Perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, shimmering seas, duty-free shopping, and friendly Dutch West Indies hosts shouting "Bon Bini" (welcome) will greet you upon arrival in Aruba. Whether you come by air or sea, Aruba will capture your heart as you experience friendly hospitality in the hotels, restaurants, casinos, and shops throughout the island.
In 1636 the Dutch took possession of Aruba, discovered gold in 1824, and oil in 1924. Aruba hosted its first cruise ship in 1957 and the parade of ships has continued to grow ever since. Shifting from an industrial economy to one promoting tourism has transformed Aruba's landscape, skyline, and ensured its place as a major tourist attraction for visitors from around the world. Aruba's people comprise a mixture of races and cultures, a smooth well-blended mix that produces "One Happy Island."
The topography of the 20-mile long island just off the northern coast of South America is as diverse as its people. The east coast is rough and rolling with breakers, caves, the natural rock bridge, dunes, and desert. The west coast has smooth, long white-sand beaches, lush flora, vibrant underwater life, and a bird sanctuary. Strong trade winds cool the island, shaping the divi divi trees in their westward slant and spawning a world-class windsurfing destination. Complete windsurfing centers dot the western coastline providing all the necessary necessary equipment and instruction for beginner to advanced boardsailers.
Swimming and snorkeling at any of the beaches is easy with a gently sloping drop-off into the clear, blue, tropical Caribbean Sea. All types of water sports are available in the capital city of Oranjestad, and at the many hotels and condominiums along the western shore. Several W.W.II wrecks provide premier dive sites. The Antilla, Pedernales, tugboat, and a DC-3 airplane are some favorites displaying a tremendous diversity of marine life.
The Antilla's encrusted 400-foot hulk lies just off the western shore. We did this as a shore dive, swimming the 300 yards out in slight chop. I would now recommend it as a boat dive - we had to float around for awhile and rest before descending. Then there's that long swim back... This is definitely a great dive, so figure out the best way to get there. Down since 1941, the wreckage is alive with sponges, coral and hydroids. Her German crew blew up the ship at anchor. The wreckage is so mangled and covered with growth to make much of it unrecognizable.
At 60 feet this is a good dive for all skill levels. The large compartments in this freighter allow easy penetration and a myriad of fish life hovers in her recesses, including masses of silversides.
Just south of the Antilla lie two other great sites with wrecks, the Pedernales and Malmok Reef with Debbie II. A shallow site at 35 feet, and also a good snorkel site, the torpedoed Pedernales features resident angelfish, groupers, and lobster. Malmok reef and the 1992 addition of Debbie II are at a maximum depth of about 70 feet. Brain and leaf corals, large barrel sponges, and schools of barracuda make this an interesting dive. Debbie II is a 120' fuel barge that now attracts schooling reef fish.
Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (known as the ABC's) are in the southern Caribbean, well below the path typically traveled by hurricanes, and are warm, dry, and sunny year-round.