Early 2024 Snorkeling in Curacao

By Dennis

This was our first time snorkeling in Curacao. We were there mid January to mid March 2024. At first thoughts we found the snorkeling “okay” as we fell in the trap of comparing it to other sites around the globe. We kept an open mind and continued to explore using the Curacao Snorkeling Guide and some info from locals.

Porcupinefish and Trumpetfish in Curacao

However the first week of February brought a wind reversal on the island. It caused damage to piers and beaches, especially in the west part of the island. Any beaches not protected in the east also experienced beach erosion and silt/sand reducing visibility. Coral rubble was washed up on the sand beaches. Even as we left for home the visibility was not excellent.

We found that further out to the reef drop-offs and protected cliff edges were the best for snorkeling. With this in mind, doing this is not for the novice as wind and current direction can change and you are at the mercy of the open sea.

We found that wind and currents were major factors for us in snorkeling Curacao. When we got up early at sunrise to about 10am the seas were our friend. We were fortunate to have some low wind days, <10 km and found some areas that are still pristine with coral and sea life but you have to get away from the “tourist crowd.”

We would like to add that security has been set up at places mentioned in the Curacao Snorkeling Guide and also port-a-potties. Although even if the beach is public, locals ask for currency to use the port-a-potties.

Big ticket item: people want to swim with the turtles – bus loads come to the pier at Playa Piskado as a local bangs the dock and chums the water. In the water there is a gathering of snorkelers virtually climbing on top of each other.

It was disappointing to witness snorkeling charter boats chumming the water to satisfy customers. In one area we were snorkeling (Tugboat) the fish have become aggressive due to chumming. Keep your fingers close to you!

Curacao is a wonderful island with various topographical features. The coastal waters can still offer excellent snorkeling that can be found. But be aware that tourism is being promoted as a major economic factor in Curacao. With this comes upwards of two cruise ships in port with an added population of 5000 – 7000 people. Our concern is without more regulation to the environment, will Curacao just become a place to lounge and bask in the sun or will more consideration be applied in sustaining a natural vibrant ocean community?


  1. Hi Dennis, thank you for sharing about your experience snorkeling in Curacao. Sounds like the weather was not in your favor. Weather is getting less and less predictable all the time and you never can know when a wind reversal like this can happen.

    When the winds are coming from the prevailing easterly direction, the west beaches of Curacao are often quite calm.

    In our Curacao Snorkeling Guide we recommend avoiding the Playa Piskado turtle situation. It is very disappointing.

  2. Hi Dennis, thanks for your early 2024 snorkeling report of Curacao. We landed in Curacao on March 2, 2024 and were distressed to learn from our taxi driver that a freak wind storm recently affected many of the popular snorkeling locations on the northwest coast of Curacao. Fortunately, by the time we arrived, many of the popular snorkeling beaches were cleaned up and the visibility was excellent for the two weeks we were there.

    You mentioned Playa Piskado where large turtles can be found. We have been to that beach many times over the years, and it has become an increasingly unpleasant experience — many tourists from cruise ships go there. It is crowded, and it is quite distressing to see people touching and chasing the turtles. We vow never to go to that beach again.

    Our favorite snorkeling spot, Klein Knip (AKA Kenepa Chiki), is still lovely if you go very early in the morning. Unfortunately, they recently installed permanent umbrella stands on that beach which takes away from the beach’s natural beauty. Nevertheless, snorkeling along the right side provides a beautiful assortment of fish. The left side has a great variety of soft corals.

  3. Greatly appreciate all the info and feedback on this website. We just returned from a two week visit to Curacao in April 2024, and would like to share some of our experiences. This was our first visit to Curacao, and Nicole’s and Galen’s Curacao Snorkeling Guide was a tremendous help!

    During our stay, the wind averaged 15mph (mostly from the east), and visibility was generally OK, though it was reminiscent of post-rainy season snorkeling in St.John (pre-hurricane times). While there was no obvious sign of recent storm damage, there was a fair bit of coral bleaching. And due to the warming water that will likely become worse.

    We snorkeled the following beaches: Kenepa Chiki, Santu Pretu, Abou, Coral Estate, Daaiboi, West Caracasbaai. West Caracasbaai was unquestionably the richest with respect to the density of coral, but surprisingly few fish. Kenepa Chiki was a positive surprise with a good diversity of fish. Abou and Daaiboi were runners up (with sightings of ray and turtles). Coral Estate was also OK (with turtle and soft coral). But Santu Pretu was a disappointment with limited fish diversity.

    Of note, the sea wall along Playa Parasasa was only accessible from the east end as the Moomba Club and the Marriott were closed (actually closed!) for an unspecified period. This would have required a round-trip snorkel trip swimming back against the current, which we did not want to chance. But in general the area around Parasasa seemed quite desolate.

    On that note, we noticed that tourism was quite slow in general, except for Playa Grandi (aka Piskado) and Playa Kalki – both overrun and with souvenir stands (which says it all). We also did not need table reservations at any of our restaurants (except maybe at Fort Nassau, on a Sunday night) or maybe if a cruise ship was in town.

    A few other comments on Curacao, that we have not seen posted elsewhere:
    – Gas stations only take cash (Antillean Guilder at about ANG 2.70/L).
    – Everywhere else prefers that you use your credit card and not cash. This may be related to the frequency of counterfeit ANG currency in circulation (especially ANG 100 bills).
    – Rental car contract CDW insurance specifically excludes driving on “non-paved” roads, of which there are many in Curacao. Doing so voids your insurance coverage – so be aware of your CDW limitations!
    – Check the landing schedule for cruise ships docking in Curacao to avoid going into town or to popular beaches on days when the island is overrun by cruise ship tourists – some of whom are ferried to the beaches on the west end by boat and bus. Of course I am aware of the irony that others might react similarly to a tourist like myself – though we try to minimize our footprint.
    – We noticed that guards were in place at most beaches and park locations and overall the island felt safe. We did not leave valuables in the car though, and used the UGO-wear phone case attached to a belt as a dry bag. Worked very well to store phone, car keys, money while snorkeling. Beats any ziplock bag etc.
    – Hofi Mango was a surprisingly nice off-the-beach activity. We were impressed by the effort to wrest a garden from an otherwise unforgiving xeriscape. Enjoy the Mango forest, the views and the quiet.

    Nicole’s recommendation of the TUSA Hyperdry Elite II snorkel was spot on! My wife absolutely loves the snorkel!
    – The Osmo4 camera performed well for its price, though the wide angle is a bit of an overkill. While freediving it required me to get pretty close to my targets, which often caused fish to scurry away. Also – don’t use the DJI app unless you don’t mind all your data (video and otherwise) being acquired by non-US entities. There is an NSA warning regarding DJI. Just transfer your video/images using the SD card.


Leave a Comment