Trip Report Dive trip from Dreams Resort, Curacao June 20-27th, 2021

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the3dwizard

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Background:

Decided on Curacao for this dive trip with my non-diving spouse. The past dive trips were with my brother (dive buddy) and SIL but since they were not on this trip, I knew my options for shore diving would be limited without a buddy. Also, for this first trip I decided to stay at a resort with an on-site dive shop to help limit travel times away from the spouse since my SIL wouldn't be around to keep her company and she has some health problems.

Probably going to be a little more detailed than you might like but as my memory fades maybe I can revisit the trip through this thread.

Travel:

Travel there was not too bad. We completed all the required testing and forms before the American Airline flights from DFW to Miami and then on to Curacao. I had printed out everything and we breezed through customs in Curacao and had a car waiting. When I filled out the PLC form, I made 3-day antigen testing reservations at the Marriott next door for Wed morning. Found out later they could have moved this to in-house testing.

We did the required pre-flight testing at the resort, and they printed out the results for us. Things were fine until we landed in Miami. Let's say it was a good thing I allowed a layover of over 2 hours. Took a while to go through passport control, even longer to pick up checked baggage and then redeposit it for the connecting flight. Then we had to go back through security and the lines were long! The airport was crowded on a Sunday afternoon! The icing on the cake is when boarding the flight from Miami to DFW the gate agent decided my carryon was too large for the 777 Max we were about to board. The same bag that was okay on the previous flights. So with the spinning wheels it is 24”, (max is 22") so nothing I could do but gate check my bag with my BCD, regulator and mask with gauge readers. Fortunately, everything made it. Guess I will carry a smaller back and check the BCD. I do want to make sure my mask makes it with me on trips, other stuff I can rent.

Accommodations: Dreams Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino

I chose the Dreams Resort as I liked the idea of a smaller resort and it seemed quieter than some of the other options. The rooms were very nice, and staff was great. We did have an issue with the TV in our room and after several days they decided they would have to pull new cable. So, they moved us to a different larger room which we appreciated. I know I can hear some of you already, "you are concerned about a TV on a dive trip?". Yes, we like our down time and chilling in our room in the evening, we are not party animals. In addition, if my wife is not feeling well and needs to rest it is nice to have a distraction.

We liked the beach and pool there, they never seemed crowed to me even though they are smaller than other resorts. We spent time at either the beach or the pool in the afternoons. Sometimes I would just walk of the boat with my stuff and just met the wife who had already stacked out a location.

The food to me was typical all-inclusive resort food. I liked breakfast and lunch buffets; dinners were okay. However, the wife thought the food could have been better. One caveat, due to Covid19 they had to serve you everything in the buffets, you could not serve yourself, so it did take a little longer to get food. I also think due to the pandemic they were a little understaffed. The wife got a massage at the spa and highly recommends Fiona.


Dive Shop: Caribbean Sea Sports

It was awesome being able to walk from my room to the dive shop in only a couple of minutes! I got a little ribbing for always being early, but hey I was excited to go diving. Everyone with the shop was great. Since I was diving multiple days, they cleaned and stored (hung to dry) my BCD, wet suite and regulator. The only thing I got from them was the Nitrox tanks and weights.

The week I was there they had a dive tour group, about 16 people, that consisted of some adults, newly minted young divers, and their instructor. So, they put them on the main dive boat and the put us on another boat not dedicated to diving. There weren't more than four divers plus the guide/owner on my boat, so this didn't present any logistical issues and I was glad not to be on the other boat. The shop instructor and DM's dove on the other boat, we had Orlando the owner as the guide on most of our dives. He was good about working with some people who hadn't dove in a while and he did help me get me trim dialed in. The whole staff seem to enjoy what they are doing. I highly recommend this shop!
 
