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Curacao - shore diving

Discussion in 'Lesser Antilles' started by n8Delta, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. n8Delta

    n8Delta Angel Fish

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    I'll be in Curacao in February, and was looking for some advice for shore diving. I'll be a solo diver, and was hoping to find partners to buddy up with. Is that best handled through a dive shop? I'll be staying at the Marriott Feb 15th-24th if anyone would like to meet up.

    Any suggestions for boat operators?

    Thanks,
    Nate
     
  2. carib_traveler

    carib_traveler Angel Fish

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  3. kmcneer

    kmcneer Assistant Instructor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Austin
    246
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    16
    porto marie is a great double reef system and there are usualy divers around to buddy up with.
     
  4. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Mucus City, USA
    125
    0
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    carib_traveler is spot-on about the Marriott and The Dive Bus. In addition to being a fine hotel, the Marriott is a good base for diving operations. And Suzy at the Dive Bus is setting up a web site for locals looking for dive partners. If you write her and propose it, she might set up a bulletin board specifically for vacationers looking for buddies. It’s worth a shot.

    You might also find The Dive Bus’s services to your liking. Their shop is on the beach adjacent to two of the island’s best dive sites and they run trips to many of the island’s best shore-divable sites. Plus they run north side trips through the only boat operator who works that side of the island. Diving with them likely will put you in contact with other vacationers who also are interested in shore diving.

    The Marriott also is about a five minute walk from Hook’s Diving, which runs regular guided shore dives; some locally and others around the Willemstad area by van. In fact, when the current is right there’s a nice drift dive from the Marriott down to Hook’s.

    The island is not difficult to navigate if you have a decent map. Regardless, Willemstad is a PITA because most of the streets have no signs identifying them, and the Antilleans drive like schizos on crank. Most of the rural roads are distinctive enough that you can compare them to the map and find your way. There are commercial beaches at Blue Bay, Cas Abou, Porto Mari and others, which makes them all the easier to find.

    I’ve just come from four days diving on Bonaire and I live on Curacao so I feel qualified to state unequivocally that Curacao is not the shore diving haven that Bonaire is. Nonetheless, it has more than a few exceptional dives that are shore-accessible and, if you’re partial to shore diving, it’s well worth the trip.
     
  5. nhaone

    nhaone Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location:
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    being a preferred shore diver due to seasickness that I cant get rid of....what are the not to miss sites with the dive bus?
     
  6. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Mucus City, USA
    125
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    I’ve not yet dived all the sites The Dive Bus visits so I’ll only comment on those I know personally. And I’ve only been diving here part-time for about three months. Mark and Suzy have been diving the same waters pretty much daily for my piddling few months plus another four years. Just between us, I’d put more stock in their choices than my own. :) That said, here’s my favorites:

    Both the reefs that are out The Dive Bus’s back door are great dives, and they share the easiest entry on the island. I especially like Car Pile, which is –- as the name implies -- nothing more than a bunch of junked cars and construction equipment. Like many reefs on the island that have been ravaged by storms or careless construction, Car Pile exemplifies how remarkably resilient the marine wildlife here is. All those artificial nooks and crannies give shelter to an amazingly diverse collection of creatures.

    Tugboat is a great dive that’s on the “favorites” list of just about every local diver I know. I’ve done it in both daylight and dark and it’s on my top 10 list both ways. Plus, I’m an octopus junkie and I manage to find them there regardless of the time of day.

    I’m as fascinated with the little critters that live on the reef as I am the big ones. That’s one of the reasons I’m so fond or Porto Mari. It feels like swimming in my dentist’s waiting room aquarium. The double reef reminds me of Bonaire’s Angel City, in structure and in quality.

    Playa Kalki/Alice in Wonderland is difficult to describe, except to say that the coral formations are unusual to the point of bizarre (makes you wonder what them little polyps was smokin’ that day). They’re also very healthy and teeming with about every species of fish known to live on Curacao.

    And to me, the Mack Daddy of all Curacao’s shore dives is the Superior Producer. On paper, it doesn’t have a lot going for it. It’s too deep, the entry is too rocky, the surf is typically ...ahem ...challenging and the current is usually pretty stiff. In practice, it’s just a fun dive. I dived it last night with two of my divemaster buddies from Hook’s Diving and we had an absolute blast. The other visitors we ran into while over the wreck were Spanish lobster, crab, shrimp by the hundreds and one very large tarpon. A large green moray usually hangs out in the winch room on her foredeck but last night he must’ve been out selling Amway.

    We all were diving air, which limited our bottom time on the wreck to just over 20 minutes. But once the NDL forced us into shallower waters, it was as if we’d begun a whole new dive, this one on the healthy reef that flanks her. Superior is another of those places where I routinely find octopus and last night I found two. The larger one obviously was on the hunt and tolerated our nosiness for more than 15 minutes before he decided to vanish into an impossibly narrow crevice.

    Anyway, those would be my choices, for better or worse, and in no particular order.
     
  7. diversteve

    diversteve mod

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Phoenix
    20,258
    2,820
    113
    Besides Playa Kalki, Porto Marie and Tugboat, my pick would be Varsenbaai.

    Easy entry, the reef starts right offshore, there's a pair of easily found seahorses, a pontoon boat/barge wreck at 80' to the east and eels of all types. Coming back in I saw a turtle surface and followed him to a sandy area just offshore where there were several eating sea grass in 6' of water. And I saw better than 100 squid 50' off the divedock. The dive operator said they live there.

    Playa Jeremi is ok also, but no facilities and a longer swim out to the reef from the beach. We went west and found some vertical wall with a substantial drop-off.

    My friends dove Playa Lagun the night I arrived. But no one wanted to go back even though we stayed just up the street.

    The better diving IMO on Curacao is out to the west. It's a lot more spread out though since to get to most sites you drive in from the main road. It takes all day to do 3-4 dives at 2 different sites/day like we were.

    Habitat has a nice reef if you've got a car to get there.
     
  8. leadweight

    leadweight Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: USA
    1,634
    9
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    We used Caribbean Sea Sports last week. It cost $98 for cattle boat service and they were rude to me as well. They are quite rigid about how they do things the result being that everyone spent a lot of time waiting on the surface simply to accommodate their idea of how a dive boat should be run.

    I can recommend Seascape next door at the Hilton. Much lower prices, longer dives, no underwater police mentality and no crowds.
     

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