Scuba Diving and Snorkeling the Wrecks in Curacao
When you think about wreck diving or snorkeling around wrecks, your immediate attention turns to shipwrecks. Right? It’s true! What bubbles to the surface is a combination of speculation and an excited fascination because wrecks are simply cool plus they also offer nature new habitats as incredible artificial reefs sites.
Here in Curacao, the variety and the depth of the wrecks to snorkel or to dive is quite vast. Not only is there shipwrecks to explore, but there are also cars, trucks, and even airplanes!
In fact – whether you are a snorkeler, a recreational or advanced diver, a technical diver, or just a land lover interested in wrecks – here in Curacao, there are wrecks for everyone to discover that even includes a deep exploration dive in a mini-submarine.
So, if you love wrecks keep reading as we dive into the 10 famous wrecks of Curacao!
Snorkeling or Recreational Wreck Diving
Average Depth = 5-12 meters (15-40 feet)
The famous Tugboat of Caracasbaai
Purposely wrecked just a few yards offshore of Tugboat Beach, in Caracasbaai, this site is absolutely perfect for divers as well as snorkelers.
Accessing this site is easy but be prepared to be overwhelmed by 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 Yellowtail Snappers guard this site.
Dive Tip: Tugboat is the perfect dive site for a relaxing afternoon snorkel trip or an easy shore dive. However, please be cautious not to touch the wreck of the Tugboat due to its fragile nature and the possibility of fire coral.
Saba Tugboat Wreck
near Jan Thiel Bay
This dive site is interesting for both divers and snorkelers since the wreck of the Saba Tugboat is situated at a depth of only 12 meters (40 feet) and is fully covered with vegetation.
The wheel house is gone and the deck is deteriorating, but it provides reef structure and home for a wide variety of marine life. Blue Chromis, Rock Beauties and other fish have made the Saba their new home.
The drop-off is only a few meters from the wreck where you will find an incredible array of sponges, corals plus the usual suspects like morays, doctor’s fish, glass fish and parrot fish.
Dive Tip: Schedule a boat dive to the Saba Tugboat with Ocean Encounters and dive along the reef wall to reach the wreck between 5 and 12 meters (15-40 feet).
Numerous colorful species inhabit the wreck and if you are lucky, you will even encounter seahorses.
Due to the location of the Saba Tugboat shipwreck, this dive is only accessible by boat. Please contact us for more details how you can dive this amazing Curaçao dive site.
Santa Martha Bay
Santa Martha Bay is such a beautiful spot on Curacao, it has a great view, and shows the island in a different way. It is quiet, because this place is not visited by tourists that much. The bay is near the village of Soto.
There are several dive sites you can reach from Playa Santa Martha by shore such as Mako’s Mountain, The Airplane Wreck and Mike’s Place.
Dive Tip: This is a shore dive so you can swim straight out from the breakwaters where you will find the remains of a small plane, hence the name Airplane Wreck.
The remains are covered in decades of growth and that sets the stage for some really nice macro or wide angled photos.
NOW, watch a beautiful video of the Airplane Wreck to see for yourself!
Diving the Wreck of the Catherine
Black Sand Beach, Santa Cruz Plantation
Black Sand Beach, also known as Boca Santu Pretu & Playa Chikitu, is located inside the historic Santa Cruz Plantation where you can explore the 120 foot shipwreck of the Catherine while snorkeling or scuba diving.
The Wreck of the Catherine is lying upside down in 6 meters (20 feet) of water and surrounded by colonies of Garden eels with nicely encrusted brain corals and sponges.
The wreck is split in 2 and lies upside down with small areas that can be explored.
Dive Tip: Proceed across the sandy plateau after the wreck to finish the dive on the northern part of Mushroom Forest. While in this area, The Blue Room is a highly recommended location to snorkel or off gas before your next dive.
To dive or snorkel the Wreck of the Catherine, contact GO WEST Diving for an afternoon snorkel trip or to schedule a 2 tank boat dive.
Intermediate or Advanced Wreck Diving
Average Depth = 12-40 meters (40-132 feet)
Elvin’s Plane Wreck
in Westpunt, Curacao
Elvin’s Plane Wreck is a wonderful site that commemorates Elvin, an incredibly passionate underwater enthusiast and cousin to the owner of GO WEST Diving. Together, they formed the original dive shop at Playa Kalki, known then as All West Watersports.
In 2006 the Curaçao Fire Department donated a Fokker Fairchild 27 to All West Apartments & Diving and Go West Diving to create a new diving attraction at the west end of the island.
This Fokker Fairchild 27 once flew regularly for Antillean Airlines as an island hopper between the ABC Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and afterward came to rest at the premises of Curacao’s International Airport Hato.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck Elvin’s Plane Wreck in 2008 when Tropical Storm Omar decided to turn and hit Curaçao squarely from the South West causing this plane wreck to be ripped off the seafloor and turned into aluminum debris scattering the plane into multiple pieces.
Today, the wreckage lies on a sandy patches surrounded by stunning hard coral formations.
Superior Producer – Curacao’s Iconic Shipwreck
World Class Wreck Diving
Now with roughly 30 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.
This is also a heaven for macro photographers and anyone who likes to get a close look at smaller stuff too.
Caribbean spiny lobsters, parrotfish, French and Queen angelfish, turtles, scorpionfish and even morays. Look even closer for banded coral shrimp, nudibranchs, flamingo-tongue shells and possibly even frogfish. Basket stars, octopus and large spider crabs catch the eye while night diving this beautiful shipwreck too.
With its wide-open cargo holds and accessible wheel house, the MV Superior Producer has become renowned as one of the Top Shipwrecks in the World rivaled only by the likes of the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea and the WWII wrecks in Palau.
