The Antilla Wreck in Aruba is just one of many wreck dives you can do in Aruba, making this Island probably the best wreck dive destinations in the former Dutch Caribbean.
Featuring tropical, dry weather throughout the entire year, as well as a variety of dive sites to suit divers of all experience levels, there's always something fun to do and see on this pristine caribbean island.
Aruba offers quite a few interesting wreck dive sites in its amazingly clear waters. One of the most popular wreck dives in all of Aruba is the wreck of the Antilla, which is home to multiple species of marine life and is a fun wreck to explore. Whether you go inside the wreck and take a look around, swimming amongst the many creatures that call it home or you snorkel from above, this is a one-of-a-kind dive site.
The History of the Antilla Wreck
The SS Antilla was built in 1939 by Deutsche Werft for a German firm named Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Action Gesellschaft (HAPAG), the M.S. Antilla was officially launched on the 21st of March of that same year. Today, the wreck is referred to as the "Ghost Ship."
How did the Antilla meet its demise? The story goes that the Antilla was cruising through Dutch territorial waters back in 1940 when the Germans already invaded Holland. It seems the crew and captain of the ship were unaware this already happened.
When Dutch Marines tried to embark the ship to confiscate it, the Captain refused to lower the walkway, so the Marines were not able to board the ship.
An arrangement was made, and the Dutch Marines would come back the following morning. As soon as the Dutch left, the Captain ordered his crew to open all the valves of the ship so she would flood and to set the ship on fire before abandoning the vessel.
And so in 1940, the Antilla was scuttled and sank beneath the waves. Today, the Antilla is one of the most well-known wreck dive sites in the area, with divers from all over the world visiting Aruba for the chance to dive and explore this historic wreck.
Also read: 5 of The Best Wreck Dives in Aruba
Why Should You Dive the Wreck of the Antilla?
The Antilla wreck is the biggest wreck dive in all of the Caribbean Sea, coming in at a total of 400 feet, or roughly 122 metres, which is impressive, especially underwater.
The wreck is broken in 2 parts due to the surge which gives divers the chance to do 2 different dives on the same wreck. Divers have a great time exploring the deck fitting, various interior sections, and the porthole as well. But in addition to its beauty and size, divers can really take in the history that surrounds this vessel.
It is a lovely and thrilling dive site because the wreck is covered in various colorful coral formations, as well as tube sponges. There are also innumerable tropical fish species to be seen, along with a diverse range of many other gorgeous sea creatures that include orange anemones, lobsters, shrimp, and much more.
When there is hardly any current, or none at all, and visibility is at its peak, you will clearly see gorgeous angelfish, bluehead wrasse, and yellowtail snappers darting between brain and star corals. You will also see plenty of Hamlet and damselfish hanging underneath lovely purple gorgonians, and you can try to spot four-eye butterfly fish near the white-tipped fire coral.
Other marine species that you are likely to encounter include anemones, tunicates, sponges, bluehead wrasses, silversides, eels, lobsters, and yellow frogfish, as well as white grunts in schools by the hundreds.
Coral covers the railings and various other parts of the ship, and fish swim gracefully by you in this pristine environment. If you are into underwater photography or videography, you should not miss out on the opportunity to explore the SS Antilla.
Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.
When is the Best Time to Visit and Dive?
The great thing about Aruba is the fact that it typically has an arid, dry climate, which is quite different from much of the rest of the Caribbean region. This means that you can visit the island pretty much at any time of the year and expect warm and sunny conditions.
Because the island is located outside of the hurricane belt, you do not need to worry about harsh storms during hurricane season either.
The tropical climate and warm water allows diving here throughout the year, so you can choose to make your trip to the Antilla wreck whenever your schedule permits you to take the journey to Aruba.
How to Get To the Wreck of the Antilla?
After flying into Aruba, you can make your way to the Antilla wreck via a short boat ride with your dive crew. This wreck dive site lies off the west coast of the island. Head to Malmok beach and then a boat can take you to the wreck, which rests in just 20 metres, or 66 feet, of water. You will probably even see the wreck from the surface as you approach it.
Who Should Dive the Antilla and Who Should Not?
The Antilla wreck dive is one of the most popular dives in Aruba for many reasons, one of which is the fact that it's a safe and fun dive for divers of all experience levels.
In fact, once you dive in, you should notice that the water is warm and calm and visibility is great as well. You can gently make your way down to the wreck and explore both the inside and outside with surprising ease.
Just be sure to listen to your dive crew as they guide you in terms of any marine life that you should be careful around. And, of course, respect all of the marine life that you encounter by not touching them and maintaining a respectable distance.
This dive site is even ideal for those who wish to snorkel because, again, the wreck itself is in just 20 metres, or 66 feet, of water. Also, some of the wreck actually comes up above the surface of the water a bit, so there's plenty to see even at the surface.
In fact, pelicans make it a point to sit on the wreck and wait for fish to come jumping out of the water so they can get a delicious meal without having to work for it. The really great thing about the Antilla wreck dive site is the fact that you can experience something new every time you dive in.
There are many dive masters who will tell you that every time they descend to explore Antilla, they discover brand new sights that delight them. So even though the Antilla was so young and new when it sank, and even though it is considered an old ghost ship now, its popularity continues to intrigue divers, and the natural world under the sea is doing a fantastic job of making the wreck a beautiful place to dive.
Key Take Aways:
- The vessel was build in 1939 Germany
- The Antilla was scuffed (deliberately sunken) after Dutch marines tried to confiscate it in 1940
- The wreck broke in 2 parts due to strong surge and swells and lies in 20 ft of water of the north coast of Aruba
- The wreck of the Antilla is with its 400 feet the biggest wreck in the Caribbean sea
- The Wreck can be explored by snorkelers and Open water divers alike (You do not have to be an advanced diver to explore the wreck)
- Always dive well within your limits and do not take anything from the wreck
- Make sure you keep a proper distance from the wreck to avoid any injuries
Have you dived the Wreck of the Antilla in Aruba? Let us know in the comments below
Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners in Aruba that offer day dive trips to the Antilla.
Article written by Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.