White-sand beaches, tasty cuisine, and year-round splendid weather – sounds pretty cool, right? These are just a few of the things that define Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the southern Caribbean Sea. But if being on land and soaking up the sun is not enough for you, then head to the waters for some excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
Scuba diving in Aruba is famous for outstanding fringing reefs and the shipwrecks that dominate the underwater world and make up some of the best dives in the region. The many wrecks of the island vary in depth from shallow to deep dives, so divers of all levels of experience can explore these artificial reefs.
The majority of the dive sites are located on the western coast of Aruba and most of the spots are found close to the shore.
The Jane Sea Wreck. Photo by american_rugbier
The official diving season in Aruba runs from May to December. From January to April, the winds can get strong; otherwise, the weather is pretty calm throughout the year. If you are an experienced diver, you will probably find a way to make the most of your time regardless of when you visit.
The water temperature in Aruba varies from 25° C/77° C in January-April to 29° C/84° C, peaking in October.
The intensity of the currents ranges from dive site to dive site; there are areas with no current but then there are also areas with strong current.
The visibility in Aruba is average: 10 to 15 meters (33-49 feet).
Known as the signature dive of Aruba, the SS Antilla is a German freighter that now lies on its port side facing the island. The ship was launched in 1939 and scuttled just a year later when the German troops invaded the Netherlands during the WWII. Antilla is one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean, with an initial length of 121 meters (398 feet). in 1953, a storm broke the wreck in two.
The ship is now a beautiful artificial reef, with much of its structure covered in corals and tube sponges. It also attracts a number of marine creatures, such as moray eels, Hawksbill sea turtles, lobsters, blue tangs, and other different species of fish.
Jane Sea is an illusive wreck not that many divers visit due to the strong currents. However, it is one of the best dives in Aruba and probably the most mysterious one due to its history. It is known that the 57 meters (190 feet) long cargo ship was launched in 1959 under the name of Blackthorn and sailed the waters under the UK flag. It was then sold and registered under the name of Jane Sea (or Jane C). Not much is known about its whereabouts between 1980 and 1988, but it is said that during its final days at sea it was discovered it was transporting cocaine and was confiscated by the authorities. In 1988, it was scuttled and turned into a spectacular artificial reef.
The SS Pedernales is a highly visited dive site in Aruba due to its shallow depth, making it suitable for divers of all levels. The old oil tanker was built in 1938 in Italy and was damaged in a torpedo attack in 1942 while anchored in Aruba. Parts of the ship were joined together and it managed to leave for Maryland, while the middle section remained in Aruba where it eventually ended up underwater. The many remnants of the ship are scattered across the seabed and are a popular attraction among divers.