Curacao snorkeling is some of the best you’ll find in the Caribbean! This stunning Caribbean island is the largest of the ABC islands and is not only known for its colorful and vibrant architecture but also for its unparalleled snorkeling opportunities. From shallow reefs teeming with vibrant, colorful fish to underwater sculptures and sunken ships, Curacao offers something for snorkelers of all levels.
So grab your fins and let’s deep dive into the best snorkeling in Curacao and the best beaches in Curacao for snorkeling!
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Tips for Curacao Snorkeling:
All of the best Curacao snorkeling is on the west side of the island as it’s protected from the wind, the other side is too windy and rough which is why all of the best beaches in Curacao are on the west side of the island.
All of these beaches in Curacao for snorkeling have easy entry points, some are sandy but some have more of a pebbly or rocky entrance. You’ll want to have a pair of water shoes that can fit under your flippers.
Bring your own snorkel gear! While some Curacao snorkeling spots have rentals, these will add up quickly and it’s really easy to carry a snorkel set around with you. Pack a snorkel set for everyone in your family.
We both bought this snorkel set which included a mask, snorkel, ear plugs, flippers, and carrying bags which were perfect for snorkeling in Curacao! (we both pack carry-on only and were able to easily fit it in our bag too!)
You’ll want to pack sun protection when visiting Curacao beaches! That goes for exploring anywhere in Curacao actually as the sun is extra strong here.
Get reef-safe sunscreen to protect marine life too, during our week-long trip we went through a few bottles and were able to easily find more at grocery stores. But, you’ll definitely want to pack a bottle and be ready to apply it every 60-70 minutes and let it sit a few minutes before getting in the water.
We were being cautious and still got a little sunburn on days when we spent more time at the beach, which made me wish I had a rash guard top to protect my back from the sun while snorkeling.
A few of our favorite reef-safe sunscreen products include:
- Kokua Sunscreen – water-resistant zinc sunscreen that applies smoothly without white residue
- Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen – the Mineral line (white bottle with brown text that says ‘mineral’) is a clear, fast absorbing zinc-based sunscreen that’s great for sensitive skin and is sweat and water-resistant.
- Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen – We have been using this brand for years and love how easily it applies and is water resistant. They are also a bit more affordable.
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen – this sunscreen is not only reef-safe but it’s also super hydrating, this one is a little pricier so we recommend using this on the face and neck area since it falls under more of a skincare product as well.
Don’t forget something to take underwater photos! For those who are looking for something on a budget, you can get a waterproof pouch for your smartphone to take underwater photos. Just be careful to keep this sealed correctly so no water gets in. This does do the trick but can be a bit tricky to play with to get focus.
Or bring a waterproof camera like the classic waterproof GoPro action camera or the waterproof Insta360 camera which are both great for snorkeling and don’t require the waterproof housing if you’re not diving into deeper water!
Bring your own towel. We also pack our own beach towel on trips with us too, not the bulky traditional beach towel you’re thinking of though.
We both always use a sarong or Turkish towel because they are lightweight, dry quickly, easy to pack, and do the job! There was a breeze at most beaches too so we purchased beach towel clips to secure them plus my beach hat to the chair while we were snorkeling.
For getting around, you’ll want to rent a car to get around to the snorkeling beaches in Curacao. There are really not any great options for public transportation here. If you’re driving, don’t leave valuables in the car at parking lots.
If you are a cruise ship visitor for the day, don’t worry we included a few options for snorkeling in Curacao near Willemstad for cruise passengers that you can arrange a taxi to pick up/drop off around your ship schedule.
But if you’re visiting on a multi-day trip, taking a taxi isn’t ideal as renting a car gives you the most freedom to explore at your own pace.
Most Curacao beaches have a fee associated with them including some of the best beaches in Curacao for snorkeling, for some it’s an entry fee for others it’s free unless you want to rent a beach chair or umbrella. The fees are pretty low though, ranging from $3-7 USD typically.
Where to go Snorkeling in Curacao
One of the absolute best Curacao snorkeling spots can be found on Klein Curacao, or “Little Curacao” 15 miles off the coast of Curacao. To get here you’ll have to take a boat trip to Klein Curacao, which is also one of the top things to do in Curacao for many travelers so it’s definitely worth the visit!
