While Arbua may be better known for its beaches and casinos, it is also a good destination for the scuba diver. In fact, Aruba was voted the second best wreck diving in the Caribbean by Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine in 2006. So if you like wrecks, you may want to consider a trip to Aruba. Plus, you can always check out those casinos and beaches in-between dives!
Aruba is situated 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela and is about a 2 1/2 hour flight from Miami. Given its popularity with tourists, this is an easy island to get to with many direct flights from the US.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, all located off the coast of Venezuela, form the ABC islands. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and is now a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Aruba is easy to explore at just 20 miles long and 6 miles wide. Like it's sister island, Curacao, its landscape is dotted with divi divi trees and cacti.
The highest elevation on the island is Yamanota Hill at just 617 feet. It's located near the center of the island and you can visit it by car. The northeast coast is rugged with cliffs and pounding surf.
The real draw here is the southwest coast and its beautiful beaches. Of the 3 ABC islands, Aruba has the best beaches. The most famous is arguably Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, which together stretch for seven miles. It's home to the majority of hotels on the island. When you see its beautiful powdery white sand, you'll know why. It's also where you'll leave from for most of your Aruba diving.
Reefs and Rides
Most of the dive sites in Aruba are best accessed by boat. The vast majority of Aruba scuba diving sites are along the southwest coast of the island. The reef is located on the south end with many of the wrecks on the north end. Boat rides from shore to the sites are normally less than 15 minutes.
If you are staying toward the middle of the island and want to dive the north end, you may want to (have to) take a short van ride to the boat. This is what we did when we were staying at the Tarmarijn and dove the Antilla and Pedernales.
The best Aruba diving is wreck diving. While there are walls and reefs, they are generally not as good as those on its sister islands. On many of the dives you can check out both a wreck and a reef for the best of both worlds.
Aruba is currently working to preserve its reefs and to maintain the quality of Aruba diving. Preservation and educational programs have been started, including a reef clean-up program. Dozens of mooring buoys have been installed to protect the reefs and a marine park has also been established.
So go and have some fun exploring the wrecks galore. Depending on what you look for on an island, you may fall in love with Aruba. I know many people that have and you may be the next.