Scuba Diving Aruba
Aruba is famous for the spectacular shipwrecks and interesting coral formations that dominate its underwater realm.
Aruba is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 18 mi (29 kilometres) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 20 mi (32 kilometres) long and 6 mi (10 kilometres) across at its widest point.
Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Caribbean.
Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The citizens of these countries all share a single nationality: Dutch. Its capital is Oranjestad.
It is a flat, riverless island that has white sandy beaches on the western and southern coasts, relatively sheltered from fierce ocean currents. This is where most tourist development has occurred. The northern and eastern coasts, lacking this protection, are considerably more battered by the sea and have been left largely undeveloped.
Aruba has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region. This is due, in part, to a low unemployment rate.
It is one of the most cosmopolitan islands in the Caribbean, and draws a cosmopolitan crowd, thanks to casinos, restaurants, shopping and world-class beaches. Off the island’s beaches lies the main attraction for divers-one of the best collections of diveable shipwrecks in the Caribbean.
About three quarters of the Aruban gross national product is earned through tourism or related activities. Most tourists are from the United States (predominantly from the north-east US), the Netherlands and South-America, mainly Venezuela and Colombia.
SCUBA DIVING ARUBA
Aruba is famous for the spectacular shipwrecks and interesting coral formations that dominate its underwater realm. This includes the 400 foot Antilla wreck—the largest wreck in the Caribbean.
Most of Aruba’s dive sites lie along the protected western and southern coasts, a short distance from the hotels on Palm Beach. A large, shallow sand plateau surrounds Aruba making boat travel the most convenient method of reaching the off-shore reefs. Interesting coral formations are found from shallow water depths of 20 to 100 feet, with little or no current and flat surface conditions.
Divers see a fabulous array of corals and fish, some even spot a seahorse and see how stingrays hover above the seabed. Swimming slowly over the corals, you’re bound to see lobsters, moray eels and other sea life. If you’re lucky, you may even come across a dolphin or a sea turtle. Aruba is known as one of the main wreck diving destinations in the Caribbean allowing divers to visit eleven wrecks and over twenty dive sites.
Depending on where you dive, you’ll be able to see corals of all shapes, lengths and colors including those found at shipwrecks and rock formations.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Scuba diving near Aruba’s south coast is often fascinating and calm since this is the lee side of the island and as a result waves and currents are not as strong. The northern coast is also spectacular, though much rougher, as the sea splashes onto the shore with more momentum from a much longer distance.
Off the south coast of Aruba, you can do a reef dive at Mangel Alto, which is located between Oranjestad and San Nicolas, near the drive-in cinema. There is an abundance of corals in all shapes and sizes; and colorful fish ranging from electric blue to bright orange.
You can also go reef-diving at Baby Beach, at the eastern-most part of Aruba, and also at Malmok Beach, near the California Light House on the northern end of the island.
Wreck scuba diving in Aruba
In addition to the Antilla, there are a several other wrecks near Aruba that make for great scuba diving. Let your imagination run free and add to the mysteriousness of these age-old wrecks lying at the bottom of the sea.
Aruba’s wrecks consist of a mix of both intentional sinkings (artificial reefs) and marine casualties, providing incredible sites for wreck divers with a wide range of experience and interest. It is one of the world’s premiere wreck-diving destinations.
DIVING SEASON: In Aruba you can almost always count on sunny skies and calm seas. The best time to visit the island depends on the type of vacation you want. If you are looking for the cheapest hotel rooms and best travel deals, go when the trade winds stop blowing (September – December). If you want to arrange the trip around the kids’ school schedule, plan to visit in the summer. When travel to the rest of the Caribbean is iffy, Aruba is an ideal destination because it is located outside the hurricane belt.
VISIBILITY: Typically in the 50- to 100-foot range.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Jan to March – 78F (26C). June to October – 82F (28C).
WEATHER: Aruba has an average annual temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). Constant trade winds make it more comfortable during the day. However these trade winds tend to diminish slightly during the months of September through December. In terms of rainfall, October through January tend to be the wettest months.
SKILL LEVELS: Dives are available for divers of all skill levels.
WHAT TO EXPECT TO SEE: Aruba’s waters are rich in exotic marine life, including stingrays, moray eels, manta rays, barracudas and yellow tail.
CLIMATE: Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. Average monthly temperatures vary little from 80 °F (26 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C), moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean, which comes from north-east. Yearly precipitation barely exceeds 18 in (470 mm). It lies outside Hurricane Alley.
LANGUAGE: The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, however, Papiamento is the predominant language. A creole language spoken on Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, it incorporates words from other languages including Portuguese, West African languages, Dutch, and Spanish. Many know English; its usage has grown due to tourism.
ELECTRICITY: Aruba decided to adopt the North American voltage standard of 110 A.C. (60 cycles), the same as in the United States and Canada.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Aruba has its own currency called the Aruban florin, but dollars are also widely accepted. The exchange rate for the US dollar range from Awg 1.75 to Awg 1.80 for one US dollar.
GRATUITIES: Tipping is not obligatory, but is at the discretion of the visitor. However, some restaurant and bars add a service charge to your bill. When included, the service charge on food and beverage is normally around 10 to 15 percent.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: There are several options for making long-distance calls such as usage of public phone boots, you could rent a cell phone or purchase a SIM card. Wifi is available in most resorts and public areas.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All visitors must hold a passport that is valid upon entry and for the duration of stay in Aruba. If the tourist holds a passport from a visa required country, they must have a valid visa sticker in his passport; plus, a valid return- or onward ticket.
The maximum period of time that a person can be admitted to Aruba as a tourist is 30 days. The total amount of days a person can stay in Aruba, as a tourist cannot exceed 180 days per year.
CUSTOMS: Besides articles for personal use, persons over 18 are allowed one fifth of (1 liter) liquor and 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco.
DEPARTURE TAX: The departure tax for Aruba is USD 36.75 to the USA (It is usually included in the purchased airline ticket). For all other destinations, the departure tax is USD 33.50
GETTING THERE: Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) is located near Oranjestad. According to the Aruba Airport Authority, almost 1.7 million travelers used the airport in 2005, 61% of whom were Americans.
The following airlines have Aruba on their route: Air Canada, American Airlines, Aruba Airlines, Avianca, Copa Air, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, LAN Airlines, Royal Dutch Airlines – KLM, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, Sunwing, United Airlines, US Airways
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