Best Snorkeling in Curacao

The island country of Curacao lies about 56 miles off the eastern shores of the country Venezuela and while many may think that it is part of that country, it is in reality part of five island territories belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.which is over 4,800 miles to the northeast of the island. It consists of the main island of Curacao and its small uninhabited neighbor Klein Curacao. When you hear someone talking about the ABC islands they are referring to the three island cluster of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Curacao is an often missed gem when it comes to snorkeling destinations but those who know about it have returned time and time again to enjoy the splendor of the azure colored waters. 


The southern coastline is where you will find this choice snorkeling destination. The Underwater which stretches to about 20 miles and includes 1482 acres of reef. It was started in 1983 following intense study of the reefs in this area. It was found that pollution, coastal development along with over fishing and poaching were taking a bad toll on the reef system. The snorkeling along this area is wonderful. Plenty of hard and soft corals and a multitude of fish will greet you as you explore this area.


Located on the eastern side of Caracas Bay in just 17 feet of water lies a small wreck simply known as the tug boat. It is just a few yards out from Baya Beach. The tug boat suffered severe damage from hurricane Omar in October of 2008 and ended up. It sits totally upright on the bottom and is covered in sponges and colorful corals. Parrot fish abound here as do the Yellowtail Snapper. You might even be able to spot some black Seahorses that have seemed to take up residence. This is also a popular spot for seeing Creole wrasse.


Located on the northwest side of the island, about a mile away from Grandi (aka Grote or Big Knip Beach), this beach is smaller with the reef being a goodly ways away from shore (about a 10 minute swim) but snorkeling here can also be done along the rocky areas on either side of the beach. If you decide to snorkel here it is suggested that you do so during the weekdays as this area is very popular with the locals on the weekends. There is a good chance to spot some eagle rays in the shallows.


While most of the snorkeling spots on Curacao are easily accessed from shore there is definitely one that requires a boat ride to visit.  Klein Curacao lies about 7 miles to the southeast of the main island. Don't expect to find any restaurants or bars there as the island is uninhabited.  Snorkeling is on the west side of the island anywhere along its beach. You can almost be guaranteed that turtles will be seen here during your snorkeling adventure.  This makes the 2 hour boat ride from the main island well worth the trip.Chartered boat tours usually have this listed as an all day tour but there are some that will do half day tours. The reefs along this area are touted to be some of the best that Curacao has to offer.


The official name for this area is Playa Kalki which is derived from the Papiamento (island language) meaning beach limestone. This is a direct reference to the limestone cliffs that border the beach. It also is known as Alice in Wonderland which may be attributed to the mushroom shaped star coral formations that are found in this location. The beach here is not very large and access to it is down a long flight of steps at the edge of a parking lot. The waters here are generally on the calm side which makes the 3 or 4 minute swim to the reef area uncomplicated. Marine life here includes opportunities to see moray eel, lobster and a plethora of various fish.


This area is considered a hidden gem. It is actually a long and narrow cove which is pretty much protected from the wind making the waters here quite calm. The conditions here make it fantastic for the first time snorkeler. Grouper, sea turtles, puffer fish and parrot fish are just some of the in-water residents you might spot while exploring this area You might even be surprised by a few iguanas while walking the beach. When entering the water the right hand side of the cove proves to be more rewarding with regard to the marine life.


This is another great spot for the snorkeling novice. Cas Abao Beach is located of the west central shores of the island. The reef here is an easy swim to get to and is host a diverse marine life. Sea fans, trunkfish, flamingo tongues and sponges are just a few of the creatures that serve to make up this beautiful seascape. You could easily make this beach a whole day affair and still want to come back the following day for more.

These are just a few of the locations that Curacao has to offer in the way of prime snorkeling spots. Talking to the locals while you are there may have you adding to this list yourself.

By Roy Jamason

Updated September 15, 2015

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