Ocean Encounters offers a number of dive trips and instructional courses in Curacao. // © 2014 Ocean Encounters Curacao
You know you have them: scuba diving clients who are keen to explore their next fabulous reef. Even if they’ve been to some of the great dive sites of the world, these clients will still come home raving about Curacao.
This tiny Caribbean island near Aruba is a paradise for divers and sea creatures alike. And one of the best things about Curacao dive sites is that divers can enter most of the reefs right from the shore, eliminating a long boat ride.
While experienced scuba divers can act as their own guides, most clients will want to book with a licensed outfitter.
One option is Ocean Encounters, a five-star PADI resort-based operator. The company offers scuba and snorkeling tours for everyone from beginners who want to complete their PADI certification to highly experienced divers interested in exploring the shipwrecks and colorful reefs along Curacao’s shores. Ocean Encounters can also take visitors who don’t have dive certification underwater for a dolphin encounter in a restricted area.
Where to Stay
For the best reef access, book clients at the Lions Dive and Beach Resort at the National Curacao Underwater Park or the Santa Barbara Beach Resort, located on 27 acres of a natural preserve. Ocean Encounters maintains dive shops in both locations and clients can be on the reefs just minutes after leaving their guestrooms.
Following are the top dive spots in Curacao.
The Mushroom Forest
It’s not really a forest, and they aren’t really mushrooms; this famous dive spot boasts coral formations that have hardened into shapes that resemble mushrooms. The Blue Room, a cavern filled with the mushrooms, is also popular for snorkelers.
The Superior Producer
The Superior Producer sank off the coast of Curacao more than 40 years ago, and now the cargo ship is covered with coral and orange cup sponges. Be careful, though — giant barracudas swim slowly around the wreck, keeping their eyes on divers. At 100 feet, this dive is only for the most experienced divers, and it’s only available when no cruise ships are in port.
There is a drift dive here where the current will sweep you along the reef. The steep wall is home to many small reef fish, as well as the more rare elkhorn and staghorn coral.
For great photo opportunities, check out Directors’ Bay, where you’ll spot seahorses, eels, tons of coral, and even a resident octopus. A decaying shark fence now covered with coral makes a colorful home for the sea life. Snorkelers can take in a great view from the surface, making this a perfect trip for a group of clients at different comfort and certification levels.
Curacao is not in the hurricane belt, which makes it a terrific fall destination for divers and non-divers alike. In September and October, coral spawn seven days after the full moon. Island outfitters can pinpoint the ideal times to head underwater for the best view.