This means you’ll have to join a Klein Curacao tour. We personally went with Miss Ann’s Boat Trips which departs from Sandals Resort (with a few hotel shuttles to the meeting point). This is the most luxurious way of getting to Klein Curacao on a high-speed yacht and they also are the only company with private facilities with beach chairs, palapa huts, and bathrooms.
They also provide meals and a guided snorkel safari tour as well as add-ons like scuba diving. Their private facilities are located on a small, easy to enter and exit, sandy access point where you can find excellent snorkeling, otherwise, you can walk over to the main white sand beach (water shoes recommended) as you’ll have to walk on rocks to get over there and get in the water.
The other tour options include BlueFinn Charters tour and Breeze Boat Trips tour (which also include meals) drop you off on the long, beautiful white sandy stretch of beach on Klein Curacao where entering and exiting the water for snorkeling is incredibly easy.
This is probably the clearest water you will encounter in Curacao, although all the beaches and Curacao snorkeling spots featured in this guide have very clear water, and you’ll spot an abundance of colorful fish, eels, and the possibility of seeing sea turtles (we saw two) and even sharks. The coral reefs are very healthy here and it’s a relaxing way to spend the day.
The tour companies also offer snorkel masks to borrow! However, they did not have flippers, so if you’re not a strong swimmer you’ll want to bring your own or a float to help you.
This was one of our favorite snorkeling beaches in Curacao! This is where we swam with sea turtles, which are frequently spotted here typically in the mornings, but we were lucky in the afternoon when we got to witness one swimming and eating food.
Located just south of Westpunt in the village of Lagun, this Curacao snorkeling spot is set in a narrow bay surrounded by tall cliffs. It’s really easy to enter and exit at the beach which gradually slopes and chairs are available to rent if you want to post up on the beach before getting in to snorkel.
The best snorkeling was along the cliff walls on either side of the bay where we swam through thousands of sardines and found all kinds of underwater creatures in the cracks and crevices of the rocks.
Sea turtles are often spotted in the center of the cove, this is where we found one resting under a rock before swimming off to the cliffs for a bite to eat. They are spotted frequently here but it is possible you won’t see any.
This protected cove has very calm waters and is great for any level of snorkeler.
This is a public beach, so it’s completely free to visit! There are umbrellas and beach chairs available for rent and a dive shop here if you need to rent gear.
If you build up an appetite there’s the Bahia Beach Bar and Restaurant located on the cliff above the beach accessible by steep steps you’ll see on the side of the beach. They have a great view from up here too so it’s the perfect spot to refuel after visiting this Curacao snorkeling spot!
One of the most popular spots for diving and snorkeling in Curacao is Playa Kalki, in Westpunt. Famously known as Alice in Wonderland due to the dramatic and unique mushroom-shaped coral formations that can be found here along with gorgonians and star corals.
And if you love looking for hidden gems while snorkeling in Curacao, look for the underwater sculpture of a Chichi doll and a saxophone sculpture placed in the reef too.
While the most impressive of the Alice in Wonderland mushroom corals are found in depths by divers, snorkelers still can see them from the surface as well. To find these you can jump in off the dock and follow the rope.
As for marine life, you’ll see some hawksbill sea turtles, eagle rays, parrotfish, lionfish, trumpetfish, octopi, and an array of other underwater critters.
This beach is a little more rocky, so it’s nice to have those water shoes for getting in and out of the water here!
Playa Kalki is the HQ for Go West Diving, so you can get all your rentals and equipment here too if you need it and they also offer snorkel trips to Black Sand Reef and Blue Room.
Visiting the beach here is free, but you can rent beach chairs or padded beach beds for a few bucks if you want to hang out for awhile. They also have a snack bar and toilets to use for a small fee. They have two floating docks with chairs off the beach too for relaxing in the sun.
Among the best Curacao snorkeling spots is, of course, Tugboat Beach in Caracas Bay where you’ll find shallow waters home to a sunken tugboat that’s been reclaimed by the underwater world and home to many types of colorful fish, sponges, and coral about 15 feet below the surface.
I am not the strongest of swimmers but this is more of an immediate to advanced snorkeling spot since there can be stronger currents here and we recommend having flippers. I didn’t experience any issues, but I was glad to have my flippers to help me glide through the water.