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the3dwizard

the3dwizard

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Dives:

I went with their 4-day boat dive package and added a night dive. Still a bit of a newb and these dives ended up giving me some new experiences, such as drift diving and diving in a current, which I appreciated. Some sites had no current but the ones that did were mild so a good place to learn.

June 21 - Off The Road and Bullenbaai (Morning Boat Dive)

The first dive site was Off the Road a place where a barge with a bunch of cars was sunk in the 70's. I think other dive shops have a different name for this site? I was paired up with a commercial diver from the Netherlands who was along just to help out and for free air, so he made for a great buddy. There was also a husband-and-wife team along, she seemed to struggle with bouncy a lot. Anyway, it was a fun first dive. It was surprising that you could still see chrome on the bumpers and the white walls on the wheels. Also saw three large tarpon swimming by. Stats: Dive Time 43 mins, Max Depth 99 ft, Avg Depth 52 ft.

Bullenbaai was cool, interesting terrain, lots of fish, soft corals and sponges. Saw several lion fish as well. Stats: Dive Time 41 mins, Max Depth 94 ft, Avg Depth 53 ft.

June 22 - Long beach and Double Reef (Morning Boat Dive)

Long Beach was a drift dive which was a first for me. We started northwest of the resort and drifted back to the resort beach. Lots of schooling fish and interesting corals and sponges. One DM took the other two divers since they were limited to 60 ft while the other diver and I dove deeper with Orlando the owner. Sad thing was they saw two eagle rays that we did not see, sometimes deeper isn't better. Stats: Dive Time 39 mins, Max Depth 97 ft, Avg Depth 51 ft.

Double Reef was one of my favorite dive sites. It is just north of the cruise ship terminal so probably accessible to people doing tours from the ships. It is also an easy shore dive though we did it by boat. There is one smaller reef then you swim across a sand channel to a much larger reef. Very beautiful with lots of different corals, sponges, and fish. Even home to a couple of turtles. I am probably under selling it but it is an awesome reef. Stats: Dive Time 49 mins, Max Depth 68 ft, Avg Depth 38 ft.


June 23 - Dreams House Reef (Night Dive)

This was cool dive led by JJ who is listed as a DM on the website but I think is an instructor as well. We gathered at the shop, and they had tanks waiting on a rack near the beach. After gearing up and having a diver's girlfriend take pictures of us, we strolled down the beach into the water. We dove around the house reef to the west and around towards the Marriott and then we turned around at pretty step wall. Saw a Spanish lobster (a first for me), scorpionfish and around three spotted eels out hunting. Didn't spot any octopuses that night unfortunately. Then we closed the dive back at the beach where we rinse and hang gear and then it was just a few minutes back to the room for a shower. Stats: Dive Time 63 mins, Max Depth 58 ft, Avg Depth 27 ft.


June 24 - Marriot House Reef and Blue Bay Wall (Morning Boat Dive)

This dive started in front of the Marriott, and we drifted around the point back to the resort beach. There was a very mild current pushing us along so made for nice dive. Entry was a little rough because some weather moved in. Nice reef with a variety of corals and fish. Did see lion fish and eels too. Caribbean Sea Sports is building a shop here so if you stay at the Marriott in the future, you will have easy access to a nice house reef. Stats: Dive Time 56 mins, Max Depth 67 ft, Avg Depth 38 ft.

The next dive was along Blue Bay Wall where we were joined by another DM and JJ who replaced Orlando as the other group cancelled their dives due to the weather. It wasn’t too bad, but I figure with all the kids they wanted to be cautious. The boat dropped us off on the south end and we drifted along the wall towards the north passing by the Blue Bay Golf course. Some of the group scored their very own souvenir golf balls. The variety along this wall is hard to beat. Some areas are just literal forests of plant life and soft coral plus several large sea fans. Spotted a large puffer, moray eel and scorpionfish. At the end of the dive JJ put up his SMB and we surfaced for the boat to pick us up. The sea was still a little rough but manageable. This and Double Reef were the best dives of the whole week! Stats: Dive Time 51 mins, Max Depth 74 ft, Avg Depth 43 ft.


