The Tugboat is the most popular snorkeling spot in Curacao. It is lying in a sheltered and shallow bay on the island’s southwestern coast. Covered by corals, sponges and sea fans, the photogenic 9-meters long wreck is home to a variety of colorful reef fish. Do not expect a nice beach setting, as the spot is located next to an industrial area.

How to get there?

The Tugboat is located in Caracas Bay, some 7 kilometers est to Willemstad. From the capital-city and the ring, head east to Salina and take Caracasbaaiweg. At the roundabout set at the end of the street, take the second exit. You will then enter the small peninsula where the spot is located. It can be useful to us a geolocation app to find the beach, as it is a bit hard to find, despite some “Tugboat” painted signs on abandoned buildings along the dirty road. At the end of the road, there is a parking lot and a restaurant.

Snorkeling the tugboat beach, Curacao

It is also possible to explore this spot by booking a boat tour departing from Willemstad. This is a good option if you did not rent a car, or if you want to enjoy the boat ride along the coast. Prices starts at $60pp., for a half-day tour.

Water entrance

The beach is made of sand, rocks and coral rubble. To get closer to the wreck, walk to the south end of the beach and enter the water at this point.

Tugboat wreck snorkeling map, Curacao

Exploration

The area to explore includes the Tugboat wreck and its surrounding reef areas, especially the coral settlements along the cliffs on the southern side of the bay.

The wreck is located behind the platform #5, that you can easily spot some 100m from the beach. Fin in that direction. Departing from the beach, you will find a shallow sandy area that slowly drops off into a large rocky slope (↕6-18ft/2-5m). The rocks are overgrown with colorful coral and sponges, and are home to a variety of reef fish like grunt, parrotfish, couples of banded butterflyfish and many more. Look out for flamingo tongue, a brightly colored sea snail that generally feed on gorgonians.

Coral reef at the Tugboat, Curacao

Stay close to the cliff, and reach the area behind the platform #5. Approximately 30m behind the platform, and a few meters from the shore (see map above), you will soon spot the tugboat sitting on the seabed (↕18ft/5m). With the sunrays illuminating the wreck surrounded by shoals of damselfish, the first sight at the Tugboat is always a fascinating moment. Corals and sponges cover the structure of the boat, immersed since more than 30 years. The moderate depth (less than 5 meters of water) and the good underwater visibility makes the Tugboat a perfect spot for freedivers.

Come early in the morning, as this spot can be crowded. Stay away from the dock, even if there is no boat moored on it: entering the industrial area is prohibited and dangerous.

Snorkeling the Tugboat wreck, Curacao

Restaurants and accommodation

The Tugboat Bar is set on the beach. Check opening hours if you plan to have lunch here. A large choice of restaurants, fast-food and supermarket is available in Willemstad area, a 5-minutes’ drive from the spot.

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth15ft/5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy/rocky beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.