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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters West/Kura Hulanda Lodge in
Curaçao

Ocean Encounters West/Kura Hulanda Lodge, Apr, 2008,

by Jeremy Ellis, GA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 3987.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cozemul, Florida Keys, Grenadines, St. Vincent, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 79 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 90 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions All dives were guided, but you could do your own thing. All dives limited to 60 minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Boat had a small bucket for cameras. Crew was used to small and large setups and handled them carefully and professionally. They always handed the camera to you and took it when you got back to the ladder. Only thing they could have done better was to make sure non photographers didn't dump their mask in the rinse bucket.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Lodge Kura Hulanda is located on west end of Curacao (Westpunt). The resort is a five star by Caribbean standards with large rooms, balinese furnishings, TV/DVD, small kitchenette, large patios, separate sitting room with large couch, chairs and a table with 4 chairs. The bathrooms have AVEDA toiletries, bathrobe and an abundance of towels. There are 3 restaurants and food service at the bar. There is also room service. Food is excellent. Each room has internet access (albeit slow). Bring a long CAT5 cable or a wireless router if you don't want to sit at the desk. There is only 1 US plug so bring a strip if you have multiple things to charge. There is a small gift shop and a small sundries store at the resort. The sundries store also rents DVDs for $3 and has a large selection. The resort is about 30-40 minutes from town but there are a few restaurants near the resort. We rented a car and made 2-3 trips into town for shopping, touring the museum and dining.

The negatives are (1) internet is slow and down a lot of the time (2) food service is slow and (3) they don't patrol people "hoarding" beach umbrellas so divers miss out on getting a cabana for shade.

Ocean Encounters West is a few steps away from the resort at the end of Playa Kalki beach. The staff is first rate - some of the best I have encountered anywhere. You have to carry your own equipment back and forth to the boat and set it up, but other than that they take care of everything. There are large rinse buckets, a shower on the dock and plenty of wetsuit and BCD/Regulator hangers. There is a lockeroom on the dock so you can just leave your equipment out to dry and the staff will lock it up at night. There is a large, shaded picnic table to work on cameras, logbooks, etc. The beach restaurant is 50 feet from the dive shop.

The diving is top notch. There is a two tank boat dive each morning and an afternoon dive as well. The sites are set each day but there is flexibility if the boat wants to go somewhere else. You can also grab tanks at your leisure and dive the house reef (no solo diving allowed). The house reef at Playa Kailki is easily accessible from the beach or the dock at Ocean Encounters West. The reef begins a few dozen yards offshore at 25' with a moderate slope and good diving from 30' down. It maintains a heathly coral community with diverse and abundant fish populations and is ideal for macro photography. Playa Kalki is used for the night dive on Wednesday.

The infamous Mushroom Forest is about 30 minutes away, but Watamula, a pristine site at the very end of the island is just a few minutes from the resort and dive operation. There are about 2 dozen excellent sites many only 10-15 minutes from the dive shop. The coral life was amazing with very large formations, large sea fans and large sponges. The dive masters know the sites inside and out and are excellent guides. They take the time to point out all sorts of critters. We saw 2 octopus, 3 turtles, dozens of spotted drums, 1 frogfish, 1 seahorse, 4-5 different types of morays, several different shrimp, dozens of lobster, several different crabs, peacock flouder, etc.

Lodge Kura Hulanda and Ocean Encounters West offers the best combination of accomodations and diving on the island.
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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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