check off many boxes on their wish lists with a single trip to Curacao. Calm conditions? Check. Good visibility? Check. Healthy reefs? Check. Macro life? Check. Unlimited shore diving? Well, let's just put it this way: the entire island is a shore diver's dream. Because Curacao - part of the "ABC" islands of the Netherlands Antilles - is surrounded by a fringing reef created by geological events long ago, dozens of dive sites are within steps of the road. Plenty of major rental car agencies at Hato International Airport and near the cruise ship terminal in Willemstad stand ready for you to pick up your ride and then drive and dive.
Some of the standout shore dive sites include Playa Lagun, Playa Kalki (Alice in Wonderland) and Cas Abao, where only a minimal parking fee is required. Dive operators like Easy Divers at Habitat Curacao and Sunset Waters run the attractive house reefs at those resorts. While you must rent tanks from them, you don't have to be a guest to dive those reefs.
If you prefer the boat diving experience, there are a myriad of sites all within easy reach of resorts. Watamula, with its mushroom-shaped coral heads and Porto Marie, a double-reef system (which can be dived from both the shore and from a boat), are treasure troves of small life such as yellow seahorses and Pederson cleaner shrimp. Classic can't-miss dives include Mushroom Forest and the Superior Producer wreck.
A newly en vogue site called Seldom is so named because it's rarely visited. Boats can't moor there due to the proximity of the drop-off to the nearby cliff, creating a drift dive over untouched corals on a vertical wall.
It's definitely a necessity to have a car while on Curacao - not just for the shore diving, but for covering all parts of the island, to soak in the unique mixture of Caribbean, African and European influences. Towering Mt. Christoffel invites divers to challenge themselves to hike to its summit for incredible views, while culturally cosmopolitan Willemstad offers history at Museum Kura Hulanda and gaming at casinos.
Summer temps average 85 degrees and drop to the mid-70s in winter.
Low to mid-80s in summer; mid- to high 70s in winter.
Ranges from 50 to 100 feet.
A valid passport is required. There is a $32 departure tax.