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by Kristin Young | Updated On: June 1, 2021 | Curacao
Curacao is part of the ABC islands along with Aruba and Bonaire, located in the southern Caribbean just off the coast of South America. One of the best Curacao snorkeling features is the accessibility to the reef from some amazing beaches. Not only can you relax and enjoy the view, but the easy beach entry to many of the Curacao snorkeling beaches makes the snorkeling accessible, even for beginner snorkelers.
The best snorkeling in Curacao locations are dotted all along the west coast, but the little island of Klein Curacao is definitely worth the day trip! Nearly all of the best places to snorkel in Curacao mentioned in this guide are located on the west coast of Curacao, and so are protected from the trade winds which come from an easterly direction, too. The only exception to this is Blue Bay, which is sheltered as a lagoon, which you can see on our snorkeling Curacao map below.
Much of the best snorkeling Curacao has to offer can be easily accessed from beaches, too, in fact when it comes to beaches, Curacao has some of the best snorkeling in Caribbean options. In this guide, I’ve listed my best beaches in curacao for snorkeling, plus my tips for getting the most out of these top Curacao snorkeling spots.
CURACAO SNORKELING MAP
Find all the best snorkeling spots Curacao has to offer and best snorkeling beaches in Curacao on this handy map:
DIRECTOR’S BAY, CURACAO SNORKELING
Entry: Rocky Beach
Access: There’s an unsecured car park (don’t keep valuables in your car)
Look out for: Currents and waves.
Located in southeastern Caracasbaai, Directors Bay is a rural coral beach with some great corals and is located just south of the Tugboat. There is some good snorkeling in Curacao from the beach here, with the best place to snorkel being underneath the cliffs of the parking lot itself, a short swim from the beach. Here are a mixture of soft and hard corals, mostly in good health and plenty of fish. There’s lots of coral rubble on the beach so shoes are recommended for getting in the water here.
If you combine this with Tugboat snorkeling Curacao, do the Tugboat first so you have plenty of energy left to swim back to Director’s Bay against any currents.
Access: Unsecured car-park
Facilities: There’s a small dive-shop on the beach that also sells drinks
Look out for: Watch out for boats around you
One of the most popular snorkel trips Curacao has is the sunken tugboat just outside Willemstad. You can either take a tugboat & reef snorkel tour to get here, or you can enter from the beach as this one of the top Curacao beaches snorkeling spots. It’s easily accessible from the beach and rests in shallow water making it an ideal and interesting addition to your Curacao snorkeling itinerary.
To swim out to the Tugboat Curacao location, entry is from the east side of Caracasbaai, look out for the steel mooring platforms at the end of the beach. The best snorkeling can be found around the rocky point that’s right on top of the reef drop-off (around 600 feet from shore). The Tugboat wreck itself is slightly before the drop-off.
Access: Car park at Playa Caracasbaai
Look out for: Trade winds and boating – you’ll need a marker buoy
Although it’s not the most stunning of snorkeling curacao beaches, there’s some good snorkeling at West Caracasbaai. This is not a snorkeling spot for beginners or novices and requires swimming across an area that is sometimes more exposed to trade winds and swimming across a boating channel… however it contains some of the healthiest shallow reef in Curacao and has to be one of the most beautiful snorkel curacao spots for coral. Here you can see large schools of Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, large Porcupinefish and many more.
To get here, park at Playa Caracasbaai, then walk around 800ft to the right along the beach until you reach the harbor inlet infront of the resort. You’ll need a marker buoy to swim across the boating channel from there, and snorkeling is along the shoreline on the other side.
SNORKELING KLEIN CURACAO
Access: By tour / boat trip to Klein Curacao
Facilities: There are none on the island, so check what amenities your boat operator provides
One of the Curacao best snorkeling beach options, you won’t find more of an absolute beach paradise than Klein Curacao, and with the great reef just off the beach, there are plenty of snorkeling spots to explore here. Taking one of the Curacao snorkeling tours is a must during your time snorkling Curacao.