This is a free beach and spot to snorkel in Curacao and the beach here is more rocky so you’ll want to have water shoes to easily get in and out. There is a laid-back beach bar here that has some spots to relax, drinks, hot dogs, and rents beach chairs if you want to relax after snorkeling.
This is one of the most well-known Curacao snorkeling destinations because of the shipwreck and is only around a 25-30 minute drive away from Willemstad making it one of the best snorkeling near Willemstad for cruise passengers. Tugboat Beach also arranges transfers from the cruise port to their beach if you want to organize this ahead of time.
The bar has a little treasure map letting you know where the tugboat shipwreck is and other underwater spots you might want to check out like by the dock where seahorses are often spotted. The mooring platforms sticking in the water are fun to snorkel through as well.
From here, advanced and experienced snorkelers could swim to Director’s Bay, but we don’t recommend that as the current is strong and you’ll need to be confident you have enough energy to do it in both directions.
Although, for those who want to do this it’s recommended to snorkel in the direction from Tugboat Beach to Director’s Bay so that on your way back you have an easier swim not against the current. And all of this really depends on the waves and currents that day, so leave this up for the pros to decide and just drive to Director’s Bay as it is also one of the best snorkeling beaches in Curacao.
Playa Piskado / Playa Grandi
The best snorkeling in Curacao for seeing sea turtles is Playa Piskado, also known as Playa Grandi, a working fisherman beach that is famous for being the best place (and almost always guaranteed spot) to see sea turtles!
This smaller, pebbly beach is located past a colorful children’s playground in Westpunt. There’s a pier here and since it’s a working fishermen’s beach, the sea turtles are attracted to the scraps from fishermen cleaning their daily catch here.
The beach is free to visit unless you want to rent beach chairs or use the restroom facilities for a small fee. Sometimes their snack bar is open too if you’re feeling peckish.
As mentioned, this beach is pebbly, so water shoes are nice for entering and exiting the water. This Curacao snorkeling beach is not only famous for its resident turtles but also for the underwater King Neptune sculpture found in the reefs encrusted with sponges.
The snorkeling by the pier is great for beginner snorkelers, but if you want to make it to the reef you’ll want to be a more experienced snorkeler as the water is a little deeper over here, but the King Neptune sculpture is at the top of the drop off so snorkelers are able to see it too.
Just remember, it’s prohibited to touch and feed sea turtles. Follow the rules as these are endangered and protected species, please be a responsible visitor.
And since fishermen’s boats come in and out of this area, please watch out for the boats!
Playa Porto Mari
One of our favorites and best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao is Playa Porto Mari located on the Porto Marie Bay near the village of Sint Willibrordus.
Before getting into the awesome snorkeling here, this beach has all the facilities you’ll need including a shop, great restaurant and bar, hiking trails, observation tower, dive school and shop where you can rent snorkel gear, and even two resident pigs that sometimes show up to greet the beachgoers here.
But what makes this an especially great Curacao snorkeling spot is the unique double reef here, which are set a bit deeper and enjoyed by scuba divers mostly, snorkelers can enjoy the two snorkel trails here.
The first snorkel trail starts in the middle of the bay at the jetty, for beginner snorkelers you can stay near the floating raft, for those who have flippers and are more experienced snorkelers can continue to deeper water.
The second snorkeling trail here begins on the left side of the bay at the jetty. We found the best snorkeling to be along the cliff walls surrounding the bay.
You’ll also snorkel past artificial reef ball clusters that were placed here after hurricane damage in 1999, which were really interesting and teeming with colorful fish and marine life.
Entering and exiting the beach here is really easy, there’s really nice white sand but there are little pieces of coral and rocks scattered throughout the soft sand, so it’s nice to have those water shoes!
It’s $3 USD/5 ANG per person (children under 4 are free) to enter the beach and another small fee if you want to rent chairs.
Kleine Knip / Playa Kenepa Chiki
Another one of the best Curacao snorkeling beaches is Kleine Knip also known as Playa Kenepa Chiki, a small beach located near and on the same road as the popular Grote Knip/Playa Kenepa Grandi beach.
