If you’re a wreck diving enthusiast, then Aruba should be on the top of your “must dive” bucket list. Ranked as one of the premier Caribbean wreck diving destinations, this small Dutch island located 15 miles off the Venezuelan coast offers 11 different wrecks suitable for varying levels of experience. In addition to wrecks, Aruba also offers some incredible wall dives and even a few sunken planes.
The Wreck of the Antilla
Ranked as the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean, the Antilla has an interesting history. Commissioned in 1939, this German cargo ship found herself in Caribbean waters off the coast of Aruba when Germany invaded Holland in 1940. When the Dutch navy attempted to board and seize the ship, the German captain ordered his crew to scuttle the Antilla. The ship sank a short time later and the German crew was promptly arrested.
Today, the Antilla lies on her port side in about 18 meters of water in Malmok Bay. The ship is so large that part of her starboard side is exposed above water, making an excellent perch for the pelicans that hunt silversides in the area. The entire wreckage is approximately 400 feet long and still largely intact, covered with tube sponge and numerous coral formations that are home to many fish, shrimp, and anemone.
When you’ve finished with the Antilla, be sure to also check out the wrecks of the Vera, the Californian, the Captain Roger, the Jane C, the Star Gerren, the Pedernalis, and the Rum Runner.
The Wall (Dive site)
If wall diving is your thing or you like to dive with green sea turtles, The Wall dive site is the place to go. You stand the best chance of spotting a turtle between May and August when they arrive to lay eggs on Aruba’s sandy shores. This site is located near the harbor entrance of Barcadera. This steep wall offers huge gorgonians and black coral, and is home to many grouper and other large fish species.
Sunken Plane Aruba
If you head over to Renaissance Island, you will find the remnants of a DC3 airplane that was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef. The original wreckage didn’t fare so well during Hurricane Lenny in 1999 when the plane broke into three parts, with the tail section falling completely off and the cabin separating from the fuselage. However, the storm damage resulted in a great swim through opportunity, allowing divers to enter the plane from the rear and exit through the side of the cabin.
When to Go to Aruba
Water temperatures average 82-86F in the summer months (May – November) and 76-80F in the winter months (December – April)
Trade winds blow consistently nearly year-round, meaning you’ll hardly notice Aruba’s arid, desert climate.
Dive Services in Aruba
Red Sail Sports offers three full-service dive centers and nine retail locations on Aruba. Offering a full array of dive courses, Red Sail also provides daily boat diving, sailing and snorkeling on their fleet of state-of-the-art diveboats and catamarans. www.aruba-redsail.com
If you’re looking for a dive operation dedicated exclusively to the serious scuba diver, then Mermaid Dive Center is your shop. Offering courses from all the major certifying agencies – PADI, NAUI, IDD, SSI & CMAS, Mermaid focuses on safety first while still maintaining a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Hotel pick-up and drop-off and daily boat dives are available. www.scubadivers-aruba.com