Are you looking for a travel destination with clear turquoise waters and picturesque dive sites? If so, scuba diving in Aruba should be next on your vacation list.
The Dutch island is at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea near the coast of Venezuela. You can expect to see a variety of aquatic life and coral that is bursting with color and smaller marine life.
There are plenty of dive sites around the island. Keep reading and we’ll key you in on the top sites that you should not miss so that you can better plan your trip.
Best Locations for Diving in Aruba
#1 Wreck of the Antilla
This is a shallow dive so if you are a beginner you can still enjoy this wreck. Make sure that you only enter the wreck if you have the proper experience and certifications.
Some storms have broken the wreck into pieces and the integrity of the wreck has come under question. Be aware of this before performing a penetration dive and follow the advice of your dive master.
- When to Dive: Year-round. This is a shallow dive quite close to the shore. Major storms can cause disruptions in the ability to dive the site. These storms tend to be few and far in between.The best time to visit the area is between January and June. Be aware that hotel prices tend to be highest between January and March.
- What to See: This is one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean and a great place to see coral growth and schools of fish.You can see a large amount of tube sponges as well as other types of coral formations. Expect to see moray eels, blue tang, and hawksbill turtles on occasion. Also lookout for goliath grouper which some divers have reported to live around the wreck. This is a great video to give you an idea of what to expect.
This is a site for both beginners and more advanced divers. For beginners, you can experience an easy wreck dive in shallow waters only 10 minutes from the shore. If you are a more advanced wreck diver, you can perform a penetration dive.Make sure to follow the advice of local dive masters and instructors about whether it is safe. The structural integrity of the wreck has come under question in recent years due to damage. Either way, this is still a great dive for divers of all skill levels.
#2 Jane Sea Wreck
Second on our list is another world class wreck popular with more advanced divers. Many people consider this one of the best sites for diving in Aruba. There is a variety of coral and ocean life on display and a great spot for underwater photographers.
The wreck is a giant freighter that was used for transporting concrete. It was sunk in the 1980’s and has since been a favorite for divers. Make sure you have the right qualifications (deep dive, wreck dive, peak performance buoyancy). This location can be a bit tricky at times.
The wreck is about a 50 minute boat ride off the southern coast. The currents here can be quite strong and the wreck is at max depths of around 27m (90ft). You should consult local divers before attempting to penetrate the wreck.
- When to Dive: Year-round. This site in particular is more susceptible to poor weather conditions. It is in an exposed area of sea south of the island. Aruba has good diving throughout the year. Storms can be less frequent than in other parts of the Caribbean sea.
- What to See: Whether you are more interested in the wreck or the reef, you will not be disappointed with this dive. The wreck is next to a reef formation and has been enveloped in tube sponges and various types of coral growth.In terms of aquatic life, expect to see the odd barracuda as well as schools of rainbow parrot fish and other medium sized fish. Some divers have even reported octopus and moray eels around the wreck, though this is less common.
If you are a more experienced diver and you are comfortable with deeper wrecks and stronger currents, this wreck dive is a must. You will need to find a shop that is going to the site but the payoff is well worth it. Make sure to bring the camera for this dive as it’s one you will want to remember for years to come. You can check out this video to see the entire wreck and get an idea of what to expect.
#3 Cabez Reef
Another dive site that you should only attempt as an advanced diver. This is a reef on the southern tip of the island and is known for having quite strong currents. The site is only accessible when conditions are optimal. You will need to follow the lead of a local dive master or instructor who knows the area well.
The entry for this dive involves a short jump from the rocks above the water. This is one shore dive that can be a bit rough. If you have any concerns it is best to come back to this one later on with a few more dives in your logbook.
- When to Dive: This dive in aruba is going to be a bit more tricky than others. Because the entry is from land and requires a jump down into the water from about 15 ft, it can be quite dangerous. The current is also a major factor as it can be extremely strong here. Divers experienced with this site have reported that if the current goes the wrong way, diving from the cliffs can leave you without an exit point.
- What to See: Cabez Reef has a bit of everything. You can expect to see schools of eagle rays and the occasional manta ray. Giant grouper are a regular in the area as are nurse sharks. If you are really lucky you may see hammerhead sharks.The coral here is pristine as it receives less traffic than other sites around the island. You can see large amounts of elkhorn and different types of soft coral. Also be on the lookout for schools of barracuda.
Do not attempt this diving in aruba if you are not experienced with extreme currents and deep dives. The reef is at a depth of around 24m (80ft) and you can usually count on conditions not being optimal.There are many opportunities for things to go wrong at this site. Even if you are an advanced diver you need to make sure to consult with a local experienced with this site. This video does a great job of showing off what this site has to offer.
