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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Reef flat with sea turtles and colorful fish
Shallow sandy beds and deep coral reef
Sheltered rocky cove with seagrass beds and sea turtles
Reef drop off with coral and colorful fish
Vibrant coral reef with sea turtles and colorful fish
Reef drop off with fish and turtles
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