This smaller beach has no facilities with the exception of renting beach chairs if you want to relax. So. make sure you have plenty of water, snacks, and your own snorkel gear. Don’t let that dissuade you though, some of the best snorkeling in Curacao can be found here along the rock and cliff walls.
The entrance is pretty easy as it’s mostly soft sand with a little bit of broken, fossilized coral bits (so watch your feet). You’ll want to be careful around the rock shelves too and try to enter and exit at the sandy parts.
You’ll find impressive elkhorn reefs here, angelfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, and all kinds of tropical fish and sea creatures.
This Curacao snorkeling spot is great for beginners as it’s a smaller spot with calm waters.
Caracas Bay Beach / Playa Caracasbaai
Another excellent spot for snorkeling in Curacao is the pebbly beach offers a shallow reef perfect for exploring the underwater world of the Caribbean. While the reef is nice and shallow, this is a snorkeling spot better suited for experienced snorkelers since it’s a wide open space that can be exposed to trade winds.
In the healthy coral reefs found here, you can spot all kinds of tropical fish like parrotfish, angelfish, grouper, snappers, and more among the possible sighting of eagle rays or sea turtles.
If you’re going to swim across the harbor channel you’ll need to have a marker buoy as there are boats that pass there here as it’s an active channel.
You can enter the water near Palapa Beach Resort, since it’s coarse sand and pebbly you’ll want water shoes.
This is a popular beach for locals who you’ll find here on the weekends enjoying the BBQ on the beach. It’s also a public beach that’s free to visit.
Director’s Bay Beach / Playa Directeurs Baai
Another hot spot for snorkeling in Curacao near Tugboat Beach is Director’s Bay. Like the other beaches and snorkel spots found around Caracas Bay, this is a pebbly beach and it’s best to enter the water with water shoes to protect your feet.
Great snorkeling can be found under the rocky outcroppings that surround this beach. As all of the beaches and Curacao snorkeling spots go found in Caracas Bay, this is best for experienced snorkelers since there can be currents here.
Offering some of the best snorkeling in Curacao, this spot is still considered a bit of a hidden gem that’s popular among locals on the weekends and tends to be a bit quieter than other popular snorkel spots on the island.
As far as aquatic life you’ll find here you may spot seahorses, moray eels, frogfish, octopi, butterfly fish, among many other types of tropical fish and old nets that were used to deter sharks and jellyfish from the shores.
This is a public beach that’s free to visit. There are a few picnic tables with a palapa umbrella for shade and no other facilities.
Cas Abao Beach / Playa Cas Abao
One of the prettiest beaches also happens to be one of the best beaches in Curacao for snorkeling! Cas Abao Beach offers soft, white sand and full beach facilities and amenities making it a perfect place to hang out all day and enjoy relaxing plus snorkeling.
There is a fee of $6-7 USD/10-12 ANG per car depending on the day to visit the beach here, then for an additional fee you can rent beach chairs as well as a dive shop if you need to rent any gear.
Because of the postcard-perfect soft, white sand, it’s easy to enter and exit the water here, and is ideal for all levels of snorkelers from beginner to advanced. You may encounter small fragments of coral or pebbles, so again, water shoes are nice if you have tender feet.
The best snorkeling can be found along the rock walls on either side of the bay. The left-hand side of the beach is more popular and as far as marine life you might spot here includes eagle rays, sting rays, moray eels, turtles, and seahorses among colorful fish!
And if your body is achy or tired from all the snorkeling in Curacao you’ve been doing, you can book a massage on the beach here.
Bonus Hidden Snorkeling in Curacao: The Blue Room
The most unique place for Curacao snorkeling is the hidden Blue Room cave. This is a mostly underwater cave that is accessible by boat near Santu Pretu. This unique underwater cave lets in just enough sunlight to create a mesmerizing experience in an underwater blue room where you can see schools of fish dart around you with perfect visibility underwater.
This snorkeling spot in Curacao is best for experienced swimmers and those who are comfortable diving underwater and stronger swimmers who are used to endurance as you have to enter an area cut by water under the limestone cliffs. Once you’re in the Blue Room you’ll be surrounded by surreal shades of blue and this natural phenomenon that captivates everyone who experiences it.
Some beaches offer Blue Room tours, although we recommend securing a spot by booking the Blue Room snorkel tour in advance if this is something you really want to do.
