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Curacao Trip Research Notes

Discussion in 'Curaçao' started by drrich2, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Hi:

    I plan trips in advance, researching the destination. I'd long wanted to try Curacao and was intrigued with Sunscape Resort Curacao, an all-inclusive resort with on-site beach and dive op. (Ocean Encounters) near topside attractions (e.g.: Curacao Sea Aquarium, the capital Willemstad, various tours) for a 'dive trip disguised as a family vacation option' for wife, 5-year old daughter and mother-in-law. When it was selected for the Jan. 2019 ScubaBoard Surge event I booked. Dennis (CardZard) and Roxanne have an excellent reputation for negotiating competitive package deals on Surge events, so I figured it'd get no better than this. Had to pull our kid out of Kindergarten a week; otherwise it was all good. We traded a week of dreary southwestern KY winter for sunny tropical southern Caribbean joy.

    I put together my usual 'Research Planning Notes' for Curacao, updated with some first hand info. from the trip, fleshed it out with photos from the trip and a 2018 cruise ship stop at Curacao, and I'm sharing those notes hoping to help others get a jump start on destination assessment and planning. Hope others also share insights (they will anyway; most of the info. in this report isn't from me!).
     
    LStewart and Snoweman like this.
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312

    -----An island of the lesser Antilles* far down in the southern Caribbean, ~ 40 miles from the Venezuelan coast of South America. It has a pop. ~ 160,000 and is 171 square miles in area, 38 miles long and ~ 3 - 8 miles wide. Klein Curacao is a small, uninhabited island southeast of Curacao. Official languages are Papiamentu, Dutch and English (but Dutch is the sole language for administration and legal matters); per the 2001 Census (granted, rather old!) the ‘first language’ of 81.2% was Papiamentu, 8% Dutch, 4% Spanish and 2.9% English (note: English is widely spoken). The currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG). There are several Dutch forts. They drive on the right side. The electricity is 127-volt, 50 Hz (vs. U.S.; 110-volt, 60 Hz), like Bonaire where U.S. plugs fit and devices work though some may ‘run hot.’

    iStock-892025182_zpsojw7tq5j.jpg
    Map Credit: Rainier Lesniewski. Use licensed via iStock by Getty Images.

    -----It’s a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (‘autonomous,’ but the Netherlands is responsible for defense and foreign policy, and oversees the island’s finances under a debt-relief agreement). There are 2 Dutch naval bases on-island. Curacao is a parliamentary representative democratic government. Per Wikipedia (7-20-18) it’s an open economy, with tourism, international trade, shipping, oil refining storage (oil & bunkering) and international finance services the most important sectors. It’s less reliant on tourism than some Caribbean economies.

    -----Per Wikipedia the climate is tropical savannah; it’s rather dry (plenty of cacti) and has little seasonal temp. variation, is cooled by persistent trade winds, and it below the ‘hurricane belt’ and far enough south for year-round warm water (so like Bonaire, if you can get there, it’s a good place to be any time of year). Described as semi-arid with generally low, hilly terrain, with average rainfall 60 cm/year per CIA World Factbook. Winds come from the northeast so the southern (leeward) side has mostly calm waters.

    IMG_8135_zpsdchjxlgk.jpg IMG_8059_zpslkbvad5x.jpg P1170098_zps7v6pocnu.jpg

    -----The capital city is Willemstad, population ~ 150,000, divided into 4 quarters (Punda & Otrobanda (separated by Sint Anna Bay), and Scharloo & Pietermaai Smal quarters (across from each other on Waaigat harbor). For practical purposes, you’ll hear mostly about Punda (the older section, founded in 1634) and Otrobanda (the newer, founded in 1707, considered the cultural center per Wikipedia 7-20-18), and the Queen Emma pontoon foot bridge (i.e.: ‘swinging’ bridge) that connects them across Sint Anna Bay. Curacao is famous for the waterfront view scenic row of buildings (the Handelskade) at Punda, viewed from Otrobanda. For vehicles, the Queen Juliana Bridge arches high over the bay.

