Our Aruba Dives August 1- 16
It rained some the week before our visit and it really diminished the visibility. The weather for our 2 weeks was spectacular. Vis was between 30-50 feet, you never knew what it was like until you got down, but we decided to make the best of it anyway. I had bought hubby a Reefmaster camera for his birthday, so you know what he did, and I concentrated on my fish ID skills. Jerry and I chose to dive with
Pelican Watersports. He is a DM and I have my AOW. We had used them the previous year and they were excellent! A professional operation with quality people, they did everything right.
After relaxing for a few days, we were ready to start diving. The unlimited dive package with Pelican for 6 days, you chose the dives, was $250. Lesson to be learned here. Dive first and then decide what package to go with. After our first afternoon's dives we realized that we were not as happy with Pelican's operation and service as we were in the past. We were already comitted so we had to deal with it.
Fish observed while we were there-- they just start repeating themselves after awhile: Queen Angelfish, Yellowtail Snapper, Spotlight Parrot Fish, Clownfish, Green and Spotted Morays, Puffers, Sea Cucumbers, Wrasses, Spotfin and Four Eye Butterfly, Seargent Major, Yellow Tail Damsel, Banded Butterfly, Yellow and Spotted Goatfish, Black Bar Soldier, French Angel, Lobster, Rock Beauty, Squirrelfish, and Rockfish- the entire trip we spotted one lone Barracuda. Next trip I am going to start working on my sponge and coral identification skills. I looked and looked for seahorses, but boy they are elusive! We have seen one once on the Harbor Reef. While there we dove: Pedernales a WWII Oil Tanker, blown up by Germans who were aiming for the oil refinery. Guess what? They missed! The US government took the front and rear sections, glued them back together and sent her to the beaches of Normandy. The mid section is now scattered just off shore about 1/2 mile out down at 25 feet. Complete with bombs and all. Good dive for beginners, and snorkelers with loads of fish and macros.
The Antilla is one of the most famous wrecks of the Caribbean. This WWII German Freighter was scuttled by her captain after surrendering the ship and ferrying his men ashore. This is still my favorite dive in Aruba. What makes it so cool? The air pocket, swimming under the wreck and the bottom of the ship which is now encrusted with coral and sponges of every color imaginable.
Jane Sea, Cement Tanker- boat was crowded with 18 divers plus 2 dive guides. Notice I don't use the term DM. Once we got down the lead guide just headed off toward the ship without taking the current into consideration, so we had to swim against the current to get back to the boat, instead of at the beginning of the dive. I was really uncomfortable after this incident.
Barcadera Reef- Saw an 8" Moray here, an easy drift dive. Also dove DePalm Reef, Kai Reef. Did not dive Arashi or Malmok, once we got on the boat they decided to "just take us" out to the Antilla instead. Thought that was kind of rotten since we dive the Antilla so much anyway while we are there. We didn't dive Harbor Reef since we had heard from fellow divers the vis was even worse than what we had already seen. No night dives, needed 5 people or more, never hit the mark.
We just hit the diving at a bad time, Jerry dove 13 times and I went down 11. Jerry took a lot of pictures. We are extremely happy with the pictures that we got out of that $150 camera.
There were two really important things to us that disappointed us about Pelican this year. We had one dive with a dive guide we had never seen before. She got lost and had to surface to regain her bearings. Doesn't exactly give you a feeling of security. We never saw her again after this dive. Almost makes you wonder if she wasn't just someone's friend who felt like diving that day. They changed the dive schedule at will but did not tell you until after you had already departed the dock. It was like they kept it from us so we wouldn't jump ship!
A fellow diver who is a former dive instructor in Aruba recommends Pelican, Red Sail or
Unique Divers. All are PADI affiliated.
Another sad note...less fish and damaged coral. All in all, we still love Aruba. If you are looking for perfect weather, this is the place to go. No worry over hurricanes or even much rain for that matter. Dive safe and with a buddy!