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Diving The Sonesta Plane Wrecks In Aruba


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Winonah Diep



Welcome to the captivating world of diving the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable underwater adventure as you explore these historical treasures that lie beneath the surface of the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.


The Sonesta plane wrecks are a must-visit destination for adventure seekers and diving enthusiasts alike. With a rich history and vibrant marine life, these wrecks offer a unique and exhilarating diving experience.


Immerse yourself in the fascinating story behind the Sonesta plane wrecks as you delve into the history of these sunken aircraft. Discover the secrets they hold and the legends that surround them.


Located off the coast of Aruba, in the southern Caribbean, these wrecks are easily accessible and provide divers with an unforgettable exploration of the underwater world.


As you descend into the depths, be prepared to encounter an abundance of marine life that call these wrecks home. From colorful tropical fish to majestic turtles and even the occasional eagle ray, the Sonesta plane wrecks offer a mesmerizing array of sea creatures.


However, it is important to approach diving the Sonesta plane wrecks with caution and respect. While this adventure promises excitement and beauty, it is crucial to prioritize safety and adhere to the rules and guidelines set by certified dive operators.


In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about diving the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba. From the history of the wrecks to the diving conditions and safety tips, we have you covered.


So, gear up and get ready to embark on a thrilling underwater journey to the Sonesta plane wrecks. Let’s dive in and explore the wonders that await beneath the surface!


History of the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

The Sonesta plane wrecks have a fascinating history that dates back several decades. These sunken aircraft served various purposes before meeting their watery fate.


The first of the wrecks is a Convair CV-240 named “Antilla” that dates back to World War II. The Antilla was a German cargo and passenger ship that was converted into a transport ship during the war. In May 1940, it was scuttled by the German crew to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Today, it is one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean, attracting divers from all over the world.


The second wreck is a DC-3 airplane named “Pedernales.” This aircraft was originally owned by LAVIASA, an airline in Venezuela. In 1986, it was purchased by Aruba’s Sonesta Hotel Group and was destined to become an artificial reef. However, due to a navigation error, the plane was accidentally dropped in a location different from the intended site. Despite the mishap, the Pedernales has become a popular attraction for divers.


The final wreck is a YS-11 aircraft named “Sonesta V.” This plane was initially operated by the Dutch Caribbean Airlines before it found its final resting place in 2003. It was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef near the Antilla and the Pedernales. The Sonesta V adds another element of intrigue to the underwater landscape of the Sonesta plane wrecks.


Today, these wrecks serve as stunning reminders of both wartime history and the beauty of marine life. As you explore these sunken relics, you can witness firsthand the captivating blend of natural and man-made elements that have transformed them into unique underwater habitats.


The Sonesta plane wrecks not only offer divers a chance to delve into the past but also contribute to the growth of vibrant coral reefs. Over time, these wrecks have become home to coral formations, providing shelter and nourishment to a wide variety of marine plants and animals.


As you descend into the depths of the Caribbean Sea to explore the Sonesta plane wrecks, take a moment to appreciate the historical significance and ecological impact of these submerged treasures.


Location of the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

The Sonesta plane wrecks are located off the coast of Aruba, a stunning Caribbean island in the Southern Caribbean Sea. Aruba is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, making it an ideal destination for divers.


The wrecks are situated near the western side of the island, just a short boat ride away from various diving centers. The exact coordinates of the Sonesta plane wrecks are approximately 12.4882° N latitude and 70.0365° W longitude.


When you embark on your dive adventure, be prepared to explore three distinct wrecks: the Antilla, the Pedernales, and the Sonesta V. These wrecks are located in relatively shallow waters, with the depths ranging from 15 to 30 meters (50 to 100 feet).


The proximity of the Sonesta plane wrecks to the island’s shoreline makes them easily accessible to divers of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, you can enjoy exploring these sunken aircraft and immersing yourself in the rich underwater world.


The location of the wrecks also offers divers the added advantage of exploring other nearby diving sites. Aruba boasts a variety of dive sites, including vibrant coral reefs, underwater caves, and other shipwrecks. This diversity ensures that every dive in Aruba is filled with excitement and exploration.


When planning your trip to the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba, it is recommended to consult with local dive operators and centers. They can provide valuable information about the best time to visit, current conditions, and any specific regulations or guidelines you need to follow.


Remember, apart from the wrecks themselves, Aruba’s beautiful landscape, warm waters, and year-round pleasant weather make it a truly idyllic diving destination. So, get ready to dive into the Sonesta plane wrecks and discover the underwater wonders that await you in the sparkling Caribbean Sea.


Diving Conditions at the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

Exploring the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba offers divers a unique opportunity to experience favorable diving conditions. From visibility to water temperature, here’s what you can expect when diving at these remarkable underwater sites.




The visibility at the Sonesta plane wrecks is generally excellent, ranging from 20 to 30 meters (65 to 100 feet). This clear visibility allows divers to fully appreciate the wrecks, coral formations, and the diverse marine life that call these sites home.


