If you’re visiting the Caribbean island of Curaçao and like exploring the underwater world, you’re probably pretty excited at the prospect of getting to see turtles. No worries: you will. They’re quite common! There’s even a place where you’re almost guaranteed to see them, called Playa Grandi.
Below, let’s go into everything you need to know about visiting Playa Grandi, how to snorkel it, and, most importantly: how to find the turtles.
What is Playa Grandi?
Also sometimes referred to as Playa Piskado, Playa Grandi is located in the Sabana Westpunt area of the island of Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean. It’s close to other well-known beaches, some of which are on my list of best snorkel beaches in Curaçao: Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Playa Kalki and more.
With gorgeous places like Grote Knip nearby, you may be wondering why you should head over to Playa Grandi. After all, as you can see in the photo below, it’s by no means the most spectacular beach on the island. It’s sandy to pebbly and surrounded by machineel trees (perfect for shade, but don’t eat the fruits!).
Amenities at the beach include a small snack bar (open on weekends) and lounge chair rental, but not much more.
The real magic here happens under the surface. You see, there’s a small dock at Playa Grandi, which is used by local fishermen as they enter and exit the ocean. They can often be spotted hanging out, offering fish for sale or cleaning their catch. And that last thing is exactly what has made this beach one of the most crowded on the island.
The thing is that what is trash to one, is a feast for another. Sea turtles are perfectly aware of the pieces of fish regularly being dumped into the water here. As a result, they flock to this beach to eat. It’s very easy to spot them while they do so.
The sea turtles don’t appear to give a hoot about snorkelers. All they want is to eat some fish and then make their way back to the deeper reef, making this a fantastic place to watch them go about their business.
Sure, all of this may not be the most natural thing, since the sea turtles are basically being baited. However, if you just want to see one and worry you won’t have the time to go searching, it’s a pretty perfect solution.
How to snorkel Playa Grandi
If you’d like to go sea turtle spotting at Playa Grandi, the best time is to do so in the early afternoon. That’s when the fishermen usually come back from their day’s work, meaning the turtles start flocking to the shallows as well. This does mean you need to be careful not to get run over by a boat. Give the locals their space!
Here’s how I snorkeled Playa Grandi and got a good look at everything it has to offer:
- I entered the water a bit to the left of the dock (as seen from the beach). The water there was completely clouded, so I immediately made my way to the right side of the dock. Here, the water was clear.
- On this side, I found some bits and pieces of fish, and… yes, turtles! You really can find yourself face to face with a sea turtle within five minutes of arriving at Playa Grandi, if you wish.
- I hung out with the turtles for a good while. Eventually, I trailed behind one as it made its way back to the deep. This gave me an opportunity to take a peek at the deeper reef.
- Since the actual reef is a bit too far down to really snorkel it, I turned back to the shore. This time, I made my way along the rocky cliff on the right hand of the beach. No turtles to be seen here, but the rocks are called home by all sorts of other beautiful wildlife.
Remember that it can be quite crowded at Playa Grandi, especially during the high season. Not everyone maintains the best snorkel etiquette in their excitement, but there’s unfortunately not much that can be done about that.
🚨 PLEASE REMEMBER 🚨 Never bother, interfere with or touch the sea turtles at Playa Grandi or other places on the island. These green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles are very much endangered. Don’t ruin things for everyone else.
How to get to Playa Grandi
Getting to Playa Grandi, as with most beaches on Curaçao, is not too much of a challenge. Unless you’re already staying at Westpunt, it’s mostly a matter of getting on the single main road to the western tip of the island. It’s called Weg Naar Westpunt (Way To West Point) and will take you from Willemstad to Playa Grandi in about 50 minutes.
It looks like there used to be a bus service available as well. However, at the time of writing, I unfortunately can’t find any bus options to reach this beach.
Here’s a map you can use to guide you to Playa Grandi:
Other places to spot turtles
Yep, Playa Grandi/Piskado is by no means the only place in Curaçao where you can find sea turtles. If you don’t like the idea of turtles basically being baited, or if the beach is too crowded with tourists for your liking, worry not. You may have to be a bit more patient, but you’ll find those turtles.
If you have a dive license, you’re golden, as sea turtles love visiting the deeper reefs for a nap or to find food. If you’re only snorkeling, it can take a bit longer, but the chance of spotting one is always there.
Your mileage will surely vary, but I saw sea turtles at the following locations:
- Kokomo Beach
- Klein Curaçao
- Just outside Piscadera Bay
If you have any more questions about Playa Grandi, the sea turtles or snorkeling Curaçao in general, feel free to leave a comment below. If you’ve visited this beach, be sure to share your experiences!