Looking down on swimmers snorkeling in the waters of Curacao.

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Top 12 Best Beaches For Snorkeling In Curacao

Curacao, a tropical paradise renowned for its pristine waters and stunning beaches, is a premier destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. After several weeks of exploring this amazing destination and its beaches, I have created a list of the top 12 best snorkeling beaches on the island of Curacao.

In curating a list of the top 12 best places for snorkeling, we considered several crucial factors:

1. Accessibility to Prime Snorkeling Spots: We evaluated how easily visitors can access excellent snorkeling locations directly from the beachfront. Only one destination on the list requires a boat trip; snorkelers can reach all other beaches with only a car.

2. Abundance of Marine Life: The presence of diverse fish species and vibrant coral formations significantly determined the beach rankings. Water clarity also affects the rankings, although this can easily change with the weather. So basically are there lots of colorful fish and crystal-clear waters?

3. Safety and Access for All: We prioritized beaches that offer safe snorkeling conditions suitable for most average snorkelers, ensuring an enjoyable and secure experience. Availability of rental equipment and other amenities are covered.

The Basics of a Visit to Curacao

Nestled in the southern Caribbean Sea, Curacao beckons with its idyllic landscapes and warm hospitality. The island boasts many attractions for travelers to explore, from secluded coves to captivating historical sites.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of renowned beaches such as Playa Knip, Playa Porto Mari, and Cas Abao Beach while engaging in water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing.

Delve into the island’s rich heritage by wandering through the colorful streets of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site adorned with colonial architecture, museums, and art galleries.

View of the Cas Abao Beach with people entering the water in Curacao.

When to Visit Curacao

The best time to experience Curacao is during the dry season, from January to April. Bask in the sunshine and balmy weather, perfect for outdoor excursions and beach adventures. Alternatively, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May to June or November to mid-December for a quieter and more budget-friendly escape, albeit with some chance of rainfall.

Curacao is situated beyond the hurricane belt and offers a haven from hurricanes or tropical storms affecting neighboring islands. This lack of hurricane threats makes this a good option for travel at any time of the year.

Curacao is part of the islands known as the ABCs: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The island has many direct flights from the US and Europe, but you can easily fly between the islands. If you visit Aruba, check out my post, Best Snorkeling Beaches in Aruba.

A sea turtle swimming in the waters of Curacao.
Photo Courtesy of Stephan Van de Schootbrugge from Unsplash

Essentials for Snorkeling in Curacao

Prepare for your snorkeling adventures with the essential gear: a mask and snorkel. While fins are beneficial, they are not necessary. If you snorkel frequently, consider investing in your equipment; it’s a worthwhile investment that will last for years. Our gear is nearly two decades old!

For those opting to rent equipment, expect to pay around $20 per day at most beaches in Curacao. Pack water shoes to navigate rocky terrain and apply reef-safe sunscreen generously to protect yourself and the delicate coral ecosystem.

For guidance on reef-safe sunscreen options, refer to our post dedicated to selecting products that preserve the health of the coral reef while safeguarding your skin during your Curacao adventure. Read Reef Safe Sunscreen Can Be Confusing for more information.

Most of Curacao’s best snorkeling beaches are on the west side of the island. The island has two main sections: the Willemstad area (the central city) and everything else. Most hotels are located near Willemstad, and a car is required to reach beaches outside the area. 

One main road leads out of Willemstad towards the northwest and to most of the best snorkeling beaches. Bus stops are everywhere on the island, and getting around with a car is possible, but having a rental will make your adventure to explore the best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao much easier. 

Types Of Marine Life

When snorkeling in the waters of Curacao, you can expect to encounter a diverse array of marine life. Some of the most common types of marine species found in Curacao include:

Tropical Fish: Curacao’s reefs are teeming with colorful tropical fish, including parrotfish, angelfish, sergeant majors, butterflyfish, and wrasses. 

Coral: The reefs surrounding Curacao are home to various hard and soft coral species. Look out for brain coral, elkhorn coral, pillar coral, and sea fans swaying gently in the currents. Coral reefs provide essential habitats for numerous marine organisms and contribute to the ecosystem’s overall biodiversity.

Sea Turtles: Several sea turtles, including hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtles, inhabit the waters around Curacao. Snorkelers often can observe these majestic creatures gracefully swimming in their natural habitat.

Octopuses: Curacao’s waters are home to octopuses, known for their intelligence and camouflage abilities. Look for these fascinating creatures hiding among rocks or coral formations.

