Tucked away safely below the hurricane belt, Aruba is renowned for its beaches, nightlife and windsurfing, but divers know it for being a great dive destination as well. Unlike sister islands Bonaire and Curacao, the main focus of Aruba’s diving is not on its reefs, but on the shipwrecks and airplane wrecks. This does not mean however that the island lacks for reef dives! There are also several excellent reef and wall dives with abundant marine life, including stingrays, manta rays, moray eel, barracudas and nurse sharks. This combination of wrecks and reefs makes Aruba one of the most diverse dive destinations in the southern Caribbean.
Aruba’s stable weather pattern almost guarantees good diving and good visibility year round, as does the minimal variation in water temperature, which ranges between a toasty 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aruba is surrounded by a large, shallow sand plateau, meaning reefs need to be accessed by boat. Luckily the vast majority of the sites are only a short distance from Palm Beach, on the islands leeward western and southern coasts. Sites are marked with permanent mooring buoys that were established more than 10 years ago in order to protect the sites from damage from anchoring.
A sampling of Aruba’s most popular dive sites visited by Unique Sports of Aruba include the following:
The Antilla shipwreck, a German freighter that was sunk in just 60 feet of water just prior to World War II, is one of the most interesting wrecks in the Caribbean. The ship stretches over 400 feet, making it a site that needs to be explored over several different dives.
Divers are allowed to penetrate several large open compartments, where they will likely share the space with tarpon, schools of silversides or any number of colorful reef fish. Having been sunk for more than 60 years, a wide variety of sea creatures have moved in to call the wreck home including tunicates, orange cup coral, purple tube sponges, and Christmas tree worms.
The Arashi Airplane, a twin-engine Beechcraft, is an excellent site for beginner divers and junior certified divers as it sits in only 33 feet not far from Arashi Beach. Though the planes propellers are no longer in tact, the cockpit has become the home for large numbers of schooling fish.
The Sonesta Airplane off of Sonesta Island is the final resting place of a Convair 240. The craft, which has since broken into three parts, lies on a sloping reef surrounded by soft corals and colorful sponges.
Another shallow water wreck of interest is the SS Perdernales, an oil tanker torpedoed by a German submarine in World War II lying off of Hadicurati Beach. The bow and stern were towed away and reconstructed by the US military, leaving large chunks of the torpedoed mid-section scattered along a coral reef in 25 feet of water. This wreck is an option for both divers and snorkelers to visit due to its shallow lie.
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