This Dutch island is home to the wreck of the Antilla – a 400’+ supply ship for a German submarine group during World War II, and the wreck of the Pedernales. Sites such as Malmok Reef, Barcadera Reef and Lago Reef are packed with schooling fish and dramatic coral formations. In between dives, Aruba caters to even the most sophisticated traveler with state-of-the-art casinos, first rate entertainment, accommodations in 5-star all-inclusives, an extensive array of fine restaurants as well as fabulous shopping in downtown Orangestad. As sophisticated as Aruba is, there are still plenty of off-the-beaten-track options including hiking, cycle tours, jeep safaris and even rock-climbing.
Diving in Aruba
Aruba’s one of those places in the world that ships come to sink. Planes, too. It’s hard to ignore when you have a 400-foot WWII ship, the Antilla, headlining a fleet of wrecks that line your shore. There’s more than wrecks, to be sure, but the wrecks are the big attraction here. Some, like the aforementioned Antilla, have become entire undersea ecosystems. This wreck was scuttled by its German captain in 1945 rather than surrender the ship to Dutch Marines. So, the ship sank virtually intact, and after 65-plus years underwater almost every surface is dripping with sponges and corals, and a variety of marinelife, from eels to blue tangs to battalions of sergeant majors. It’s worth several dives, just by itself. And, at a maximum of 60 feet, you can explore this wreck with ease.
Also on the wreck trail here is the Pedernalis, which was torpedoed by a German submarine in WWII. Several large pieces are spread out over the seafloor. The remains contain a bounty of grouper, snapper and lots of angel fish. The Pedernalis makes for a great shallow night dive when the wreck ignites with cup corals and the stealth moves of night predators.
A favorite purpose sunk wreck is the Debbie II, a 120-foot barge that was sunk in 1992. It has become heavily encrusted and a favorite among local marinelife.
For big drama, you should include the big 300-foot Star Garren, a haven for sea life such as barracuda. The propeller has a particularly striking profile.
Also striking are the Airplane Wrecks, a DC-3 and an S-11. Both offer penetration and make unique photos.
Aruba’s not just about wrecks, either. You’ll find plenty of options for reef exploration. With something for everyone, the Sonesta Reef, which starts in only 15-feet, ripples with the movement of damsels, butterflyfish, wrasse, parrotfish and angelfish over a vibrantly color-packed reef. Skalahein Reef always tops divers list as a local favorite. This sloping reef, which starts in 20-feet and dips down to 140-feet offers a profusion of marinelife, and the best opportunities for encounters with manta rays and spotted eagle rays. Sea turtles frequent the site, too.
- Water Temp: 78-80°
- Visibility: 80-100′+
- Wetsuit: skin to 3mm
Best Time to Travel
Favorite Dive Sites
- Wreck of the Antilla
- The Pedernales
- The Star Garren