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    Part of the Handelskade.
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    -----Since the population so heavily centers on Willemstad, you have a choice; stay in the region for a more ‘civilized’ trip with ready access to restaurants, cultural attractions, tourist attractions (e.g.: the Sea Aquarium with dolphin shows) shopping and so forth. Or, head out to the western region for a markedly more rustic experience, well away from the city – people often mention Westpunt (the name refers to the westernmost point of the island, a beach and a nearby small town).

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    Mambo Beach not far from Willemstad

    *Note: the Antilles are a group of islands in the Caribbean; the greater include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti + Dominican Republic), Jamaica, Puerto Rico & the Cayman Islands; the rest are ‘lesser.’
     
  3. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    A Scuba Perspective

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    -----A tropical island outside the hurricane belt with year-round warm, low-current, high-viz. waters, little seasonal fluctuation topside or diving, sandy beaches, large/populous enough for civilization & cultural amenities, English widely spoken and located in the Caribbean fairly assessable from the U.S. for the typical ‘7-day dive trip’ – what’s not to love?
    IMG_5413_zpsqxkcbbrk.jpg

    -----Yet there is more. Curacao joins Bonaire amongst the few regional dive destinations where the reef wall plunges deep so close to shore as to make ‘shore diving’ (swim out from shore, yet still enjoy extensive wall diving with option for shallow, deep or mixed diving) practical. Head out to dive any time of day or night, without working around boat schedules or signup sheets and/or being led by dive staff (if you don’t wish it). It’s hard to beat the level of independence available. Or book boat trips like most dive destinations.
    IMG_5521_zpsmkyx0tla.jpg

    -----Over the years, I’ve watched Curacao emerge on Scuba Board from a seldom-mentioned to a mainstream dive destination, growing to rival nearby Bonaire.

    -----Possible drawbacks (based on online reading):

    -----1.) Not known for much ‘big stuff’ (diving said similar to nearby Bonaire, so I’d anticipate aside from turtles, morays, tarpon, barracuda, tiger grouper and cubera snapper).
    -----2.) Not known for seeing sharks.
    -----3.) Presently no live-aboard boat option, though with shore diving you can match live-aboard dive count options and argue the island, rather than a boat, is the ‘live-aboard.’

    -----Preventative measures for shore-diving isolated sites (some Curacao & most of Bonaire’s): where shore-diving is common, it’s obvious divers encumbered with gear abandon vehicles for ~30 – 60 minutes+, are likely tourists that’ll be gone within a week (not around to prosecute) and the odds of petty thieves robbing their vehicles getting caught is very low. It’s tempting to break a window and search for valuables. The time-tested approach to shore diving where your vehicle will be unattended is:
    1.) Take only tanks and what gear will enter the water with you.
    2.) The only personal items left behind are tanks and cheap unappealing things you can accept losing (e.g.: flip flops, sunglasses).
    3.) Leave your windows and doors unlocked so browsing thieves don’t break a window.
    4.) Some modern keys shouldn’t be in salt water, so factor a small ‘dry box’ or pouch you can take on the dive, or otherwise protect the key.
    People have railed against the bitter injustice of these requirements for years, leading to repetitious venting and debate on Scuba Board as to what local authorities can and should do. At the end of these multi-page ‘fuss fests,’ the overall result is ‘It is what it is.’ At least with Curacao there are a range of sites with onsite amenities where your vehicle is in plain sight and less likely to be bothered. Professional shore diving guide Bas Harts (Post #6) noted at all sites they go they lock their cars and leave the windows up.
     
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    -----Bonaire vs. Curacao (one of the more discussed comparisons on Scuba Board; each is preferred by some. Both offer abundant shore diving ‘freedom’ and similar climate).

