The best snorkeling spots in Curacao

All Curacao’s snorkeling spots are scattered along the southwestern side of the island, sheltered from trade winds. Here, the waters are safe, calm, and crystal-clear, offering perfect conditions for snorkeling. The east side of Curacao, exposed to winds and strong waves, is not suitable for snorkeling. 

Curacao’s western coastline shelters over 35 beaches, but not all of them have good snorkeling, especially when located close to mangroves areas, because of poor visibility. At some beaches, an admission fee is charged, sometimes including a beach chair.

Snorkeling Curacao's beaches
You can enjoy nice snorkeling sessions off the gorgeous beaches on Curacao’s Northwestern coast (left: Playa Porto Mari), even if the sea life is not spectacular (right, Klein Knip).

Car rental is by far the best option to reach the beaches, as the public transportation network is limited on the island. Boat tours, including snorkeling stops on several spots of the island, can be booked in Willemstad and most of the hotels.

The closest snorkeling beaches north to Willemstad are the photogenic Playa Porto Mari and Playa Cas Abao. They offer decent snorkeling, with mostly sandy seabed interspersed with coral patches. Both of them have a beach admission fee.

Artificial reefs in Curacao
Small artificial reefs, attracting many small fish, have been installed in front of several popular beaches, like here in Playa Porto Mari.

Up north, Playa Lagun, a narrow cove adorned by rocky cliffs, is definitely the best snorkeling spot in Curacao main island to swim with sea turtles, even if they are not visiting the bay daily.

2 miles south of Westpunt, do not miss the two “Knip” beaches. Grote Knip (also known as Knip Beach or Playa Kenepa Grandi), is widely recognized as Curacao’s most beautiful beach. The view from above the bay is right out of a postcard, with a panorama on the turquoise sea and the fishing boats.

Kein Knip (Little Knip Beach, or Playa Kenepa Chiki), the second of the two coves, is located 1 mile south. It is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island’s west end, where you will swim above patches of elkhorn coral.

Snorkeling the Tugboat wreck, Curacao
Lying underwater in a shallow bay, the Tugboat shipwreck is Curacao’s snorkeling wonder.

Around Westpunt, the twin beaches of Playa Grandi (nicknamed “Alice in Wonderland”) and Playa Forti, where it is sometimes possible to see sea turtles, are good snorkeling options, as well as Playa Kalki, the northernmost snorkeling spot in Curacao.

You will surely enjoy Curacao’s northwestern shore snorkeling. But whether you are a beginner or an advanced snorkeler, do not leave the island without having snorkeled the Tugboat. This spot, named after a shipwreck sitting in a shallow and sheltered bay, is definitely the most popular of Curacao.

The boat trip to Klein Curacao, a small coral island just 10 miles off the main island, is one of the most popular day tours around Curacao. The leeward side of the island, fringed by a half-a-mile long white sand beach, provides good snorkeling opportunities and is popular for sea turtle sightings.

Sea turtle in Curacao
Klein Curacao is one of the best spots on the island to swim with green sea turtles.

More than 350 species of fish and 65 species of hard and soft coral have been recorded on the fringing reefs of Curacao. When snorkeling off the island’s beach, you may spot butterflyfish, angelfish, tang, small groupers, puffers, and a wide diversity of other reef fish. Green sea turtles are quite easy to spot in some locations, especially in Playa Lagun, Playa Forti, Playa Grandi, and Klein Curacao.

If you are planning to snorkel the ABC Islands, we recommend bringing with you the excellent Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas (also available in ebook), the reference guide to ID the fish you will encounter snorkeling the islands.

The very best 👇👇👇 of our snorkeling time in the ABC Islands. Exploring the islands of Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba, trying to see as much sea life as we could!

These three islands are a coveted playground for snorkelers: calm and warm waters, shallow coral reefs, beautiful shipwrecks, and a myriad of sea life. The name of the snorkeling spot where the images have been shot is mentioned in each sequence.



When to go snorkeling Curacao?

Snorkeling can be enjoyed throughout the year in Curacao. The island has a warm, sunny, and windy climate year-round. Short, occasional showers characterize the rainy season, from October to January. The average air temperature is around 80°F/27°C, with an annual rainfall average of less than 600mm (23 inches).

450+ spots have already been featured on Snorkeling Report thanks to people like you. Share your favorite snorkeling spot and help us cover the world map. Your contribution will help the snorkeling community find sites and enjoy the underwater world!


Where to spot them?

Discover on which snorkeling spots you are most likely to see your favorite species