Underwater Photography in Curaçao
Are you an underwater photographer? If you are then you should discover Curaçao. This Dutch Caribbean island is a fantastic alternative to Bonaire and it is consistently rated as one of the 5 Best Places For Macro Scuba Diving and underwater photography in The Caribbean & Atlantic regions, according to Scuba Diving Magazine.
Shark and Manta sightings are rare which makes the encounters very special. But all the photogenic small stuff is here. Some of fan favorites are the Frogfish, Longlured and occasionally Occelated (I think they are easier to find in the winter months). These can be great subjects for wide-angle close ups and of course Seahorses are for the sharp eyed. Also, if you are good with your camera and buoyancy, the dive masters are more likely to share their little secrets.
Curaçao is a Macro Paradise for Underwater Photography
While there are not the dramatic drop offs, like you would find in the Caymans Islands, Curaçao is a photographers dream because this island is fortunate to have some of the healthiest coral formations in the Caribbean.
So, do not pack just your macro gear. With most dives starting in the range of 50-70 feet, wide-angle shots should definitely be on your shot list! Especially if you are diving on sites such as the iconic wreck of the Superior Producer that will yield epic results.
Boat Diving in Curaçao
Ocean Encounters, located at LionsDive Beach Resort or Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa and Casino has the Superior Producer on their weekly two-tank boat dive morning schedule. Additionally guided night dives can be arranged, at the dive shop from shore or by boat, on request.
Aside from incredible boat diving, Curaçao has fantastic shore diving that has, for the most part, easy access at the highly highly rated public beaches. For this, I would recommend contacting one of the recommended Curaçao Tourist Board approved dive operators for an unlimited shore diving package to discover the small coves and and hidden gems where a need a little navigation will be required to get back to your starting point.
Shore Diving in Curaçao
The shore diving in Curaçao is also world class where most sites can be accessed by car but, if you want to venture off the beaten track to the more isolated spots then I would highly recommend using a truck or hiring a guide.
I would recommend these locations in the western part of Curaçao, largely because these sites are where you could generally find me: Boca Sami, Rif St. Marie, Porto Mari, Cas Abou, Lagun and Playa Kalki. Why? Simple, as an underwater photographer, I relied on the quality of the dive operators that are all Curaçao Tourist Board Approved and their wonderful facilities at these shore accessible sites.
Many beaches and dive shops charge a minimal entry fees to use their facilities but having the security of an onsite dive shop also covers you if you forgot your weight belt, fix a free-flowing regulator, rinse your gear and to have a shower after your dive. The minimal fee provides you security for a priceless experience.
Stan’s Curacao Scuba Diving Tip: Go in the morning during the week (less crowded) and your day should go like this: dive, nap, dive, lunch at the beach, nap, dive, then home to the hotel to order room service so you can spend the night downloading your images. Repeat as needed! The “pool” is always open from the dock.
Stan’s Favorite Dive Sites in Curaçao
Playa Kalki, Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is a Curaçao macro photography haven and an easy shore dive that simply never disappoints, day or night, especially with the GO WEST Diving’s reasonably priced unlimited shore diving packages. GO WEST Diving is a great dive shop with well maintained boats ready to take you to the best west end dive sites. It is also located near SOL Food which is a wonderful place to eat, not to mention be well informed by Sunshine on the latest Curaçao happenings! Discover Playa Kalki, I assure you this Top 10 shore dive on Curacao will not disappoint. Lens recommendation: Macro
Watamula is a boat dive only ten minutes away from GO WEST Diving. This is, often (if you’re lucky) a drift dive, and with a strong current this dive is like an IMAX movie on steroids. With a large plateau and diverse healthy corals, this is a dive I could do without a camera, but there always seems to be a turtle in the sandy area at the end of the dive. Lens recommendation: Wide-angle
Porto Mari is a an absolutely lovely beach with a small friendly dive shop and nice seaside restaurant. Start with a deep dive (+/-80 ft.) to the “second reef” followed by a dive to the right side (60-30 ft.) and then a dive to the left side (50-10 ft.). There is alot of Curacao macro photography here, and I have been known to spend 2+ hours at 15 feet hunting the small stuff. Lens recommendation: Macro!
Seldom is appropriately named because this 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. The dive masters may choose just at the last minute in the morning to head there (15-20 minutes) so be hopeful to get lucky with the weather. A series of “walls” and valleys the site is loaded with large Elephant Ear sponges, fans and often turtles. An appropriate substitute for this dive would be Mushroom Forest. Lens recommendation: Wide-angle
Written by Stan Bysshe, a Guest Contributor for Dive Curaçao and a regular contributor to Underwater Photography Guide
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Special thanks to our partners: Stan Bysshe, Underwater Photography Guide and to Nature Pics Films for collaborating on this special underwater photography article for Curaçao!