Diving + Snuba: Underwater Adventures in Curacao

Under the Sea in Curaçao: Water Sports in Willemstad

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Anytime I get a chance to go to the Caribbean, there’s one thing on my mind: diving. Alas, on many work trips, there’s little to no time for diving, so I was more than a little excited when I got my itinerary from AFAR and it included a full morning of diving Curaçao.

Underwater Curacao: Diving and Other Water Sports in the Caribbean

Bright and early on the second morning, we suited up and headed down to the marina where Ocean Encounters is headquartered. Having gone diving in a couple dozen countries at this point, I was immediately in awe of how expansive and clean the facilities were (not always the case, non-diver friends). When I checked in to get my rental gear, I was doubly impressed by the quality of equipment given to me.

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Ocean Encounters and me, we were already off to a good start.

We didn’t waste any time boarding our boat and motored about 20 minutes out to our first dive site of the day, just off the beach of Santa Barbara. I love islands like Curaçao where all the dives are within a half-hour’s boat drive. With my seasickness, there’s nothing more stressful than being on a dive boat for hours!

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Then again, the water was relatively calm on Curaçao, and I didn’t get the slightest bit queasy on our ride. Again, a nice dive boat usually helps that, and Ocean Encounters’ fleet is top-notch.

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

The bad news is that my camera malfunctioned on this dive and I don’t have many images to show from it. The good news is that prompted me to buy a new compact camera and underwater housing for my next Caribbean jaunt next week!

Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao
Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao
Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Our surface interval ran around 45 minutes before it was time for our second dip. On both dives, we had clear visibility and a bounty of colorful marine life to greet us.

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

We saw many of the usual suspects we see on the majority of Caribbean dives: trumpetfish, needlefish, lionfish (b00), a moray eel or two, even a turtle. The reef seemed very alive and thriving, and I was pleased to read that Ocean Encounters is a part of that effort, educating those about keeping the sea safe and doing their part with coral restoration efforts.

Underwater Curacao: Diving and Other Water Sports in the Caribbean

Diving is exhausting, though, so we immediately headed straight to Sea Side Terrace, an old shipping container-turned-restaurant, for some fresh catches and caffeine before we continued on our afternoon.

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Guys, the food on Curaçao might have been the most surprising part. Sure, you’d expect the seafood to be fresh and delicious, but it was also often accompanied by quality produce, something I’ve found to be rare on many an island.
Lunch at Sea Side Terrace in Curacao

The next day, we had a morning of beach bumming on the schedule—only it rained, so instead of “bumming” per se, we more flitted from beach to beach on a photo safari—before we checked into Aquafari for our afternoon snuba, or rather our ride on a self-propelled submersible scooter.

While we got the briefing, I was confident and ready to jump right in. After all, I love the ocean: snorkeling, diving, swimming—give me all of it!

Only, the second I submerged and put the helmet on, I had the beginnings of a panic attack. The contraption only has transparent glass on one side and not having a 360-degree line of vision really made my claustrophobia rise.

Diving + Snuba: Underwater Adventures in Curacao

So I opted out. I mean, I’d already gone diving after all, so I knew what was under there. SVV and two British girls went instead and I swam laps in the sea above them as they motored around below the surface.

Am I disappointed in myself that I couldn’t overcome the sense of claustrophobia? Sure, always.

But I’ve also dealt with such issues for so long—a decade now this year—that I know when to push it and when to ease off the throttle.

Diving + Snuba: Underwater Adventures in Curacao

For those of you who have mild claustrophobia, you might be fine; know that you aren’t locked into the contraption and can dip down and swim out at any point. For those of you, like me, who grapple with a sensation of feeling trapped and just can’t handle it, this is definitely not for you. For what it’s worth, SVV loved it, then again, he can’t at all relate to what goes through my head when I have a panic attack as he’s never even been mildly claustrophobic (lucky!).

Diving + Snuba: Underwater Adventures in Curacao

On the final morning, we did a quick walk-through of the Curaçao Sea Aquarium, which was a pretty impressive facility for an island. Show of hands if you’ve seen Finding Dory? That’s exactly what the open-air park set-up reminded me of.

Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao

Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao
Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao
Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao

Visiting the Sea Aquarium in Curacao

Our dive operator Ocean Encounters also offers Animal Encounters in which you can dive with dolphins—in a way that’s safe for the animals in their native habitat—or snorkel if you aren’t dive certified.

Furthermore, they have turtle and shark-feeding opportunities right there in the outdoor lagoons of the aquarium. Needless to say, appealed to my animal-loving heart!

Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters
Diving in Curacao with Ocean Encounters

 

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Scuba + Snuba: Diving and Other Underwater Adventures in Curacao
Scuba + Snuba: Diving and Other Underwater Adventures in Curacao
Scuba + Snuba: Diving and Other Underwater Adventures in Curacao
COMMENTS
  • January 24, 2017
    Rachel

    Ahhh! How fun! I want to do this, but I’d be way too scared ?

    • January 25, 2017

      Of the snuba or the diving? Girl, you’re brave! You love the ocean =)

  • January 24, 2017

    At first, I was scared of Scuba Diving. But my first experience is just awesome. It is one of my favorites now!

    • January 25, 2017

      That’s great, Jessica! Where was your first time?

  • January 25, 2017

    I don’t know if I could put my head in that glass case either (can we call it a case or should I use helmet?!). But I would love to see and experience the marine life so close up. What a dream to be Ariel. 🙂

    • January 27, 2017

      That’s exactly why you should get a diving certification—no glass case required 😉

  • January 25, 2017
    SVV

    REALLY FUN

  • January 26, 2017

    I’m not a huge fan of those things either! I did SeaTrek, which is similar with the helmet, and it gave me a headache. I’ll stick to Scuba. Jealous you went to Curacao though!

    • January 27, 2017

      Yes! I prefer being with the fish and uninhibited 😉

  • January 26, 2017

    This is making me miss the Caribbean! It has been too long and Curaçao has been on my list forever. Can’t get enough of that sea!

    • January 27, 2017

      Can we go together this year? Pretty please?

  • January 26, 2017

    Beautiful pictures! Your Curaçao posts have convinced me we’ve got to go!

    • January 27, 2017

      You’ve had some awesome Caribbean experiences of your own this week! Can’t wait to read more =)

  • January 26, 2017

    The idea alone kind of freaks me out but it also looks pretty amazing!

  • January 26, 2017

    I’m happy to hear you like the food on Curacao as well! I was super impressed at all the restaurants I visited! Diving at Curacao is pretty amazing too, and for those of us who get seasick – there are also plenty of shore dives available on the island!

    • January 27, 2017

      So. Good! Best Caribbean food I’ve had, bar none!

  • January 27, 2017

    What a fantastic post. I’ve never been to the Caribbean before. This post changes my mind to go this place. Photography here is outstanding. Very crisps and vivid. Thank you, Kristin, for sharing this amazing article. Loved it:)

    • January 27, 2017

      Thanks so much, Thomas! I appreciate you =)

  • January 29, 2017

    Always thrilled to see a diving post pop up on Camels and Chocolate <3 I'm intrigued by the snuba thing. I want to ride around on the little scooter but not with that helmet on. Compromise?

    • March 25, 2017

      I’m with you! Without the helmet, I would be fine. It’s the being trapped part I’m not wild about.

  • January 29, 2017

    That scuba contraption is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen! I always get a little claustrophobic when first jumping in for a snorkel, I can imagine how odd it is to be in that bubble!

    • March 25, 2017

      Right? Agreed! I prefer to have my face unencumbered!

  • January 30, 2017

    It must be an amazing experience! Beautiful photos 🙂

  • January 30, 2017

    It must be so great experience. But I don’t think I am brave enough to try Scuba Diving.

  • January 30, 2017

    Everything looks so beautiful and magic! Caribbean are a wonderful destination but I’ve never been to the Caribbean before. Maybe one day 🙂

  • January 30, 2017

    Amazing post and amazing blog 🙂 I am glad I run into your site. Every your post about travelling is very interesting and I just can’t stop reading 🙂

    • March 25, 2017

      Thank you so much, Dany! That’s so sweet of you to say!

  • January 30, 2017

    I’ve never been there but after your post and all these photos I just need to go to the Caribbean!

  • January 31, 2017

    OH NO!! I cant believe you didn’t ride the S.U.B.s or SVV as you wrote I think in Curacao! Darcee and I rode them in the Bahamas and loved it!
    I will say we went around Easter last year and the water was a bit chilly so we needed wet suits but I don’t think we ever felt claustrophobic!
    As for the rest of your adventure…amazing. I love the way the food looks and Darcee loves anything titled Hemingways so we will have to add it to my Bucket List Project. Thanks !

    • March 25, 2017

      I did try, Eric! I went under in it and immediately had a panic attack. I much prefer being underwater without a huge helmet on 😉

  • February 4, 2017

    What a fun trip. The pictures are tremendously beautiful. Scuba diving on Curacao is unbelievable! Thanks for sharing.

  • May 9, 2017

    The life spent under water is the most peaceful thing no one disturb you all of your stress move out the best thing to calm your mind and body.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

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