“This place really makes me feel like I am in the Caribbean.”
Today I am going to take you with me to the beautiful underwater world around the famous Tugboat on Curacao. You can find the Tugboat on the South East side of the island in the big Caracas Bay. On your way there you will pass Fort Beekenburg. With its long history and amazing view over the Caracas Bay, Fort Beekenburg is definitely worth a visit! With its small pebble beach and authentic beach bar, Tugboat Beach is a wonderful place to also just hang out. You will be welcomed by Sylvia and Karma, the two happy island dogs of the beach bar.
Why is it called the Tugboat Beach?
Right next to the Tugboat beach bar there is a pier. The pier is over a hundred years old and is still in use on this day. Around 1980 the tugboat was towing a big vessel to dock it at the pier. When the big vessel was docked, it dropped its anchor by accident. This unfortunately happened right at the moment that the tugboat was still close next to the vessel. The anchor fell on top of the tugboat and created a big hole that caused it to sink. It was still able to navigate a couple of meters until it eventually sank to the bottom of the shallow plateau next to the drop off.
The Tugboat is laying on a dept of about 4 meters deep, which makes it, with a visibility around 25 meters, a perfect snorkel location. For this reason, this beach got its name ‘Tugboat Beach’.
The anchor was left behind (around 3 meters deep) a few meters from the beach to remember what happened that day.
How do you find the Tugboat on Curacao?
Once you step off the beach into the crystal clear, warm water, your snorkel adventure can begin! When you walk on the pebbles into the water, only a few meters in, the bottom drops to like 2,5 meters. This is where the shallow plateau begins. Right in front of you, you will see the pier. If we want to find the Tugboat, we have to follow the shallow plateau to our left. In the distance you can see three enormous pillars sticking out of the water.
The Tugboat is laying on the bottom behind the furthest pillar from the beach, on the shallow plateau. On your swim towards the Tugboat there is a lot to see! On the sandy bottom you can see Peacock Flounders, Goatfish, Sharptail Eels, Octopuses, Scorpionfish and many more. Often halfway on your way out you are also being welcomed by a squad of Squid! When you get between the three big pillars there often is a lot of life between them. Keep your eyes open for Blue Tangs, Lionfish, Trumpetfish, Angelfish, Goldentail Eels, Banded Butterflyfish and lots of other colorful fish. When you have passed the three pillars you are almost at the Tugboat and you can probably see it already.
Experience ‘The Tugboat’
“There are so many fish around the wreck!”
With a length of 5 meters (15 feet) the tugboat is not a massive wreck, but it surely is impressive! Being under water now for around forty years the corals get a good grip on the wreck. The Tugboat is full of colorful corals and those attract a lot of fish. Sergeant Majors, Yellowtail Snappers, Parrotfish, Damselfish and the Glassy Sweepers are just a few to name that you can find in and around the Tugboat. When you swim around the wreck you will see a big hole on the starboard side of the wreck. When you dive down, you can look into the inside of the wreck where a lot of fish are taking shelter, like a lot of Glassy Sweepers.
There is more! A hidden gem!
Only a few meters from the beach, the Pier is standing on dozens of pillars sticking out of the water. Normally it is not allowed to snorkel under a pier because of boat traffic, but the big ship that is docked here at this moment is not going anywhere for a while, so it is allowed to snorkel under this pier. When you swim closer to it, you will see that it gets a little bit darker and that brings a bit of mystery.
“Don’t get scared and keep on swimming!”
Once you get under the pier and your eyes are adjusted to the lighting you will find yourself in a different world. The pillars are full of the most amazing, most colorful corals and sponges! With rays of sunlight hitting the water it really looks mystical. Between the pillars are tons of fish. We have seen Barracuda’s, Frogfish, Seahorses and Tarpons. You can also find small schools of fish, all sticking together taking shelter under the pier. If you have seen everything of the Tugboat, but still not finished snorkeling, go out and discover this hidden gem!
“So much colors! I would have never come here if no one had told me.”
Are you just as excited as I am?!
Contact Jan Thiel Diving and they will take you on this snorkeling adventure to the most famous spot of Curacao.
Are you a scuba diver? This site is also great for scuba diving! The Pier will make you feel like you are in an underwater cathedral!
Did you like this? See also the top 5 shore dives!