By Bryan Horne

Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Caribbean Dive Destination of Curacao

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Curacao

Discover the Top 5 reasons WHY you should be considering Curacao as your next Caribbean diving vacation destination with Ocean Encounters. Why? Because as soon as the plane lands on the islands dry, flat land you will realize that Curacao is not a typical Caribbean island. 

Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Caribbean Dive Destination of Curacao

# 1: Curacao is not a typical Caribbean island

Although the history of Curacao has many different European influences, the island has been part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since it was colonized by the Dutch.

Many refer to the group of islands off the coast of Venezuela – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – as the “ABC Islands”. But often, Aruba and Bonaire eclipse the “C”, Curaçao. No one is sure how this curious island got its name, but one theory is that it comes from the Portuguese word that means “heart”, since the island was the center of commerce in the seventeenth century. Although the name has remained, Portuguese is only one of the languages that you will hear on the island of Curacao: Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish are the others.

You will notice it even before leaving the airport: blue and white porcelain dishes and delicious Dutch snacks are sold throughout the island as souvenirs, and the capital, Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features a recognizable Dutch architecture of gabled roofs and curved eaves.

Curacao has a population of approximately 160,000 inhabitants and a modern infrastructure, including the highest bridge and the largest shipping port in the Caribbean. Many natives of the island take advantage of their European passport and travel throughout Europe and attend university in Holland if they can. You will also see many Dutch working, living or vacationing on the island.

Like other Caribbean islands, Curacao has a mega cruise terminal, but you won’t feel like it’s in Disneyland wherever you go. The pier is adjacent to the historic Rif Fort and the Renaissance Mall, which offers cruise ship passengers an easy option to experience the history of Curacao.

# 2: The island is a big party

Any night of the week and at any time of the year, you can find some kind of nightlife in Curacao. Nightlife is one of the best things to do in Curacao, with weekly events and annual festivals such as Punda Vibes – Every Thursday, Carnival and King’s Day.

Music festivals, such as the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival, arrive on the island frequently, and many of the beaches such as Mambo Beach have become popular sunset gathering areas where happy hours are offered at the bars and restaurants which include include DJs and live music. There are also many discrete lounges and bars, especially in the historic Pietermaai District.

# 3: Curacao has been a "FOODIE PARADISE" for decades

Curacao has a lot to offer when it comes to your culinary experience. The restaurants on Curacao have a variety of local dishes, but the international cuisine is also well represented on the island.

Dive In & Taste it for Yourself… because eating is an important part of Antillean culture, and it would be a shame if you didn’t enjoy it. One of the nicest things about vacation is discovering new dishes from the local kitchen. Lunch is just as important on Curacao as dinner. There are plenty of restaurants and eateries on Curacao, but where is the best place to go? Here is the top 10 of the best – and sometimes less well-known restaurants for lunch and dinner on Curacao!!

Avila Beach Hotel Curacao

# 4: Any type of traveler will love it

Cruises, families of all ages, divers, adventure travelers, couples and groups of friends can find things to do in Curacao, and accommodation offers range from five-star resorts to hostels.

There is something for everyone with activities ranging from restaurants to shopping, street parties and beach clubs. In addition, with more 70 pristine dive sites and 40 beautiful beaches on the island, you will have no trouble finding your own personal paradise.

# 5: Curacao is a diver's paradise

The fringing reefs of Curaçao are some of the healthiest and most bio-diverse in the entire Caribbean region, so it is no surprise that this Dutch Caribbean island is one of the Top 10 dive and vacation destinations in the World.  Whether you are a snorkeler, a novice diver or if you have an open water certificate, you will find a perfect dive site for your level.

The Tugboat wreck, as an example, is a dive site located in only five meters of water and is feasible as a diver or snorkeler; You can also do a dive along the wall and explore an underwater cliff. Other major dive sites include the MV Superior ProducerKlein CuraçaoMushroom Forest, and of course, The Blue Room which is an essential Curaçao experience!