    -----1.) Bonaire is smaller & less populous; said to have less to do topside (drive through Washington-Slagbaai Park, visit the Donkey Sanctuary, kite board, wind surf, eat out). Curacao’s capital Willemstad dwarfs Bonaire’s, Kralendijk.
    -----2.) Bonaire’s diving is mainly west coast, and it’s small enough anywhere you stay nearby will suffice. Yes, transit from the hilly north to the flat south (& back) between resort and farthest shore dive sites can be a drive. Curacao is larger to the point where you stay will have a greater impact on your experience; the diving’s reputedly better out west, but the topside is more rustic. There’s more to do topside closer to Willemstad.
    -----3.) Bonaire has mainly ‘ironshore’ – varies from fairly smooth gravel-like mass of oblong worn, dead coral ‘pellets’ to very rough, sometimes sharp, jagged rock – so entries & exits can be tough – don’t turn your ankle! Curacao has a lot of sandy beach. I’ve seen conflicting opinions on whether Curacao shore sites have longer swim-outs, but some said so (DiverSteve Post #10).
    -----4.) Bonaire has a west coast-hugging main road (most diving is along this coast); getting site-to-site is pretty fast, easy and straight-forward. Curacao’s road paralleling the most-dove coast is often well-inland; you take side-roads out to the dive sites, some of which can be harder to find. Catskill Diver noted some roads to sites aren’t marked as well (Post #15), and Ronski101 (Post #1, May 2016) noted, after 7 shore dives, roads wandered all over the place with no signs and no painted rocks to guide tourists like Bonaire.
    -----5.) Western Curacao is bisected by a main road that splits mid-island, one branch running closer to the water till they reunite in Westput; from that branch most dive sites at ~ 5-15 minutes on a secondary road (based on Post #4 by DiverSteve).
    -----6.) Curacao’s much wider offering of sandy beaches offers easier entries/exits for divers, and recreation for non-diving beach lovers.
    -----7.) Bonaire is smaller, but the population far less, so it’s got a simpler, easy-to-get-around ‘feel’ to it. You won’t see a pontoon bridge!
    -----8.) Airfare to Curacao is often a bit cheaper; airfare’s ridiculous U.S.-to-Bonaire, though dividing total trip cost by total # of dives (padding your count with shore diving) can make either a good deal.
    -----9.) Most Bonaire shore dive sites are ‘rustic’ – there are no onsite dive shops for tanks, concession stands, chairs & beach umbrellas, etc… A number of Curacao sites (not all) have such ‘amenities,’ sometimes with a ‘usage fee’ – and it’s often possible to rent tanks at the dive site. Bonaire dive packages usually entail a rental pick-up truck and unlimited 80-cf AL tanks (nitrox usually a free upgrade) for shore diving, so you load your tanks & gear into your truck, hit the road and dive where you will.
    -----10.) Bonaire has a donkey sanctuary and Curacao has an ostrich farm. Curacao has offerings (e.g.: the Sea Aquarium) Bonaire can’t match.
    -----11.) My subjective impression from reading trip reports has been driven divers tend to average higher dive counts on a Bonaire trip.

    -----Despite all that, I like Bonaire’s simplicity, west coast-hugging road and fast site-to-site travel time, and don’t like usage fees. It’s a very personal decision. Our beach-loving 5-year old would have a very different opinion.

    *Solo Diving: Browsing online content one might infer Curacao is somehow unfriendly to solo diving; as of 7-21-18, The Dive Bus’s safety policy states “No solo diving, even if you’re certified as such” and Ocean Encounters’ Important Information page states “Solo Diving is not allowed under any circumstance.” A common response to such restrictive policies is rent tanks and go dive without announcing your intentions or doing it in front of them, but that could make some house reef diving difficult. Go West Diving’s FAQ re: Is solo diving allowed – “For both your own safety and our dive shop policies and security standards we do not allow and support solo diving. For single diver we offer daily 2-tank boat dives in the morning and 1-tank afternoon boat dives. Of course also guided shore dives can be arranged for you.”

    That bites. The diving freedom of shore-diving destinations is very appealing to soloists. Do we keep sneaking around (or opting for Bonaire)? In the Jan. 2018 thread Curacao – A Unique Shore Diving Haven, Andreas (Post #5) noted regarding their current solo diving policy they’d switched from a strict no solo-diving policy to crediting solo dive training certifications as long as the diver agreed to use appropriate equipment including redundant air supply (they had no dedicated solo diving equipment to rent). Noting their website later still indicated no solo diving, I e-mailed and per reply 8-3-18 from Floris with Go West Diving, they still had the same opinion Andreas gave earlier, didn’t nor intend to advertise with solo diving at the moment, accepted solo divers with all equipment needed in redundancy, and said I could rent tanks with them – that wouldn’t be a problem. He reiterated they don’t advertise with solo at the moment. If you intend to solo dive with Go West as your tank provider, I suggest contacting them in advance for current policy.
     