#4 Pedernales Wreck
You’ve probably figured out by now that Aruba is extremely popular for wreck diving. The Pedernales is another of these spots where you can see an interesting wreck with a bit of historical value as well as great reefs.
The SS Pedernales was a British oil tanker which was torpedoed during World War II while anchored in Aruba. You should know before you go this isn’t a complete wreck. The actual ship was severely damaged and the middle section ended up being removed and the two ends put together in order to be rebuilt.
This middle section, which is what you can see when diving, was used as target practice for a while by the Dutch Navy before eventually being sunk. Like the Antilla, you can enjoy this dive as a beginner, unlike many of the other dives on this list.
- When to Dive: Year-round. This wreck lies on the northwest side of the island and is a bit more protected from the open sea than other sites on this list. The currents are significantly less here and the wreck is at a depth of around 10m (30ft). Storms may disrupt access to this site as it is around 20 minutes by boat from the island.
- What to See: As we mentioned above, the site is not a complete wreck. Instead, it is the middle part of what was once a giant oil tanker. There are various parts of the ship which have coral growth surrounding them.This is also one of the better sites for seeing marine life. You can expect to see rays, parrot fish, grouper, and the occasional hawksbill turtle. Here is a video showing some of the awesome sea life you can experience at this site.
This is a must see site if you are a beginner looking to experience some amazing coral and aquatic life. You can certainly get a lot out of this dive as an advanced diver as well. The site is easy to reach and the shallow location of the wreck makes it ideal for people who don’t want to battle currents.
#5 Renaissance Island Plane Wrecks
There are two plane wrecks which have been sunk off of Renaissance Island. Renaissance is a small private island off the northwest coast of Aruba. You can dive these wrecks as a beginner as they are protected from currents. One of them, the Convair CV 240, is at a shallow depth of about 12m (39ft).
The other wreck you can see here is a YS-11 passenger aircraft. Both planes are still intact enough to swim into and you can usually find a variety of ocean life around them. These are fantastic non-traditional wrecks to add to your list.
- When to Dive: Year-round. Both of these wrecks can be accessed from the shore as they are only about 300m (984ft) off the western shore of Renaissance Island. The visibility is quite good in this area throughout the year. Major storms can potentially disrupt access to this site.
- What to See: The main thing you will want to see here are the plane wrecks. There is quite a bit of aquatic life in the area that will certainly be of interest, though.Expect to see the occasional moray eel as well as baracuda and rays. There is an abundance of soft coral around the planes and can be great for underwater photographers. Here is a video to give you a better idea of the wrecks.This is a great opportunity for you to get outside of the normal shipwrecks and see something different. What makes this even better is that these wrecks are accessible to divers of all levels since most of the two wrecks are in fairly shallow waters. The YS-11 can get a bit deeper, around 25m (82ft). The CV 240 though is perfect for beginner divers.
As Renaissance Island is a private island you will have to pay to access it. There is a resort that you can stay at which will grant you free access. This is a high end resort though and can be pricey.If you want to go the day pass route, they are about $100 and can vary in price depending on the time of the year. The island is also a great place to see flamingos on the beach.
Bonus Site: Serito Pinnacle
This is a bit of a secret site known to local divers around Aruba. If you want to dive here you will have to hire a private charter. The site is further south of cabez reef and can only be accessed during certain times of the year.
This is an advanced dive due to strong currents. Because few people dive here, the reef has managed to remain almost untouched and pristine. There are no videos to show you, only a few pictures around the net.
How To Dive in Aruba
Aruba is an amazing place for diving due to the consistent weather and water temperature year-round. The main thing to consider before going into any dive is the depth and strength of currents. Many of the more popular dive sites are located at depths suitable for more advanced divers.
The currents around the island can be quite strong. Always make sure you are taking the advice of local dive masters and instructors. Aruba is quite easy to get around and many divers like to rent a car and equipment and make shore dives on their own. Before attempting any dive always talk to locals and make sure of what the conditions will be at the specific site you are planning to dive.
If at anytime you have concerns about your ability to safely dive a site, do not attempt the dive. Instead, find an alternative site which is more suitable for your skill level.
Let’s Wrap Things Up
Aruba sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? We particularly like this island because it is easy to get around and offers a wide variety of sites for divers of all levels. The reefs around Aruba are particularly beautiful and the abundance of wrecks makes this a paradise for wreck divers. Do you have any experience diving Aruba? Let us know in the comments.