Under the water and depending on the time of year, you will see an incredible array of life and colour which will include sea turtles, rays, dolphins, sharks, eels, lion fish and species of fish that are exclusive to Curacao.

Boat Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
The Superior Producer - Curaçao's Iconic Shipwreck

Start Planning your Next Diving Vacation to Curacao

Are you ready, after reading these Top 5 Reasons, to start thinking or planning your next dive vacation to Curacao? Then take the next step and discover our complete Sleep and Dive Packages with the Best Dive Resorts in Curacao! 

Are you still not convinced about the world class diving that is available here in Curacao? Are you looking for more reasons why you should dive in Curacao?  Then check out our Top 10 Fun Curacao Diving facts!

As mentioned earlier, Curacao is not your typical EAT, SLEEP, DIVE, REPEAT Caribbean island!  Of course, diving in Curacao is the number one thing to do but when you are not diving there are unlimited top-side possibilities too. So, don’t wait! Take a giant stride in and start planning to experience Curacao for yourself, to discover, why our Dutch Caribbean island is a world class dive vacation destination. 

Top 5 Things to Do in Curacao | Ocean Encounters Vacation Tips & Advice
By Bryan Horne

Top 5 Things To Do in Curacao

Top 5 Things to Do in Curacao

As much we love taking people scuba diving in Curacao to explore and discover the underwater beauty of Curacao, we are well aware that you may be traveling with non-divers too! Not to mention, Curacao is not a typical Caribbean island either because there is a lot of things to do in Curacao.  So, if are you looking for the essential top-side activities while vacationing in Curacao, then keep reading to dive in to the Top 5 Things To Do in Curacao! 

Top 5 Things to Do

Essential Non-Diving Tips and Advice when vacationing in Curacao

Sit Back and Relax

What better way to spend your Caribbean holiday than at the beach! We are located at the LionsDive Beach Resort right next to the Mambo Beach Boulevard. A long beach strip awaits you for a relaxing day of soaking up some sun and swimming at the beach.

Dive in to the Flavors of Curacao

There are various restaurants and bars in the area. Right outside our dive shop you’ll find Hemingway which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have an international menu so you can rest assured you’ll find something of your taste. Other restaurants within the LionsDive Beach Resort are Piazza, Chill Beach Bar & Grill, and Nemo Restaurant. There are also several options available at the Mambo Beach Boulevard fit for any budget.

Bonus tip: If you want to get in touch with some locals, check out “Coco Guy”, a local coconut vendor. You’ll find him by the Mari Pampoen Recreational Area at the speedbump across from the former Miramar Restaurant. Stick around, after you finish your coconut water, he’ll crack open your coconut so you can eat the fresh fruit later!

LionsDive Beach Resort | Ocean Encounters Curacao
Hemingway Beach Bar and Restaurant at LionsDive Beach Resort

Explore the Historic Streets of Willemstad

Exploring, shopping, and discovering the unique flavors of Curaçao in the historic epicenter of downtown Willemstad is an adventure that should not be missed.  The easiest way to see it and feel it all at once is to join Punda Vibes every Thursday!

More than just a street gathering, Punda Vibes celebrates, every Thursday night, the history and heritage of Willemstad with the help of Curacao’s culture cultivators and locals. The event gives new light to the streets and alleys, promoting a homegrown love and appreciation of the locale’s diversity.

Also known as the “heart of Curacao”, Punda was first established in 1634 with the original name “de punt”. This vibrant district with pedestrian-only streets had since grown and evolved in to one of Curacao’s most popular destinations within the capital, Willemstad, holding the title of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Punda is also home to the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas. The quaint alleys of Punda lead you to the island’s top shopping destination where you can get everything from local crafts to electronics. On Thursday nights, Punda transforms.

