Netherlands Antilles Diving
The Netherlands Antilles is a stunning cluster of tropical islands which hold a thrilling selection of dives and even more kinds of marine flora and fauna. With a tropical environment with stunning colours above and below water, diving here will be truly memorable.
The ABC islands are the tropical, picturesque, Dutch Caribbean islands which provide many different underwater adventures for a wide range of divers. The warm waters hold marine life of all shapes and sizes living amongst different marine environments. Everyone will find something to get their hearts pumping here.
Diving in the SSS Islands of the Netherlands Antilles are three islands means divers will experience a combination of tropical island environments, volcanic underwater topography, wrecks, vibrant coral reefs and an exciting collection of marine life, all submerged in warm waters. All divers are bound to be satisfied here.
Diving in Netherlands Antilles
The Netherlands Antilles, also often referred to as the Dutch Antilles, are a group of islands which lie in the Caribbean Sea. There are six islands which make up the Dutch Caribbean and they are split into two groups; the SSS Islands and the ABC Islands. The SSS Islands, of the Leeward Islands, are St Eustatius, Saba and St Maarten. The ABC Islands, of the Leeward Antilles, are Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.
There are many dive centres and dive resorts spread over numerous cities and towns on these islands which offer both dive courses and guide divers to the best dive sites of each island. There are also liveaboards which visit this region, mainly Saba and St Maarten. Scuba diving in the Netherlands Antilles ensures many opportunities to dive into history as there are a large number of shipwrecks on the sea beds here, many of which are accessible to even novice divers. The waters here are protected which has allowed the marine environments to flourish, resulting in densely packed marine environments and the chance to spot something exciting on every dive. There are many underwater adventures to have in the warm, tropical waters here!
Best time to dive
Luckily for divers, the climate of the islands of the Netherlands Antilles correlates with the white sandy beaches, luscious greenery and turquoise waters; it is warm all year round. There are two seasons here, the dry season and the wet season. The dry season runs between January to June and during the time the waters are at their calmest and clearest. During the other half of the year there is a higher chance of rain showers, but none that would hinder diving. The air temperatures range between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius and the water temperatures range between 26 degrees and 29 degrees Celsius. Visibility is above average but really depends on the day and the location. The marine life which inhabits these waters are there all throughout the year.
Types of diving
There are two main things that all the islands of the Netherlands Antilles have in common; they all hold an exciting array of shipwrecks to be explored and for the rest, they all have a wide variety of kinds of dive sites. Diving at these islands caters to divers of all levels; whether they are novice divers wanting to take dive courses and enjoy the calm, shallow dive sites, or more experienced divers wanting to explore the lava flows, the boulders, the vibrant coral reefs with their many inhabitants or some thrilling steep drop offs.
In general, the waters here are calm, warm and clear allowing for an easy and enjoyable diving experience and help emphasise the colours of the many different species of marine flora and fauna! There is a mix of shore diving or boat diving, and there are also numerous liveaboards which visit this region.
What to see
The many different marine environments allow for a high abundance of different marine life. What also allows the marine life here to flourish and be in pristine condition is the fact that the waters here have been announced as a Protected Marine Park. The reefs are made up of marine flora such as Hard Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Sponges including Tube Sponges, Brain Corals, Flower Corals and many more. These thriving reefs, the artificial reefs which come in the shape of many wrecks, the Seagrass environments and the many cracks and crevices of the rocky topography hold a plethora of different marine species.
The marine fauna attracted to these includes fish such as Angelfish, Groupers, Squirrelfish, Barracuda, Jacks and more. Other species include Moray Eels, the majestic Seahorses, Loggerhead Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, Lobsters, Crabs, Octopus, Stingrays and many more. On the luckiest of days, divers can also spot the graceful Manta Rays, Nurse Sharks, Reef Sharks, Flying Gurnards and Peacock Flounder. Some rare seasonal species spotted here include Humpback Whales and Dolphins.
Best places to dive
Antilla is one of the most popular wreck dives of Aruba. This German Freighter has been submerged since 1940 and since then has created its own ecosystem made up of a colourful collection of corals and sponges surrounded by many species of fish and other critters. It lies at 12 metres so accessible to divers of all levels.
Hilma Hooker is a 70 metre long wreck which can be reached right from the shore of Bonaire! She was scuttled in 1984 after being seized with a large amount of drugs on board. Knowing this story helps make this dive even more exciting.
Superior Producer is the largest wreck of Curaçao, it went down in 1977 and it lies upright at depths between 15 and 33 metres of water, so can be enjoyed by divers of all levels.
Charles Brown Wreck, in St Eustatius, is the largest wreck of the Caribbean. It is 100 metres long, lies at 31 metres deep and has been submerged since 2003 to create an artificial wreck. It is still completely intact and divers can penetrate the wreck from multiple entry points for an unforgettable wreck diving experience.
Fish Bowl, in St Maarten, is accurately named as the waters are densely filled with colourful schools of fish. Aside from the fish some of the highlights here include a shallow arch which can be swam through, many Barracuda and a thriving reef.
The Tent Reef area, in Saba, has 4 dive sites which are made up of a ledge, a steep drop off covered in an abundance of corals and sponges and the chance to spot Sea Turtles and Octopus.