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Aruba or Curacao for an experienced diver?


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I've just been offered the chance to dive either Aruba or Curacau from our cruise departing the Bahamas on New Years Eve. I'm away with my wife (and meeting my daughter on the ship), but neither dives so they will go off together and I will dive alone.

There was a similar thread on here, with the same destinations, but that was looking to combine Scuba and Snorkeling. I don't need to do that. I'm qualified to an advanced level and an instructor, and I will have dived recently (Croatia in September, and various quarries in England in November/December).

So which offers the best diving Aruba or Curacau? What's the diving like? What's to see (Turtles? Wrecks? anything else?). And recommendations for a dive centre that will work round the cruise times (and pickup from the ship)? There will only be me so it will need to a group, and since we're flying I will need to hire most kit..

 

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Neither island is known for particularly challenging diving.  I think the reefs are healthier in Curacao, and from your post I'd say it would be your better choice if you can only dive one of the two.  I'd recommend you contact Hans Pleij at CURious2Dive.  He'll pick you up and return you to the port,and you could ask to do a drift dive from Director's Bay to Tugboat beach.  You'll see a lot of interesting things there; the old surf nets at Director's bay, the sunken tugboat, and then the pier where (currently) there's a drill rig in for service.  (https://www.curious2dive.com/).

 

If you decide on a Aruba, there's a wreck there that's interesting for its history, the Antilla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Antilla_(1939)  It's hardly a challenging dive, but it's always enjoyable.  for Aruba Jeffrey Kost at Happy Divers Aruba can set you up.  (https://happydiversaruba.com/).

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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Once again @omeinv is exactly correct!

 

My upcoming cruise in January I've chosen Dive Bus for Curacao and to do two tanks on their house reef.

Although I am capable of doing much more difficult diving, there is something to be said for just putting an 80 on your back and just enjoying being in the water at your own pace.

 

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Harris' recommendations are always spot on.

 

I'm heading out on Beyond next week for a GC/A/B/C cruise where I'll be diving at all four port stops. For Curacao, I will be diving with Caribbean Sea Sports because I didn't want to do shore dives there since we're also diving Bonaire. 

 

I've never dived Curacao on earlier visits there, so I'm hoping for a good experience with this operator.

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On 11/2/2023 at 1:15 PM, Advanced Diver said:

I've just been offered the chance to dive either Aruba or Curacau from our cruise departing the Bahamas on New Years Eve. I'm away with my wife (and meeting my daughter on the ship), but neither dives so they will go off together and I will dive alone.

There was a similar thread on here, with the same destinations, but that was looking to combine Scuba and Snorkeling. I don't need to do that. I'm qualified to an advanced level and an instructor, and I will have dived recently (Croatia in September, and various quarries in England in November/December).

So which offers the best diving Aruba or Curacau? What's the diving like? What's to see (Turtles? Wrecks? anything else?). And recommendations for a dive centre that will work round the cruise times (and pickup from the ship)? There will only be me so it will need to a group, and since we're flying I will need to hire most kit..

 

 

If I'm understanding correctly, you're on a cruise that stops in both ports?  As I'm sure you already know, nothing is guaranteed with visibility and strong currents

 

Curacao has better diving, you're nearly guaranteed to see sea turtles and possibly a sea horse.  A kind of cool thing to do is the lionfish hunt, you pay a little extra, and they'll you a spear and training.  If you're able to spear one you give the whole spear to the guide who will put the fish in their zookeeper and give you back the spear.  As @ROUS points out, the dive bus would be a great option if you're there for a land stay but they have strict deadlines and you need to take a 15-minute taxi ride each way at tourist pricing.  I recommend Scubaçao Diving Adventures which offers free pick and drop off and you also don't pay until the pick you up so if the ship can't make it or is super late, you won't even be charged in the first place

 

Aruba, the Mermaid II dive boat mooring is about a 10-minute walk from the ship gangway.  Aruba has two relativity intact jumbo jets you can swim in.  It's been a year but they only charged $75 for a two-tank boat dive if you had your own gear.  The plane wrecks aren't too deep and not too far from shore so it's possible to snorkel yet I'd research that more as your party's fitness level may be a factor.  It should be noted visibility will most likely be worse in Aruba and there isn't a ton to see marine life other than small reef fish

 

 

If it were me, I would dive both (lol) in the morning and join the rest of the party to snorkel in the afternoon

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To answer the few questions. Yes the cruise ship calls in both Aruba and Curacao. The rest of the party is my wife and she doesn't snorkel so I would be leaving her by herself (well maybe with my daughter but she works on the ship so will be limited in time - have to get back to work in the afternoon probably). Spear fishing wouldn't be something that would interest me, generally I want to see the fish not kill them. I don't know about the Caribbean, but I do know in the Red Sea the Lionfish are an invasive species so killing them is acceptable or welcomed (I just looked it up - same in the Caribbean), but not something I have considered.