A fairly new and interesting event turned weekly habit has been making waves in Punda on Thursday nights with Punda Vibes. A celebration of Punda’s booming art scene wherein the town showcases work from local artists. Pop-up craft markets, live theater, and historic dancing as music fills the alleys and people dance under the stars. Afterwards, a stunning fireworks display decorates the sky.

Afternoon Snorkeling or Private Boat Trips

If someone in your party is diving with us on the afternoon boat, you can join too! We take both snorkelers and divers on our afternoon boat trips. We will take you to two of the most popular snorkel sites on the island, the Tugboat and Director’s Bay.

The tugboat is a cute little wreck that is over a quarter century old and sits in just 17ft/5m of water.

Director’s Bay is home to some amazing creatures like seahorses, frogfish, a large octopus and more. At Director’s Bay you’ll also see some of the corals that have been out-planted by the Reef Renewal Curacao.

We also offer a weekly trip to the west! Join our full day trip to snorkel the famous Mushroom Forest & the Blue Room with lunch included.

Discover the Deserted Island of Klein Curacao

If you could imagine a picturesque deserted Caribbean island surrounded by warm aquamarine waters, then welcome to Klein Curaçao.

Located approximately 6.5 miles off the eastern tip of Curaçao, this is a very special trip for divers and for snorkelers alike. The locals say that the underwater habitats of Klein Curaçao is where everything is bigger and there is more of it with almost the guarantee of turtle sightings, ocean triggerfish and large groupers.

This tiny, rugged, desolate island of volcanic rock is located off the southeast coast of Curaçao – about one-and-a-half hours by boat.

This is essential day trip while visiting Curacao and a prime location for scuba diving, snorkeling or just simply chilling out on the beach!  When you arrive at Klein Curacao, you will quickly realize that this a pristine and unspoiled Caribbean paradise!

Top 5 Things to Do in Curacao | Ocean Encounters Vacation Tips & Advice

Sea and Learn at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium

If you want to learn more about Curaçao’s marine life, the Curaçao Sea Aquarium is a great way to do that. Just a 1-minute walk from our shop! The Sea Aquarium is known for having created natural habitats for all its marine creatures without using sophisticated technical equipment. Due to an open-water system all the aquaria are in immediate contact with the open sea.

Off-Roading in Curacao with Eric's ATV Adventures

If you’re feeling up to a little for adventure, you can find Eric’s ATV Adventures right around the corner offering Curacao tours. Their ATV’s are suitable for experienced and inexperienced drivers. All you need is a normal driver’s license and you are ready to go! They have various tours available varying from 1.5 hours to up to 6 hours. Minimum age for passengers is 5 years.

Cruise Ship Excursions in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
By Bryan Horne

Cruise Ship Excursions in Curacao

Cruise Ship Excursions in Curacao

Cruise Ships arriving in Willemstad, Curacao

Are you looking for the best Cruises that explore the Dutch Caribbean? Are you planning a Cruise Ship vacation that includes an itinerary stop in Curacao? Are you maybe even thinking that you would like to enjoy a world-class Curacao diving or snorkeling experience with your family or friends as a shore excursion?

If you are, then we invite you to dive in with Ocean Encounters – Curacao’s premier PADI and SSI Dive Center! Our professional team is ready to welcome you to Curaçao when you port in with a wide range of fun diving and snorkeling experiences that include PADI or SSI courses, shore diving, boat diving and family friendly snorkel trips. 

The Best Cruise Ship Lines

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Experience Curaçao in full color with Royal Caribbean International. Cruise to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao and experience underwater life up close and personal with a snorkeling or scuba diving adventure with Ocean Encounters.

Celebrity Cruises

Start planning your luxury cruise vacation that includes Curaçao as a port of call, with Celebrity Cruises! Bright, airy, and beachy Willemstad may feel like a Dutch city, but don’t let the colonial pastels and European-style streets fool you—you’re on the Southern Caribbean cruise of a lifetime. On cruises to Curaçao, beautiful beaches, clear waters, and incredible diving and snorkeling at Ocean Encounters will quickly steal your heart.

