Diving Tour of Aruba
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"The friendliest Diveshop on the Island"
Starting from "Punta Basora" at the east end of the island a narrow reef stretches far out into the sea. On calm days, diving from the shore to the end of the reef, you see a multitude of fish in the crystal clear waters passes around this point of the island. Big tunafish, ballyhoo, eagle and stingrays, barracudas, dorados and even hawksbill and logger-head turtles are passing by. Hammerhead sharks appear here regularly.
South-west from here a wide reef stretches out along the coast with elkhorn and staghorn corals, different kinds of finger and pencil corals, giant braincoral, mustard-hill coral, sea fans and also the encrusted, leafy and square forms of stinging coral. The reef goes past Baby-Beach, narrows and gets a steep side. The whole reef is inhabited with a variety of fish, schools of surgeon fish pass by, curious trunk and cowfishes, triggerfish, big and small parrot fishes, not to forget the butter-fly's, damselfishes and goby's. Now we have reached the part of Rodgers-Beach, where the reef is narrow but very interesting, it looks fresh and undamaged, Because there are no diving activities here. The same applies for the widening reef past the entrance to the bay, which is very colorful, it has open sandy spaces and beside the other corals also the fungus, cactus and star-coral. Soft corals, wave their branches in the current, filefishes are seen here and at the so called submarine island is a deep ravine where you can find many groupers. On it goes to Barlock, big red reef crabs scuttle around waving their big claws, slipper lobsters come out at night, just like the octopuses who build their homes, sur-rounded by mounds of stones and empty shells, on the inside of the reef islands.
At the harbor entrance of the refinery the first part of the reef system on Aruba ends, but continues at the small channel in the reef island opposite Zeewijk, this part, up to Savaneta is very narrow due to the water being deeper close to the coast. Their is less coral, but more shells are found, a sign that nature divides things evenly among its habitants.
Past Savaneta the reef widens, growing far out on a shallow bank and goes on like this to Isla di Oro, this is a good diving spot, everything is found here, french, gray and queen angelfish, porcupinefishes hide in crevas-ses, trumpetfishes in different colors hide between soft corals, goatfishes swim around sandy patches and spotted and green moray eels stick their heads from holes. You can find three inch cowries and big triton shells, but if they are not empty, eaten by the octopuses, please leave them be, they also have a function on the coral reefs. This part of the reef forms an important eco-logical system, with the shallow lagoons on the inside and the mangroves growing profusely along the shore. That is why there is such a variety of fish, the hatchlings grow up in the safety of the lagoons and find their food among the mangroves, while the adult fishes live on the reef. This part, from Savaneta to Mangel Halto, together with the mangroves and shallow lagoons, must be protected very soon and be declared the first protected part of the underwater world of Aruba.
Past Isla di Oro it gets narrower and steeper, this is a very popular diving spot, either at the isla or at hole in the wall you can enter the water and drift with the current past the reef wall all the way to Mangel Halto, where it is easy to get back into the lagoon. The reef stretches on and on, different again, wider and more tranquil, hidden behind the green of the mangroves growing on the reef islands, this part, all the way to Oranjestad, is only reachable by boat, but very interesting and diversified. It slopes down very gradually and suddenly it dives down to a dept of a hundred and twenty to a hundred and eighty feet. Different sorts of jacks patrol the edge of the reef, it is a hunting place for the great barracuda, who can grow up to six feet long and if you are lucky, a group of bottlenose dolphins comes frolicking around.
Just above Palm Island, are some crevices in the reef where nurse sharks sleep during the day, allowing you to come up very close and even letting you stroke them. But don't take their tranquility for stupidity, they have very sharp teeth and many a diver lost a hand or arm, being too playful with these otherwise peace loving animals! Downwards of Palm Island lies the wreck of the Jane C, a sunken coaster just outside the coral reef, an interesting place, there's many fish around, in and under the wreck and if you have seen it all, just head into the coral reef for a bit more excitement. The sea has taken possession of the wreck and corals grow everywhere on the steel plates of decks and cabins, softcorals wave in the current going in and out of the ports. On we go, to the part opposite Barcadera called the wall, a very beautiful reef where often green turtles visit.
Diving over the edge down the steep wall is an exiting experience, gorgons spread their long branches, dark crevices and grotto's hide groupers, murenes and burr-fishes. Black coral grows here. On the upper part of the reef are fine examples of star and flowercorals, while enormous sheetcorals abound more inshore. Grooved, knobby and smooth braincorals grow every-where in between, with scroll and ribbon corals. Rockbeauty's, damselfish and porgy's swim back and forth, jackknife fishes peer from under coral mounds, while the beautifully colored glassy sweepers group together under an overhang. Past the harbor entrance of Barcadera the coral grows thin, due to the sand, the enemy of all corals. Only the bigger kinds, like staghorn, elkhorn and pillarcoral grow near to the reef islands. Further out, on the edge of the bank, out of reach of the sand the other corals have a fairer chance. The reef islands are worth a visit, the mangroves are a habitat for many birds while in certain spots pelicans and frigate birds have their resting places. Just on the waters edge and in the shallow pools grows a variety of aquatic plants and algae, small crabs and fishes inhabit this special world, sea urchins cling to rocks and bristle worms hide under them.
On the inside of the reef islands in the seagrass live the conch shells, while the muddy places under the mangroves are the habitat of the tulip and murex shells. Just in front of Renaissance Island are two submerged small planes, which form an attractive divesite, with the old barge lying beside the pier. The reef widens and improves again to the harbor exit of Oranjestad and continues as the harbor reef, with clear water and full of extremely high soft corals. So far an important part of Aruba's wondrous under-water world, and an important ecosystem, which already should have been, but with our help shall be protected in the future!
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