Our Snorkel Trip to Curacao
by Doug & Amy
Christmas Tree Worms @ Tugboat
We had a great time snorkeling Curacao in August 2013, thanks in no small part to another of Galen and Nicole’s always helpful guides. We ignored their recommendation for what area to stay, however, because we’d heard that the Avila Hotel, just mile or so down the coast from the infamous pedestrian bridge in Willemstad, had very good snorkeling right from their little beach. It did not disappoint!
Water conditions were perfect for the first few days but winds from the south later in the week brought swells that rendered some spots unsafe and most of the rest quite murky. We still managed to snorkel two locations extensively almost every day and never failed to find something worth seeing. Favorite sightings included our first and second Flying Gurnards, three octopuses including a small resident just 10 feet from the beach at the Avila nearly every time we were in the water there, reef squid including several juveniles, several varieties of eels, numerous incredibly cute juvenile Trunkfish, a Balloonfish and on and on.
Our favorite snorkel destination was Tugboat, which we visited three times. There is an amazing variety of things to see between the entry and the tugboat itself (and beyond). Also don’t miss the pier pilings to the right of the entry beach. Director’s Bay was also great but the surf was booming by the morning we tried Jan Thiel so we never did get to appreciate it fully.
It was a much longer drive from Willemstad to the west side snorkel spots but they were well worth the effort to get there. We hit Playas Kenepa Chiki, Santa Cruz, Daai Booi, and Jeremi. The water was pretty churned up both days we ventured up that way but the shape of the coves kept the water much smoother than at the more exposed spots in the east. Out of the water, the west end is much prettier than the east, though if you’re looking for the stereotypical Caribbean beach experience Curacao would not be our first recommendation anyway.
Back at the Avila Hotel, when the waves weren’t rolling straight into the little manmade cove right in front of our room, the snorkeling was as good as or better than many of the better known sites. I’m not sure how long ago the breakwaters outlining their coves were built but their outer slopes are home to some of the largest Elkhorn Corals I’ve ever seen. Also lots of Brain Coral, sponges and a vast assortment of fish, some of which we saw nowhere else.
We didn’t spend much time doing anything else on the island, as reflected in our photos which are 95% underwater! See our album on Flickr.
Next up, the Florida Keys!