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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters Diving/West Hill bungalows in
Curaçao/Westpunt

Ocean Encounters Diving/West Hill bungalows, Jun, 2010,

by Ellen Moran, NH, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5574.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Dominica, Fiji, Mexico, Panama, Saba
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas no currents
Water Temp 80 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Most first dives of the day were 60 feet for 50 minutes
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
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 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We chose Curacao because it met our criteria of white sand beaches, easy access from the US, sunny hot weather, snorkeling, shore diving, boat diving and interesting top side land scape. The west end of Curacao was chosen because it was not crowded with tourists, we had a chance to meet the locals and did not want the hub bub of the city bars and casinos. If you want to truly relax and get on island time the west end is terrific.
We stayed at Westhill Bungalows which is a grouping of 6 small bungalows around a small plunge pool with nice wood deck and lovely landscapeing. For 6 days we were the only people staying at Westhill. There was 24/7 security which was nice to know they were there, but for the most part we were in a quiet neighborhood. The bungalows had 2 bed rooms each with AC and large windows. The kitchen was fine for making breakfast and dinner but was minimally stocked with utinsels and appliances. We had to go find the security guard to turn on the propane stove and the bed had only a bottom sheet no top sheet. Once we asked for a top sheet we got one right away.
On our first shore dive at Lagun beach my reg malfunctioned. I went to the local shop but they did not have a tech on duty. Ocean Encounters West was recommended so we went down to Playa Kalki. Bryan the manager met us with a smile and handed over my reg to Sean. After 15 or so minutes Sean had me back in action. Based on this level of service we stayed with OWE doing 2 morning boat dives on the well equipped "Sea Lion". There was a family of 4 on the boat each with fancy cameras. The boat had rinse tanks just for the cameras and a separate one for masks. OWE has a captain on the boat as well as 2 dive masters. Each time the boat had at least 20 divers s I was a bit bummed but the crew divided us up into two groups so the exit and entries were fine despite my reservations. The dive masters gave very good brief, succinct briefings. Our max depth was 60 which allowed for ample relaxed bottom times since there was little or no current.
In general the variety of tropicals was good although the number of fish per species was small. I only saw one large school of Blue Tangs.
The hard and soft corals were in very good shape with a lot of variety, the same holds true for sponges. Andreus our dive master found a Frog Fish was terrific to see. I did see a Spotted Eagle Ray, small Hawksbill, Sharp Tail eel and many Morays.
Shore diving the house reef was great. Grab a tank walk down the dock and get in. After shore diving we could rinse our gear hand it to dry. At the end of the day the staff rolls the drying racks into a locked storage area.
For snorkeling and just hanging out we visited several local beaches which are all coves surrounded by volcanic cliffs with small stretchs of white sand. Most of the beaches are strewn with coral so bring booties or water shoes. The free beaches have no bath rooms or trash cans so they tended not to be too clean. The beaches that had a small entry fee had better services; bath rooms, outside showers, restaurants, chairs. A few had dive shops so you could grab a tank for shore diving. Best beaches #1 Cas Abau #2 Port Marie #3 Playa Kalki #4 Gandi Knip. Fair warning there are no shallow corals, the fish life is worth while but if you expect Elk Horn or Stag Horn there is none.
OK what about the food? Dinner in the West end is an all night affair. If you expect to order and get served fast leave that idea at home. We went to Sol Food and Landhuis Misje both of which had very good food. Eating out in Westpunt is more like going over to a friends house for a long leisurely meal. Sunshine the owner of Sol foods is a terrific hostess, she visits your table sits down and tell you what is fun to do on the island. Dennis greeted us at Misje with a huge handsome smile and outstanding service. Gracie is the owner and chef at Misje and like Sunshine she comes out and visits your table. Since there were only about 20 or 30 tourists on the west end, many of whom are divers we all got to know each other quickly so dinners became even more fun.
Topside, take the time to visit Christofel Park and wander the wild windward side. Check out the spectacular blow holes!
Last note the bungalow we rented included a car 8 nights US $930.00 which is a true bargain. We found Curacao to be much cheaper then going to the Keys.
Summary-Good diving, top notch staff at OEW, friendly locals, leisurely meals, terrific value.
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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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