Curacao vs St Croix for first time/non-diver

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Rearviewmirror

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Hi all,
We're thinking of going out to St Croix or Curacao this July and I wanted to ask which island you'd recommend for the best mix of diving and non-diving activities? I had looked at Bonaire but the flights are insanely expensive that weekend.

My wife is a non-diver, and I think she'll be game to do a discover dive while we're there, but sadly probably won't want to do more than that (unless I can provide her with an epic experience haha!). Ideally I'd want to get her on a two tank discover dive with a good shop who'll provide good instruction and a good learning environment (bonus points for female instructors).

She also can get a bit seasick, so definite preference for either good shore dive options or very short boat ride (I know the Pier in St Croix is meant to be amazing).

Typical stuff we'd do on a non-dive vacation would include kayaking/hiking/nature/beach and ocean swimming etc. We also both love food, but honestly more looking for a nice relaxing vacation (with a good bit of diving for me if I can).

Preference wise for me, anything with a diversity of marine life - would love to see octopus/rays/squid etc. I'm great with sharks, not sure about my wife yet!

Thanks for any reccs!
 

rick00001967

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we have not been to st croix but we really enjoyed curacao. the city is a big tourist attraction with shopping, restaurants etc. there are a bunch of nice beaches to visit around the islnad. the north end has a nature area where people hike etc. the shore diving was fantastic but for larger animals you typically might have to be out further. but you never know what you might see. we spent one week in playa lagun and the second week in an air bnb in town.
 

drrich2

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We've had a 'dive trip disguised as a family vacation' (wife's term) to each.
St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017 - Trip Report - St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017 (A lot's changed topside; I hear Sweet Bottom Dive Center is now the dive op. at Cane Bay, N2TheBlue came under new ownership and a name change, and a zip line offering came about). Other than Frederiksted Pier, the shore diving I did (Cane Bay and Davis Bay) had long swim outs. I didn't do the shore diving in Curacao, but I imagine Curacao wins out for shore diving.

Curacao Trip Research Notes
Curacao Trip Report with SB Surge Jan. 2019

Either could work. I'd learn toward Curacao, but it's hot, sunny and arid...not a place I'd hike.

I learned from ScubaBoard that lately Bonaire airfare is often much cheaper Wed. - Wed. instead of Sat. - Sat.; I saved around $722 on my trip back in February 2022 thanks to that. Even so, I think Curacao may be a better match for what you want.

Any of those could work.
 
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Rearviewmirror

Rearviewmirror

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Thanks very much Rick and Rich!

Well, after a bit of reading I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on some Curacao flights and an Airbnb! We are staying pretty close to Scubacao (who I've heard good things about).

My plan is to hopefully dive with my wife for her Discover Scuba (hoping they'll let her dive two tanks), and then do another day of 3 tank dives myself (hoping to get to the Superior Producer and then try and see some octopus/squid rays on the other two dives!). Your photos were excellent Dr Rich - I think I'd actually read your trip report about a month ago when I was trying to decide on a shortlist of destinations from the East Coast. I'll try and return the favor and write up a good report upon my return. While I had fun on a recent Key Largo trip, Curacao definitely looks to have far healthier reefs/abundant life.
 

tkaelin

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Good choice. Only have been in January and based upon what l am told and from a trip to bon in July, plan for hot weather.
 

morecowbells

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The Frederiksted pier in St. Croix is one of my favorite dives in the entire Caribbean. However, it is not available to dive when cruise ships arrive. The other sites around the island had nice coral formations, but the lack of marine life was concerning. It appeared over fished. Top side St. Croix is more attractive and varied than Curacao, but it is also full of slums-especially Frederiksted(sorry SBers, I really don't wish to offend anybody, but that was my impression). Curacao is not as attractive topside, but the diving is much better! Stunning corals and plenty of turtles, sting rays and eels. It is gentle, easy diving for a beginner.

I think you made a great choice in choosing Curacao. We were going to visit in August, but shockingly, I found a better airfare to Bonaire.
 

BoltSnap

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@drrich2 You the MAN!!! Your reports are always awesome.

@Rearviewmirror I have been to Curacao 13 times in the past taking mixed groups of divers and civilians (none diving spouses and significant others and kids) and there was always something to do for the civilians, non-divers, in town and beaches. You just have to have a car to drive around the island. I'd like to go to both St. Croix and Curacao and take my non-diving family but Curacao will come first.
 
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Rearviewmirror

Rearviewmirror

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That's
The Frederiksted pier in St. Croix is one of my favorite dives in the entire Caribbean. However, it is not available to dive when cruise ships arrive. The other sites around the island had nice coral formations, but the lack of marine life was concerning. It appeared over fished. Top side St. Croix is more attractive and varied than Curacao, but it is also full of slums-especially Frederiksted(sorry SBers, I really don't wish to offend anybody, but that was my impression). Curacao is not as attractive topside, but the diving is much better! Stunning corals and plenty of turtles, sting rays and eels. It is gentle, easy diving for a beginner.

I think you made a great choice in choosing Curacao. We were going to visit in August, but shockingly, I found a better airfare to Bonaire.

Nice - thank you! I'm kind of surprised there isn't more online about Curacao - i.e. nowhere near the buzz of Bonair.

@drrich2 You the MAN!!! Your reports are always awesome.

@Rearviewmirror I have been to Curacao 13 times in the past taking mixed groups of divers and civilians (none diving spouses and significant others and kids) and there was always something to do for the civilians, non-divers, in town and beaches. You just have to have a car to drive around the island. I'd like to go to both St. Croix and Curacao and take my non-diving family but Curacao will come first.

Already got a rental car booked, so hopefully we're well set up. Would you recommend many particular other sites/things to do on the island? We'll probably shoot for kayaking and some form of hike, but any other must dos or restaurant reccs? Thanks!
 

tkaelin

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Definitely explore west end of the island. Hiking anywhere in July get a very early start. Hiking Christoffel and sheta boca park s are popular. For authentic island cooking Purunchis for their fish and Komedor Krioyo for their goat or papaya stews. Beach restaurant and bar at Lions Dive fun and especially nice at sunset. Cactus Cafe in Westpunt. Love the beach at Cas Abou. Good dive shop and shore diving there as well.
 

lexvil

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While I go to curaçao for diving, saving the walking around for the last day, there are some sites for a non diver close to the tug boat site, most dive sites have nice beaches, many with restaurants or other services D695CB6C-EF6F-483D-803E-AFAEFA6C3E86.jpeg CFA74785-4A2D-4D85-97BC-C2FE9A42996A.jpeg F7149DA5-DD49-4696-9AB6-435252902CFA.jpeg 17B71DE3-B2D8-461B-B0B2-B3A34A0FEE90.jpeg 56075DD1-FECF-42F1-9AF9-F5D4EA7FD9B5.jpeg
for eating out, Ribs Factory.
 

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