Cruise Ship Excursions with Ocean Encounters

PADI and SSI Diving Experiences or Courses

Are you interested in trying scuba diving, becoming a certified open water diver or continuing your underwater adventure with a specialty course? At Ocean Encounters, our professional PADI and SSI instructors are ready for you!

Interested in learning to scuba dive? You’ve come to the right place. Our scuba lessons will unlock the door to new adventures and amazing marine encounters. By the end of your scuba certification course, you’ll see our ocean planet through new eyes.

Interested in continuing you adventure?
Whether you want to access more dive sites safely with an Advanced Open Water Diver certification or improve your skills with a wide range of PADI or SSI core specialties (underwater photography, videography, fish identification, deep diver, or become an enriched air nitrox diver), the Ocean Encounters team of professional instructors are ready to advance your diving education and skill set! CLICK here for all the specialty courses available.

Shore Diving in Curacao

Curacao is laid out in a way that makes the southern side of the island almost perfect for shore diving. Thanks to the geographic location, the winds in the area come from the Northeast, meaning that almost the entire southern shoreline is protected from heavy sea winds.

The lack of strong winds means that divers can get their feet wet almost any time of year, and the diving from shore is calmer and safer.

Guided Shore Dive at LionsDive Beach Resort

The Ocean Encounters Dive Team consists of highly trained Dive Masters that know the best spots to take you and have alot of fun doing it! And there is not better place than our house reef at LionsDive Beach Resort

Our house reef is a beautiful fringing ecosystem that is home to an incredible array of biodiversity, macro life it supports shallow water coral nurseries set up by Reef Renewal Curaçao.

Although this this site is named after the Stella Maris shipwreck (a wreck located far below recreational depth limits on deep water plateau), this this dive site is very special because of the abundant health of the beautiful fringing reef system due to the constant easterly currents pushing rich nutrients along the shoreline.

Boat Diving in Curacao

Let Ocean Encounters take you to the best diving sites in Curaçao! Our fleet of custom dive boats and our professional staff are ready!

Ocean Encounters offers you a complete schedule that allows you to dive many world class dive sites in Curaçao.

These dive trips for certified divers and all our Dive Trips can be booked online immediately. Just pick your favorite(s) below and click ‘Book Now’. Of course, one day may not be enough… and the more you dive – the more you save with our multi-day diving packages! 

Curacao Snorkeling Tours And Private Boat Trips

These essential trips and tours for you, your family or your friends can accommodate not only snorkelers and swimmers but also divers too! All private boats trips offer customized activities especially for you!

All these trips can be booked online! Just pick your favorite(s) below and click ‘Book Now’. We will contact you for any further information we might need from you to join.  All Private Trips are customizable, so if you have special requests, please contact us directly.

Maybe you don’t want to spend your holiday learning how to dive, but you are interested in trying out a dive? In that case our Discover Scuba Diving or Dolphin Dive for Non-Divers might be the thing for you!

Essential Curaçao Experiences

Frequently Asked Questions about Cruise Ship Excursions

Do you pick up at the terminal?

No, we are not allowed to pick up guests at the cruise ship terminal. A taxi can take you to our shop. It’s a 15 to 20-minute drive from the cruise ship terminal.

My ship is docking after 7:30, can I make it for the two-tank boat dive?

It can take about 1 hour from docking time to disembark from your Cruise Ship and get to our dive shop (a 15 to 20-minute drive). If you dock after 7:30, you will not be able to join the 2-tank morning dive, which departs at 8:30AM (check in at 8AM)

I’m thinking of leaving my equipment back home. Can I rent?

Yes. Whether you are leaving all of your equipment behind or just bringing a couple of items, we have plenty of equipment available for rent.

