Part of the Dutch Caribbean and only a short hop away from Venezuela, Aruba is an interesting mix of Dutch, American, and Latin culture. The sandy white beaches and calm turquoise waters are perfect for sun bathing and water sports alike.
Diving in Aruba happens mostly on the sheltered western and southern side of the island, where a reef extends all the way from one end to the other end of the island. Although the north side offers some diving, weather conditions don’t always allow for dive centers to visit these sites. With over 20 dive sites around the island, including reefs and wrecks, diving in Aruba offers variety and relaxing conditions. The calm waters on the protected southwest side of the island also make for an excellent location for beginner divers. Many of the dive centers offer once or twice daily Discover Scuba Diving opportunities and other courses.
Aruba has a year-round warm climate that is relatively stable. Situated outside of the hurricane belt, Aruba experiences little threat from storms and no official monsoon season. Temperatures on land vary between 24 and 32 degrees Celsius and it’s usually dry and sunny. A 3mm wetsuit or shorty is sufficient for most people, with water temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius. Visibility ranges from average to good, around 20 meters on average.
With direct connections to the US, Europe and South America, Aruba is one of the easiest destinations to reach in the Caribbean. For those wanting to explore the island, car rental is the most convenient way to get around. Most dive operations do hotel and cruise ship pick-ups for divers.
Aruba offers some fine wreck diving. The Antilla is by far the most famous wreck, attracting divers from all over the world to explore this huge German freighter ship. Sunk in 1940, this wreck is the largest in the Caribbean and home to a wealth of marine life including turtles, moray eels, schooling fish and the occasional frogfish. The wreck has recently broken into two pieces and is considered less stable for penetration. Nevertheless, with a maximum depth of only 18 meters, it is an excellent dive for beginner and experienced diver alike.
Another good wreck includes the Jane Sea, a more advanced dive due to its depth of 20-30 meters. The wreck stands upright and is overgrown with sponges and deep water coral, making it ideal for underwater photography. Schooling fish and barracuda are often seen sheltering around the wreck.
The Pedernalis is a great training and beginner dive site. With a maximum depth of 12 meters, this is where many dive centers take their guests on their first dives. Torpedoed in 1942 by a German submarine, the Pedernalis broke in many parts, which now are home to a great variety of marine life. A sandy, flat bottom with scattered pieces of the old oil tanker offers ideal conditions for people to start diving, plus a wealth of things to see. Octopus, moray eels, turtles, tropical reef fish, blennies, lobster and shrimp, Pedernalis gives divers a great introduction to what diving has to offer.
Kantil reef is a nice local drop off with impressive boulder and sheet coral formations. This is one of the sites to do a deeper dive if necessary and divers have a chance of seeing a sleeping nurse shark or small reef shark when cruising the reef here.
Another place that offers interesting dive opportunities is Baby Beach. An easy shore access, this dive is sometimes influenced by currents and can make a good drift dive if planned well. Because of the water action, this reef has some amazing Elkhorn and Staghorn coral formations. The reef is a little more rocky and barren, but has a good variety of marine life.
Red Sail Sports is easily Aruba’s most well-known and well-established dive operator. Much more than just a dive center, Red Sails is an expert in the field of watersports like sailing, diving, fishing and kite surfing. With several locations across the island, including the Marriott and Hyatt, Red Sail is easy to find and caters mainly to resort guests. They run a full weekly schedule with dive trips to different sites around the islands. Red Sail Sports is a professional and well run operation with centers in some of the finer resorts across the Caribbean.
JADS dive center, situated on the south-eastern end of Aruba near Baby Beach, gets raving online reviews for personalized service, flexible attitude and professional operation. As one of the smaller operators on the island, JADS is able to give every guest full attention and their feedback shows that this is well appreciated. Their offers include dive courses, packages, and dive trips to local dive sites by boat or from shore.
S.E.Aruba Fly ‘n Dive is an independent operation, just outside of Oranjestad. They run PADI courses from absolute beginner to professional level and daily boat dives to Aruba’s best dive sites. Dive training and beginner divers have a chance to start in protected bays that make for easy and comfortable dives. Certified divers have a wide choice of dive sites to visit, including Aruba’s shipwrecks like the Antilla.
Happy Divers Aruba distinguishes itself from the larger dive operators by offering personalized service and attention to their divers. Diving only in small groups with a focus on quality, patience and fun, Happy Divers offers both PADI and SSI dive courses in both English and Dutch. A nice little extra detail is that they supply free photos of every dive!
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good wreck with swim through, lots of fish and large Moray about 19m max and 29°c in September. Aruba watersports center very helpful and accommodating and will even take you out on your own if no other bookings. oh and they have a bar / coffee shop next door on the beach for all the dive widows in needed. Would definitely recommend.