Eels: Moray eels and other species of eels can be spotted lurking in crevices or burrowing in the sandy seabed. While they may appear intimidating, these creatures are generally shy and prefer to avoid human interaction.

Stingrays: Snorkelers may encounter southern stingrays gliding gracefully along the sandy bottom. These elegant creatures are harmless if left undisturbed, providing a memorable sight for underwater observers.

Lobsters and Crabs: Look out for spiny lobsters, hermit crabs, and other crustaceans hiding in crevices or scavenging for food on the ocean floor.

View of the water at Playa Jeremi in Curacao.

Basic Rules and Etiquette of Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a rewarding and enjoyable activity that allows you to explore the underwater world. To ensure a safe and respectful snorkeling experience, follow some basic rules and etiquette:

Know Your Abilities: Assess your swimming skills and comfort level before entering the water. Snorkeling should be enjoyable and relaxing, so only venture into waters you feel confident navigating.

Stay Close to the Shore: Stick to shallow waters, especially if you’re a beginner or unfamiliar with them. Avoid venturing too far from shore or beyond your comfort zone. One of the most remarkable aspects of snorkeling in Curacao over other locations is how quickly the drop-off occurs. You will see the dark line of the significant depth change from the shore.

Respect Marine Life: Observe marine life from a safe distance and avoid touching or disturbing underwater creatures and coral reefs. Remember that you are a guest in their habitat and should minimize your environmental impact.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Keep an eye on your surroundings, including other snorkelers, boats, and changing weather conditions. Be mindful of currents and tides, and avoid areas with strong waves or underwater hazards.

Use Buoyancy Aids if Needed: If you’re not a strong swimmer or feel uncomfortable in the water, consider using a flotation device such as a life jacket or snorkeling vest for added safety.

Buddy System: Snorkel with a buddy whenever possible. A partner nearby can assist in an emergency and enhance the overall snorkeling experience.

By following these basic rules and etiquette, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and environmentally responsible snorkeling experience for yourself and others.

Countdown Of The Top Beaches For Snorkeling In Curacao

12. Klein Curaçao

While technically not on the island of Curacao, Klein Curacao is a small island off the coast. Accessible by an hour and a half boat ride, this deserted stretch of sand offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Despite its remote location, Klein Curacao is a popular excursion for visitors seeking pristine beaches and great snorkeling.

Things to keep in mind when visiting are the rough waters to reach the destination. Many people report seasickness on the journey. Also, there is limited shade on the island. Access is usually through organized boat tours,  with snorkeling equipment included.

View from a boat trip to Klein Curacao.
Photo courtesy of Ties P from Unsplash
11. Playa Piskado (aka Playa Grandi)

This western island destination is renowned for its frequent encounters with turtles. As a working fishermen’s beach, Playa Piskado benefits from scraps tossed into the water, attracting turtles. Although the waters can be cloudy due to fishing activities, sightings of turtles are almost guaranteed. When snorkeling here be sure to keep an eye out for fishing boats, they come and go in these waters regularly. While not the most attractive beach, swimming with the turtles is worth stopping before heading to better spots to snorkel.

Pelican on the rocks at Playa Piskado with snorkelers in the water behind.
10. Playa Gipy (Guepi)

For a secluded snorkeling experience, Playa Gipy is an excellent choice. Situated on the remote tip of Curacao, this small cove offers a tranquil setting for snorkelers. While amenities are scarce, and the water conditions depend on the weather, Playa Gipy promises a serene snorkeling adventure away from the crowds.

You will most likely be the only people on this “beach,” so keep that in mind. Reaching this location is a little rough since it requires traveling on a rocky dirt road. While in the area, check out the Watamula blowhole and the Shete Boka National Park.

9. Playa Lagun

Nestled within a protective cove, Playa Lagun boasts a vibrant coral reef and frequent sightings of sea turtles. Ideal for beginners, this small beach offers rental gear and beach chairs. The best snorkeling spots are along the cliff walls lining the cove, where you’ll encounter diverse marine life.

View of the water at Kleine Knip or Little Knip beach for snorkeling in Curacao.
8. Kleine Knip

Also known as Playa Kenepa Chiki, Kleine Knip is a small yet beautiful beach teeming with marine life. The name translates to “little Knip beach.” With calm waters, it’s perfect for novice snorkelers. While you can rent beach chairs, bringing your own snorkeling equipment is advisable. Snorkeling along the cliff walls offers the best views of tropical fish.

7. Porto Mari Beach

Located near Sint Willibrordus, Porto Mari is a popular beach destination with two coral reefs and abundant marine life. Entry fees and chair rentals are nominal ($3 entry and $3.50 for a chair), and amenities include gear rental and a restaurant. Perfect for snorkelers of all skill levels, it offers an exceptional walk-in snorkeling experience.

