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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters Diving/All West Apts in
Curaçao/Westpunt, "Wild West End"

Ocean Encounters Diving/All West Apts, Jan, 2012,

by Steve Mimnaugh, UT, US ( 1 report). Report 6650.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Kauai, Cozumel, Kona coast, US Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Roatan, St Lucia, Grand Cayman, Bequia, Tobago Cays, Mayreau Gardens, St Vincent, Bora Bora, Andros Bahamas, Curacao, Akumal, Little Cayman, Belize
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions back to boat w/ minimum 500psi in tank
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Had been to Bonaire on 9 dive trips, to Curacao twice before, wanted easy beautiful relaxed shore diving with my wife for my 61st birthday week. Researched All West Apts w/ help of Chapbook, AllWest website, phone calls to owner. Located near tiny village of Westpunt, AllWestApts were spacious, comfy, full kitchen, perched right on 50 foot limestone cliff over quiet beach w/ shore-diving, good snorkeling, turtles, lovely gardens, gorgeous sunsets, gear room and tanks of air on-site at apts. Goats and dogs ambling in quiet streets, iguanas everywhere, locals uniformly friendly and welcoming, like they all worked for the Tourism Board. Dive shop nearby at spectacular Kura Hulanda Resort, with fine restaurant, grill, bar, grounds. We took several post-dive lunches and evening meals there (I even ate the ostrich medallions). We had a rental car so toured the island most afternoons, explored beautiful sandy beaches in romantic coves, highlights were crescent moon and Jupiter at unoccupied Playa Jeremi; crashing waves on the windward coast at Boca Tabla Turtle Refuge; I certify that I saw my first green flash during clear cloudless sunset from apt balcony, only one I've clearly seen out of hundreds of Caribbean sunsets I've witnessed; historic Willemstad along St Annabaai harbor with swinging pontoon bridge; emotional and impressive self-guided tour of the Slavery Museum (don't miss this if you go).
Dining on the west end has limited options, but Sol Food is delicious, call and make reservations, eclectic outdoor dining, hosted by friendly quirky proprietress Sol, ice cold beer in a cooler on the honor system. Jaanchie's is local fare, I had goat and iguana, it's open-air with birds flying around the place, funky and interesting decorations and artifacts, Jaanchie the owner comes and sits at your table and helps you decide what to order. Took a chance one night on Rancho Sobrino and were pleasantly surprised with the casual open-air ambience, nice bar, and excellent fajitas, went back another night for same.
We did a couple shore dives, check-out at Alice in Wonderland, the house reef at Lodge Kura Hulanda/Playa Kalki, giant stride off tall dock; and at Playa Grandi near the apts, mild surf entry, swam with large unafraid hawksbill turtle for 30 minutes. Saw baitfish, big snappers, peacock flounders, giant green morays, little stuff like lettuce sea slugs, flamingo tongues, arrow crabs, Pedersen cleaning shrimp in anemones, the usual tropicals cruising the reef, chromis, trumpet, Spanish hog, creole wrasse, etc; nothing really large except eel and turtle. Also the first three of many lionfish to come. Fisherman have dock here and cut up their catch and people buy fresh fish, the apts have several barbeques on the balconies, most evenings apt-dwellers grilled steaks or fresh fish while enjoying libations and sunset and conversation in the common areas of the decks. AllWest and Ocean Encounters has an international flavor, many Dutch, German, American, Canadian, Venezuelan, and Curacaoans of African/Arawak/Carib heritage.
Ocean Encounters West/Go West Diving was very friendly yet professional to deal with. They were helpful, not intrusive, and kept a casual but safe approach to the boat dives. The shop, storage, rinse tanks, shower, dock, boats all set up well, convenient to the bar and grill and restaurant and parking.
We did three days of morning two-tank boat dives on Nitrox 32%. All boat rides were quite short. Paradise Reef was a beautiful reef, counted 5 spotted morays, modestly abundant tropicals, numerous large lionfish. Watamula ("waterworks") is just off Westpunt where the currents mix, for surge and swirly currents, saw large crab in barrel sponge, teensy juve spotted drum, glassy sweepers in small cave, free-swimming porcupine fish. Scooter site is 20 minutes south of dive shop by boat, and a favorite dive, because this is where they assigned 2 dive guides as dedicated lionfish assassins, armed with small spearguns and a cylindrical PVC "creel" to put their poisonous catch in; they also killed lionfish on Santa Cruz site nearby, an alarming number of the alien invaders on all the reefs. When the two dives were done they dumped >60 lionfish out of the creel, and had not even scratched the surface of the invasive disaster. But it was worth doing and fascinating to watch. The lions are not afraid, the hunter sticks the spring-loaded 3-prong spear right up to the side of the fish, shoots and pins the fish, then stabs it with a big serrated bread knife, then stuffs the fish thru a rubber gasket into the PVC cylinder. Very satisfying.
Last dives were off Playa Jeremi and Korpate, several large green eels, large Southern stingrays blowing up clouds of sand, garden eels, 3 tiniest juve drums ever, Spanish lobster, many conch, sharptail eel, variety of filefish and cowfish, smooth trunk, dusky Sgt Majors desperately defending purple eggs against attack of the killer bluehead wrasses. Scorpionfish hanging with the lionfish.
Weather was hot, altho we arrived in a downpour and left in a drizzle. Staff at the apts are friendly getting you set up, then unobtrusive unless you need something. Special kudos to MVP divemasters, very helpful, knowledgeable, accomodating. I recommend All West Apartments, Ocean Encounters, and the beautiful nature island of Curacao and its people to anyone. We plan to return.
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Subscriber's Comments

By rskuhn at Feb 14, 2013 22:06 EST  
Lionfish are excellent eating.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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