Scuba Diving in Aruba – The Basics
The tiny Caribbean island of Aruba, which forms one-third of the so-called ABC islands along with Bonaire and Curacao, is situated around 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and is just over a 2 hour flight from Florida, making it a relatively easy location to visit.
Without doubt the most popular recreational activities on Aruba are those of snorkelling and scuba diving, with the latter attracting huge numbers of enthusiasts to the area, for what are considered amongst the best shipwreck diving spots throughout the whole Caribbean – only Bermuda has been rated higher. Amongst the wrecks is that of The Antilla, a 400 foot german freighter, which was scuttled at the beginning of World War 2, and is the largest wreck on the Caribbean Sea and inevitably is the main attraction for diving fanatics.
The dive sites can be found just off the protected western and southern coasts of the island, very close to the major hotels on Palm Beach, ensuring tourists are well catered for. The dive sites are tranquil, rich with marine life of exotic variations, including seahorses, stingrays, manta rays and barracudas, even the occasional dolphins or sea turtles may pay a visit, making for a dramatically colourful and unforgettable experience.
The off-shore reefs are second only to the numerous wrecks in scuba diving popularity, with the range of depths varying from 40 feet, down to over 100 feet in some places. Isla Di Oro is an excellent site, with a wide stretch of reef growing out of a shallow bank, and you will undoubtedly be joined on your dive by some inquisitive angelfish who come right up close and stay for a while. A beautiful reef to get to is that which is referred to as the Hole in the Wall, which allows a diver to get past a steep reef wall, down to Mango Halto, where a strong current pushes through to a sandy channel and right up into a gorgeous lagoon.
Amazingly at certain points, nurse and sand sharks sleep in crevices in reefs and opportunities present themselves for a diver to get close enough to actually touch them. Night scuba diving in the reefs is also an absolute must, as everything looks completely different under torch light. The corals are quite spectacular, add to that the adrenalin rush of the unknown quantity factor, and it all adds up to a memorable and exhilarating experience.
Sometimes it’s possible to enrol for a one-hour training course in a pool beforehand, where many tourists quickly discover that scuba diving is not as difficult as they first thought. The instructor will then accompany a group on their first dives, and in most cases, confidence quickly follows. The island’s south coast is the calmest, so a great starting point for the inexperienced. Scuba diving in Aruba really is a delight, with so much to discover and wonder at. Serene mangroves, beautiful reefs, incredible shipwrecks and a diversity of underwater marine life will have you pinching yourself at the sheer scale of breathtaking sights.