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My girlfriend and I are leaving tomorrow for Curacao and All West Apts. in Westpunt. Can't wait! Andreas has been a huge help, and we look forward to meeting Sunshine and David (and eating at Sol Food).
I'll post a trip report in this thread upon our return. We've got an unlimited shore diving package, and will also do at least a couple of boat dives (Watamula and Mushroom Forest).
My job has been crazy hectic for months, so I'm really looking forward to this down (bottom) time.
Well, we've been back from Curacao nearly a week, and I simply haven't had the time to get back on here and write up a trip report. The weekend is now here, so I'll try to find some time.
However, let me just briefly say that we had a fantastic time. Our jr. 1-bedroom apt. at All West was just perfect -- we had a postcard view of the sunset every evening, and the diving at All West, with the on-site dive locker, couldn't have been easier. We ate at Sunshine's Sol Food three times -- our options for dining in Westpunt were scant, but had there been 20 restaurants, we still would have eaten at Sol Food three times, because the food was excellent and Sunshine was (pardon the cliche) a ray of sunshine.
We stayed our last night in the Tree House at Lodge Kura Hulanda, a perfect blend of romance and adventure -- which is why I planned ahead of time to ask Cassie to marry me. I did just that, while flocks of parrots flew overhead and the sun set on our final evening on Curacao (she said Yes).
A more comprehensive trip report to come, and I'll also try to post some photos. In the meantime, check out my travel blog, where I've already posted a few pictures.
Thanks, Andreas and Sunshine, for making our stay easier and more enjoyable!
Playa Piskado (All West house reef)
Mushroom Forest (including Blue Room)
Habitat Curacao house reef
Knip (boat dive between Grande and Klein Knip playas)
Playa Shon Mosa
Watamula definitely lived up to the hype.... gigantic star coral heads everywhere. Just unbelievable.
Mushroom Forest was quite overrated.
Porto Marie might have been my favorite because of the really cool and interesting double (triple?) reef structure. Made it really fun to explore -- but watch your depth. Very easy to get deep fast.
Playas Largu and Shon Mosa were the funnest shore dives, because you had to go down remote dirt roads to get to them, and as a result the beaches were deserted. But take heed, petty theft is rife on Curacao, so don't leave ANYTHING of value in your car/truck. All that we ever left behind was shirts, a towel, bottle of water. Nothing else. I even clipped the car keys to my BCD.
The house reef at Habitat was a pretty steep wall, which contrasted to the much more gently sloping reefs elsewhere. Other than that, it wasn't that interesting -- except for the ENORMOUS barracuda we saw at the jetty right before surfacing.
As for other marine life: we saw a green sea turtle and squid at Playa Lagun, 30+ squid at Playa Kalki, a sea horse at Playa Piskado, spotted eagle ray at Porto Marie, and multiple eels of all colors on every single dive. Also, we had two sightings of a sculptured slipper lobster, something we'd never seen before.
Our jr. 1 bedroom apt. at All West was awesome, especially considering the low price. We were at the far left side if you look at the resort from the water, and loved having our own outdoor deck space overlooking the ocean. This alone made it a huge bargain. The only odd things were that locals frequently sat on our doorstep (it's the only shady spot near the bus stop next to All West), and we had a bit of a problem with ants. Having everything as a package deal made it so easy with All West (lodging, diving, rental car). Louis met us at the airport and gave us our truck right on the spot -- no paperwork, just throw the bags in the truck and go. And then when we left, just drive to the airport, stick the keys in the ashtray and leave the truck. So easy.
Wow! I really appreciate you taking the time to post all that information about the dive sites. I am printing it out and bringing it with me. I have never done any shore diving so any tips are always appreciated. Did you hire a dive guide for your shore dives? From researching it, the views at All West seem amazing. I know I will probably strung and quartered for mentioning this, but a week without tv is going to be tough. Not that we are tv junkies but it is nice when chilling out after a dive. On the bright side, I guess I may run the risk of having a richer vacation experience.
I am looking forward to meeting Andreas and eating at Sunshines!
Some more random thoughts in no particular order, which is all I seem to have time for....
Comparing Curacao to Bonaire seems to be a common way to tell people what Curacao is like, not because one is necessarily better than the other, but because more divers are familiar with Bonaire. From purely an "ease of diving" perspective, I'd definitely say Bonaire is easier, and perhaps more deserving of its "Divers Paradise" nickname. There, the road runs right along the water, and you can just hop from dive site to dive site in mere minutes of driving. In Curacao, the road is further from the water, and often we had to drive a fair distance off the main road to get to dive sites (at least on the west side, where we were staying). On the other hand, in many cases, the dive site we reached had a nice sand beach, which was not the case in Bonaire.
One thing I'd tell all divers is a MUST-BRING is a pair of Crocs. I left my Crocs at home, thinking I'd be fine in flip flops. Then, on our first diving day, I cut a serious gash in my big toe on the Ocean Encounters West stairs. There's just too much iron shore and sharp rocks/coral and other hazards to get around in flip flops while carrying your dive gear. Learn from my stupidity and wear Crocs to protect your feet while schlepping around your gear. Save the flip flops for your visit to town or dinner at Sol Food.
Take advantage of the million-dollar view you you've got at All West and pick up some fixings for Painkillers at the supermarket. At nearby Lodge Kura Hulanda, you'll pay $10+ for fruity cocktails with an ocean view. At All West, make your own like we did and save lots of $$$ and be a lot more relaxed. Pictured below on our All West private deck is my favorite tropical cocktail, the Painkiller, the signature drink of the Virgin Islands. Every diver should memorize this recipe (which you can get here).
Okay, I will heed your warning about wearing flip-flops(I still call them thongs)and pack a pair of my beat up tennis shoes. I have not been lucky in finding a pair of crocks that fit me. That Painkiller recipe looks wonderful. Perhaps I will not need to pack my Martini shaker afterall! I will post a trip report when I return.
Currently Westpunt, Curacao NA Previously Goffstown, NH
200 - 499
A little off topic but.... also a little known fact. I head trouble finding a pair of Crocs to fit "just right" and ended up with a pair a bit bigger. Don't worry they might look big but still feel great, expecially on our tiled floors. Anyway, a customer told me that Crocs are made in 3 locations; China, Boulder Colorado and one other place (brain freeeze). She told me they are not sized the same. If one pair doesn't fit, look at the soles for another made somewhere else and you may be pleasantly surprized. But, you'll be happy you have your tennies. With a lightweight pair of pants and closed shoes, you'll keep the mosquitoes from dining on your ankles at night. See you in a few months.
Mike and Cassie, There's snow on the NH peaks, planning your next visit yet?