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Diving and Marina life around Aruba

Although not as spectacular as in the waters around Bonaire, conditions for scuba diving are very good around Aruba.

A coral reef extends along the west side of the island from California reef in the north to Baby Beach reef in the south, with dives varying in depth from 5 to 45 m. There are lots of dive sites suitable for beginners where you can see morays, grouper, eagle rays, manta rays, as well as lobsters, parrot fish, angel fish and others. The northwest of the island has fields of seagrass which attract leatherback turtles during the nesting season and are home to hawksbill, green and loggerhead turtles all year.

The other side of the island is only for experienced divers as there are strong currents. Organized boat trips regularly visit two wrecks worth exploring, although they can get a bit crowded and then visibility deteriorates. One is a German freighter, the Antilla, which was scuttled just after the Second World War was declared and is found in 20 m of water off Malmok beach on the west coast. You can see quite a lot just snorkeling here as parts of the wreck stick up above the water. Snorkeling boat trips usually combine Malmok beach and the wreck.

The other wreck is nearby in 10 m of water, the Pedernales, a flat-bottomed oil tanker which was hit in a submarine attack in May 1941, while ferrying crude oil from Venezuela to Aruba. The Aruba Watersports Association recently sunk a DC-3 aeroplane near the Pedernales, to be another wreck dive site only 10 m deep, and the Star Gerren tanker was sunk in 2000 at a similar depth for smokeless and divers opposite the hotel strip by Hadicurari. Be careful not to touch anything underwater; not all the dive masters warn you of the dangers of fire coral and hydroids. An annual Aruba Perrier Reef Care Project takes place over a weekend in June or July when everyone gets together to preserve the underwater environment and clean up the debris and pollution from main dive sites and beaches.

There are several scuba diving operators on Aruba, prices start from about US$35 for a single tank dive.

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