“Autumn, you are always going to Bonaire. Why don’t you come dive Curacao with us,” asked Ed and Jeramiah of Ocean Encounters Curacao. “You can easily jump over here for a few days after your Bonaire trip and see what we are all about!” Why not? I hadn’t dove Curacao before and was excited for the new experience. They had made arrangements for us to stay at 2 of the local hotels so I could see all of the options we have when bringing Scuba Girls to Curacao.
We arrived late Saturday morning and quickly cleared customs. All of the Dutch Antilles or ABC islands are now individual countries. We were met at the airport by a driver from Ocean Encounters that handled all of our bags and shuffled us through the maze of narrow, poorly marked streets to our first hotel.
The Sunscape Resort, Spa and Casino is up to date and all inclusive. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They whisked our bags quickly to our room so we could make the afternoon dive. Ocean Encounters has an onsite dive shop here! The staff was professional, friendly and helpful. Of course, I was delighted to see Stream2Sea Reef Friendly products prominently displayed! We finished filling out the requisite liability releases just as the boat, a Newton 46, arrived to pick us up for the afternoon dive.
The afternoon was a lion fish hunt and specialty dive. We joined the rest of the group and received very professional training and orientation from Pol of Ocean Encounters at their primary location. Then we boarded the boat to hunt lion fish! I teamed up with Ruth, a local Ocean Encounters dive master. I speared 3 lionfish, my first time! I missed a couple and saw many more of this invasive species. The water was a warm 81f/27c and clear with over 100 ft visibility. After the dive, Pol fileted some lion fish and we had sashimi on board! After a lovely afternoon, the boat dropped us off at the resort. We had dinner at the resort’s Da Mario Italian restaurant, with a nice view overlooking the ocean. This was carnival night so there was live Samba music and dancing until 3:00am. Ask for a room away from the beach bar if you’re a light sleeper…
The next morning the boat from Ocean Encounters picked us up and took us to our next hotel, the Lions Dive and Beach Resort. Check in again was easy and the staff friendly and helpful. After check-in we all met at the dive shop for another great day of diving.
Ocean Encounters primary location is at Lion’s Dive Resort. This morning’s dive was an open water dolphin encounter unlike any we have ever experienced. We receive our briefing from George Kieffer of Curacao Sea Aquarium Dolphin Academy. I’m skeptical, as I have serious issues with captivity. These dolphins are coastal bottlenose species that were born at the Sea Aquarium dolphin lagoon. They utilized at the Dolphin Therapy & Research Center as well as for the dolphin experience at the Sea Aquarium. The center focuses on behavioral research for children with special needs like Autism, Aspergers and Downs Syndrome. We were told the dolphins have access and are taken to the open ocean, but choose to live in their lagoon. Two resident males were expected to join us on the dive.
We boarded the boat for a short ride to the dive site, Ship Wreck Point. Once in the water, it didn’t take long for one dolphin and his trainer, George Kieffer, to show up. It was very apparent that these two had a special bond. They loved each other. The encounter lasted for about 45 minutes, with the dolphin speeding around the divers, leaping in the air and circling back to his trainer for snuggles. Despite my hesitation, this was an experience I recommend and would repeat many times if I could!
We returned to the resort for lunch at their Hemingway Restaurant and Bar. The afternoon dive was the Coral Restoration Foundation Specialty Dive. We had a very professional briefing from Pol, Ocean Encounters primary instructor. Ocean Encounters sponsors a Coral Restoration Foundation site on Curacao. Pol and Jeramiah lead the work there. On the dive, we were shown the different coral nurseries and helped in maintaining and growing more corals! Curacao is one of the last places in the Caribbean where coral still thrives but it is threated. Even in Curacao, you can see the coral is not as healthy as it once was. We applaud Ocean Encounters for investing in and educating about Coral Restoration. This is a must dive when visiting Curacao!
Back to the resort, we enjoyed generous after dive cocktails and dinner at Hemingway’s. The resort is quiet and restful, quite a difference from the lively Casino resort next door. The rooms were comfortable and clean. Bring a power adapter as electricity is 220v with European 2 pin outlets.
We spent the next two days exploring some of the island nation’s pristine dive sites, East Point, Newport, Blue Bay Gardens and Mushroom forest. The winds were high, but the captain was able to find quiet bays and lagoons to enjoy our lunch. It was sad to leave Curacao and our vist with Ocean Encounters, but we will be back! Many thanks to Jeremiah, Ed, Pol, Ruth and the rest of the staff there that made our visit so enjoyable. We can now highly recommend Ocean Encounters and Curacao as Scuba Girl Approved for your next Scuba Girl adventure!