As an alternative to Bonaire for the Underwater Photographer, Curacao is 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.
While there are not the dramatic drop offs (for instance like the Caymans) Curacao is a photographers dream that is fortunate to have some large healthy coral formations. So, do not pack just the macro stuff because most dives are in the 50-70 foot range where wide-angle shots on dive sites such as the iconic wreck of the Superior Producer will yield epic results. Ocean Encounters, located at LionsDive Beach Resort or Sunscape Curacao 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, Curacao has fantastic shore diving that has, for the most part, easy access for some world class beaches. For this, I would recommend contacting one of the recommended Curacao 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.
Curacao Shore Diving can be done by car, but the more isolated spots are better traveled by truck. Here are a few of my recommended locations in the West: Boca Sami, Rif St. Marie, Porto Marie, Cas Abou, Lagun and Playa Kalki. These all have quality operators approved by the Curaçao Tourist Board with parking and wonderful facilities.
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.
Special thanks to Naturepicsfilms for this video
Stan's Favorite Curacao Dive Sites for Underwater Photography
Playa Kalki, Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is a Curacao 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