Wrecks of Aruba
Aruba... What a Wreck!
In this case, Aruba is happy to be a wreck, a top wreck diving destination, that is. The March 2006 issue of Scuba Diving Magazine names Aruba the number two wreck diving spot in the Caribbean/Atlantic.
This honor was bestowed on Aruba, the island where happiness lives, as a result of Scuba Diving’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, which spans a top 100 list encompassing the best walls, wrecks, shore diving, marine live and more. Aruba has consistently appeared in the top wreck diving category for the last 12 years; a feat the island takes a great deal of pride in.
Aruba offers 7 wreck sites for snorkeling, scuba and free diving adventure!
- California Wreck (Depth = 30-45’)
This shipwreck used to bring fruit from South America to Aruba. It is almost 100 years old, and is surrounded by large coral formations and an abundance of tropical fish. The only objects left are an engine block and an anchor. Use caution: for advanced divers only.
- Antilla Wreck (Depth = 0'-60’)
This German freighter lies on her port side with the bow of the ship facing Aruba. Part of her hull actually sticks out of the water. It was scuttled on May 10, 1940 when the Germans invaded Holland during WWII. One of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean (400’ long), it is great for penetrations due to the large compartments of this vessel, which is broken in the middle where the explosives were set that sunk the ship. Covered by tube sponges, coral formations and tropical fish, it is reachable in about 10 minutes by boat.
In 1939, the Germans secretly deployed numerous U-boats across the Atlantic to the coast of South America. Five of these submarines were to make the ABC islands their base. Called the Neuland Gruppe, their mission was to attack Aruba and Curacao's refineries and to torpedo tankers carrying crude oil to the refineries from the Venezuelan oil fields in Lake Maracaibo. Serving as a supply boat for these submarines was the Antilla, a 400-foot German freighter, built in 1938 in Hamburg. Under the guise of a peaceful, commercial freighter working in the neutral waters of the Dutch islands, the Antilla secretly housed all supplies needed for the submarines and their crew, including a deadly arsenal - torpedoes, mines and other munitions. She was 400-feet-long and weighted in at 4,400 gross tons.
In 1940, Germany officially went to war against Holland and Aruba's Dutch powers demanded the surrender of the Antilla. But the captain of the Antilla went about sabotaging his ship - overheating the boilers, opening valves, closing drains and, finally, he blasted a hole in the side of his freighter. The ship sunk in less than 60 feet of water; the mast and chimney still emerging from the water.
Lying on a bed of superb white sand, not far away from the coast and protected from the swell, the Antilla is a golden wreck for today's divers, a real war treasure. In the immense hull, the light plays through the portholes. Swarms of silversides fill the cargo hulls, creating elaborate circular forms as they pulsate in unison before your eyes.
You can easily be led astray, down the endless corridors of the wreck, where you can still find some locked doors. The spectacular light, deep inside the cargo hulls, evokes great illusions of depth while you are no deeper than 50 feet.
- Blue Reef and Debbie II (Depth = 70’)
At this typical bottom reef you will find wildly spread leaf and brain corals. Stingrays and lobsters are occassionally spotted at this site. In 1992 a 120’ fuel barge was sunk as an additional attraction. It is eight minutes from land by boat.
- Pedernalis (Depth = 25’)
A beginner’s paradise offering a combination of large pieces of wreck spread out between coral formations. You can see sections of cabins, washbasins, etc., as well as a pipeline system that goes with this oil tanker that was torpedoed in 1942 during World War II by a German submarine. Boat ride is about 20 minutes.
- Harbor Reef/Pilot Boat (Depth = 40-100’)
Reef consisting of soft coral formations that drops gradually to an old pilot boat wreck where a pair of green morays are often seen. The pilot boat is about 40’ feet long, and the boat ride is about 20 minutes.
- Sonesta Airplane (Depth = 70-80’)
This Convair 240 is sunk on a sloping reef surrounded by soft corals and colorful sponges. It was broken in three parts after Hurricane Lenny hit in 1999.
- Jane Sea Wreck (Depth = 20-100’)
A 250’ cement freighter that sits upright on the bottom in 90’ of water. The wreck is surrounded by beautiful coral formations. At this site you will find lots of angelfish and schooling tropical fish in and around the wreck. The largest compartment is the cargo area that is open from the top. The rest of the wreck’s penetration area is a little bit small and only experienced wreck divers should go in there. The reef is parallel to the island at the south coast and the Jane Sea is facing the reef. The boat ride is about 50 minutes.