June 25 - Cornelius Bay and Double Reef (Morning Boat Dive)

The first dive we were going to do Directors Bay but there was already a boat at the mooring position, so they moved over to Cornelius Bay. I had heard of Directors Bay so was a little bummed, however Cornelius Bay did not disappoint! We went a little deep and swam against a mild current along a very nice wall and then after turning around came up to a shallower depth for the swim back. Forests of soft corals, sponges, and some beautiful fans. Also, some very interesting hard coral formations at the shallow depths. This day there were only two other divers on the boat a husband and wife that dove the day before. She had buoyancy issues the day before but that got sorted out plus they hadn’t dove in a while. So, I encouraged them to join the dives today since they got the kinks worked out yesterday. I think they had a much better dives this day, so glad they ended their trip on a high note. Stats: Dive Time 46 mins, Max Depth 68 ft, Avg Depth 45 ft.

The last dive of my trip we went back to Double Reef. I welcomed the chance to explore this beautiful reef some more. Lots of brain corals and still impressed with the variety on this reef. Managed to spot and video two turtles on this dive. If you only have time to dive one site while in Curacao this should be on your list. Stats: Dive Time 56 mins, Max Depth 72 ft, Avg Depth 36 ft.

Conclusion:

I would recommend Dreams Resort and Caribbean Sea Sports. It is a good place to stay, and the dive shop is top notch. Obviously, some dives were better than others but there wasn’t a bad one the whole week. Also having the convenience of the boat, dive shop and resort so close made the trip so much easier. Curacao is a great place to dive!

We are already planning a trip back next year with my brother and SIL so a chance to do more shore diving. Will probably look at a different resort on the island just to see something different. We did not get off the resort except for one day to go downtown. We defiantly need to see other parts of the island on our next trip, and I certainly want to dive some other sites.

Cheers!
 

Jaan

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Hey Thank you for this. We are scheduled for a stay at the Marriott (Beach resort one) which looks to be right next to Caribbean Sea Sports.
I was hesitating staying there wanting to switch to more of a 'dive resort' but for various reasons need to keep the trip flexible.

Sounds like a great time, and I really look forward to Curacao. Thanks again :) !!!
 

Damselfish

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Thanks for this. Caribbean Sea Sports actually used to be at the Marriott before it shut down for renovations for years. I've long wondered if they would have a shop on site again. Seems like a good use of our ton of Marriott points.

Also good to hear the rooms at Dreams were nice and the experience was decent. That used to be a Hilton and had a terrible rep. It did not seem to shut down long before becoming Dreams so I was wondering if they had actually done much for improvements.
 
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the3dwizard

the3dwizard

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Yep, the Marriott is only 5 min walk to the Dreams so easy to dive with them from there. In fact at least one couple I dove with was staying at the Marriott.

They are also building an adult only Secrets between the Dreams and Marriott. If you look at a satellite view you will see concrete pads. There is supposed to be a pool running a long them so you can swim from your room. We could see a lot of construction materials from our room. It also sounds like they are planning to have a dive shop there as well.
 

Damselfish

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I think Kura Hulanda Lodge in Westpunt is now AI. Haven't been in years so no idea what it's like nowadays, it sounded like they went through a rough patch.
 
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So the resort was all-inclusive? Nice to know; till now the only AI resort in Curaçao I knew of was Sunscapes Resort curaçao.
There are now 3 All inclusives. Sunscape, Dreams and Corendon which is a new build where the old Holiday Beach was.
 

Damselfish

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There are now 3 All inclusives. Sunscape, Dreams and Corendon which is a new build where the old Holiday Beach was.
I was surprised to stumble on this, but apparently there is a Sandals Royal Curacao out east at Santa Barbara Plantation opening April 2022 - now taking advance bookings.

 
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