Colorful Reefs in Clear Waters
Curaçao's reefs will delight, whether you are donning mask and snorkel for the first time, or are a veteran free diver. Conditions are ideal, with warm clear waters washing over healthy reefs that begin close to shore. Intriguing wrecks lie close to the surface, and fish life is abundant and diverse. Some sites can be reached by the shore, but even more convenient are boat trips made possible by the island's well-developed diving industry, which maintains a fleet of fast, comfortable boats that depart from full-service dive shops. As a bonus, some snorkel trips are run in conjunction with afternoon dives, allowing couples or families that both snorkel and dive to share the experience.
- Best for: Everyone, solos, couples and families looking for watersports and adventures from soft to rugged
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: Steady easterly trade winds, sunny and dry in the winter with temperature in the 70s. Summer sees mid 80s in the daytime, with occasional evening showers
Snorkeling in Curaçao Overview
Snorkeling takes place all along the south coast of Curaçao, which is sheltered from prevailing trade winds and swells. In many areas, coral reefs begin at shallow depths close to shore and accessible from the beach. But a number of the prime sites are best accessed by boat. Boat rides to many sites average 15 minutes or less and run across calm water.
Snorkeling in Curaçao Tips
There's nothing worse than having a fogging mask keep you from seeing the fish and corals clearly. To prevent fogging, make sure the mask's faceplate is washed and wiped free of any residue, then apply a thin, even coating of defogging solution before entering the water. Most tour operators will provide defog on the boat.
Best Places for Snorkeling in Curaçao
Just off Caracas Bay Beach, a small tugboat sits upright on the sand at a depth of 15 feet. The Blue Room is a large cavern half filled with water, where snorkelers can swim with swirling schools of minnows. At Director's Bay, a submerged fence is now covered in colorful growths of corals and sponges that harbor seahorses, frogfish, eels and octopus. Turtles, parrotfish, grouper, lobster and moray eels are attracted to the coral formations at Black Sand Reef. A short swim from shore brings you to the unique mushroom-shaped coral formations of Alice in Wonderland.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Curaçao
Use a mesh gear bag to transport your personal snorkel gear, as that will stow easily when aboard a boat. A lycra water shirt or shorty wetsuit will prevent sunburns when your back is exposed while floating in the water. Bring a cover up for afterward, because the wind can make wet bodies chilly, even in the tropics.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required for U.S. Citizens with at least one blank page for passport entry stamp. No visa is required for entry.
Exit Requirements: There is a departure tax of $39(US) per person, which should be included in your International Airline Ticket taxes. If you are travelling to another island from Curaçao, inter-island domestic departure taxes apply and should be included in your airline ticket
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Curaçao. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at www.cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
Blessed as one of the best natural harbors in the southern Caribbean, Curacao has long been a regional crossroads not only for goods but also for people. This has resulted in a cultural fusion that includes more than 40 ethnic groups, each enriching the mix. Though Dutch is the official language, English is widely spoken and many islanders converse in Papiamentu, a dialect created from mixing of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and several African languages. The capital city of Willemstad is one of the oldest settlements in the Caribbean, dating back to the Dutch capture of the island from the Spanish in the early 17th century. Thanks to the well-protected harbor of St. Anna Bay, the town quickly grew into a busy trading port, and the seat of government for the Netherland Antilles. Today, most of the original colonial-era architecture survives and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The oldest part of the city, known as the Punda district, has always been Willemstad’s main shopping area. Here, pedestrian-only streets and narrow alleys create a picturesque atmosphere, full of life and color. Unique boutiques offer a diverse selection of European clothing, French perfumes, Japanese electronics, Irish crystal, English china, fine Italian leathers and Chinese embroidery, while sidewalk cafes serve up a tasty mix of island favorites and international flavors. Noteworthy landmarks include Fort Amsterdam, the Mikve Israel- Emanuel synagogue, which is the oldest in the western hemisphere and the Queen Emma floating bridge, a pontoon bridge. The Museum Kura Hulanda focuses on the slave trade, while the Maritime Museum recounts the island's nautical traditions. No visit is complete without a stop off at the floating market, where a colorful array of fruits and vegetables make their way from the nearby shores of Venezuela aboard small island trading vessels.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Curaçao is 127/120 volts at 50 cycles and they use 2 prong plugs, so most appliances made in the USA will work well and should not require an adapter.
Curaçao's country code is 5999 with a 7 digit local phone number following the country code. UTS and CT are a few of the local companies providing phone and internet service. Check with your provider to see what plans are available or you will be subject to roaming charges. Many hotels and restaurants offer WiFi.
The water quality from the tap is safe to drink according to the ADC (Analytic Diagnostic Center). Bottled water is also readily available for purchase.
Language & Currency
Dutch is the official language, while Papiamentu is the most commonly spoken language. English and Spanish are all widely spoken and understood. Papiamentu is a form of Creole indigenous particularly to Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, where it is considered the national language. You'll sound like a pro if you say 'Bon Dia' (Good Morning) or "Danki" (Thank you) to the locals.
The local currency is the Antillean guilder, abbreviated as Nafl. or ANG (also called the florin.) The exchange rate is set at ANG 1.79 to USD $1. Credit cards are often accepted, so exchanging money is not necessary. ATM's are available for withdrawals in USD or local currency
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Curaçao is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Curaçao is an island located in the Southern Caribbean Sea. Curaçao is 42 miles east of Aruba, 30 miles west of Bonaire and approximately 40 miles north of South America. The island of Curaçao is 37 miles long and 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. The population of Curaçao is 158,635 (2016).