Contact our Dive Team for More Options

There are many options for transportation, diving, snorkeling, PADI / SSI courses and of course, specialty trips that can be customized for your needs and the Cruise berthing schedule. So, please contact our Ocean Encounters reservations team to dive into the endless opportunities to experience Curaçao. 
Coronavirus in Curacao Update - Ocean Encounters is ready to go diving!!
By Bryan Horne

Coronavirus in Curacao – Ocean Encounters Travel Updates

Coronavirus in Curacao - Travel and Vacation Updates

Are you planning your diving vacation to Curacao? Are you wondering what the current Coronavirus travel requirements are for Curacao including COVID testing requirements, testing locations and the essential links for Curacao immigration?

Then, START HERE!

Note that per February 21, 2022, the third day antigen test is no longer required. Per March 10, 2022, a PCR test is no longer required to enter Curacao. Per June 5, 2022, the Passenger Locator Card is no longer required.

Prior to departure, all visitors must still complete the Digital Immigration Card online as was the case prior to Covid-19. Please check the government portal dicardcuracao.com for the latest changes.  

Please note for some countries testing is still required to return home:

A PCR or Antigen test can be done onsite at LionsDive Resort and Sunscape Resort for hotel guests only (this may change at short notice).

 When you add it all up, Ocean Encounters together with our accommodation partners, are ready to provide you with the perfect vacation here in Curacao because together we have not left anything to chance.

WE ARE READY and WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!

Are you ready to dive safely and securely back into Curacao?

We are READY TO GO DIVING in Curacao!

Here at Ocean Encounters, we want to re-assure you that we are taking Coronavirus seriously and that we want to do everything we can to keep you and our island community safe.

We are urging guests to practice good personal hygiene, frequently wash hands, sneeze or cough into your elbow, and avoid shaking hands. If you feel you have any symptoms before traveling to Curaçao, please consult your doctor immediately.

The Ocean Encounters professional Dive Team has put in place a complete program of Coronavirus Safety Protocols to ensure you, your family and your friends have the ultimate “SAFE” dive vacation experience in Curacao!

Upon entering the shop, touch free hand sanitizer is available, while our new logo on the floor guides guests to the reception to ensure social distancing. We’ve incorporated plexiglass barriers and tablets to fill in digital waivers to eliminate human contact. 

Our rental gear is disinfected before and after use and we have specially disinfected rinse tanks for divers with their own gear. On the boat, each diver sets up at least 6ft apart and individual fresh-water buckets are available for masks, cameras, or anything else you need to get wet. Once underwater, everyone is safe, and the diving has been epic lately!

Ocean Encounters has always taken a great deal of pride in providing a quality service and “ultimate dive experience” to our guests, while ensuring their safety, and the safety of our employees, always. With this in mind, we have amended our standard health and safety procedures to include a more stringent protocol, as follows:

  • Employees & guests are reminded to wash hands frequently. Signs have been placed in the bathrooms, kitchens, and water stations as friendly reminders.
  • Hand sanitizer placed at all shop counters – upon availability.
  • Rinse tanks cleaned and disinfected twice daily.
  • Mask buckets removed from all boats.
  • All counters cleaned & disinfected 3 times daily.
  • Guest sitting areas are cleaned & disinfected twice daily.
  • All rental equipment is sprayed with disinfectant when given out.
  • All rental equipment is placed in large buckets filled with bleach and disinfected upon return.

It is important that our guests have peace of mind because we want you to feel comfortable and confident while enjoying our services. However, be assured that we do understand that cancellations may occur due to change of travel plans, travel restrictions, or personal choice. Therefore, we are offering free rescheduling and gladly welcome you later.

 Once again, we want to reassure you of our dedication to ensure a safe, healthy, and quality dive or snorkel experience. Thank you for your continued support and loyalty. We are looking forward to welcoming you to Ocean Encounters soon.

Warm regards,

Jeremiah Peek
General Manager

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