  5. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    -----Bas Harts Diving Dive Lagun Curacao section states “Experienced Solo divers can rent tanks and pony bottles on request.”

    -----Planning an independent shore-diving only Curacao trip: I’d likely stay in Westpunt and perhaps use Go West Diving, but there’s a choice to be made. Unlike Bonaire, where most shore sites that aren’t dive resort house reefs are uninhabited, Curacao offers a mix of uninhabited (perhaps more vulnerable to theft yet free) vs. sites with onsite amenities (products and services with other people around and perhaps a fee). Which do you prefer? Bas Harts (Post #6, Apr. 2016) noted Director’s Bay, Jeremy and Hundu are noted for break-ins, and (Post #2) didn’t consider the crime situation in Curacao similar to Bonaire’s but said you need to know where to park your car and where not to. If I wanted guided shore diving my 1st time out, Bas Harts Diving and the Dive Bus are both reputable, and Ironborn had a good experience with Relaxed Guided Dives.

    -----Update: Did 10 east coast boat dives with Ocean Encounters Jan. 2019. Typical scenario was boat ride under 30-minutes, fairly calm seas, dive plan max. 60-feet/18-m (not rigidly enforced), one or two guides in the water, 50-min. planned duration (nearly always ran a bit over), turn around roughly at 25-minutes into the dive, if current significant did a drift dive and the boat picked us up. Steeper wall slope than I recalled from most Bonaire diving, surprisingly lush reefs (e.g.: a lot of gorgonians), considerable small life (especially large schools on small ‘bait fish’ on perhaps every dive; grunts, sand divers, lots of anemones and trumpetfish), not much large (e.g.: 1 green moray eel, 1 hawksbill and a few+ green sea turtles, 1 eagle ray), 77 to 78-degree low temp.s, 60 – 80 foot viz. (?), and different from Bonaire (e.g.: saw porkfish & gray angelfish). Good, solid general Caribbean diving.
     
  6. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Some Oft-mentioned Scuba Operators:

    -----1.) Ocean Encounters – They have locations at Sunscape Resort, Lions Dive Beach & Resort and Animal Encounters at the Sea Aquarium Park, and offer package deal with Sunscape Resort. Lions Dive & Beach Resort, Floris Suite Hotel, Avila Hotel and Dolphin Suites. They offer some animal encounter options, including an open water (trained) dolphin dive. They were the op. of the 2019 ScubaBoard Surge, and there I did 10-dives with them; excellent experience with friendly people.
    -----2.) The Dive Bus (they use vans) – An independent location dive shop and guided shore diving operator. Located across from Pierbaai Reef, near Sunscape Resort and the Sea Aquarium. They offer guided shore diving and also ‘drive and dive’ packages; you can collect your rental car from Curacao Airport, Lions Dive Hotel or Livingston Resort (Jan Thiel), and there’s an option to upgrade to a truck.
    -----3.) Bas Harts Diving – Reputable private shore-diving guide. Their Dive Lagun Curacao section states “Experienced Solo divers can rent tanks and pony bottles on request.”
    -----4.) Relaxed Guided Dives – included based on Ironborn’s positive experience. Guided shore diving.
    -----5.) Go West Diving – Strong reputation on Scuba Board. They provide diving services to the Westpunt area including All West Apartments, Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club, Marazul Dive Resort and Nos Krusero Apartments (which is very close to the Go West Dives Shop). The Alice in Wonderland ‘house reef’ is well-regarded.

    Where to Base Yourself

    -----Reviewing Curacao-related threads on Scuba Board, a repeated claim was that the diving was ‘better’ out west (Post #3, other thread Post #3, other thread Post #3, Post #4)…which is sparsely populated with a few restaurants and not much else, do your grocery shopping back east before you get there.
    -----DiverSteve did a nice regional breakdown (Post #5). Tkaelin (Post #18) estimated travel time between Westpunt and Willemstad at perhaps a 45-minute drive.