It’s worth noting that it is possible to hike or kayak to the Blue Room. I don’t recommend this if you’re hiking you have to make sure you enter the water at the right point by jumping in off the cliff, which you can’t see below you and you have to wear proper hiking clothing as you’ll be on a narrow path passing cacti – ouch if you touch that by accident!
Kayaking is possible too, but you’ll need to be experienced and confident as to where you’re going. That’s why we recommend booking the tour with an experienced guide as it’s much safer and you’ll be in good hands.
Curacao Snorkeling Tours:
If you don’t want to do this on your own, you don’t have to! There are plenty of amazing snorkeling tours in Curacao you can join that provide snorkeling gear, a knowledgeable guide who will take you to the best spots, and all the planning/driving/thinking is done for you.
The snorkeling Curacao tours that are cruise-friendly are noted below. You’ll have to follow special instructions when booking to make sure you communicate your ship information so they can ensure you get back on time.
|Tour||Highlights||Curacao Snorkel Spots||Book|
|Snorkel & Beach Adventure Tour||6 hours, includes a guided tour of Shete Boka National Park + beach hopping, snorkel gear, hotel pick up and drop off in Willemstad, cruise-friendly||Playa Piskado, Cas Abao||Book here|
|Semi-Private Beach Hopping & UTV Buggy Tour||5 hours, food, drinks, & snorkel gear included, hotel pickup available, visit 5 beaches, guide takes you around in UTV Buggy||customizable||Book here|
|Private Beach Hopping & Snorkeling Tour||5-7 hours, hotel pickup available, customizable to include Shete Boka National Park or Hato Caves, snorkel gear included, cruise-friendly||customizable||Book here|
|West Coast Full Day Tour by Boat with Beach Stops, BBQ, & Blue Room||9 hours, catamaran boat, meals and drinks included, snorkel gear included, stops at beaches and the Blue Room snorkeling cave||Playa Porto Mari, Cas Abao, Blue Room||Book here|
|West Coast Beach Hopping Tour||6-7 hours, includes drinks, pick up from select hotels, visit to Shete Boka National Park, stop at St. Willibrodus Flamingo Sanctuary, *snorkel gear is not included so bring your own or rent||Kleine Knip, Cas Abao, Playa Piskado||Book here|
|Guided Kayak and Snorkel Adventure in Caracas Bay||2 hours, includes kayak and snorkel gear, pick up and drop off can be arranged for a fee, cruise-friendly||stops at remote beach for snorkeling in Caracas Bay||Book here|
|Full Day Catamaran Trip to Klein Curacao||9 hours, meals and drinks included, snorkel gear included||Klein Curacao||Book here|
|Swim with Sea Turtles Beach Hopping Tour||4 to 5 hours, pick up available, free photos from a photographer, snorkel gear included, includes stop to see flamingos at Jan Kok, drinks included, cruise-friendly||Playa Piskado, Grote Knip||Book here|
There are many opportunities to snorkel from the beach in Curacao, in fact almost every beach on the west side of Curacao has great snorkeling and shallow reefs which is why Curacao is a popular shore diving destination too!
The west side of Curacao is where you’ll find the best beaches and snorkeling as this side of the island is protected from trade winds and offers calm, blue, clear water. The east side of Curacao is too windy and rough which is why there are no swimming, snorkeling, or diving sites on that side of the island.
The best snorkeling near Willemstad Curacao can be found in Caracas Bay at Tugboat Beach, a 25-minute drive from the cruise terminal. Other beaches you can snorkel at near Willemstad include Mambo Beach, a 15 minute drive from Willemstad.
Curacao not only has good snorkeling, but it has some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean and is the largest of the ABC Islands with 38 beaches, many of which offer great snorkeling.
Best of Curacao Snorkeling Summary:
- Klein Curacao
- Playa Lagun
- Playa Kalki
- Tugboat Beach
- Playa Piskado / Playa Grandi
- Playa Porto Mari
- Kleine Knip / Playa Kenepa Chiki
- Caracas Bay Beach / Playa Caracasbaai
- Director’s Bay / Directeurs Baai
- Cas Abao Beach / Playa Cas Abao
- Bonus: The Blue Room
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