Written by Scuba Divers ~ DIVEIN.com’s Complete Guide to:
15 Best Dive Sites in Aruba in 2023
Aruba is an island located in the southern Caribbean Sea around 620 miles (1000km) west of the lesser Antilles.
It is one of four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including the Netherlands, Curacao, and Sint Maarten.
This means the residents of Aruba are Dutch Nationals and speak Dutch, along with Papiamento.
Unlike many of the islands in the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry and cactus strewn landscape. The warm and sunny weather, however, still attracts hoards of visitors to explore the land and the sea.
Fortunately, the island lies outside of Hurricane Alley, and therefore misses most of the major storms passing through the area.
The best time to visit Aruba is from April to August, where the weather is pleasant and the island’s holiday prices are still low.
This is also the time when tropical storms occur, but due to the island’s location, you do not need to worry about it on your travels. January until March has potentially the most pleasant weather, but it is also the time when most visitors flock to the warm water and prices of accommodation skyrocket.
Scuba Diving in Aruba is one of the top tourist activities and offers divers the opportunity to explore brilliant natural reefs, shipwrecks, artificially built shipwrecks all with gorgeous marine life. Many of the shipwrecks you will find were naturally sunk during storms, however others were purposefully scuttled for the purposes of recreational diving.
The dive sites on the south side of the island are better suited for beginners, where the clear visibility and protected waters are ideal for Open Water level. The North coast of the island is more impacted by currents, and therefore requires divers to have a number of logged divers and a range of experience.
The 15 Best Dive sites in Aruba?
A signature Aruba wreck dive that every visitor adores during their travels. This German Freighter lies on her port side where the bow of the ship faces the Island. The massive ship was purposefully sunk on May 10th, 1940 when Germans invaded Holland during the second world war. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean with it spanning over 400 feet!
- One of the biggest wrecks in the Caribbean
- Only a 10-minute boat ride off the coast of Aruba
- Has safe and large compartments which allow penetration
What you will see: The massive shipwreck has large compartments in the center of the ship where the explosives that were used to sink the ship were stored. The large areas mean you can penetrate the wreck safely, and a great opportunity to get your wreck certification. The ship has been underwater for so long that an entire ecosystem has developed on the steel. The ship skeleton is now covered in beautiful tube sponges, large coral formations, and many tropical fish live.
This is another wreck located off the coast of Aruba, and merely 10m below the surface of the water. The shallow dive means you have abundant light to capture the perfect shots. Beginning photographers love this dive site as there is minimal current, but plenty of things to see on this wreck. The oil tanker was sunk by a torpedo from a Germany Submarine in 1942 during the second world war.
- Historic wreck from the second world war
- Many large groupers hang around this ship
- The shallow water makes it an ideal dive site for beginners and snorkelers
What you will see: Since the ship was sunk during the world war, it still has many of its items still in place. Divers can explore the ship and see sections of cabins where you can see washbasins, toilets, along with a pipeline system. The wreck has now become a home to many large groups, angelfish, damsel fish, moray eels, and many more critters.
Jane Sea Wreck
This dive site is best suited for advanced divers, since the Jane Sea Wreck sits in 99 feet (30m) of water and in an area that tends to have strong currents. It is not frequently visited by divers, but if you can check it out then you certainly should.
- Strong currents and big depths mean the dive site is suited for advanced divers
- A large concrete freighter sitting in 99ft of water
- Large schools of barracuda and other megafauna congregate here
What you will see: This deep dive and strong currents attract many sea creatures including barracuda, manta rays, and other rays. The Freighter is also covered by coral growths, has a large cargo hold that can be explored, and an abundance of diverse marine life surrounding it.
Debbie ll Wreck
Another popular dive site in Aruba is the Debbie II wreck which was purposefully sunk in 1992 to serve as an artificial reef. It was scuttled directly in front of high-rise hotels in 70 feet of water making it extremely accessible for divers, and a great dive site for a dive day.
- Easily accessible dive site
- Purposefully sunk wreck for scuba diving
- Located in a shallow 70 ft of water
What you will see: The 120-foot fuel barge is covered with growths of leaf and brain corals. There are areas covered in sponges, and a few sea fans poking through the habitats. There are schools of fish, lobsters, rays, and plenty of turtles swimming around. If you are a fan of sea horses, then make sure to keep an eye out for them at this dive site.