    The Case for the East.
    -----Do you want ready access to restaurants, shopping, the Sea Aquarium and cultural attractions in/near Willemstad? Do you prefer a 2 dive/day schedule and civilized entertainments in the afternoons, or just get bored in rural settings? See Best area(s) around Curacao to stay near restaurants/bars/nightlife?
    IMG_0822_zpssybwqers.jpg

    The Case for the West.
    -----Tkaelin (Post #2) described Westpunt as the quiet side, some restaurants only open weekends; a492levy (Post #1) called it low key, non-touristy, remote and scenic. Rick00001967 described the west end as more mountainous (Post #1). DiverSteve (Post # 13) noted Lagun is 15 minutes or less from Westpunt, and most properties are cliffside over the ocean, the beach a walkable few blocks away at Playa Lagun. People often stop for groceries at Centrum Market, about 2 miles south of the airport (Post #6), en route to Westpunt. Tkaelin noted there are beautiful hills and Christofel Park and Boka Tabla Park are within a 10-minute drive from Westpunt.

    -----Rick00001967 (Post #10) described east vs. west as completely different; he said if you’re okay with cooking most meals, want peace and quiet and are more concerned with diving off some different beaches he’d stay west, but if you like proximity to a variety of restaurants, clubs, shopping, historical buildings, etc…, you need to be closer to the city and could even stay in Punda or Otrobanda, and may not require renting a car.

    The type of diving you desire may determine your choice; ScubaBunga proposed staying at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, and for budget and non-diver entertainment reasons, mainly shore diving sites with topside amenities. This led to discussion of how to get past Willemstad to fitting western sites (see Curacao trip on a budget – tips wanted).
     
  7. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Some Lodging Options I’ve Seen Mentioned.

    -----Sunscape Resort Curacao - If you want an all-inclusive resort, there’s one main option. It’s where the Scuba Board Surge trips to Curacao have been based, so there’s a lot of forum feedback, and there are many YouTube videos online offering a virtual ‘walk around’ the grounds. It’s east/east-central, near Mambo Beach (sort of a commercialized beach area with nearby strip mall; can get congested), the Sea Aquarium and Lions Dive Resort. Suncape has a nice sandy beach with the near shore water protected by a break wall (wall of rocks to block incoming waves), so the water’s calm. You can take a shuttle to/from Willemstad. Their on-site dive op. is Ocean Encounters. Sunwing Vacations has a nice under 4-minute video tour of the resort. Roxanne (Post #3 – Sunscape Resort Amenities) put together info. with maps, guest room equipment, restaurant options and hours, and a detailed range of activities and offerings.
    -----Reading recent Trip Advisor reviews I got the impression many liked Curacao and the resort, considered restaurant service very slow (often with lengthy delays to get beverages), at times slow entry into the resort’s restaurants, and overall the sense ‘nice place, good value but don’t be in a hurry.’ All-inclusives make trip planning and cost determination easy.
    -----It has a Sun Club option with some perks; on Trip Advisor, a lot of reviewers were Sun Club users, but a number didn’t think it was worthwhile – judge for yourself. There’s an Explorer’s Club for kids ages 3 – 12 with daily supervised activities from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., and the Core Zone Teen’s Club for teens ages 13 – 17, runs 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
    IMG_0988_zpsi6sbp2gw.jpg
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    -----Update: Wife, 5-year old daughter and Mother-in-Law joined me with the ScubaBoard 2019 Surge Jan. 2019 here. Liked it a lot. Food was pretty good (I don’t believe the restaurants would survive head-to-head competition as free-standing operations in the U.S., but it was fine for us; if you’re a foodie, you may differ), daughter loved the kid’s club and had fun at the pools and beach, room was good-sized and clean, beach was much less crowded than Mambo Beach and while not nearly as long and uninterrupted as some (e.g.: Aruba), pretty and fine for wading and a kid to have fun. Saw paddle boarding and kayaking. It was maybe 5 – 10 minute walk to Mambo Beach. It’s desired you notify the resort a day in advance if you want to use the free shuttle service, but there are bus stops very close by; we were told $2 apiece to use. A van may pull up offering you a ride; we took one, and another time a taxi. Across the road and just east is Scooby Tours; we did a (very dusty sogoogles provided but buy the $5 scarf!) fun buggy tour one afternoon to the north shore, a (small) Hato cave and (15-minute stop at) the Ostrich Farm.

