Up close and far awayThursday, June 30, 2022
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“Bon bini” and thus welcome to Curaçao. The dreamlike Caribbean Island is smilingly welcoming us with its unique flair and its loveable charm. The friendly people, the wonderful climate and the many small bays and beaches are absolutely enchanting. Again. Once you have visited this paradise you are quite likely to come back again. Curaçao may not be love at first sight. But those fallen in love with this place have found a partner for life. Crystal clear, magnificent underwater landscapes – colourful, bizarre and very diverse. We are enjoying the Caribbean sun, hot rhythms and the very unique flair of this island. And don’t forget the culinary highlights at the idyllic beach bars, the food market halls or in one of the exclusive restaurants. All in all, you will find the perfect mixture for stressed divers, individual travellers and sun-seekers.
Curaçao is welcoming us with open arms and in deep lush greens. You can see flamingos in the blue sky, hummingbirds snitching the nectar from the colourful flowers and an iguana is carefully watching us from the distance. This is how you would imagine the Caribbean. If you look at the ocean with its countless shades of blue and turquoise you may think you are right in the middle of a promotional video for Barcardi. It’s almost a little cheesy. But it’s real. And it’s no secret that this place is a special one. More than 60 dive spots are waiting for us to discover them. In 1939, Hans Hass set the example and explored the underwater world of Curaçao as the diving pioneer here. Countless diving fanatics have followed him and explored the depths of the Caribbean Ocean. For years, Curaçao has adapted to and prepared for this dive tourism and has therefore become the perfect example for individual diving.
We are definitely looking forward to the dive spots and dreamlike beaches in the south west of the island – lonely and deserted pieces of land, almost always without any other soul there. Though maybe not as deserted as 15 years ago. Curaçao has become quite known. In the diving community it has even become really popular. And this also reflects in the constantly rising number of tourists. We are heading towards the west of Curaçao, more precisely towards Westpunt. If you prefer relaxed areas far away from hot rhythms and partying you will be right here. The sun, the beach, the ocean – that’s it. And the most beautiful dive spots of the island are just around the corner, literally just a stone’s throw away. You just need to descend a few steps and start your adventure. These are conditions highly valued by many independent divers. Round the clock you will find filled oxygen bottles at the different resorts – early morning dives, night dives and everything in between is possible here.
Before our first dive we are meeting up with Louis „Manacho“ Lopez Ramirez, owner of Go West Diving Curaçao. Together we plan our next excursions and we get to know more details abut the magnificent underwater world and the very diverse dive spots awaiting us. Louis is especially highlighting the astonishing macro biodiversity and the constantly warm temperatures. With this, the sympathetic local absolutely hits the mark with us. All year round the water temperatures are around 28°C so that you can easily use your shorty wet suit all the time. We are packing our equipment, bottles and lead onto our pickup and are ready to discover these warm and diverse waters for ourselves. Our destination for the day is the small town of Lagun with its pearl white beach laying in between two rock formations.
Due to the constant arrival of the local fisher boats at this beach, turtles are attracted to come here, too. So, you can almost guarantee a turtle sighting at Playa Lagun. We are also two of the lucky ones and can already enjoy the sighting of an unreal diving hawksbill turtle at the beginning of our dive. The way to the reef is short and is leading us along an ocean full of colours and shapes. Countless shoals are shining in purple and orange. Sea whips and gorgonians let us float in a fairy-tale forest. The next turtle is crossing our path. Just wonderful.
Between a depth of 12 and 18 meters, the reef is glowing in the sunlight and displays its total beauty. We can experience and totally confirm the macro biodiversity, that was highlighted by our diveguide Andreas, during a night dive at Playa Lagun. Countless eyes are watching us from every side. Crabs, shrimps and many weirdly looking creatures flit over the reef and appear in the lights of our lamps. This spectacular night dive is only outdone by a visit of the most beautiful dive spots of Curaçao on the next day. We are diving through the so-called Mushroom Forest – a fairy-tale like incomparable underwater landscape. The whole spot is located between 9 and 14 metres deep and it is hosting centuries-old coral colonies. Between those, the area is full of fish and other maritime life – a real Eldorado for underwater photographers. At the end of this dive, a real treat is waiting for us: The Blue Room, a cave really doing its name justice. It is also well accessible for snorkelers. From the inside of the cave we have a spectacular view of the depth of the Caribbean Ocean. Mystical. Simply wonderful. So, no wonder we find this dive spot listed amongst the top 100 reefs in the world.
Back in our apartment we are preparing ourselves to explore the house reef a little bit. For years, this house reef of Go West Diving called “Alice in Wonderland” has been voted one of the most beautiful reefs on the island. Without doubt: This reef really is extraordinary and beautiful. We are coming across turtles and an eagle ray. At a depth of around 10 metres we reach a popular Neptun Statue which has been watching the divers since 1997. Not only we are amazed by the huge biodiversity, the healthy reef and the high numbers of fish. All around the world divers and snorkelers enthuse about the fantastic underwater world of Curaçao. And now we know why. Deeply hidden in the sunny ocean you can find the real beauty of this Caribbean island. Where weird and bizarre creatures are presenting themselves in the most beautiful and astonishing way. A place full of colourful and abundant life. The southern coast of Curaçao, for example, still ranks amongst the most beautiful dive spots of the Caribbean. Primarily, the island owes this to the strict nature protection regulations: today, the whole area from the south coast at Westpunt to the Oostpunt has been placed under nature protection.
Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, has partly been protected by the UNESCO and declared a world heritage, too. That’s why on our dive-free day, we discover the historic town. We are strolling along the old area of Punda, find countless shops, the “swimming market”, museums, and, of course, the big market hall. This is where we are enjoying all the delicious local specialties – yummy! Along the old trading route, the Handelskade, along the St. Anna Baai, small restaurants and cocktail bars are welcoming us to relax. We are enjoying fresh Piña Coladas, just a few metres next to the huge oil tankers and other ships that are arriving at the port with the help of tugboats. And the days when huge cruise ships like the Queen Elizabeth II arrive at the mega pier and thousands of passengers go ashore quickly turn Willemstad into an absolute tourist stronghold. But just a few hours later, the mostly elderly tour groups disappear and life in Punda and Otrabanda, the two districts of Willemstad, goes back to normal. At least until the next ocean giant arrives.
If you wanted to describe Curaçao in all it facets you would probably need to fill several books. That’s why we recommend: just try it. The hospitality, the incredible beaches and most of all the individual possibilities for diving will absolutely charm you. For sure.