Scuba Diving in Curaçao
Scuba diving in Curaçao is quite popular, and many folks vacation here just for the diving. As newly certified divers, Adam and I were blown away by the diving here. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we got certified in the freezing cold waters of Monterey, CA, so the warm water was a breath of fresh air. But temperature change aside, it was truly very beautiful here in Curaçao.
A word of advice: if it’s your first dive post-certification, don’t also make it your first time using your new GoPro Hero7 underwater…needless to say, we had a lot of things on our mind other than photography! What turned out better: the selfies or the shots of the coral? You be the judge!
Curaçao, we hope to be back one day soon!
Scuba diving in Curaçao is a great way to ease in to your new diving career, refresh old skills, or simply enjoy the plethora of gorgeous options as an experienced diver. We explored 4 different sites over 3 days with Go West Diving.
In this post:
- Our Curaçao dive shop: Go West Diving
- Overview of Curaçao dive sites
- Notes & photos from our 4 dives
- Black Coral Gardens
- Playa Kalki | Alice in Wonderland
- Playa Grandi | Boka Grandi | Playa Piskado | Neptune’s Reef
Our Curaçao dive shop: Go West Diving
Choosing a dive shop to go with in Curaçao can be daunting if you don’t already have a recommendation. There are many to choose from, and in our experience, the reviews online weren’t that helpful. Sometimes, you’re limited by location. Or, it may be an easy choice because you roll with the dive shop at your resort.
We had a recommendation from our dive shop back in California to go with Ocean Encounters, but driving an hour each morning from our vacation rental in in Sabana Westpunt sounded less than ideal. A bit more research led us to Go West Diving, one of the only dive shops located on the northern part of the island.
Go West offers boat trips, shore-diving, PADI certification and much more. My younger sister, Evi, wanted to get Scuba certified while on the island. After a quick and very chill conversation, Adam and I were signed up for a morning boat trip and Evi was signed up to get certified. Easy enough!
Playa Kalki: the beautiful beach surrounding the Go West dive shop
Overview of Curaçao dive sites
Curaçao has more than 60 dive sites to choose from, each with slightly different dynamics as far as depth, current, temperature and wildlife you can expect to see. This map shows a few of the most popular.
Every day of the week, Go West organizes 2 different boat trips, bringing divers to a total of 3 different sites:
We got lucky with one of the morning sessions to visit Black Coral Gardens and then Watamula—considered by many to be the best dive site around the island.
This would be our first dive post-certification, and truthfully, we didn’t know what to expect.
1st dive site: Black Coral Gardens
We board the boat and everyone seems to have their things in order…except for the 2 of us! I look at the couple across from us wearing their scuba booties and say to Adam, “we should have brought ours with us…” I quickly zip up my wetsuit attempting to look more put together, only to find myself unzipping it 10 minutes later after overheating on our way out to the first site! Ahhh, ok. The dive master will tell us when it’s time to “suit up.”
Fast forward to the arrival: everyone is ready to go and I nervously tell the dive master, “this is our first dive post-certification, look out for us ok?” Giant stride into the water and we’re off!
Site notes: Black Coral Gardens is named appropriately for the variety of black corals found at the site. Once close to extinction, the coral colonies are now protected and quite abundant. This site is only accessible by boat.
Dive recap: while it was a beautiful site, we were far less focused on what was in front of us than on the logistics of our first dive: breathing, buoyancy control, balance (or “trim” as it’s called), etc.
About halfway through the 60-minute dive—definitely using more air than I should have as I reminded myself the most important rule of diving, “breath slowly and…”—I start to ascend. I attempt to head back down and give it another shot, but feel that my weight management is off and I’m not yet re-comfortable with my breath. Thankful for my buddy, we decide to call it and head up. Not bad for a couple newbies…but plenty of room for improvement!
2nd dive site: Watamula
Site notes: the name comes from the Dutch word “Watermollen” (water mill) because of the varying current flow. Supposedly it is one of the best spots on the island for a dive with beautiful hard and soft coral patches.
Dive recap: Watamula is only a 5 or so minute boat ride from Go West Diving and also happened to be right in front of our vacation rental. So, naturally, as we giant stride into the water for round two, I can see my Dad in the distance waving his arms obsessively, trying to take pictures of us.
