Connect with us
background

Blogs

The Best of the West – Top Dive Sites of Western Curaçao

Caribbean DTA Team

Published

on

By Bryan Horne, Dive Curaçao

Last time, we provided you some insight on The Top Dive Sites of Eastern Curaçao that are littered with wall dives, wreck dives, shore dives, and lush coral gardens.  More importantly though, these sites have quickly become not only Curaçao icons, but also some of most sought after dives in the Caribbean.

BUT there is another side to Curaçao, the West side known to locals as “Banda Abou”.  This is a bucolic haven for boat and shore diving, offering near perfect conditions year-round because of the natural shielding from the easterly trade winds offered by the mountain range running through the middle of the Christoffel National Park.

The western side of Curaçao stretches from Bullenbaai, near St. Willibrordus to the north west fishing village of Westpunt.  Along this rugged and ancient coastline, you will discover some of the best beaches in the Caribbean such as Cas Abao and the famous Kenepa Plantation.  These world class locations, among others, provide you with an exceptional opportunity for incredible shore diving and snorkeling.  However, this is just to get your feet wet because to truly “sea” the BEST of the WEST, then you need to dive into these essential dive experiences to feel it for yourself!

Alice in Wonderland

Descending on this site is quite a bit like reading Chapter One – “Down the Rabbit Hole of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”! As you descend you literally feel yourself getting smaller and smaller as the hard coral formations rise up to become larger and larger, growing in some cases to over 60 feet/18m in height encompassing a host of hiding places for the unusual characters we have in our story like the pair of resident frogfish and octopus! Of course, we regularly see Turtles, Eagle Rays, large schools of Boga’s being hunted by Yellow Fin Tuna and so on… but really the attraction of Alice in Wonderland is the beautiful coral formations and all that hides within!!  The key to diving this site is to dive it “SLOW”, believe me, you will be amazed at what you find!!


Watamula 

Derives its name from the Dutch word “Watermöllen” (Water Mill) because of the how the currents flow in this #1 Boat Diving Site!!  You will never understand what the currents will be doing until you check: sometimes they are flowing North/South, other times South/North and other times they are flowing in a circle!!  Watamula offers the diver an intense and sometimes overwhelming spectacle starting with a hard-coral field, then a soft coral patch, then finally ending with another hard-coral field! It is so intense that the diver really does not know where to look first! In addition to the mind-blowing coral formations, the intensity of the macro life combined with Ocean Trigger fish, Schools of Chubbs and Porcupine Fish will leave you surfacing wanting to don another tank for more!! 


Mushroom Forest 

One of the most famous dive sites in Curaçao. Over time, hard coral formations have grown in such a way that they resemble mushrooms, hence the name. Underneath each one of these coral formations an abundance of marine life awaits to be looked at, admired, and photographed.  Don’t miss it!  You will love it! 


The Blue Room – an Essential Curaçao Experience 

This is the perfect place for off gassing between dives or just enjoying one of the many snorkel trips offered! Located next to Mushroom Forest, the Blue Room is easily explored by snorkeling through a narrow opening that reveal a large air-filled chamber lit up by the sun reflecting off the white sandy plateau in front of the opening… creating a brilliant glow of ambient light in vivid blue!!  Inside the “room” you will discover schooling glass-eyed sweepers, lobster, and hordes of silversides! Occasionally you might even get buzzed by fruit bats!! 


Seldom Reef, Bullenbaai

Appropriately named, this spectacular site is rarely visited by boat.  It is a drift dive and offered only on calm days, which are rare at this point of land. Consisting of a series of sheer deep walls and sandy valleys, this site is loaded with large Elephant Ear sponges, fans and often turtles.  If you are an intermediate or advanced diver craving sites offering more than the average wall dive, you should consider trying to include this site in your itinerary.  

As we have mentioned many times before and regardless of where you choose to stay, the decision should not be to dive either East or West, the decision should be to discover all of Curaçao (warning:  many attempts may be necessary) to truly uncover the magic that lies below the waterline.  Because there is a depth to this Dutch Caribbean island that you really do need to feel for yourself.


For more information, please visit Dive Curaçao.

The photography and videography are courtesy our Dive Curaçao partners: Stan Bysshe, NaturePicsFilms, and, Turtle and Productions HD.

Blogs

Jamaican Vibes

Sean Chinn

Published

on

With part of my wife’s heritage being of Jamaican descent, I really don’t understand why it’s taken so long for us to visit this amazing Caribbean Island. Firstly, as a couple enjoying adventures together and then over the last 5-6 years with our daughter as a family.

Finally we made it and enjoyed an amazing two weeks together, with the in-laws also in attendance. Initially scheduled for 2021, Covid reared its ugly head and a postponement meant we had to contain our excitement for another year until July 2022 came around and we were off.

We had booked your typical two week all-inclusive style holiday with TUI, stopping at the Royalton Negril. It was also my daughter’s longest flight but thankfully she coped really well and was a pleasure to travel with. It took a few days to get into the holiday as we made use of the all-inclusive perks of the hotel. Stuffing our faces in the abundance of restaurants or food stalls on-site (the jerk hut was a frequent lunchtime visit). While we also enjoyed the entertainment from the on-site Vibes Team. I really love the energy and enthusiasm for music in Jamaica, with the dance routines and music choices entertaining pool side.