On the southern side of the Island, the stunning Cabez Reef stretches along from the Serito Pinnacle. The divers in the area consider the pinnacle as one of the best kept secrets in Aruba, as the dive site attracts extraordinary marine life and offers divers an unforgettable experience. It is only accessible via private charter; therefore you have to be dedicated to go visit this isolated and gorgeous destination.
- Little dived dive site with untouched coral
- Only available by private charter
- Known as the best kept secret in Aruba
What you will see: The pinnacle that rises from the ocean floor attracts many creatures from all around. The coral reef covering the structure is exquisite with many soft, hard, and sponge corals in a variety of colors fighting for space. There are plenty of reef fish which dance around the colorful outcrops, and plenty of masters of camouflage hidden in the structures. Keep an eye out for nudibranchs, cleaner shrimp, ornate crabs, and frogfish that are expertly concealed in their environment.
This unique dive site features the wrecks of two airplanes. For any diver, this dive site is an exciting opportunity to see coral reefs growing on manmade objects that used to soar from the sky. The S-11 and DC-3 were internationally sunk to create an artificial reef many decades ago. In 1991, Hurricane Lenny dragged DC-3 across the sand and with its powerful waves split it in half.
- Two airplanes purposefully sunk for recreational diving
- S-11 was sunk in 2004 and is still fully intact on the seabed
- Great opportunity for photographers and macro lovers
What you will see: Apart from the unusual view of airplanes lying on the seabed, these metal structures have now been somewhat overgrown with colonies of coral polyps. Entire ecosystems have developed and you can easily swim around the airplanes and take your time to watch the bat fish, angelfish, eels, crabs, shrimps, and more scuttling around.
Harbor Tugboat Wreck
Located a short distance from the cruise ship port, in a comfortable 80 feet of water. It is also surrounded by a gentle reef slope which is covered in spectacular coral growths and provides ample spots for macro photographers to test out their skills.
- Tugboat wreck is located off the cruise ship port
- Shallow and well sheltered dive
- Plenty of marine life hiding in reef
What you will see: The coral reef is the home to plenty of angel fish, surgeon fish, clown fish, and many fish anemones. There are also moray eels, octopus, frogfish, moray eels, and more. To get the full spectrum of color living on this reef, make sure to bring your torch and take your time exploring the nooks and crannies. If you look at the sand, you will also be able to spot some rays, or occasional garden eels.
The huge finger shaped coral is located at the center of Aruba’s protected southern side. It is in 40 – 130 feet of water, and strong currents means this dive site is better suited to more advanced divers. The coral reef is extraordinary, and there are plenty of beautiful sea creatures which live here.
- Deep water and strong currents make this dive site best suited for experienced divers
- Beautifully colorful coral reefs
- Great opportunity to see sea turtles
What you will see: This coral reef is the home to plenty of sea turtles hiding amongst the soft and hard corals. There are also plenty of eels, crabs, and shrimp hiding amongst the coral. The strong current also attracts some bigger pelagic fish, and if you look out into the blue, you might spot a couple of rays swimming around.
Mas Bango Reef
This is an incredible coral reef that grows on a slope which ends in a large sand area. It is located on the southeast coast of finger reef and offers great diving opportunities for beginner and experienced divers alike. The top of the reef is at a mere 5 feet and slopes down to a depth of 130 feet.
- The dive site is well suited for beginners and experienced divers alike
- An abundant of healthy corals growing along the slope
- A deep sandy bottom where plenty of rays can be found
What you will see: Towards the deeper part of this dive site, you will be able to spot plenty of Mas Bango fish, tuna, and barracudas swimming around the blue. In the coral reef, there are plenty of shrimps, crustaceans, and other invertebrates hidden away. Angel fish, surgeon fish, anemone fish, and other reef fish can also all be found swimming around the reef. The bright colors and clear water make this a great spot for macro photography.
Star Gerren is yet another German cargo shipwreck that was sunk in 2000. It was originally known as the Santa Maria until her name change in 1994, when she was moved to Belize City and suffered an engine failure. The wreck is now an impressive 300 feet long and is lying upside down in 63 feet of water. Skilled divers and non-divers will both enjoy this wreck, as you can see plenty from the surface as well as deeper down. It is a lesser known shipwreck than Antilla,and is visited less often.