    -----Lions Dive & Beach Resort CuracaoTKaelin described as a big resort with lovely grounds and beach and very nice onsite restaurants. Adjacent to Mambo Beach (but has its own private beach, protected by a break wall for calm waters) and near the Sea Aquarium and places to eat; it also has on-grounds restaurants and per website says you can opt for breakfast, ‘half-board’ or ‘full-board’ but it’s not technically an all-inclusive resort. There are a number of off-site restaurants nearby, so you may wish to skip the meal plan and keep your options open. Very long, large, laned pool. Has a shuttle service to Willemstad. Their dive service is via Ocean Encounters.

    -----Proximity Alert – some of these are close. Sunscape Resort is just west of Van der Valk Kontiki Beach Resort, walk-ably west of Mambo Beach, which is adjacent to Lions Dive Beach Resort to the east, past which is the Curacao Sea Aquarium.

    -----All West ApartmentsTkaelin (Jan. 2018) described as a small two story complex, about 15 units, all waterfront with a fantastic view of a bay, with shore diving available onsite (30 something steps down to the water). It’s in Westpunt and often spoken well of on Scuba Board.

    -----Kaya Hulanda Lodge – Another Westpunt option. I’ve read unflattering reports in recent times so I’d pass on it unless you research the matter and determine it’s turned around. As of Feb. 2018, Dive Curacao (Post #19) noted them in a transition mode with changes being made, so keep an open mind.

    *If I planned a solo dive trip to Curacao, I’d aim to stay at West Punt’s All West Apartments and dive with Go West Diving. Instead I wanted to take my wife, 5-year old girl and mother-in-law and have an ‘easy planning’ trip with a sandy beach close to local entertainments (e.g.: Sea Aquarium), so I had my eye on Sunscape Resort Curacao. Then Scuba Board’s Cardzard and Roxanne negotiated a special package deal, with the chance to meet other forum members and be part of a group the resort would want to please, and perhaps we’d meet other non-divers who’d socialize with my non-divers.
     
  8. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Topside Attractions

    -----Whether you’ve non-divers in tow or just like a more rounded trip, topside matters. Aside from diving, snorkeling and beach activities, Curacao has a range of options.
    -----1.) Willemstad – Walk across the Queen Emma Bridge and view the Handelskade waterfront strip (perhaps buy fruit, vegetables or fish at the floating market, a mass of boats from Venezuela); stroll around town and shop for souvenirs. The Curacao Sea Aquarium & Dolphin Academy.
    -----2.) Mambo Beach Boulevard – sort of a ‘strip mall’ with shopping, dining and a beach (you can rent loungers).
    -----3.) Renaissance Mall and Rif Fort – a historical water-front fort on the Otrobanda side not far from the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, transformed into sort of a shopping mall. Trip Advisor Page.
    -----4.) Visit a fort such as Fort Amsterdam (Trip Advisor Page) or Fort Beekenburg.
    -----5.) Waterfort – a historical water-front fort on the Punda side, not far from the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. Aside from the outer walls not much original structure remains; the Curacao Plaza Hotel & Casino stands were the center used to be, and the outer walls house restaurants and terraces (see WayMarking.com’s discussion). Curacao.com’s Waterfort Terrace page notes Waterfort Terrace is a ‘colony of restaurants, bars and shops’ in the fort.
    -----6.) Hato Caves – north of Willemstad, near the airport.
    -----7.) Curacao Maritime Museum.
    -----8.) Christoffel Park – home to Mt. Christoffel, Curacao’s highest point. Per a Curacao Surge thread Things to Do in Curacao, about a 40-minute drive from Willemstad. Also Shete Boka Park.
    -----9.) Curacao Ostrich Farm. You can ride in a safari truck and feed them.
    -----10.) Sight-seeing Tours.
    -----11.) Go off-road with an ATV or buggy tour. Note: Scooby Tours had 2-person automatic transmission buggies, with seat belts and roll bars (I liked, with a 5-year old). Googles provided but $5 for a ‘flag of Curacao’ scarf (well worth it! Fun but very dusty).
    P1170089_zps4cfxwrsn.jpg
    -----12.) Surfing, Windsurfing and Kite Boarding.
    -----13.) Substation Curacao – offers submarine trips (not cheap!) for tourists. Some offerings – Explorers dive (most popular), ~ 500 feet, bottom time ~ ½ hour, minimum age 10. Combo dive – similar to Explorers dive but more, ~ 1,000 feet, a 2-hour duration. Adventure dive – head straight down, ~ 1,000 feet, a 2-hour experience, see a ‘big wreck.’ All 3 options include pictures.

