A giant bait ball circles around the diver (c) Tilo Kühnast
Frogfish (c) Tilo Kühnast
Neptune in the reef (c) Tilo Kühnast
Sunset in diver's paradise (c) Sarah Wünsche
Relaxing on the beach (c) Sarah Wünsche
Paradise for divers - More than 80 dive spots
Turquoise waters, a light breeze lets the palms sway while adults wait – of course with a cocktail - for the beautiful sunset. Further out, where a deep blue of the sea shows the edge of the shallow reef, colorful fishing boats sway gently in the swell. These places are numerous worldwide. But no place elsewhere where you can dive absolute free without any legal restrictions.
Curacao is one of the few places in the world where free, independent diving is allowed. More than 80 diving spots are listed, most of them are (also) suitable for beginners. On Curacao there is almost no current, the orientation is simple (30 minutes way, turn around, 30 minutes back) and thus also feasible without a navigation course. Parking, diving, enjoying life. That's what you call freedom.
The village of Westpunt is about 45 minutes by car from the capital Willemstad. In Willemstad tourist shops line up, one bar is in competition with the next. In Westpunt you will not find anything like that. Located at the edge of the National Park and Mount Christoffel, the choice of possible evening activities is manageable. Some very good restaurants, one, two sundowner bars. And... the visit of iguanas at the breakfast table and exotic birds, waiting to get hold of a piece of fresh fruit. Here in Westpunt the clocks tick slower. No rush, no stress. Whether you fire the BBQ grill on the terrace, cook comfortably or visit one of the restaurants: the unique sunset is best viewed from the private terrace. A glass of wine or a beer, the sound of the waves. With a bit of luck you will see the jumping dolphins on the horizon, while the silhouettes of the boat boats slowly disappear in the red gold of the “big ball”. That's what life is all about. The freedom to enjoy - when and where you want.
Colorful sponges grow in competition
It's the same with diving. Only a few steps separate the well-secured drying room of the All West apartment complex in Westpunt from the large house reef. Already during the descent the clear view convinces. In “the real world” you hear about coral bleaching, dead reefs again and again. This information does not seem to have arrived here at this reef: colorful sponges grow, corals claim their place. Damselfish vigorously defend their territory from the invaders, while the majority of the rest of the fish world remains completely unimpressed. There is nothing here that does not exist in a Caribbean Sea.
A giant turtle is crossing. Closely followed by a second turtle! Both are heading for the statue of Neptune. He rises from the middle of the reef. Made of metal the almost three -meter-tall iron man sits here on his throne. However, the corals sprouting from the head and from Neptunes trident give him a look like a funny gardener.
It is worthwhile to look into each crevice, to circle each reef block twice: Macrofans find their paradise here. At the small jetty life explodes. In only five to eight meters water depth, eight almost tame turtles of various sizes, romping rabidly through the seaweed. The sky darkens: a giant baitball circles around the divers. Thousands of fish whose scales glitter silvery in the sunlight. They seek the closeness of the divers, willingly accept them in their midst. A fascinating moment, a moment where you wish it would never end.
Another visit at the Frogfish’s place, a quick hurrying past the moorings where the seahorses live. Then it is time to get out of the water. Let’s get on to the next dream beach and reef.
10th December 2019