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Curacao is a small tropical island in the Caribbean Sea - just 37 miles long by 6 miles - 37 miles of beautiful coastline with 38 beautiful coves and beaches. Curacao's beautiful coral reef is a fringing reef, running the entire length of the island, very close to shore. Colourful and diverse marine life, "perfect weather" and warm, clear water - heaven for snorkellers. The comfortable ocean conditions make it a wonderful place for anyone that wants to enjoy the ocean. The reef and ocean are strictly protected by law and marine habitats are in excellent, healthy condition, with a huge variety of marine life in shallow water.
The shallow depth of the reef, and remarkably clear water, will give you a view of the underwater world you will not see in many other places in the world. The fantastic condition of the ocean and reef around Curacao, make it one of the world's best snorkelling sites.

                                           Curacao is probably the most exciting snorkelling you'll ever enjoy.
                                    Fantastic reef - warm clear, calm water – and a huge diversity of marine life.
                                       Easy ocean conditions and access to the ocean - perfect for snorkellers.
                                     Warm - easy - spectacular – snorkelling doesn't get much better than this.


Like neighbouring Bonaire, the ocean around Curacao has more species of fish, than anywhere else in the Western Atlantic. Over 300 species of fish, some new species, have been logged by researchers in the ocean around Curacao. You'll see hundreds of colourful reef creatures far too numerous to mention - but some of the "favourites" we get asked about are: seahorses, frogfish, nurse sharks, rays, dolphins, hawksbill / leatherback / loggerhead and rare green turtles, southern stingrays, octopus, peacock flounders, blue tang, long jaw squirrelfish, princess parrotfish, and sergeant major fish, peppermint goby, tiger grouper, yellowtail snappers, red faced morays, spiny lobsters, barracuda, jacks, parrotfish, french angelfish and lots more. You'll see hard and soft corals, sponges of all shapes, sizes and colours, most typically : fire coral, elkhorn, grooved brain coral, mustard hill coral, boulder star coral, blade fire coral, yellow pencil coral. Amongst other sponges: green finger sponges, giant orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges, lavender stove-pipe sponges mustard yellow tube sponges. When you book with us we will send you a specially commissioned fish card showing the marine life you can expect to see. It is impossible to do justice to Curacao's underwater world in words. You'll just have to come and explore it for yourself.

Nature's Aquarium

The sandy, gently sloping sea bed, out to the reef, is a wonderful place for snorkellers to enjoy the amazing marine life. Over 100 species of fish, and many other forms of marine life, inhabit the shallow, crystal clear water from the shore to the reef - like an aquarium packed full of life. The calm water makes it very comfortable for snorkellers. The coral starts at low water mark - ankle deep. Coral formations and colourful fish (beautiful parrot fish etc.) can be seen in water as shallow as half a metre (2 feet). Even non-swimmers, can stand in the water, put on a mask and see the coral, colourful tropical fish, delicate sea fans, brightly coloured sponges etc.

The Reef

Curacao's beautiful coral reef is around 25 to 30 metres from shore – about the length of a swimming pool. The ocean is usually calmer than the average swimming pool - and almost as warm.  It is around 8 to 12 metres deep in crystal clear water and, with visibility up to 40 metres, snorkellers get an excellent view of the reef and its diverse, colourful marine life, its creatures and wrecks - in some of the easiest ocean conditions you will ever experience. The coral reef is a parallel fringing reef. It runs unbroken the length of this 37 mile long island and is easy to navigate. Light blue water one side – deep blue water the other – and very close to shore. You can snorkel pretty much wherever you can get into the water on Curacao.

The Sites

Curaηao, like Bonaire, is famous for its numerous shore diving sites.  Curacao has over 60 official dive sites - on a very small island – and is recognised as one of the best diving destinations in the world for its spectacular underwater world. 40 of those 60 sites are accessible straight from the shore. Diver's don't swim far and need easy access, so these shore diving sites are close to shore, with easy access to the ocean. All the shore entry sites are along the calm, south western coast. These sites will have special features or creatures - many have received awards and recommendations from dive magazines around the world - voted for by divers. They give divers a huge amount for freedom to dive without needing a dive boat. All this makes the shore dive sites perfect for snorkellers. They are clearly marked, on island and on maps, and show snorkellers the best places to snorkel up and down the coast. Snorkellers don't have to "float and hope". Curacao is a wonderful opportunity for snorkellers to enjoy some of the best underwater sites in the world - a rare treat. Snorkellers can join the divers in their family or group, at the same sites – and enjoy their holiday together. The accommodation we offer is along this south western coast – you won't be far from the ocean and the wonderful snorkelling sites.