    Sources & Resources

    -----1.) Curacao – Wikipedia entry.
    -----2.) Curacao - CIA World Factbook.
    -----3.) ABC Islands Compared.
    -----4.) Welcome to Attila’s Curacao Page.
    -----5.) Curacao Scuba Diving & Snorkeling Guide. This link takes you to a map with dive sites listed and other useful locations noted.
    -----6.) Curacao Diving Guide – there’s now a digital version.
    -----7.) Curacao Shore Diving – Really nice ‘easy on the eyes dive site descriptions with a photo and info.
    -----8.) Shore Diving.com’s Curacao section.
    -----9.) WannaDive’s Curacao section. Some sites have latitude/longitude coordinates, which some dive logging software can use to pinpoint the site on a map.
    -----10.) ScubaBoard Surge 2019 Curacao - travel tips and destination info.
    -----11.) ScubaBoard Surge 2015 Curacao – a range of discussions, including Things To Do In Curacao.
    • A note on Scuba Board Surges vs. Invasions. An Invasion celebrates Scuba Board’s birthday in June (Post #17), and typically involves a larger group (75+ except trips to the Pacific). It was so popular they made another event called a Surge, held in Dec. or Jan., smaller (75 or fewer divers) so it can be held at smaller dive locations. Both are ‘diving social events.’ Cardzard (Dennis) and Roxanne negotiate good package deals, and a range of vendors provide sponsorship with prizes. At this writing, there have been 3 prior Surges; Curacao (2015), Cayman Brac (2017) and Bonaire (2018).
    -----12.) Must Dive Spots at Curacao? – Oct. 2018 thread on Scuba Board.
     
  9. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Trip Reports

    -----1.) Curacao Trip Report – Jan. ’18 (by tkaelin) - particularly interesting because he split his trip between Allwest (out west) and Lions Dive & Beach Resort (to the east), allowing a compare & contract of the experience of staying at each. Under Attached Files:, click Cur Trip Report 2018.docx – it’s a downloadable file.
    -----2.) Our first trip to Curacao – Dec. 10 to 24/17 (by rick00001967). Stayed at Playa Lagun at the far west end. Spent the 1st week at Lagoon Ocean Resort, described as a beautiful location but very isolated, and used tanks & weights from Bahia Apartments dive shop next door (plans to relocate closer to the beach). The 2nd week they stayed in a large apartment about 8 minutes from the city center in Willemstad, which could get congested, and used Scubacao dive shop.
    -----3.) Trip Report – Dive Bus Curacao Aug 14-17 (by krukster86).
    -----4.) Curacao Trip Report – November 2016 (by Ironborn). He dove with Bas Harts Diving and Relaxed Guided Dives,
    -----5.) Curacao 1st Timer Trip Report (ronski101), May 2016. Stayed at the Royal Aquarium and did 7 shore dives; got tanks and weights at Atlantis Dive Shop. He said it was a real challenge to find dive sites as the roads wandered all over with no signs. But Pacific Diver (Post #1, Curacao Trip Report – April 2014) shore dove about 10 sites on the northwest and except for Playa Hundu said dive sites were easy to find, well-marked with signs on the main roads. So your mileage may vary!
    -----6.) Trip Report: Curacao Dec 5-12 (mbs), Dec. 2015. He stayed at All West Apartments and dove with Go West Diving. He found the house reef amazing but bemoaned the stairs to access it.
    -----7.) An Island to Ourselves: Curacao. By Andy and Allison Sallmon, Summer 2016 Alert Diver Online article. A trip report.
     
  10. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Note: I already see the links didn't carry through. Got a whole lotta fix'n ta do...

    Update: Hopefully the links are fixed.

    Richard.
     
    LStewart, morecowbells and KathyV like this.

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