We descend, ready for round two, with a new weight approach thanks to the help of the dive master. The site is beautiful, but we have no photos to show from it. I was more concerned at this point of sticking close to the dive master and making sure I had my breath under control. I thought it was cold. Adam did not. I kept thinking about those damn booties that I wish I had on my toes. We saw some beautiful schools of fish, corals, and felt really at peace. We made it about 45 minutes into the 60 minute dive and decided to head up, still not totally in control of the weight thing.
3rd dive site: Playa Kalki | Alice in Wonderland
The next day we return to Go West for a 1-tank dive in the afternoon. This also gives us a chance to join Evi as she completes her 4th and final certification dive right off of Go West’s HQ. This is where things really clicked, minus one mishap towards the end.
Site notes: as opposed to the 2 dive sites we accessed by boat on day 1, Alice in Wonderland is accessible by walking in from the shore, or doing a graceful “giant stride” from the dock. After swimming out away from the shore for a few minutes, you can then choose to go right or left and dive alongside beautiful coral formations, reef fish, lobsters and eels. Evi dove here once more a few days later and saw a seahorse! This is considered one of the top 10 dive spots on the island, and the beach outside of it—Playa Kalki—is stunning. A great place to post up for the day!
Dive recap: this was more our speed. It was only Adam, myself, Evi and Rolex—our dive master. Rolex rocked! We told him our concerns, adjusted our weight once again and jumped off the Go West dock to head to Wonderland. Still getting a hang of the camera thing, but we were able to captures some winners from this dive.
After spending most of the dive right around our maximum allowed depth of 60 feet (18 meters), it’s now time to turn the dive and make our way back to shore. Based on the topography of the dive site, it’s more of a “shallow, diagonal” ascent rather than a “bottom-up, vertical” ascent. So, our dive plan is to simply ascend gradually as we swim back to the dock, rather than make a hard “safety stop” to let our bodies adjust.
Adam ran out of air during our ascent. Thanks to our training, we didn’t panic, and knew exactly how to handle the situation! Everything was fine, I shared my air and then Rolex took over. CRAZY.
As far as the question “what exactly happened”…that’s a topic for another blog post.
4th dive site: Playa Grandi | Boka Grandi | Playa Piskado | Neptune’s Reef
Playa Grandi is known as the home of the protected sea turtle. The Sea Turtle Conversation Team in Curaçao is dedicated to saving and protecting endangered sea turtles around Curaçao. Through research, conservation and education, their goal is to spread awareness about the threats sea turtles face as a result of human behavior and what people can do to slow down those threats.
At Playa Grandi, you can snorkel or dive with these sea turtles…and even get to know them by name!
PSA from DnA: please do your part and treat the turtles with respect. Cut down on your plastic use. Pick up a piece of trash the next time you’re on the beach. Our oceans depend on it. Our world depends on it. Project AWARE is an amazing organization dedicated to protecting underwater environments, and all of their awesome inhabitants.
Site notes: Aside from the opportunity to dive with turtles, be sure to snag a picture with the statue of King Neptune on the outskirts of the reef! Eels, lobsters, sea horses and more have been spotted here!
Dive recap: This was the highlight of our diving experience in Curaçao. We felt the most comfortable. We swam with gorgeous sea turtles. And we shimmied down to Neptune’s Reef during this brief and beautiful dive.
Bottom line: Scuba Diving in Curaçao with Go West Diving
Go West was professional, attentive and took us to some of the best dive sites on the island. Evi had a great experience getting certified (and a much warmer one than ours), and we all had a blast getting to know our dive master, Rolex.
Beginner or advanced, the diving here is for you! That being said, there’s much more to Curaçao than diving. If you’re considering a trip, let us know! We’d love to help you plan your vacation in any way.
PS – here is a list of the GoPro equipment we used:
▾ Complete reviews of where we stayed on Curaçao ▾
North side: this one-of-a-kind cliffside villa | South side: this vibrant boutique hotel
▾ Search all Curaçao accommodation here ▾
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Airbnb | VRBO
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