Snorkeling 1000 Steps is good if the waves are down, but it is a very busy spot. It is a beautiful beach backed by a tall fossilized coral cliff and gorgeous turquoise waters. Storms have damaged many the shallow corals, and they have never recovered, and the visibility near shore is lowered by sand being kicked up by the wind and waves. But there are areas to find with corals and a modest amount of fish to see, and if you are lucky you might spot a turtle.
The name is an exaggeration. There are really only about 70 steps to get down to the beach, though they are a bit steep. It does make sense though having been named by divers who have to haul all their gear up them after a dive. Being a snorkeler is certainly better in this respect.
There is a beautiful view of the beach and from the top of the stairs. The cliff wall on your right is all ancient coral, and you can see the caves carved by historically higher sea levels.
Because snorkeling 1000 Steps is so well-known, don’t be surprised to find it crowded with a full parking area.
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Water Entrance for Snorkeling 1000 Steps
The beach here is rough coral rubble not sand, so wear your water shoes. There are some breaks in the iron-shore that make mostly sandy entrances. Getting in is easy for the most part, but watch for a few rocks and time your entrance to avoid surge and waves. Once you are floating change into your fins.
Where to Snorkel
There is really not much to see along the shoreline. Visibility is lower here because of the waves kicking up the sand.
If you want to see some reef and a few fish, swim straight out toward the mooring buoy, until you start to see some corals on the bottom. You will find a few patches of coral in 12 to 15 feet of water. The corals out near the drop-off are actually fairly healthy in around 20 feet of depth, which unfortunately is a bit deep for surface snorkelers to enjoy. You will see mostly hard corals, some sponges, and some soft corals. But, we also saw a good bit of evidence of bleaching in different big coral heads, mostly in the star corals.
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Snorkeling 1000 Steps is reportedly a reliable place to see sea turtles. We don’t agree that it is easy to spot turtles here, as we have only seen one in many snorkels, but we did find one tucked under a coral head.
If you swim a good long ways to the right, out in front of the set of stairs in the shore wall, the reef is shallower, 8-12 feet, and more enjoyable for snorkelers, but still not super healthy. There are also some Elkhorn Corals along the shoreline in mixed health to see in this area.
You can also explore to the left side of the water entrance and you will come across several big patches of planted Staghorn Coral in 10-15 feet of water. The visibility is worse on this left side, and the general coral health is lower too.
What We Saw
While snorkeling 1000 Steps we saw a few fish. Primarily they were damselfish, chromis, and parrotfish, with some others like wrasse, cowfish, Bar Jack, French Angelfish, Chubs, butterflyfish, and mojarra.
For corals we saw Staghorn, star, brain, Pillar, starlet, Yellow Pencil, fire, Elkhorn, Mustard Hill, and some sea rods, sea plumes, and sea fans. There were a few healthy sponges on the reef here too.
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Driving Directions for Snorkeling 1000 Steps
- Drive north out of Kralendijk on the main road, Kaya Grandi. The name of this road changes to Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot when it turns a little left at Kaya Neerlandia.
- Take your second right in the traffic circle on the north end of town and keep heading north.
- The road will turn to the right away from the water and then turn left to parallel it again. And it turns a couple more times to be next to the water again.
- Continue driving north along this narrow two way waterfront road. You will see a number of yellow painted boulders marking other dive sites.
- Watch for the Weber’s Joy yellow boulders and notice you are close to the big radio towers.
- 1000 Steps is the next spot. You park in front of the entrance to the radio towers. The yellow painted boulder is across the road at the top of the steps.
There is a trash can at the top of the steps.