This is not a waist-whittling dive destination: Dozens of sites like Cas Abao are within steps of the road, and the fringing reef system closely parallels shore, making for short-to-site swims. And with mild to nonexistent currents, your lungs won’t be taxed. Plus, with most guided dives targeting depths of 60 feet or shallower, newbies and instructors alike can boast long bottom times. The shallower depths also allow you to create a daily dive schedule packed enough to rival any live-aboard.
What you’ll see on these healthy, gently sloping reefs: seahorses, frogfish, lettuce sea slugs, spiny lobsters, mantis shrimp and a host of other macro life. Curaçao isn’t known for the big stuff, but if you widen your focus, you’ll be treated to the occasional passing eagle ray or turtle.
If you dive the site aptly named East Point, you’ll find lush gorgonians, hard corals and sponges carpeting the reef; and tarpon can usually be found at a coral arch known as the Underwater Bridge.
This high-energy, cosmopolitan island is ideal for those seeking an après-dive scene, be it cocktails with an international crowd, gambling, dancing or late-night dining. In downtown Willemstad, picture the charm of Amsterdam row houses dressed up in vibrant Caribbean hues. By day, this isle offers ample entertainment: shopping, golfing, beach lounging, cliff jumping, museum touring and more.
You can fulfill at least one Swiss Family Robinson fantasy on Curaçao: racing ostriches. At the Curaçao Ostrich Farm, you’ll learn lots, including why you should leave the gold watch at home when feeding these awkward birds. If you have time, make an evening of it with dinner at the Zambezi restaurant. Then make new friends around the campfire (held nightly Wed.-Sun.; ostrichfarm.net).