As fun as it was on-site, you can start to feel a little trapped all inclusive. We were soon itching to break free and explore other parts of Jamaica. Being in Negril we were too far from the famous Dunn’s River Falls, so opted for the equally impressive YS Falls. It’s rainy season in July, so the falls were powerful in force, albeit less clear with a brown tinge. Still, it was a beautiful place to visit, while also enjoying rope swings into the pools and swims to cool off.

We followed up our visit to YS with a Black River Safari (you can easily manage the two trips in a day). This was a real highlight for me as I love big predators ,and seeing the American crocodiles up close again was great. It was also another stunning place as we cruised through pristine mangroves listening to the sounds of nature. Then on the way back we stopped at some local food huts for traditional Jamaican cuisine.

I love enjoying trips with the family. However, none of them are divers and I was desperate to sneak off and get some diving in. With getting married this year, diving had really taken a back seat and was long overdue. Before I left for Jamaica, I asked advice on a Facebook group for diving out of Negril and dive centres they recommended. However, I was disappointed to see a lot of negative comments basically telling me to save my money and how it really wasn’t worth it etc. Undeterred, I knew I still wanted to get some dives in and was able to get connected to Michael Cabana, who is the owner of Scuba Dive Today. Unfortunately, Michael was out of the country but put me in touch with his MSDT Sharren Robinson. They were based out of Coral Seas Cliff Hotel and he recommended coming to do a couple of dives on their house reef.

It was an eerie feeling when I first arrived for diving at the Coral Seas Cliff Hotel, as it is still closed since the pandemic and I wondered if I’d got the right place. However, I soon met Sharren, where we filled in the necessary paperwork and he provided me with all the necessary equipment. He also explained that when the high season returns the hotel is due to open back up for the first time since Covid. Immediately I saw its appeal as a group dive holiday destination in the area.

We made our way through the “abandoned” hotel towards the cliff’s edge where we had a short giant stride in. What a beautifully peaceful dive with nobody around but me and my guide Sharren. I wasn’t left disappointed like the commenters on Facebook alluded to. The water was stunningly clear with plenty of life on the reef and beautiful coral formations akin to the rest of the Caribbean. A really easy pleasant dive along the reef and sandy bottom down to around 20 metres.

I had some problems with my camera on the first dive and didn’t take any photos but I soon rectified that between dives and was glad to go back in for a second. On the first dive we went right along the reef before circling back. So, on the second we went left before circling back. Equally beautiful scenery with an abundance of fish life and soft coral to photograph. The small yellow stingrays were ever-present on both dives along the sandy bottom, while seeing one of my favourite species of marine animal – the octopus – is always a joy. Unfortunately, this particular one stayed well hidden in the rocks and I wasn’t able to get images with my fisheye lens.

My next two dives out of Negril came a week later as two other divers joined Sharren, which meant I could join a boat trip out to other dive sites. We visited two of the more popular dive sites out of Negril – Shallow Plane and Arches dive site, along with the Throne Room. Again, both sites benefitted from great visibility and an abundance of beautiful soft corals. The plane wreck is only small and after a quick circle around we were back on the reef. The most fun part about both sites were the abundance of swim-throughs along the reef and overhangs to explore. The interesting topography made the dive that bit more adventurous with plenty of big crabs and lobsters inside the cracks. It was also nice to spot a nurse shark on the Throne Room dive, albeit a little far off for any photos as it changed direction once seeing us.

While I was left disappointed by the numerous negative comments online about diving in Jamaica, I was glad I took the plunge and saw it for myself. I would definitely recommend jumping in if you’re on a family holiday to Jamaica, while I’d also highly recommend Jamaica as a holiday destination. The rest of our holiday was filled with some exciting adventures as we explored Rick’s Cafe (yes, I did the high jump and it was a lot higher than expected!) We also had a fun day trip to a river rafting site that was the highlight of the trip for my 5 year old, and finished off with a swim in the Luminous Lagoon. A surreal experience that had us all smiling with excitement. I also did A LOT of snorkelling but will leave that for another blog, so stay tuned…

For more information about diving in Negril, Jamaica, take a look at:

www.scubadivetoday.com

info@scubadivetoday.com

Continue Reading

Blogs

The Suit Ocean Team leads the Ultimate Curacao Snorkeling Adventure

Bryan Horne

Published

on

Snorkeling and scuba diving in Curacao is a dream for anyone who loves the combination of amazing beaches and the mind blowing biodiversity that exists along 104 square kilometers of its fringing coral reefs. So if you are interested in the ultimate Caribbean snorkeling adventure then keep reading as The Suit Ocean Team takes you on a one hundred kilometer snorkeling tour of Curacao’s southern shoreline.

As passionate residents of our Dutch Caribbean Island, we must congratulate The Suit Ocean Team for creating more awareness about the importance of protecting our beautiful fringing reef systems in Curacao.

The film, Curacao Underwater Kunuku (Kunuku is Papiamento for Garden), not only documents this ultimate snorkeling adventure showing you how easy it is for everyone to access and enjoy a snorkel or diving experience, but it also showcases the interaction between man and nature, highlighting the beauty of underwater life while promoting conservation, preservation and the need to protect these vital habitats.

These are the key ingredients to this beautiful short film documentary. Watch NOW and please enjoy our “CURACAO UNDERWATER KUNUKU”.

This film, produced by the Lawrence Mensa Foundation (LMF), is also available in multiple languages including: Spanish, Papiamentu, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

Images courtesy of The Suit Ocean Team
Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Trending