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The waters surrounding Aruba harbour a true ship graveyard. Some of these ships were torpedoed — others perished in a storm. Nowadays, a few are even sunk here deliberately. Why? Because not only the fish love these wrecks, but also divers and snorkellers, who can explore the underwater world while enjoying a bit of history in the process.
Diving and snorkelling around a shipwreck will be one of the most enchanting things you will ever experience underwater. Aruba is surrounded by some of the largest and most impressive ship wrecks in the world and, on top of that, its waters also conceal a couple of aeroplanes. The older the wreck, the more it has been overgrown with coral, sponges and marine polyps — spooky yet brimming with colour and activity.
When Germany invaded the Netherlands at the start of World War II, the German cargo ship the SS Antilla was sunk off the coast of Aruba. In order to keep it out of enemy hands, the crew set the sinking ship on fire. Nowadays, it is known as the Ghost Ship of Aruba and it belongs to the largest wrecks in the Caribbean. This 122-metre-long ship lies in shallow water and the currents around it are weak, making it a suitable attraction for both more and less advanced divers.
The Jane wreck lies west of the Barcadera Reef at a depth of 27 metres. This 75-metre-long Venezuelan cargo ship was built to transport cement, but was caught with a cargo of cocaine. The Jane was sunk in 1988, after which all kinds of coral began to flourish on and around the ship. Barracudas feel right at home here, as do green morays, manta rays and a wide variety of other colourful fish. Experienced divers can explore the huge cargo spaces.
“Manta rays feel at home around the Jane C”
There is an aeroplane wreck below the surface near Renaissance Island, a long narrow island near Oranjestad. This YS-11 of Japanese manufacture was once part of the Aruba Airlines fleet — the logo can still be seen. It is positioned as if ready for take-off from the ocean floor, 27 metres below the surface. The cockpit is still intact and it is possible to swim through the aircraft.