Diving and Snorkeling

The Curaçao Underwater Marine Park includes almost a third of the island's southern diving waters. Scuba divers and snorkelers can enjoy more than 12½ miles (20 km) of protected reefs and shores, with normal visibility from 60 to 150 feet. With water temperatures ranging from 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), wet suits are generally unnecessary. No coral collecting, spearfishing, or littering is allowed. Some of the most popular dive sites are the Mushroom Forest, the wreck of the Superior Producer, and the Blue Room secret cave at Westpunt. Snorkelers and divers also enjoy the little sunken tugboat at Spanish Water. Wall diving is good around the Sea Aquarium Park and they also offer open-water dives with dolphins. The north coast—where conditions are dangerously rough—is not recommended for diving.

Introductory scuba resort courses are often done in resort pools and prices vary. To become fully PADI certified, carve out at least four or five days of your holiday for instruction and practice and at least one open-water dive. Prices vary depending on operation.

Divers Republic. Divers Republic provides a highly personalized experience with professional PADI dive masters. They offer instruction and a large range of dives at the island's best spots, as well as a Bubblemaker program for children. Sunset boat trips and boat rental are also offered. Coral Estates Rif Marie, 5999/864–3344; http://diversrepublic.org.

Ocean Encounters. This is the largest dive operator on Curaçao, and they offer a vast menu of scheduled shore and boat dives and packages as well as certified PADI instruction. They cover the island's most popular dive sites including the Superior Producer wreck—where barracudas hang out—an adorable little tugboat wreck, the renowned Mushroom Forest, and much more. In July, the dive center sponsors a children's sea camp in conjunction with the Sea Aquarium, and they now run the unique Animal Encounters experience in the Sea Aquarium lagoon. They also offer Sleep & Dive packages at Lion's Dive and Sunscape Resorts. Sea Aquarium Park, Bapor Kibra, n/a Curaçao. 5999/461–8131; www.oceanencounters.com.