Aruba Wrecks Add Sizzle to a Hot Scuba Diving Destination
DiverWire.com journalists Susanne and Stuart Cummings recently completed a video presentation on diving Aruba. Susanne talks about this unique island destination.
When travelers think of Aruba, more often than not, the images that come to mind are endless beaches, tropical waters, kite surfing, designer shops, world class restaurants and first class resort hotels. For scuba divers, there’s even more Aruba offers beneath the surface.
Located on the fringe of the hurricane belt, the weather is reliably good with consistent trade winds tempering the Caribbean heat. Aruba’s vacation style is essentially what you want it to be. Tame or adventurous, this island offers so much variety that you really can create your own experience.
What Aruba isn’t quite as well known for is its diving. Yet there are more than 25 dive sites, and the island’s impressive fleet of wrecks are well worth some bottom time.
Ranging from freighters and tankers to pilot boats and airplanes, all but three of these artificial reefs rest at 60’ or less with some shallow enough for snorkelers to enjoy. Photo ops are plentiful.
Aruba’s best known wreck and best all around dive is the 400-foot German freighter, Antilla, one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean. When Germany invaded Holland in 1940, her captain scuttled her rather than surrendering his ship to the enemy. Despite some recent storm damage, she is still impressive, shrouded with more than 60 years of marine growth.
For sheer drama, the Jane Sea takes the prize. Sunk in 1988 to create an artificial reef after being caught with a cargo of drugs, the 250’ cement freighter sits upright in 40-90’ of water, its large open cargo compartment offering easy access to divers and schooling fish.
In 1942, the American flat-bottom oil tanker Pedernales was torpedoed by a German submarine. The US military salvaged the bow and stern but the midsection wreckage remains, its metal undersides cloaked with tunicates and orange cup corals. Remnants of the hull, supports, and cross beams are scattered on the sandy bottom along with cabins, washbasins, lavatories and a pipeline system. Lying in 35’ of water, it is a mecca for novice divers and snorkelers.
Star Gerren, a 200-foot tanker sunk in 2000 by the island Watersports Association is one of Aruba’s newest wrecks. Lying on its port side in about 40 feet of water, divers can easily penetrate the wreck through holes cut into the ship.
The California Wreck, now almost a century old, originally transported fruit from South America to Aruba. An engine block and anchor are all that remain but the coral formations and marine community that surround it make it a popular stop for more advanced divers.
An old 40’ long Pilot Boat encrusted with sponges and brain, star, and sheet coral, is home to a pair of green morays. Divers occasionally spot eagle rays and stingrays cruising by.
Resting at 70’ , the 120’ fuel barge, Debbie II, features holds that divers can swim in and out of along with schooling fish and barracuda.
A vintage 1970s Aruba Airlines commercial jet sunk at a depth of 85’,the Renaissance Airplane Wreck sits eerily in take-off position, as though waiting for passengers to board, its logo on the outer hull still legible.
Eight unique wreck dives. Eight great stories. A multitude of great photo ops. And if that isn’t enough to entice divers, each is a magnet for Caribbean fish, and each is surrounded by reefs decorated by hard and soft corals, colorful tube and barrel sponges and inhabited by a diverse marine population.
The variety of diving in Aruba often surprises first time visitors. But Aruba’s reputation for service is well known, so it isn’t surprising that the island’s dive operators provide very good facilities, comfortable dive boats. knowledgeable dive masters and top-notch service.
Guerilla divers might find the island a little tame, but there is not better destination for divers who want a broader vacation experience or who are traveling with non-divers or family. In this small Dutch Caribbean island, there truly is something for everyone.
For a sampling of what awaits you in Aruba, click Fantastic Aruba Scuba Diving to check out their newest video produced by award-winning Watermark Productions.