Although you may not hear much about this Dutch Caribbean destination, Aruba offers some phenomenal diving opportunities and is definitely one to add to your diving bucket list. With long-stretching sandy beaches and placid light blue waters, both divers and non-divers alike can enjoy the many activities and opportunities for relaxation that Aruba offers. The tiny island has an eclectic mix of cultures with influences from Latin, American and Dutch nationalities. These cultural influences can be seen in the architecture, food and the languages spoken which include Dutch, English and Spanish. Locals from Aruba also speak a unique language known as Papiamento.
Located just off the Venezuelan coast, Aruba has a great deal of scuba diving opportunities and boasts more than 20 dive spots. The more popular sites are located on the sheltered sides of the isl found to the south and west. Here divers will find a magnificent reef that stretches right from one end of the small island to the other, providing plenty of colourful underwater scenes and an array of marine life to see. The calm conditions in these areas are ideal for beginners and there are a number of Discovery courses available for those looking to give scuba diving a try for the first time.
The northern part of the island tends to receive more adverse weather conditions, causing most of the diving to be concentrated in the calmer areas of the south and west. Aruba boasts a number of wreck sites together with superb reef sites in pristine condition.
Best Diving Destinations in Aruba
Aside from the magnificent wrecks which are the main focus for many divers visiting Aruba, the island also boasts some great reef sites. The drop off known as Kantil Reef has a very interesting underwater landscape with an abundance of sheet corals and boulders covered in small marine life. Offering some deeper depth opportunities, divers at Kantil Reef often spot reef sharks and nurse sharks hanging around in the deep blue water.
For shore diving opportunities, divers should head to Baby Beach. If conditions are favourable, your dive instructor might offer the chance to dive a drift dive here as the currents tend to be quite a bit stronger than other places on the reef. Look out for large formations of staghorn and elkhorn coral as well as a wide array of marine species hiding in the rocky outcrops.
Now, onto the wreck diving that Aruba is famous for. The first and most popular wreck is that of the Antilla, once a German freight vessel and now a magnificent artificial reef serving as a home to sea turtles, plenty of schooling fish and morays. The Antilla is the largest wreck in the Caribbean and has been lying fairly well-preserved on the sea floor since 1940. Recently, the wreck was broken in two and divers now need to be aware of the risks involved when entering the vessel. What makes the Antilla so popular, aside from its historical significance, is the fact that it is suitable for all diving levels as it sits at only 18 metres at its deepest point.
Beginner divers are in luck if they do their qualifying ocean dives in Aruba as there is a wreck located at only 12 metres that is sure to immediately cement their passion for diving and hook them in for life. The Pedernalis was an oil tanker that was hit by a German submarine back in 1942 and broke into a number of different sections which now lie scattered along the sandy sea floor. There’s plenty to see here including sea turtles, morays, octopuses and colourful reef fish. For those taking a closer look they might be rewarded with spotting a few shrimp and lobsters too. The Pedernalis is a favourite amongst dive operators when taking newbie divers out on their first dive.
For more advanced divers, the Jane Sea is an upright-standing wreck that is underwater heaven for photographers. Lying at 20-30 metres down, the Jane Sea is entirely covered in corals that favour deep water, making the photographs slightly more unique than regular corals available in shallower waters. The wreck is also covered in sea sponges and features large groups of schooling fish which in turn attract large barracuda who come to the area to hunt.
Getting to Aruba
As it is located in the well-connected Caribbean, Aruba is easier to reach than you might think. Convenient connections are available from all over Europe and the United States as well as South America. If you want to explore Aruba on your own, hiring a car is a simple affair and probably the most convenient way to see the sights. The vast majority of dive shops will arrange cruise ship and hotel pick ups to transport divers to the dive sites.
Where to Stay in Aruba
Aruba has a number of dive shops that have been operating for a number of years. These well-known operators are familiar with the dive sites and can offer experienced, knowledgeable dive guides to accompany you on the diving experience of a lifetime. Not only that, but many dive shops will help to arrange all your other watersport activities too as Aruba boasts a number of opportunities. Try your hand at fishing, sailing or even kite surfing by simply speaking to your friendly dive shop and all the necessary arrangements will be made for you.
Some of the smaller dive centres pride themselves on exceptional and personalized service and can offer you day trips to local spots, dive/accommodation packages and even dive courses for those wanting to advance their qualifications whilst in the beautiful Aruba. As Aruba is so well-suited for beginner divers, with plenty of protected bay areas and easy conditions, many people opt to start their scuba diving journey here. Continuing with personalized service, some centres will only take small groups of divers to the dive spots, ensuring that each and every diver gets individual attention and even offering free photographs to remember your dives in Aruba.
Big-name hotels and resorts are abundant on the island of Aruba and smaller independent accommodation options are available too.
When to Visit Aruba
Divers will be pleased to know that diving is always possible in the beautiful Aruba. With a pleasant, warm climate all throughout the year, Aruba is lucky enough to escape the harsh monsoon season common in other tropical destinations. Storms and hurricanes are less of an issue here too when compared to other areas located within the so-called hurricane belt. The average air temperature remains between 24-32 °C and warm, sunny and dry conditions can be expected. The water temperatures are typically in the range of 27-29 °C which means that divers can make use of a shorty wetsuit or a 3mm wetsuit at the most and remain completely comfortable even at significant depths. With beautiful turquoise waters guaranteed to be warm, divers will think they’ve struck the jackpot when they hear that the average visibility is about 20 metres. Considering these conditions, you’d be silly not to give scuba diving in Aruba a chance to impress!