Tarpon City in Downtown Willemstad

Welcome to Tarpon City, a captivating dive site nestled outside the formidable walls of Waterfort. This historic Dutch fort is located on the fringes of Willemstad’s Punda district in Curaçao. Offering an unforgettable underwater adventure, Tarpon City stands as a remarkable shore diving site. Explore the vibrant marine life and submerged wonders in the crystal-clear waters just beyond the fort’s centuries-old defenses, making this location a must-visit for diving enthusiasts seeking a unique blend of history and aquatic beauty.

Tarpon City dive site in Punda Curaçao | Curaçao Diving Guide - Photo by NaturePicsFilms
Tarpon City is located in the historic downtown area of Willemstad, Curaçao – Photo by NaturePicsFilms

Scuba Diving at Tarpon City in Punda

Tarpon City is a captivating shore diving site located along the outer walls of the historic Waterfort in Curaçao. As you explore the underwater wonders of this site, you’ll find yourself tracing the coastline for approximately 415 meters (1,360 feet). Follow the contours of the fort’s original walls erected in 1634 during the construction of Fort Amsterdam by Admiral Johan Walbeek.


Waterfort, initially designed as a defensive structure against seaborne attacks, now stands as a hub of aquatic adventure, hosting a diving school, various restaurants and terraces that offer stunning views of the sea. Tarpon City provides an easily accessible entry point from the shore. You start your journey from the concrete parking lot adjacent to a small jetty near the dive school.

Planning the Dive

Embark on your underwater exploration by heading westward from the shore. You will pass two marker buoys that guide large ships entering St. Anna Bay. It’s crucial not to venture beyond the second post. The current may carry you into the bay, posing risks, especially when ships are entering. Between these two markers lies a mesmerizing encounter with the resident tarpons—majestic silver fish that gracefully glide through the water. Approach them gently, and you may find these impressive creatures coming up close, creating a memorable underwater spectacle.

Explore Nearby Dive Sites

While at Tarpon City, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the nearby MV Superior Producer, a sunken vessel that offers a dive into history. Renowned as one of Curaçao’s most popular dive sites and one of the Caribbean’s top shipwrecks, the MV Superior Producer adds an extra layer of excitement and intrigue to your diving experience. Immerse yourself in the rich maritime history of the region and witness the vibrant marine life that has made this shipwreck its home.

Suitable for All-levels

Whether you’re a novice or experienced diver, Tarpon City promises an unforgettable underwater journey filled with historical charm, diverse marine life, and the thrill of exploring Curaçao’s coastal treasures.

Dive Site Recommendations

  • Dive Type: Shore diving
  • Snorkel Site: No
  • Experience Level: Drift / Advanced (Min)
  • Depth: 40 -120ft (12-36m)

Special Notes

Curaçao Diving Guide and Interactive Map

About Punda in Downtown Willemstad, Curaçao

The evolution of Punda from a strategic naval defense and trade port to the vibrant and colorful area it is today is quite fascinating.

History of Punda and the island of Curaçao

The establishment of Fort Amsterdam by Admiral Johannes van Walbeeck in 1635 reflects the importance of Curaçao’s natural harbor, Schottegat, as a valuable asset for the Dutch West-Indian Company. The decision to build a fort at the entrance of Sint Anna Bay, known as Annabaai, demonstrates the strategic significance of the location for defense against other European colonizers in the Caribbean.

The transformation of “De Punt” into “Punda” and the construction of a city wall in the 17th century highlight the continuous efforts to fortify and develop the area. The fortification not only served as a defense point but also contributed to the establishment of a thriving trading community.

It’s interesting to note that the colorful buildings along the “Handelskade” waterfront, which have become an iconic symbol of Punda, likely developed over time as the area evolved into a bustling center for commerce and trade. Today, these vibrant buildings attract thousands of tourists who appreciate the historical charm and architectural uniqueness of Punda.

The history of Punda and Curaçao reflects the island’s strategic importance in the context of European colonial competition and the subsequent development of a vibrant and culturally rich urban center. The preservation of historical elements, such as Fort Amsterdam and the city wall, alongside the modern appeal of the colorful waterfront, contributes to the unique character of Punda.

Traveler Tip: Dive in to the heart of Willemstad and visit Punda Vibes Every Thursday!

The Forts in Downtown Willemstad Curaçao

The forts in downtown Willemstad, specifically Waterfort and Fort Amsterdam, hold significant historical importance in the development of Curaçao. Here’s a brief overview of each:

Waterfort History

The original walls of Waterfort were replaced in 1827 with an impressive structure featuring 136 turrets and vaults. These spaces were utilized for various purposes, including stores, stables, and medical services. Together with Rif Fort (now Renaissance Mall and Riff Fort), Waterfort served as the capital’s primary defense against naval attacks.

Role in WWII

During World War II, Waterfort was reactivated. Dutch soldiers were stationed within, and 37mm anti-aircraft artillery machine guns were mounted on its outer walls.

Current Status

After WWII, much of the original fort was not preserved, except for its outer walls. Today, an abandoned hotel occupies the center of the fort’s original location. The outer walls now house commercial establishments, including restaurants and terraces offering scenic views of the Caribbean Sea.

Fort Amsterdam History

Constructed in 1634 by the Dutch West India Company (DWIC), Fort Amsterdam served as both a military fort and the headquarters of the DWIC. Named after the Amsterdam chamber of the DWIC, it was considered the primary fort among the eight forts on the island.

Current Function

Fort Amsterdam currently serves as the seat of the government and governor of Curaçao. Both Waterfort and Fort Amsterdam reflect the island’s historical significance, providing a glimpse into its past as a strategic location for trade and defense in the Caribbean. The transformation of these forts into contemporary spaces highlights the adaptive reuse of historical structures in the modern era.

Read more about the history of Punda.

Read more about the history of Curaçao.

Location of Tarpon City

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