are observant and patient, you may see a dramatic occurrence when a morray spots a small fish and thinks "food"-just don't get in its way. You will discover two type of fish when exploring-herbivores and carnivores. Herbivores, such as parrotfish and damselfish, live on the algae they scrap from rocks and corals. Carnivores, such as groupers, snappers and sharks, survive by animals plankton, invertebrates and smaller fish. To make it even more complex, certain fish mature in different phases-juvenile, intermediate and adult. Each looks so different that you may mistake them in one growing phase as a different species all together.

Diving Sites
Curacao has more then 40 diving sites and all are located on the East, South and West coast . Each of these sites are unique in their way.  These sites also differ from levels of difficulty. Before visiting any of the sites, please get more information before you dive. Avoid diving and snorkeling by yourself or alone. These are some general information of some of these sites.

Playa Kalki (West Coast)

  • Type of Dive : Shore, boat, wall, night
  • Dive Level : all levels, an easy and safe site
  • Site Feature: shore access: easy, sandy bottom. Wall: moderate slope. Beach: some shade, no facillities
  • Snorkeling : Snorkeling is good straight out from the beach near the cliffs to the left of the beach, distance from shore is about 10m (30ft), you can see lots of reef fish and a wide variety of coral
  • Snorkeling level:All levels, an easy safe site
  • Playa Lagun(West Coast)

    • Type of Dive : shore, boat,wall, cave, night
    • Dive Level : all levels, an easy and safe site
    • Site Feature: shore access: easy, sandy bottom. Wall: 10 minute swim, moderate slope. Beach: sandy with shade, some facillities
    • Snorkeling : Snorkeling is good a long the  edge of the cove on both sides of the beach and the walll
    • Snorkeling level:All levels, an easy safe site

    Santu Pretu(West coast)

    • Type of Dive : boat,(Mushroom Forest) shore, cave 
    • Dive Level : all levels, an easy and safe site
    • Site Feature: shore access: easy, sandy bottom. Wall:   moderate slope. Beach: sand and rocks with shade, no facillities
    • Snorkeling : The cave at Mushroom Forest is easily accessible to snorkelers and is wordth checking out. The rocks at Santu Pretu also offer good snorkeling
    • Snorkeling level:All levels, an easy safe site

    The Valley/Port Marie(West Coast)

    • Type of Dive : boat, shore, wall, night 
    • Dive Level : all levels, an easy and safe site
    • Site Feature: shore access: easy, sandy bottom. Wall:   double reef with a gradual slope and a deep slope. Beach: sand  with shade little , limited facillities, a snack bar on the beach
    • Snorkeling : Everywhere a long the drop off and a long the cliffs
    • Snorkeling level:All levels, an easy safe site

    The Wall,Blue Bay & Piscadera Playa Largu(Central Curacao)

    • Type of Dive : shore(Playa largu only), boat, wall, drift, deep
    • Dive Level : beginner at blue bay only, intermediate to advance at other sites due to dive type and challenging condition
    • Site Feature: shore access: moderate at playa largu. Bottom:rubble and rock. Wall:  steep slope. Beach: full facillities at Piscadera bay
    • Snorkeling : Blue bay and playa largu; aroundthe sandy bottom and along the reef you'll find some excellent snorkeling, but watch for current
    • Snorkeling level: beginner at Blue bay, intermediate to advanced other sites

    Double Reef & Superior Producer(Central Curacao)

    • Type of Dive : boat,shore, wreck,wall,deep
    • Dive Level : intermediate to advance due depth and rough condition
    • Site Feature: shore access: moderate to difficult. Bottom: rubble and rock. Wall:  double reef and moderate slope. No facillities
    • Snorkeling : not possible

    TugBoat (Caracasbaai ,east coast)

    • Type of Dive : boat,shore, wreck,wall,night
    • Dive Level :  all levels, an easy and safe site
    • Site Feature: shore access: moderate at playa largu. Bottom:rubble and rock. Wall:  steep slope. Beach: full facillities at Piscadera bay
    • Snorkeling : Blue bay and playa largu; aroundthe sandy bottom and along the reef you'll find some excellent snorkeling, but watch for current
    • Snorkeling level: beginner at Blue bay, intermediate to advanced other sites

    Curacao has a lot more sites for diving. The sites above where chosen randomly from a list of sites. These are some of the good ones but not necessarly the best one. Enjoy the rest of the sites


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