View from the look out tower at Porto Mari in Curacao.
6. Tugboat Beach

Named after a sunken tugboat, this beach offers an exciting snorkeling experience with rich marine life. While currents can be stronger, making it suitable for confident swimmers, Tugboat Beach promises memorable underwater encounters.

The beach offers free access, with chair rental available. But this is a rockier beach, not soft white sand, so I recommend proper water shoes. You will also find a beach bar at the location.

Tugboat Beach is one of the better snorkeling locations near Willemstad and is great for cruise ship passengers. Transportation is available if needed. The drive is about 20 minutes from the port.

People on the beach and in the water at Playa Kalki in one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao.
5. Playa Kalki

Known as Alice in Wonderland, Playa Kalki boasts clear turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. Situated near Westpunt village, it’s accessible by car with parking available. Rental equipment is offered at the dive shop nearby, making it convenient for snorkelers to explore the underwater wonders.

This beach is a fabulous destination, with comfy sunbeds built into a rock wall. It has the feel of an Amalfi coast beach. You enter down a steep staircase to a restaurant, bar, and dive shop nestled into the large trees and more steps to the beach and a short pier.

Close up of the beach sign at Playa Jeremi in Curacao.
4. Playa Jeremi

Another gem on the western side of Curacao, Playa Jeremi offers basic facilities and a picturesque setting. While amenities may be limited, nearby restaurants provide refreshments after snorkeling adventures. With its tranquil ambiance and rich marine biodiversity, Playa Jeremi is a must-visit for snorkeling enthusiasts.

Playa Jeremi is a somewhat rocky beach, so bring your water shoes. It’s easy to find shade here, but you can rent a chair and umbrella. 

3. Cas Abao

Renowned for its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters, Cas Abao Beach offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. Located near Soto village, it’s easily accessible and equipped with restrooms, showers, and a beachside bar. Rental equipment is available, ensuring a hassle-free snorkeling experience.

Cas Abao Beach is as close to a long, white, sandy beach as you will find in Curacao. This makes entry to the water relatively easy in this location. There is an entrance fee of $6 per car, plus chair rental fees. Head to the left for the best snorkeling at this beach.

Oh, and don’t miss out on a beach massage in a hut along the beach. 

View of Blue Bay Beach Curacao.
2. Blue Bay Beach

Inside the Blue Bay Resort, Blue Bay Beach is a popular snorkeling destination with calm, clear waters and rich marine life. The entry fee includes a beach chair, and rental equipment is available at an additional cost. With its accessible reef and diverse marine ecosystem, Blue Bay Beach guarantees an unforgettable snorkeling adventure. This was one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao, during my visit.

What is incredible about snorkeling at Blue Bay is the chance to experience what makes Curacao such a great diving destination. Just off the coast are the two formations, “The Wall” and “The Garden Wall.” These are two drop-off points that are incredibly close to shore. While scuba divers can only explore the walls, you can get a feel for the experience as a snorkeler. 

The sign at the entrance to Playa Daaibooi the best beach for snorkeling in Curacao
1. Daaibooi

My favorite, Daaibooi Beach, offers a serene and secluded setting with abundant marine life. Located near St. Willibrordus village (WilliWood), it’s easily accessible by car, with free parking. Rental gear and beach chairs are available, making it convenient for snorkelers. 

The calm, clear waters, and vibrant reef promise an exceptional snorkeling experience, with frequent sightings of turtles and diverse marine species. Basic facilities, including restrooms, a snack bar and picnic areas, make Daaibooi Beach the perfect destination for snorkeling and relaxation. This was also one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao, it is my favorite beach for just spending the day. 

My experience at this beach was frequent turtle sightings very close to shore. One note is that the water was pretty cloudy on my second visit, but there were storms that morning, and the waves were particularly large for Curacao. The next day, it had cleared significantly.

View to the rocky coast of Daaibooi beach in Curacao.

The Top Place To Snorkel In Curacao

Curacao is an unparalleled paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts, boasting diverse marine life and breathtaking underwater landscapes. From the serene shores of Daaibooi Beach to the vibrant reefs of Playa Jeremi and beyond, each of the top 12 best beaches for snorkeling in Curacao offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a novice adventurer, Curacao’s idyllic waters promise endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. So pack your gear, follow the basic rules and etiquette, and embark on an extraordinary journey to uncover the hidden treasures of Curacao’s underwater world.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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