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The Top Dive Sites of Eastern Curaçao

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By Bryan Horne, Dive Curaçao

The island nation of Curaçao is home to some of the Caribbean’s last thriving coral reefs and represents a window into the past when Caribbean reefs were healthy and vibrant everywhere.

Though this little Dutch Caribbean island is best known for its colourful colonial waterfront in Willemstad, too few know about the rainbow of vibrant coral and marine life under its waters.

It never gets old. Though I’ve been diving these waters for over a decade now, it’s never the same scene twice. And you will never know what you might run into! A whale shark, spinner dolphins, a giant ray, sea turtles, even a humpback whale have all wandered into my path over the years.  That’s the beauty of diving around Curaçao: it’s natural diversity. Healthy coral reefs are attracting all kinds of marine life visitors because Curaçao is surrounded by more than 104 sq. km (40 sq. miles) of some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Curaçao is in the heart of the Dutch Caribbean, surrounded by its sister islands, Bonaire and Aruba.  Today, Curaçao is a proud independent country within the Dutch Kingdom that is 61 km (38 miles) long and between 5-14 kms (3-9 miles) across and located approximately 60 km (37 miles) north of Venezuela.

The coral reefs are normally found 18-300 meters (65 to 1,000 feet) from shore where they start at a depth of approximately 10 meters (30 feet) and then gently slope down to a depth of over 100 meters (300 feet) in some places.  In addition to the amazing fringing reef system, large inland bays can be found around the island in which mangroves and seagrass communities thrive and serve as nursery areas for certain types of reef fish that are less abundant on similar islands that have no inland bays. While living coral reefs are still growing around the island, Curaçao itself was formed by ancient coral reefs that were raised above the water as the sea level changed.

From the south eastern tip known as “Oostpunt” to the northwestern tip known as “Westpunt”, the underwater world is completely different and unique. Eastern Curaçao is known to locals as “Banda Ariba”.  This area is truly an unspoiled and largely still unexplored sanctuary inside of Curaçao’s only National Marine Park. This preserve has amazing sheer walls covered with extensive healthy coral and sponge colonies while the shallow plateaus are overrun by magnificent examples of Elkhorn, Staghorn and Pillar coral communities.

Now, let’s dive into the Top 5 eastern dive sites of Curaçao…

Eastpoint (Oostpunt)

Located at the very eastern tip of Curaçao’s National Marine Park, this is a MUST DIVE!!  Only accessible by boat, this site is largely one of the most pristine and unblemished fringing reef systems on Curaçao, if not the entire Caribbean. Lush gorgonians cover the site, together with hard corals and sponges. A large school of tarpons inhabit the underwater bridge, a natural bridge that was formed by coral formations throughout time.  Sharks, eagle rays, large barracuda, and turtles have been spotted at this wonderful Curaçao diving location that has seen very little human impact.


Klein Curaçao

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 is a true Caribbean dive location which is pristine and unspoiled.


Kathy’s Paradise/Smokey’s

Often this spectacular dive becomes a drift dive where you literally “fly” east from Smokey’s and end with an amazing finish at Kathy’s Paradise. These immaculate dive locations with large dense corals overhangs lead to sharp drop offs, and this coupled with great visibility provide you with a 360-degree experience that will leave you wanting more upon surfacing!  Sharks and stingrays are often seen here too.


Tugboat

Located in just 5 meters (15ft) of water, this famous tugboat was wrecked just a few yards offshore in a protected bay of Caracassbaai.  This site is perfect for divers as well as snorkelers. Easy to access and easy to find a plethora of critters such as seahorses, octopus, lobsters, napping scorpion fish and the odd nudibranch if you can find it!!  The tugboat is overgrown with tube sponges and coral and is home to a variety of colorful reef fish too. The resident Majestic blue Parrot Fish and Yellow Tail Snappers guard this site.


Superior Producer

Sits quietly upright on her keel with her bow facing west in roughly 30m (100ft) of water and about 150m (500ft) from the shoreline just west of the Curaçao Mega-pier.  As an advanced shore or boat dive, the easiest approach is from the stern due to the possibility of the prevailing currents.  As you descend the fringing reef, an eerie dark shadow starts to appear.  At first, you only see the stern, but then the entirety of this magnificent 50m (165ft) mass with its superstructure rising to within 21m (72ft) of the surface reveals itself, covered in a vast kaleidoscope of color.  Now with roughly 40 years of growth, the MV Superior Producer is an amazing artificial reef site home to numerous colonies and different species of corals, sponges, gorgonians and sea whips.  Because of this, it is a natural attraction for schools of predatory fish such as Tarpons, Barracudas, Snappers and Jacks.


Bryan Horne wasn’t born in Curaçao; he’s a Canadian native, drawn to the Island “out of a passion for scuba diving and the underwater world.” Moving was always going to be a life-changing decision, but in diving, Bryan had found his calling. As the founder and owner of Dive Curaçao, he spends his days showing off Curaçao’s hidden undersea treasures – and does his part to preserve them for future generations.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Windmill Beach (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Situated a short drive out of Simonstown is the shore dive at Windmill beach. A short swim over the sand and through the large boulders you enter the incredibly diverse and colourful kelp forests (Ecklonia maxima), a species that can grow up to 12m tall. Life is found in abundance from the base of the kelp where many sea urchins and species such as abalone can be seen then heading into the canopy many shoaling fish species can be observed.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Gear News

Fourth Element to make diving tools from recycled PPE

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Fourth Element has partnered with recycling and repurposing experts, Waterhaul, to retask the mask; turning single-use plastics into the tools we use in pursuit of underwater adventure. Face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material which fourth element purchases, recycle and transforms.

These cave line markers are the first of what fourth element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Waste is given a new direction.

The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital: the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also whilst injection moulding the parts.

What makes this OceanPositive?

In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.

These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of fourth element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.

We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of fourth element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post covid world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”

For more information visit the Fourth Element website by clicking here.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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