Diving Northern Curaçao

While we had our rental car, we convinced our new friends to come north with us and go diving. Well, Lee came diving, and Jennifer stayed on shore with the baby. Our first stop would be Playa Lagun; here we all are on shore before anybody got geared up and wet.

We go into the water and swam out to the reef. We’d been warned that the swim out would be long, so we didn’t think much of it when it felt very long indeed. As we swam out, the shallow shelf gradually filled in with coral heads, until we found ourselves at the gradual drop-off.

The coral never got much more dense than that, but the reef was full of fish and critters. Like this queen angelfish and giant green moray eel.

Or these two little crabs.

Or this big old turtle, who was minding his business and munching plants off the ocean floor. Despite his resting turtle face, he seemed not to particularly care that we were there taking pictures with him.

Turning back towards shore, we came across this jawfish, and the scorpionfish and surprisingly deeply-buried lizardfish on the right.

When we got back to the cliff wall, we headed away from shore for a little while, looking for a cave that a local had told us was somewhere close to shore. We didn’t find it, but we did find a couple of intermediate drums.

We also found the best-illuminated lionfish we’ve seen to date. These gorgeous jerks are usually hiding in caves during the day, but this one was out in the sunlight as casual as you like. So, lots of pictures because we couldn’t pick.

We started to turn back towards shore, but figured since we were sitting in ten feet of water, we could pop to the surface to get our bearings. When we did, we found nothing but cliff visible in either direction. Uh-oh! Playa Lagun is a narrow entrance, and we weren’t positive that we knew which direction it was in. So we dispatched Andrew to swim out a ways (because he had the most air left), and he was able to spot the houses at the corner of the bay. It turned out that we’d turned slightly to the left on our way out of the bay, and when we swam out, we were headed southwest instead of straight west to the reef. The one time we didn’t bring a compass!

We went back down for the swim back in, and found some fun antlers for Jazz, as well as a lettuce slug and a coral restoration project.

For our surface interval, we met back up with Jen and Ayla, and headed to Sol for pizza and brownies. It’s a lovely restaurant, and the food is great; highly recommended. We didn’t manage to take any pictures until we got to the next spot, Playa Kalki, the site of Go West dive shop and the Alice in Wonderland house reef. They had kittens.

The dive couldn’t have been much more different. Fewer notable fish and critters, but dense, healthy coral in big pillars. The pillars were reminiscent of the similarly-named dive on Bonaire, but this was a gently sloping reef all the way, as opposed to the double-reef formation there.

That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of fish. Here’s a big crowd of chromis, and a porcupinefish doing its best Kirby.

There were plenty of morays as well, like this goldentail, left, and the very angry-looking viper moray on the right.

On the way back in, we found a couple of underwater statues. There’s also a saxophone under there, and a big thick rope leading to the dock that goes as far down the reef as we could see. It’s clear that this is a house reef where the shop does a lot of first-time dives.

On the way back, we found this unusually colored scorpionfish, and under the dock, a huge bait ball.

For a small fee, the dive shop let us use their rinse water, so we were able to go home clean. Of course, it was 4:30 when we got out of the water, and they close at 5. In typical Dutch-Caribbean fashion, that means that it was time for them to start cleaning up, and they treated us as if we were very much in the way. The nerve of us, paying for their services during their stated business hours! Still, not a bad view for the end of the day.

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