Trips for Divers
Oakland, CA 94602
510-638-3448 / 800-345-7159
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Divi Aruba ☺✩◊
Occidental Grand Aruba ☺◊
Legends: ☺kids friendly (kids program or kids rates available); ✩ wheelchair accessible; ◊ internet access
|ARUBA, Netherlands Antilles
Near the Venezuela coast, Aruba diving does not match neighboring Bonaire and Curacao, but miles of white sand, glitzy casinos, hotels and restaurants may make it a good compromise destination for the nondiving spouse.
Penetrating the impressive hull of an underwater wreck often means coming across a school of anchovies or a watchful snapper hiding in the corner. Often it is enough to enjoy the play of light as it too finds its way into the wreck, reflecting off the bubbles emitted by your dive buddy.
Aruba earns its reputation as the wreck dive destination of the Caribbean with over half a dozen wrecks submerged in its waters. The Antilla, a German freighter -- which at close to 400 feet long, is also the Caribbean's largest wreck -- is by far the favorite, even among longtime, resident divers, who always seem to find something new at the site.
Aruba is among the most southern of the Lesser Antilles islands (ABC islands = Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao) and is the farthest west of that group. It's a mere 15 miles (24 km) from the coast of Venezuela. On a clear day the Venezuelan mainland is visible from the south-eastern coast, and about 42 miles (67 km), or 20 minutes by airplane, to our nearest Caribbean neighbour, Curacao.
The oblong island is fronted by heavy surf and a jagged coast on our northern, windward side and by seven miles (11 km) of honey-colored sand beaches on the southern leeward coast. It's some 75 square miles (193 km2) in area and measures about five miles (8 km) at it widest point and 19 miles (30 km) in length.
No large land mammals roam Aruba, but you'll find a variety of small lizards and geckoes, as well as dozens of species of birds that inhabit the island full-time temporarily as they migrate between North and South America. A small swampy area just to the west of the road 1B, near the Palm Beach area, has been set aside as the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. It's visited by more than 100 species of land and sea birds, including terns, herons, trupials (they look like Baltimore orioles), and various egrets.
Offshore, note the brown pelicans that dive, straight down like a dropping stone, into the ocean to catch fish. Other seabirds include several types of gulls, cormorants, and egrets.
Despite the fact that Aruba is such a popular island, the vast majority of its land and its surrounding waters are almost completely untouched by humans. In recent years, this ecological wealth and diversity has become recognized as the very foundation of Aruba's appeal. Whether admiring the endangered burrowing owls (Aruba's version of the Spotted Owl) near Tierra del Sol's sixth hole or enjoying a romantic evening watching, snowy egrets and scarlet ibis settle down on the quiet waters of Bubali Pond, exploring the island's beauty has become one of the primary pleasures of a visit. Today opportunities to explore Aruba's remarkable ecology abound.
With an average rainfall of less than 20 inches a year, an average daytime temperature of 82° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius), a location completely outside the hurricane belt, and the constant cooling influence of the trade winds, Aruba is one of the most temperate islands in the Caribbean.
Citizens from most countries do not need a visa, and only require a valid passport longer than 3 months from the intended departure date. A return or continuing ticket is also required along with sufficient means to support yourself during your stay. Maximum stay: 14 days with the possibility of extending the visit to 90 days.
For U.S. bound passengers the PFC (departure tax) is US $36.75 (usually included in the price of your ticket) and for international bound passengers the PFC (departure tax) is US $33.50. If in Aruba on transit for less than 24 hours, these charges are waived. Visitors can leave the airport and return freely within those hours. Children under 2 years of age do not pay the Aruba Departure Tax.
How to get there
American Airlines (Boston, Miami, New York), Continental (Houston, Newark), Delta (Atlanta, New York), Jetblue (Boston, New York), US Airways (Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia), and United (Chicago, Washington DC) fly into Aruba.
The electrical voltage is 110 A.C. (60 cycles), and the outlets are the same as in the United States. No adaptors are required for visitors from the U.S.
The official currency is the Aruban florin, which is divided into 100 cents. Current exchange rates are Afl. 1.78 to the U.S. Dollar and Afl 1.50 to the Canadian Dollar. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.
No malaria risk exists in Aruba.