- Great dive wreck for beginner or experienced divers
- An abundance of reef fish congregates here
- Known as the Cinderella Shipwreck
What you will see: Just like many of the other wrecks around Aruba, the Star Gerren has attracted many species of fish to call it home. There are schools of barracuda which can be spotted, along with a whole array of reef fish which hide in the ship’s skeleton. The upside-down hull makes a cave like environment for dark dwelling creatures, which can be spotted with the help of a torch.
This dive site was created in 2009 when the Kappel boat was sunk in 2009 on a sandy patch of sea next to the Mangel Halto reef by the JADS dive center. The Kappel is at a depth of 35 to 45 feet of water and is a great dive site for beginner divers wishing to explore a dive site. The fact that the wreck is so shallow, means there is plenty of light for photographers to capture the underwater beauty without requiring massive lights of expensive camera technology.
- Purposefully sunk reef near the Mangel Halto
- Beginner friendly wreck dive site
- An abundance of healthy coral reef
What you will see: Since the boat has only been underwater for 10 years, the coral growths have just started to develop. However soft corals which grow faster have taken over certain sections of the boat, and have provided a safe habitat for many sea creatures to live in. There are plenty of angel fish, damsel fish, eels, and even the occasional sea turtle swimming around.
The pet cemetery dive site is a wide reef that stretches along the coast and is teeming with various species of coral. The reef continues from the Pet Cemetery past baby beach, where it becomes narrower and steeper until the Esso club. The shallow water, clear conditions, and beautiful coral structures are a welcome site to any diver.
- Extensive range of finger, pencil, and giant brain coral
- Abundant fish life swimming around the healthy reef
- Frequently visited by large schools of surgeonfish
What you will see Among the healthy growths of pencil, giant brain, mustard hill, and fire coral, there are occasional sea fans and other lesser known species of coral. This diverse reef ecosystem is the home to plenty of reef fish. At any given dive, you will be able to see some trunk fish, cowfish, triggerfish, schools of parrot fish, damselfish, gobies, and large congregations of surgeonfish.
Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall is a beloved dive spot which is great for drift dives. The strong current pushes you along the narrow reef all the way to Mangel Alto. The Hole in the wall is an impressive structure in the reef where many fish take shelter from the current.
- Great drift dive for experienced divers
- The dive ends in a shallow lagoon which snorkelers can enjoy
- Plenty of marine life to be seen along the steep wall dive
What you will see: Along with brightly colored corals flashing past you as you drift dive, you will also see vast numbers of fish tucked under ledges to keep out of the way of the current. The end of the dive brings you through a sandy channel into a lagoon, which has minimal water movement and beautiful visibility. This is a great spot to have your safety stop in the warm water.
This beach and the subsequent dive site is named due to the rounded black stones that line the shore. It is the only bay on the island’s north coast, where it is hidden from the waves and a great spot for some easy diving.
- Protected bay for simple diving
- Plenty of sea life can be found in the shallow waters
- Great dive spot for beginner divers
What you will see: The clear water and minimal current allow divers to enjoy a calm dive while being surrounded by plenty of fish and lobsters hiding under rocks. There are also plenty of sea fans, and other coral reef structures growing in the area.
This narrow reef stretches out from the easternmost point of Aruba into the sea. It is a great place to head over to snorkel from the shore, or to get out for a dive on a calm day.
- Great shore dive or an option for snorkeling
- There is a chance to see hammerhead sharks, and hawksbill and loggerhead turtles
- The deep blue has plenty of passing fish in the blue
What you will see: The beautiful reef is a spectacular sight; however the eastern side of the Island of Aruba also has some deeper blue water which attracts megafauna. If you look into the blue, you might spot some ballyhoo, eagle rays, stingrays, barracudas, dorados, hammerhead sharks, and turtles.
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This concludes our guide on Diving in Aruba.
Did we miss your favorite dive spot in Aruba? Tell us in the comments below.
If you’re planning a trip here, Aruba has a lot to offer both divers and non divers. Aruba allows visitors to enjoy the beauty of the natural world, including some stunning beaches, gorgeous national parks, iconic lighthouses, and other beautiful swimming holes.
Whether you are interested in history, arts and culture, or simply want to view the stunning nature, there are plenty of options for you and your family. There are plenty of museums, and old ruins to visit which will give you an insight into the rich history of the island, interwoven from many cultures stopping by on their ships.
Unlike many of the islands in the Caribbean, the ABC islands had no Spanish colonization, which is evident by the architecture and languages spoken on the streets. There are many hiking trails and spectacular views on the rocky island, where you can be mesmerised by the views of turquoise waters crashing onto the white sand beaches.