You will need a boat, and a full day to enjoy this tiny uninhabited island off the coast of Curacao, but it is well worth the effort. An easy way to do this is to book a snorkel tour Curacao for Klein Curacao (see below).
The water is calm, crystal clear, and there’s a decent chance you will get to share the water with klein curacao turtles too. If you need a break from the water, take a stroll around the island and explore the abandoned lighthouse or see the remains of shipwrecks that have washed ashore.
To get here for Klein Curacao snorkeling, it’s a 2 hour boat ride each way from the south of Curacao. There are several options leaving from Willemstad, but make sure your tour includes lunch, as Klein Curacao is uninhabited and there are no shops or restaurants.
These are our favorite options for tours:
Entry: Rocky beach
Access: Park at the Marriott or Moomba Beach Club (paid)
Look out for: It’s best to use a marker buoy as the snorkeling is outside the main breakwater
Located next door to the Curacao Marriott Resort, Playa Parasasa is a good option on low wind days (winds less than 10mph) for its good range of coral and fish. Enter from the center of the beach. There are some basic facilities here including shaded picnic tables, or you can get a day pass for the nearby Moomba beach club.
Access: Parking on site
Facilities: Snack bar, deckchairs/umbrellas, kayak rental & fresh fish market
Look out for: Fishing boats coming into / out from the beach area.
Also known as Playa Grandi, local fishermen clean their catch just off the shores of Playa Piskado bringing in plenty of sea life and making is a popular spot to see turtles in this Curacao snorkeling guide. Sea turtles and many species of bright tropical fish can be seen in the waters just off shore.
A popular tourist spot, this is not the place to go if you prefer a quiet snorkel as there are plenty of fishing boats coming and going (use a marker buoy) and the turtles are getting fat from being fed a lot of left over fish (not their natural diet). There are also lots of fish carcases on the ocean floor.
Entry: Rocky beach
Access: On-road parking
Look out for: People jump from the cliff into the water – so swim well away from the cliff.
Playa Forti, adjacent to Playa Piskado, is a great place to see sea turtles if you’d rather see them without the feeding and crowds at Playa Piskado. This spot is also known as Sweet Alice, and is a good place to see young angelfish and a beautiful range of coral. Water visibility is best during low winds and waves and the best snorkeling is around the ladder that enters the water from the cliff. Enter the water from the beach directly in front of the stairs down and swim out to the cliff on the left.
Look out for: Strong currents over the reef drop off
Playa Kalki hosts the popular dive destination known as Alice in Wonderland and is located off the Kura Hulanda house beach, although there is also free public access and parking. Even though you cannot explore the coral reef drop off with only a snorkel, there’s still plenty to see from the surface. The unique corals are the highlight of Playa Kalki Curacao snorkeling.
Access: Public beach car parking
Facilities: Picnic tables, umbrellas. No restrooms.
Look out for: Can get crowded at weekends/public holidays
Also called Little Knip or Playa Kenepa Chiki, this beautiful rural beach gets great Curacao snorkeling reviews and is one of my favorite Curacao underwater spots. Both the left and right side of the bay here have great snorkeling, and you may even see colourful fish and octopuses in the shallows in front of the beach.
Klein Knip is sheltered in most condiitons, making it a safe bet for a calm snorkel and well suited for beginners. The beach sand is soft and less rocky than most, too, for easy entry. The beach is popular especially at weekends, so come during the week for more space for yourselves.
SANTU PRETU & THE BLUE ROOM
Access: Via 10 minute hike from Playa Santa Cruz beach
Facilities: Natural shade & picnic table
Look out for: There’s a steep drop off not far from the beach and avoid getting too close to the cliff.
The Blue Room is a unique snorkel spot for sure! Getting there can be a bit of a task, so if you aren’t prepared for a hike and a decent swim, go on a tour. However, the Blue Room can easily be seen on your own by hiking from Playa Santa Cruz and jumping off the rocks into the water(it’s not a high jump) and exploring the cave.