Today, she sits quietly upright on her keel with her bow facing west in roughly 30 meters (100 feet) of water and about 150 meters (500 feet) 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 it superstructure rising to within 21m (72ft) of the surface reveals itself, covered in a vast kaleidoscope of color.
NOW, dive into the history of this iconic shipwreck to learn the real story how it came to an untimely end on September 30, 1977.
The Car Pile Wreck
Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa and Casino
The strangest wreck diving site in Curaçao has to be the Car Pile at the Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa and Casino.
Starting at approximately 14 meters (45 feet) you will start to see the debris field of the Car Pile. Further down the sloping drop off a barge will emerge at its resting point of 30 meters (100 feet) that is surrounded by cars and trucks.
Following the sloping plateau you will soon realize the enormity of this Car Pile that continues to a considerable depth, which is ideal for Technical Divers, of approximately 56 meters (180 feet) where an additional overturned barge lies quietly hinged on the second drop off.
“It is possibly the most unusual traffic jam you are ever likely to see. Cars and trucks dating back to the 1940’s are piled on the wall, and are hugely popular with larger pelagic fish and home to a large variety of sponges. Mountains of cars have been dumped in one spot to make an artificial and very original reef. It’s like diving in the middle of a large car crash without any casualties—the fish manage to swim themselves to freedom. If you’re a vintage car collector, don’t miss this dive. You might find that part you spent years looking for, such as a radiator cap for your old Mercedes.” says Cathy Salisbury, Dream Wrecks
The Car Wrecks
Kokomo Beach in Vaersenbaai
The Car Wrecks at Vaersenbaai is located east of the the house reef at Kokomo Beach Curacao.
This is popular diving spot with lots of vehicles and a few shipwrecks for more advanced and experienced scuba divers. Amazingly, these vehicles were deliberately placed on the ocean floor as part of a project to try and provide a habitat for the fish and plants which used to be found on the coral reef in the area.
Although much of the coral has been destroyed, these trucks and cars have made an excellent artificial reef and has become an adequate replacement to encourage flora and fauna to return to Curacao.
The Vaersenbaai Car Wrecks is a fun, deep shore or boat dive site, full of dozens of car wrecks, and a great spot to take some unique souvenir photos. PLUS, this is an easy spot to spend the day because Vaersenbaai is home to Kokomo Beach Curacao, where a restaurant and bar, public restrooms and showers are available.
This is a nice, pretty, reef dive and snorkel site, easily accessible from shore.
Technical Wreck Diving
Average Depth = 40-142 meters (132-465 feet)
The Tugs of Shipwreck Point – Deep Wreck Diving
The Curacao Sea Aquarium
In 1884 the SS Oranje Nassau, a trading ship of the West India Company, also perished at this location. Apart from the SS Oranje Nassau boiler in the bay, there are two anchors and a screw located on the reef between 20 and 35 meters (65-115 feet).
The two tugboats that are resting on a narrow plateau between 40 to 50 meters (132-165 feet) make this dive site also interesting for technical divers or individuals that want to make a deep adventure in the Curasub, a mini-submarine operated by Substation Curaçao at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium.
Are you ready for your next big deep adventure?
When you are on Curaçao next, stop by Substation Curacao, consider this Curacao adventure to turn your dreams into a reality too by becoming a Deep-Sea Explorer aboard the Curasub.
It is a bucket list experience that you will not soon forget!
Stella Maris Shipwreck – Deep Wreck Diving
LionsDive Beach Resort
Ideally located inside the Curaçao National Marine Park, the Stella Maris Reef is the house reef of LionsDive Beach Resort & Ocean Encounters Diving. This site is named the Stella Maris shipwreck (see below) located on deep water plateau far below the shallow water coral nurseries set up by Reef Renewal Curaçao.
At approximately 137 meters (450 feet), the shipwreck of the Stella Maris has been resting quietly on the seafloor for over three decades. This 90 meter (300 foot) freighter was seized in late 80’s by Curaçao Authorities because it was smuggling drugs. Somewhat later it was sold for 1 guilder ($0.56 USD) with the intention to place it carefully on a deep water plateau in front of LionsDive Beach Resort as a new artificial reef.
Sadly, the sinking of the Stella Maris did not go as planned and it completely missed the intended deep water plateau at approximately 55 meters (180 feet). Instead, the Stella Maris slid over the top of a wall located at 80 meters (260 feet) and now rests on its starboard side on a deeper plateau that starts at approximately 132 meters (430 feet) at the bottom of the bow to 142 meters (465 feet) at the bottom of the stern.
Curacao Submarine Adventure Worth Exploring
Exploring the shipwreck of the Stella Maris with Substation Curaçao aboard the Curasub, is a Curacao submarine adventure worth exploring where you will have an opportunity to dive into a world that only a handful of people have ventured before.
When you are on Curaçao next, stop by Substation Curacao, consider this Curacao adventure to turn your dreams into a reality too by becoming a Deep-Sea Explorer aboard the Curasub. It is a bucket list experience that you will not soon forget!
Are you ready start planning your next Caribbean wreck diving adventure?
The only thing better than trying to navigate Curaçao on your own is allowing our local guides and our sustainable tourism partners to show you the all the secrets spots and telling you the incredible stories that go along with them. CLICK HERE for Complete Dive Travel Guide for Curacao.
We hope you will start thinking of packing your mask, fins, dive computer, certification card and your thirst for adventure as you consider traveling to Curacao.
WHY? Because Curaçao is an incredible Dutch Caribbean island that is a world class scuba diving and vacation destination that offers you the unique opportunity to create your own experiences on a relaxed schedule!
Visit Dive Travel Curaçao and let us help you discover Curaçao – so you can “feel it for yourself”!