Year after year, the Scuba Diver Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for “Best Overall Caribbean Dive Destination” goes to Curacao for its combination of white sand beaches, luxury hotels, and crystal blue dive sites.
This guide for scuba diving Curacao is focused on dive sites near Willemstad and the island’s east end. These are the most accessible sites on the island for cruise ship passengers and all-inclusive guests. There are excellent sites on the West End, but they’re borderline remote for morning dives from your Willemstad hotel.
Curacao Dive Site Map
Below is our Curacao dive site map. It not only has the sites indicated, but supporting dive shops as well. This map is intended for informational and logistic planning only. We recommend contacting local dive shops or, better yet, booking a guided dive to experience these sites safely and in their full glory.
Beach Dives West of Willemstad
There are fabulous beaches west of Willemstad with restaurants, beach clubs, and scuba shops. Each beach has a different vibe, which we explore deeper in our beaches of Curacao piece. For diving, we’ll consider the beaches from east to west, stopping at Kokomo.
- Piscadera Bay is a lovely little bay supported by The Diveshop Curacao. What makes diving particularly attractive here is they’re only 5 minutes from the cruise ship terminal and offer half-day activities with cruise passengers in mind.
- Blue Bay is an upscale beach experience with wall diving and coral gardens within reach of the beach. Blue Bay dive shop -> Blue Bay Dive & Watersports Curacao
- Boca Sami is a natural bay at the mouth of the Sint Michiel estuary with a local vibe and some of the best burgers on the island at the Niffo Huts. Boca Sami dive shop –> Dive Wederfoort
- Kokomo Beach has a well-developed coral reef in a natural bay and enough going on topside to support a full day at the beach, even for non-divers. Kokomo Beach dive shop –> Trunk Divers
Beach Dives East of Willemstad
The beaches east of Willemstad are destinations unto themselves. Mambo and Jan Thiel beaches are sprawling complexes with multiple shops, restaurants, and beach clubs.
- Marie Pampoen isn’t much of a beach, but the bay supports Twin Divers and the Sea Trek route.
- Mambo Beach is known for its massive break wall, which impedes shore dives but facilitates many excellent short-trip boat dives like Car Piles, Cornelius Bay, Shipwreck Point, Saba Wreck, and Stella Maris Reef. Mambo Beach dive shop –> Ocean Encounters
- Jan Thiel Beach probably has the best beach diving on the east side of Curacao, plus a dive shop that leads guided shore dives around the island. The large natural bay and an excellent platform to enter the water make diving at Jan Thiel Beach so good. Dive shops: Dive Center Scuba Do, Fundiving, Jan Thiel Diving
Sandals is making a splash in the all-inclusive dive resort scene in Curacao. With eight restaurants, three food trucks, several pools, and a beach full of water sports, the non-divers in your group will be okay with you blowing your bubbles. Sandals location at the mouth of Spanish Waters provides excellent access to Director’s Bay sites (Tug Boat, Director’s Bay, Little Wall) and Marine Park Sites (Eel Garden, Katy’s Paradise) with an in-house dive center too.
Double Reef is a classic Curacao dive across a rare double reef in remarkably good shape, considering how close it is to Willemstad. This area is known for turtle sightings; boats can support gentle drift dives under certain conditions.
Superior Producer was a 240-foot cargo ship that sank in 100′ of water on its way to Venezuela in 1978. The overloaded ship sank quickly, and the cargo of jeans and t-shirts was a Christmas present to many Curacao families.
It’s a wonderful dive site because it’s so close to port, but it presents its own problems. Divers can only reach the Superior Producer when no cruise ships are in port.
The Saba wreck is a sunken tugboat surrounded by abundant sea life. It’s harder to reach from shore than the more famous “Tugboat Wreck” in Director’s Bay, so the site receives less pressure and is generally in better shape.
Tugboat Wreck is a classic Curacao dive site that’s popular for snorkeling too. In fact, there are even underwater scooter tours available to reach the site.
Director’s Bay has a fascinating history. It was the private property of the Director of the Shell Oil Company. The Queen of the Netherlands even considered visiting here. However, the beach became public property when Shell left Curaçao in 1985.
Highlights of this site include a massive staghorn coral restoration project and the pilings from an old protective cage. Stories differ, whether that was a shark cage or jellyfish nets, but either way, its days are long past.
Little Wall, aka Small Wall, is the next dive site past Director’s Bay towards the open ocean. This site feels very much like an extension of Director’s Bay, especially when the dive plan has you surfacing at the coral restoration project, but that isn’t a bad thing. Both sites are relatively shallow and filled with vibrant sea life.
Fuik Bay is a private bay owned by the Mining Company of Curaçao mainly used as a loading terminal for shipment of phosphate rock. Much of the bay is sheltered by a large, natural break wall with a small passage that gives access to the dock.
The water around the bay is part of the Marine Park, with several excellent dive sites. Eel Valley and Booby Trap are coral reefs on the western edge of the bay’s break wall. The eastern edge of the wall protrudes out from the coast and shelters the Katy’s / Kathy’s Paradise sites.
Katy’s Paradise is four miles away from Sandals and almost seven miles from Mambo Beach. The prospect of a 14-mile round trip keeps casual trips away and leaves these sites relatively unvisited.
If dive boats are going to make a long journey east, the obvious destinations are Lagun Blanko and Oostpoint for advanced drift dives and Klein Curacao for some of the finest diving around. Everything is bigger, brighter, and clearer on Klein Curacao because it has ample clean water flowing in and very little pressure.
One thing to note is that you can add on diving with Diving Klein Curacao from your Klein Island boat trip. Non-divers can explore the island or even get a massage while you can secure a one or two tank dive leaving from the beach.
Book your Klein Island excursion with Island Routes or Viator link
Wrapping up Diving in Curacao
By now, it should be obvious why Curacao is renowned as an overall diving destination. The dive sites are plentiful and beautiful above and below the water, with many options for how you scuba dive in Curacao and who you go with. Perhaps, most importantly, there’s a wide variety of sites, from shallow reefs in sheltered bays to advanced drift dives and shipwrecks. As an added bonus, Curacao is outside the Hurricane Belt, making it an ideal destination for summer diving.
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Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman aka Coleman Concierge. In a nutshell, we are a Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing our stories of amazing adventures through activity-driven transformational and experiential travel.