I won't be taking my own gear on this trip, because it's a fly cruise so limited in weight and it's a single day diving. I will bring the basics - prescription mask, dive computer, fins, camera + housing + lenses + video light, but not BCD or Regs or wetsuit as they weigh too much.

I can live with the diving being not challenging. I have a week on a liveaboard in the Maldives booked for the end of January so the chance to see Manta Rays, and sharks. Scuba Diving from the cruise ship is an added extra. Turtles would be good to see though.

 

 

On 11/4/2023 at 4:30 PM, bruzin_for_a_cruizin said:

For Curacao, I will be diving with Caribbean Sea Sports because I didn't want to do shore dives there since we're also diving Bonaire.

 

From what I can see and most of what has been recommended on here, the diving is mostly shore diving, though there are 1 or 2 boats as you have booked - is it worth holding out for a boat trip, or is it just as good on the shore dives does anyone know?

 

Thanks for the replies everyone.

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3 hours ago, Advanced Diver said:

or is it just as good on the shore dives does anyone know?

 

Here are my Curacao shore dives.  I'll be doing it again this winter.  Your mileage may vary.  Past performance is no indicator of future results.

 

 

 


 

Edited by ROUS
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3 hours ago, Advanced Diver said:

same in the Caribbean), but not something I have considered

 

Yup, an invasive species and the shop will give the lionfish to a nearby restaurant so you are being helpful if you decide to go that direction.  Lionfish hang out on reefs which is where you'd dive regardless if you decide to hunt or not

 

3 hours ago, Advanced Diver said:

Manta Rays, and sharks

 

The liveaboard sounds spectacular.  Just letting you know you have a 99% to dive with Manta in Kona, HI as they come out every night and you possibly may see sharks.  99% you can dive with sharks in nearby Oahu HI, Riveria Beach FL, Bahamas (Nassau, Bimini and super expensive Tiger Beach), St Kitts, St Marten and the Bullsharks in Playa Del Carmen

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I'm kind of a new diver but I dived in both Aruba and Curacao 2 times. Curacao has the better diving IMO. Going back to the ABCs again next January and diving again in just Curacao with Scubacao. 

 

Although if you never done the Antllla (a WWII German freighter which was scuttled at the start of the war)  is a good dive in Aruba and they usually include the site of the Perdinales another wreck as the second tank dive. Both are about a mile off shore so it is boat dive.  I did it twice, once with Happy Divers and the other time (3 years later) through the ship (Red Sail Sports).  I enjoyed it both times.

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2 hours ago, mac66 said:

Although if you never done the Antllla (a WWII German freighter which was scuttled at the start of the war)  is a good dive in Aruba and they usually include the site of the Perdinales another wreck as the second tank dive. 

 

I agree with mac66 on the wrecks.  Here's my dive there for your research:

 

 

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On 11/6/2023 at 2:19 AM, NutsAboutGolf said:

Just letting you know you have a 99% to dive with Manta in Kona, HI as they come out every night and you possibly may see sharks.  99% you can dive with sharks in nearby Oahu HI, Riveria Beach FL, Bahamas (Nassau, Bimini and super expensive Tiger Beach), St Kitts, St Marten and the Bullsharks in Playa Del Carmen

Thanks for the info. I will be looking for another long haul trip for the club over the next year (or two). They are all a significant commitment to get to from the UK but worth a look. I was wondering about the Galapagos or the Philippines. For an actual dive trip for the club I have to entice others too - maybe Whalesharks will be a draw. We did try for Basking Sharks off the Uk South Coast last year but no luck.

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12 minutes ago, Advanced Diver said:

Thanks for the info. I will be looking for another long haul trip for the club over the next year (or two). They are all a significant commitment to get to from the UK but worth a look. I was wondering about the Galapagos or the Philippines. For an actual dive trip for the club I have to entice others too - maybe Whalesharks will be a draw. We did try for Basking Sharks off the Uk South Coast last year but no luck.

 

Two vastly different price points.  Whale sharks are in Cebu Philippines, 99% chance of seeing them as they feed them and there are a bunch of IJN WW2 wrecks in Coron Philippines.  There are other great sites but you have to fly or take a ferry if available to different islands to see everything

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Back to the original topic, when you're there for a single day and are not hiring a private guide, you're at the mercy of the guide/captain to which dive site they're going to take you.  Their decisions can also factor in how many beginner divers there are because if there are many you're probably going to the dive site with the least amount of current.  I think your "research" shouldn't be about which island to dive to, it's about what can you do for your wife (nice dinner? spa appt?) to dive in both islands.  For Aruba you can meet at the boat avoiding stopping by the dive shop and the four times I've been on the Mermaid II the boat didn't go out far so you were done in roughly 3 hours which is fairly quick for a two tank

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