Curacao has 38 very pretty, secluded bays or coves along the south western shoreline. Most sites can be reached from one of these beautiful bays. Some are very small and secluded, others are larger, with long beaches, snack bars, car parks and other facilities like showers. These bays are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the ocean. There is no mass tourism on Curacao and many of these small bays will be deserted or very quiet. They offer very easy access to the ocean, and with few other people around, you can do what you want in peace and quiet. The small size of Curacao means that you are never far from a great beach – and wonderful snorkelling. Good for groups and families, where some may want to enjoy the ocean and others just want to relax.

We recommend hiring a vehicle to give you the freedom to explore as you wish.   Some sites are accessed from a beach - some are down a few steps from a dock. Some sites, as you would expect on a coral island can be a little rocky - but with so many to choose from there is more than enough to keep you happy. However, with a little foot protection these sites will not be a problem.

The reef is very close to shore so no need for lots of boat trips, but you might like to visit some of the harder-to-get-to bays - usually less than 15 minutes on a boat. There will be a dive operator at your resort or very close to your accommodation. Dive operators welcome snorkellers for a small fee - usually around $10. Alternatively you can take one day/half day boat trip excursions along the coast, all of them stop at one or other of these bays to give people a chance to snorkel. Always take a towel and your swimming gear. Even dives sites best accessed by boat are not in deep water and providing the ocean conditions allow, still suitable for snorkellers. Anytime you see "dive site" it will mean there is a very good chance you can snorkel it too. Snorkellers should take advice about ocean conditions and their abilities before tackling any of the "boat dive" sites, which sometimes have more challenging conditions.   
Special Sites
Curacao has some world famous underwater sites – which are easy for snorkellers to enjoy.
The superb Mushroom Forest a remarkable sight – an extensive area of the sea floor is covered by coral - eroded around the base - making spectacular mushroom shaped coral formations. Rated by UK dive magazines as one of the top ten sites in the world.
The Tug Boat Wreck - close to shore in a protected bay, is overgrown with tube sponges and brain coral, the Tugboat is a perfect site for snorkellers. Look for the large blue Parrot Fish, and Yellow Tail Snappers.
Double Reef System – along the coast from the central area towards the north west of the island there is a double reef system. This are is often visited by marine biologists from around the world because of the unique habitat it provides to a large diversity of marine life, a huge number of creatures, coral features and large, colourful sponges. The double reef section is fascinating and provides many (nice) surprises.

People on Curacao will not pester you - that is the culture on Curacao. But that does not mean you are "left on your own". No one will follow you around, or tell you what to do, but if you need help and advice - just ask. Guides are available and boat trips are not expensive - and very easy way to go with a small group and have a guide along. Be warned – the conditions are so easy many snorkellers take a try dive - then get the bug for diving!

The Ocean

Ocean conditions are perfect for snorkelling. The ocean water temperature is a wonderful 28Ίc – almost every day of the year. Water visibility is up to 40 metres, which means snorkellers get a fantastic view of the whole underwater world.  Curaηao's air temperature is almost always 29c - with a cooling breeze – perfect weather. The island is outside the hurricane belt. You can snorkel on Curacao almost every day of the year. For almost the entire length of the south-west coast there are little or no currents.  You will not "drift" – up and down the coast – or out to sea. Exceptionally easy ocean conditions make Curacao perfect for swimmers, snorkellers, divers, in fact anyone who wants to enjoy the wonderful Caribbean Sea.  As you approach the tips of the island, the open ocean has more affect, these areas will have some currents. Photographers love the macro life on Curacao as the sunshine provides excellent light in the clear shallow water. There are many photographic specialists – who also run courses – on the island. Cameras are available for hire.

Curacao Marine Park

The Curacao Marine Park, also known as the Curacao Underwater Park was established in 1983 on the south western coast of the island. The park covers the coast from the Avila hotel down to the south eastern tip of the island and includes some of Curacao's finest reefs, some interesting wrecks and their debris. The seaward boundary is the 60-metre mark and on the shore the boundary is the high-water mark. The Park covers a total surface area of 600 hectares (1482 acres) of reef and 436 hectares (1077.4 acres) of inner bays.

If you want to take some boat trips, special courses or excursions, you should book in advance. Boat trips and excursions are in small groups and can get booked up. We recommend hiring a vehicle to visit various sites along the coast and explore the island. We have the best rates for vehicle hire and we have worked with a reliable hire company for over 10 years. Booking your on-island services with us is a little cheaper and we can include that into your ATOL protected holiday itinerary. We have worked closely with hotels, vehicle hire companies and dive centres on the island for many years.