Water Temperature:


The waters surrounding Aruba maintain a warm and pleasant temperature throughout the year. Diving at the Sonesta plane wrecks, you can expect water temperatures ranging from 26°C to 29°C (79°F to 84°F). This comfortable temperature makes it possible to dive in a lightweight wetsuit or even a rash guard, depending on your personal preference.




While the Sonesta plane wrecks are generally not affected by strong currents, some mild to moderate currents can be experienced at times. It is advisable to listen to the guidance of your dive instructor or local dive operator to ensure a safe and enjoyable dive experience.


Dive Difficulty:


The Sonesta plane wrecks cater to divers of various skill levels. The wrecks are located at depths of 15 to 30 meters (50 to 100 feet), making them ideal for both beginner and intermediate divers. However, it is important to have proper training and certification before attempting to explore these sites independently.


Marine Life:


One of the highlights of diving at the Sonesta plane wrecks is the abundance of marine life you’ll encounter. From vibrant coral formations to a wide variety of tropical fish, turtles, moray eels, and even occasional eagle rays, these wrecks provide a playground for underwater enthusiasts.


Weather Conditions:


Aruba enjoys a tropical climate, with consistently pleasant weather year-round. The island experiences minimal rainfall and is located outside the hurricane belt, making it an ideal destination for diving at any time of the year.


It is important to note that weather conditions and visibility can vary, so it is advisable to check local forecasts and consult with dive professionals before planning your dive trip to the Sonesta plane wrecks.


By keeping an eye on the diving conditions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience as you embark on your underwater adventure to explore the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba.


Marine Life at the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

The Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba are home to a vibrant and diverse array of marine life. As you explore these underwater sites, prepare to be amazed by the beauty and abundance of underwater creatures that inhabit the wrecks and surrounding reefs.




One of the most stunning aspects of diving at the Sonesta plane wrecks is the presence of colorful coral formations. Hard and soft corals adorn the wrecks, providing a vibrant backdrop for the marine life that inhabits the area. These living structures attract a wide variety of fish and other organisms, making every dive a visual feast.


Fish Species:


The Sonesta plane wrecks attract a diverse range of fish species that are a delight to observe while diving. Schools of colorful tropical fish such as Angelfish, Parrotfish, Sergeant Majors, Butterflyfish, and Damselfish can be seen darting in and out of the corals, creating a dazzling display of colors. Keep an eye out for Yellowtail Snappers, Blue Tangs, and Groupers as well.




The Sonesta plane wrecks are also known for attracting graceful sea turtles. These majestic creatures can be spotted swimming around the wrecks and feeding on the surrounding seagrass. Diving alongside a turtle is a magical experience that should not be missed, and you may even have the opportunity to capture some amazing underwater photographs.


Eagle Rays:


If you’re lucky, you might encounter the graceful eagle ray during your dive at the Sonesta plane wrecks. These magnificent creatures, with their distinctive shape and long tails, often gracefully swim around the wrecks, adding a touch of wonder to your underwater adventure.


Moray Eels:


Keep an eye out for moray eels that call the Sonesta plane wrecks their home. These secretive creatures can often be seen peeking out from crevices within the wrecks, their sharp teeth and elongated bodies lending an air of mystique to the dive.


In addition to these fascinating marine species, you may also encounter octopuses, lobsters, seahorses, and a variety of other aquatic life on your exploration of the Sonesta plane wrecks. The wrecks and surrounding reefs provide a diverse ecosystem that supports a wide range of marine organisms.


Whether you are a marine life enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, diving at the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba offers an extraordinary underwater experience. Immerse yourself in this thriving ecosystem and witness the wonders that await beneath the surface.


Safety Tips for Diving the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

When embarking on a dive adventure to explore the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba, it is essential to prioritize safety. By following these safety tips, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable underwater experience:


1. Dive with a Certified Professional:


Always dive with a certified dive professional or a reputable dive operator who is familiar with the Sonesta plane wrecks. Their knowledge and expertise will help ensure your safety and guide you through the dive sites.


2. Plan and Communicate:


Before each dive, plan your dive profile and communicate it clearly with your dive buddy. Discuss entry and exit points, underwater navigation, and any potential hazards you may encounter during the dive.


3. Check your Equipment:


Prior to each dive, thoroughly inspect your diving equipment, including your mask, regulator, and dive computer. Ensure that all equipment is in proper working order and well-maintained to avoid any potential malfunctions during the dive.


4. Dive within your Limits:


Stay within your comfort zone and dive within your certification and experience level. The Sonesta plane wrecks offer dives suitable for various skill levels, so choose a dive site that matches your expertise.


5. Practice Buoyancy Control:


Master your buoyancy control skills to avoid damaging the wrecks or harming marine life. Proper buoyancy control also helps conserve your air supply and minimizes the risk of accidental contact with sharp edges or structures.


6. Monitor Your Air Supply:


Keep a close eye on your air consumption and always end your dive with a sufficient reserve. Maintain a slow and controlled breathing pattern to extend your bottom time and ensure a safe ascent.


