Millions of people have visited Aruba, strolled its sandy beaches and swam in its crystal-clear waters, but only a fraction of these visitors are aware of the quality of Aruba's diving and the extent to which the people of Aruba have gone to protect their waters. Aruba Reef Care, an environmental organization, has existed for more than 10 years to promote the protection of Aruba's reefs on a local and international basis, from awareness programs in the local schools to islandwide cleanup events in which all divers are welcome to pitch in and do their part.
When divers do head for Aruba, however, they are often unaware of the reef diving that is available. For years, Aruba's reefs have been overlooked in favor of several famous wrecks including the Antilla, the Pedernales and even a few airplanes. Both the Antilla and the Pedernales were sunk during World War II, when Aruba's oil refinery was a target of German U-boat operations, and both are excellent wreck dives for divers of all ability levels. But there are several sites where the reefs are the big attraction. And at some sites, both wrecks and reef are available, such as Renaissance Island, where its shallow reefs share the seafloor with two small planes.
Aruba's proactive stance on environmental protection doesn't stop at the waterline. La Cabana All-Suite Beach Resort & Casino has attained the impressive Green Globe certification for its adaptation of strict, environmentally friendly operating standards while maintaining the quality of its products and services, where even hotel guests can participate. After all, why shouldn't we recycle while we are on vacation? It's all part and parcel of being an immaculate place. And while Aruba has plenty of glitz and glamour with its high-rise resorts and Las Vegas-style casinos and shows, nature dominates outside the resort areas. Don't miss a trip out to the Natural Bridge, an amazing coral-rock formation more than 100 feet long and 25 feet high on the windward (east) side of the island. Check out the monster dunes on Aruba's rugged north end, where the California Lighthouse overlooks the 100-year-old wreck of the California, which is a great dive when weather and conditions allow.
World-class windsurfing, golfing, nature hikes, spelunking, horseback riding and rock climbing will round out any nature lover's nondiving hours, and Aruba's array of fine dining and night-life venues would fill out a year's stay on this diverse island.
You will find Arubans to be among the friendliest people in the Caribbean. During the years that I lived on Bonaire, I would often hop over to Aruba for an action-packed weekend. From the moment of arrival, the genuine hospitality of the local people is unmistakable, and the quality of service is unmatched in my experience.
Pelican Adventures, a PADI 5-Star facility, operates out of La Cabana and has been one of Aruba's largest and most experienced operators for many years. They are a perfect example of a top-quality dive operation, even by Aruba's high standards, and will transfer you and your gear from the resort to its beachfront location on Palm Beach, where its spacious, custom-built dive boats will zip you out to any number of sites, from the nearby wrecks to the island's most exciting reefs.
All things considered, Aruba offers the best of both worlds the creature comforts and pleasure palaces of a lavish vacation on an island chock-full of natural wonders.