By Bryan Horne, Dive Curaçao
Last time, we provided you some insight on “The Top Dive Sites of Eastern Curaçao” that are littered with wall dives, wreck dives, shore dives, and lush coral gardens. More importantly though, these sites have quickly become not only Curaçao icons, but also some of most sought after dives in the Caribbean.
BUT there is another side to Curaçao, the West side known to locals as “Banda Abou”. This is a bucolic haven for boat and shore diving, offering near perfect conditions year-round because of the natural shielding from the easterly trade winds offered by the mountain range running through the middle of the Christoffel National Park.
The western side of Curaçao stretches from Bullenbaai, near St. Willibrordus to the north west fishing village of Westpunt. Along this rugged and ancient coastline, you will discover some of the best beaches in the Caribbean such as Cas Abao and the famous Kenepa Plantation. These world class locations, among others, provide you with an exceptional opportunity for incredible shore diving and snorkeling. However, this is just to get your feet wet because to truly “sea” the BEST of the WEST, then you need to dive into these essential dive experiences to feel it for yourself!
Descending on this site is quite a bit like reading Chapter One – “Down the Rabbit Hole of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”! As you descend you literally feel yourself getting smaller and smaller as the hard coral formations rise up to become larger and larger, growing in some cases to over 60 feet/18m in height encompassing a host of hiding places for the unusual characters we have in our story like the pair of resident frogfish and octopus! Of course, we regularly see Turtles, Eagle Rays, large schools of Boga’s being hunted by Yellow Fin Tuna and so on… but really the attraction of Alice in Wonderland is the beautiful coral formations and all that hides within!! The key to diving this site is to dive it “SLOW”, believe me, you will be amazed at what you find!!
Derives its name from the Dutch word “Watermöllen” (Water Mill) because of the how the currents flow in this #1 Boat Diving Site!! You will never understand what the currents will be doing until you check: sometimes they are flowing North/South, other times South/North and other times they are flowing in a circle!! Watamula offers the diver an intense and sometimes overwhelming spectacle starting with a hard-coral field, then a soft coral patch, then finally ending with another hard-coral field! It is so intense that the diver really does not know where to look first! In addition to the mind-blowing coral formations, the intensity of the macro life combined with Ocean Trigger fish, Schools of Chubbs and Porcupine Fish will leave you surfacing wanting to don another tank for more!!
One of the most famous dive sites in Curaçao. Over time, hard coral formations have grown in such a way that they resemble mushrooms, hence the name. Underneath each one of these coral formations an abundance of marine life awaits to be looked at, admired, and photographed. Don’t miss it! You will love it!
This is the perfect place for off gassing between dives or just enjoying one of the many snorkel trips offered! Located next to Mushroom Forest, the Blue Room is easily explored by snorkeling through a narrow opening that reveal a large air-filled chamber lit up by the sun reflecting off the white sandy plateau in front of the opening… creating a brilliant glow of ambient light in vivid blue!! Inside the “room” you will discover schooling glass-eyed sweepers, lobster, and hordes of silversides! Occasionally you might even get buzzed by fruit bats!!
Appropriately named, this spectacular site is rarely visited by boat. It is a drift dive and offered only on calm days, which are rare at this point of land. Consisting of a series of sheer deep walls and sandy valleys, this site is loaded with large Elephant Ear sponges, fans and often turtles. If you are an intermediate or advanced diver craving sites offering more than the average wall dive, you should consider trying to include this site in your itinerary.
As we have mentioned many times before and regardless of where you choose to stay, the decision should not be to dive either East or West, the decision should be to discover all of Curaçao (warning: many attempts may be necessary) to truly uncover the magic that lies below the waterline. Because there is a depth to this Dutch Caribbean island that you really do need to feel for yourself.
For more information, please visit Dive Curaçao.
The photography and videography are courtesy our Dive Curaçao partners: Stan Bysshe, NaturePicsFilms, and, Turtle and Productions HD.