7. Respect the Marine Life:


Observe marine life from a distance and avoid touching or disturbing any creatures or coral formations. Remember, you are a guest in their habitat, and respecting their natural environment is crucial for their well-being.


8. Be Mindful of Depth and Time:


Adhere to your dive plan, including maximum depth and bottom time limits. Remember to take safety stops when necessary to off-gas and minimize the risk of decompression sickness.


9. Stay Hydrated and Dive Well-Rested:


Proper hydration and rest are essential for diving safety. Avoid alcohol consumption before diving and get a good night’s sleep prior to your dive to ensure your body is in optimal condition.


10. Be Prepared for Emergency Situations:


Carry a dive safety sausage or whistle to attract attention in case of emergencies. Familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest emergency exits and ensure you have a thorough understanding of the dive plan and communication signals.


Remember, your safety is of utmost importance when diving the Sonesta plane wrecks. By following these safety tips, you can have a fantastic and secure diving experience while exploring these incredible underwater sites in Aruba.


Equipment Needed for Diving the Sonesta Plane Wrecks

When preparing for a dive adventure to explore the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba, it is important to ensure you have the necessary equipment to enhance your safety, comfort, and enjoyment underwater. Here is a list of essential diving equipment to consider:


1. Dive Mask:


A properly fitting dive mask is crucial for clear visibility underwater. Choose a mask that provides a comfortable and watertight seal to prevent leaks and fogging during your exploration of the wrecks.


2. Scuba Regulator:


A scuba regulator allows you to breathe underwater by delivering air from your tank. It is essential to have a reliable and well-maintained regulator that meets all safety standards to ensure a consistent and uninterrupted air supply throughout your dive.


3. Buoyancy Compensator Device (BCD):


A BCD is a vital piece of equipment that helps control your buoyancy in the water. It allows you to adjust your position and stay neutrally buoyant, ensuring a comfortable and controlled dive experience around the wrecks.


4. Wetsuit or Drysuit:


The choice of a wetsuit or drysuit depends on the water temperature and personal preference. Aruba’s warm waters may allow for a lightweight wetsuit or even a rash guard, while some divers may prefer the added insulation of a thicker wetsuit or drysuit.


5. Fins:


Properly fitted fins are essential for efficient propulsion underwater. Choose fins that fit comfortably and provide the necessary thrust, allowing you to navigate effortlessly through the water as you explore the Sonesta plane wrecks.


6. Dive Computer:


A dive computer is a valuable tool for tracking your depth, bottom time, and decompression limits during your dive. It helps you stay within safe parameters, preventing decompression sickness and ensuring a responsible dive profile.


7. Dive Light:


A dive light can be useful for exploring the nooks and crannies of the wrecks, illuminating your path, and enhancing visibility in low-light areas. Make sure to choose a reliable and waterproof light with a sufficient beam strength for optimal underwater visibility.


8. Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) and Dive Safety Sausage:


An SMB and dive safety sausage are essential tools for signaling your location to surface support. These devices provide an easily visible and readable signal, especially when ascending or in an emergency situation.


9. Dive Knife:


A dive knife is a handy tool for various purposes, including cutting through entanglements, freeing yourself from fishing lines, or potentially aiding in underwater tasks. Choose a dive knife with a secure sheath and select a size that suits your preference and comfort.


10. Dive Bag and Equipment Straps:


Invest in a sturdy dive bag to transport and protect your equipment. Use equipment straps to secure loose items and prevent them from dangling and potentially snagging on the wrecks or other objects underwater.


Remember, proper maintenance of your diving equipment is essential. Regularly inspect and service your gear to ensure its reliability and functionality, enhancing your safety and enjoyment while diving the Sonesta plane wrecks.



Exploring the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba is a captivating and thrilling experience that offers a unique blend of history, adventure, and marine life. From the rich WWII origins of the Antilla to the accidental placement of the Pedernales and intentional sinking of the Sonesta V, each wreck tells its own fascinating story.


Diving at the Sonesta plane wrecks allows you to witness the transformation of these sunken aircraft into thriving underwater ecosystems. The wrecks are adorned with colorful corals and teeming with a diverse array of marine life, including tropical fish, turtles, eels, and even the occasional eagle ray. The wrecks offer a breathtaking backdrop for both historians and marine enthusiasts alike.


As you explore the Sonesta plane wrecks, it is important to prioritize safety. Diving with certified professionals, planning your dives, and maintaining proper equipment are essential for a secure and enjoyable experience. Respecting the marine life and adhering to dive regulations helps preserve the wrecks and their delicate ecosystems for future generations of divers to enjoy.


Aruba’s warm waters, pleasant weather, and accessibility make it an ideal destination for divers of all levels of experience. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, the Sonesta plane wrecks and the surrounding dive sites in Aruba provide an exciting and rewarding underwater adventure for everyone.


So, pack your dive gear, book your trip to Aruba, and get ready to delve into the fascinating history, awe-inspiring marine life, and unparalleled beauty of the Sonesta plane wrecks. Dive into an amazing adventure that will leave you with lasting memories and a profound appreciation for the wonders of the underwater world.