Getting back, you have two options. Either climb up the rocks to get out, which is not incredibly difficult, but will require a bit of athletic ability. The rocks can be a bit sharp too. Or, snorkel your way out of the cave and along the shore back to the black sand beach at Santu Pretu. From there, it’s just a short hike back to Playa Santa Cruz.
BLUE BAY, CURACAO SNORKELING
Access: Parking at Blue Bay Beach Resort
Facilities: For a mandatory fee, you can use the resort’s beach, restrooms, showers, café and dive shop (who rent out snorkels).
Look out for: Don’t attempt to snorkel here in windy or choppy conditions
Nearly all of the beaches on this list will require driving, but the beach at Blue Bay Beach Resort is right on the resort property with a wide variety of fish and a decent coral reef, making this a great choice if you want to stay somewhere with snorkeling in front of your room. The sand is soft making this perfect for beginners to easily enter the water with bare feet.
This is also the only snorkeling in Curacao on the west of the island – although Blue Bay is sheltered, it can be more exposed to the trade winds than other locations and the snorkeling here is a bit of a swim out from the beach. There are plenty of other watersports on offer here such as windsurfing, too.
PLAYA LAGUN CURACAO SNORKELING
Access: Beach parking with a security guard
Facilities: 2 restaurants nearby, shade, snack bar, restrooms & showers for a fee
Look out for: Crowds at weekends
Playa Lagun is a well protected, calm, and clear cove that is great for beginners as well as experienced snorkelers. The swim to the reef is a bit far, but along the way, there will be plenty of fish, turtles, eels, and even possibly an octopus to see. Plus the beach is super pretty making this one of my favorite Curacao snorkeling trips.
Access: Car park with security guard
Look out for: Can also get busy
Another small, pretty beach with nice sand and good water visbility just north of Lagun, Playa Jeremi is an alternative good spot for beginner and novice snorkelers. There’s not a huge amount of reef but it’s nice for a casual snorkel around the rocks on either side of the beach, especially on the right hand side. Turtles also hang out here if you’re lucky. This is a popular spot for locals at weekends although less busy than Playa Lagun above.
Access: Beach parking
Facilities: Snack bar, restroom (when snack bar is open), picnic tables & shade, loungers. There’s also a dive shop renting out various water sports gear.
Look out for: Dangerous overhangs on the right cliff wall.
Perhaps one of the nicest beaches on Curacao, Cas Abou beach (also spelt Cas Abao) is a good option if you’re looking for a beautiful sandy beach with facilities and good snorkeling off to the left hand side. You can even see colorful fish close to the beach.
This is definitely one of the prettiest beaches Curacao has, with white sand and turquoise waters, with good visibility for snorkeling too. There can be large coral rubble and iron deposits at the waters edge and in the shallows so shoes are recommended for getting in the water here and then chaning into your fins once you can float.
PLAYA PORTO MARI
Access: Beach parking with security
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, snack bar / restaurant, sun loungers, snorkel rental
Look out for: Watch out for sharp rocks if entering from the right end of the beach (better to enter at the center)
Last but not least in my snorkeling in Curacao review guide is pretty Playa Porto Mari, famous for its double reef – although that is too deep to be properly enjoyed from the surface and is better suited to scuba divers or if you freedive.
Still, Playa Porto Mari is still one of the snorkel Curacao best places to enjoy some good snorkeling and also see coral restoration attempts underway. After storm damage from Hurricane Lenny in 1999, concrete balls have been planted in the shallows just before the sandy drop-off and you can see the new coral formations on them. There’s also good snorkeling at the south end of the bay.
There’s an entrance fee for this beach but it gives you access to plenty of facilities so you can spend a day here.
Snorkeling in Curacao is some of the best in the Caribbean, so no matter which spots you choose, you’ll have a great time!