Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean for Snorkeling Photography

The Caribbean - Curacao

Highly recommended for underwater photography

A friendly island wth several snorkeling spots.   We score it slightly ahead of Grand Cayman and just a bit less than Bonaire.

The snorkeling is easy and varied.   Visibility is good, if the spot is reasonably sheltered.

There are several good snorkeling spots so it is a matter of choosing according to the wind direction and strength.

The tradewinds can mar sites facing South/ Southwest, in which case, when the winds are strong, or from slightly the wrong direction, it is best to head to inlets on the West coast up North.

There are enough fish (not always as abundant as below but quite a variety) to make things interesting.  There are both hard and soft corals.

Surprisingly, sponges and especially algae, are abundant and add significantly to the colour and variety and so improve the photos.
Curacao is in the South of the Caribbean Sea, only 60km north of Venezuela.   It benefits in many ways from it's strong Dutch association.   English is widely spoken, as is Spanish.

It is a small, island of 61km long and on average, 7km wide, with a population of 150,000.   Being semi-arid, there is low scrub and cacti but quite a deal of wildlife.   Plus, some stunning little white, coral sand beaches (playa).

The main town - Willemstad - is very pretty with pastel coloured buildings, harbour with floating bridge and appealing architecture.  One dinner in town in restaurant over the water was very good.

The people are, as those of us who follow West Indian cricket would expect, very friendly and very helpful.   None of the St Lucian 'attitude'.

Playa Lagun from snack bar on cliff
Playa Lagun
Playa Santa Cruz
Playa Santa Cruz
cactus near Playa Kenepa
approach to Playa Kenepa - the ubiquitous cactus

Below covers a few of our favourite coves up North on the West coast.

There isn't much detail needed because all of that is done for us by Galen and Nicole in their eBooks which are available at

I have no fnancial association with Galen and Nicole.   I buy eBooks from them for my own use.

Put simply, don't leave home for Curacao without buying the eBook first.   The books are great.  They are detailed, accurate and written totally with snorkeling photography in mind.

The price is reasonable.   They are worth a lot more in saved time.  Read and hit the best spots.
On our visit, October 2013, the winds prevented us exploring Galen's favourite sites, Director's Bay and Tugboat Bay, as they were too turbulent.

In desperation we did go in at Galen's highly recommended Jan Thiel and now know what a cork in a washing machine feels like.

It wasn't dangerous but the surge made visibility poor and photography impossible.

From what we did see, we think the coves up North are just as good for coral and fish.   We preferred their easy access, beauty and calm.

Personal choice I guess, or we just didn't see Jan Thiel at its best, as Galen and Nicole clearly did.
Jan Thiel - (a Southern Galen favourite)

Originally this must have been a beautiful cove.

Now, its allure depends upon whether shops, bars galore and rows of deck chairs appeal or not.   I suspect if you are young you will like it.

The car park isn't expensive.   But, that is all shore-side stuff.   Water access is totally easy.

There is either one large snorkeling area outside and between the two breakwaters, or Galen suggests it be divided into three, shorter, dives.

If it is calm and sheltered, it will be worth the visit.
And nearby is Director's Bay and Tugboat Bay.

Bananaquits - supper at the Playa Lagun cliff bar
looking towards the right of Santa Cruz
looking towards the right side of Playa Santa Cruz
an iguana
a very laid-back Iguana

Playa Lagun

Our favourite.   Pretty, calm and choice of two snack bars/ restaurants.

A small bay with very easy access.  Like all the bays, there was a swell or surge but the bay itself was very calm.

On the right hand side there is a snack bar up on the cliff offering very good views of the bay and getting up close and personnal with iguanas and several birds.
Playa Santa Cruz

Easy access and calm, with the usual surge.  Probaby slightly bigger than the other two bays.

Swimming out to the small island right next to the left hand side cliff is a must.

Visibility improves near the island, as do the fish and a lot of our fish shots came from here.

Apart from shade and benches, there weren't any facilities to speak of.   Popular with the locals.
Playa Kenepa

Easy access and calm, with the usual surge.

A very small bay with hardly any facilities but popular with the locals.

The salina meant that visibility on the right hand side was limited.

The plus side was that this attracted silversides which in turn attracted the impressive frigate bird.

Map of Curacao showing some suitable spots for snorkelling photography
Three West coast coves we liked up North:-
- Playa Kenepa
- Playa Lagun
- Playa Santa Cruz

It is likely that you will choose to stay further South.

This is closer to the main town of Willemstad (shown by a 'W' on the map).

Curacao is a small island.   The drive North is not a problem.
The trade winds come in from this side ie the East.

Also shown are three Southerly spots which Galen highly recommends.

Due to wind-driven surges, we were unable to access these places but from their descriptions, they sound essential places to go when conditions are right.

The places are:-
- Jan Thiel Beach (Jan T)
- Tugboat Bay (Tug)
- Directors Bay (Dir)

For coverage of all the snorkelling spots on Curacao, we strongly recommend buying Galen and Nicole's eBook from

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(captions below needn't be read as you will have seen them with the gallery pictures - repeated below so are visible to Google/ search engines)

captions to Curacao 'fish n critters' gallery pictures

captions to Curacao 'seascape' gallery pictures