Curacao snorkeling is remarkably good and extremely accessible all along its eastern coast, even off the private beaches of resorts right in the city limits of the capital of Willemstad. These small private beaches provide some of the best snorkeling on Curacao and allow you to enjoy the island’s remarkable underwater world without ever leaving your hotel.
You can find good snorkeling sites in Curacao along the western coast of the island, but these are very problematic because this side of the island faces the Atlantic and is unprotected. The coast is windblown and rugged, and the waters are often quite rough. The weather is only occasionally calm enough for cruises to this side of the island, and those are almost always done by expert diving operators and experienced scuba divers.
The main reason that Curacao snorkeling is so good is the fact that the island is almost completely ringed by coral reefs that are quite close to shore. Some of the best snorkeling sites in Curacao are off the beaches on the northeastern coast, where the reefs are often in waist-deep water. Playa Kalki Beach on the far northern tip of the island and Cas Abao Beach near the island’s mid-point both boast reefs quite close to shore that can be enjoyed even by novice swimmers. Playa Porto Mari has dive and snorkeling sites in Curacao along two parallel reefs nicknamed The Valley, and one is close enough to shore that beginners will enjoy it. The natural reef is enhanced with numerous concrete reef balls (a way to help rebuild a reef), and there is a snorkeling trail to be followed along them.
Another superb Curacao snorkeling spot is off the beach on the sheltered west side of Klein Curacao, the tiny uninhabited island off the southern tip of the main island. This is only accessible by boat, and though many advanced divers come to dive the more challenging areas, many come just to spend a day on a beautiful pristine beach and get in some snorkeling. This is a wonderful beach for family vacations, and even delighted children will be able to see colorful fish and sea turtles in very shallow waters. Many consider this the best snorkeling on Curacao, even for advanced swimmers.
The proximity of coral reefs to the shoreline is also why there is so much shore diving, and you will find that the best snorkeling on Curacao is also where the best scuba diving can be found. It is not unusual for even people without diving certifications to come out on cruises that access more remote areas, and they can spend their time snorkeling along reefs close to the surface while other passengers dive. Just off the shore of Ortobando (the Willemstad district where large ship on Caribbean cruises dock) are two shipwrecks, the Superior Producer, a large freighter that is one of the finest wrecks in the Caribbean, and the Tugboat. The little tugboat is almost completely intact and is encrusted with coral. It is only about fifteen feet below the surface, and is excellent for snorkelers.