Density dependent growth and optical properties of periodic arrays of GaAs nanowires (NWs) by fast selective area growth MOVPE are investigated. As the period of the arrays is decreased from 500 nm down to 100 nm, a volume growth enhancement by a factor of up to four compared with the growth of a planar layer is observed. This increase is explained as resulting from increased collection of precursors on the side walls of the nanowires due to the gas flow redistribution in the space between the NWs. Normal spectral reflectance of the arrays is strongly reduced compared with a flat substrate surface in all fabricated arrays. Electromagnetic modeling reveals that this reduction is caused by antireflective action of the nanowire arrays and nanowire-diameter dependent light absorption. Irrespective of the periodicity and diameter, Raman scattering and grazing angle X-ray diffraction show signal from zinc blende and wurtzite phases, the latter originating from stacking faults as observed by high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Raman spectra contain intense surface phonons peaks, whose intensity depends strongly on the nanowire diameters as a result of potential structural changes and as well as variations of optical field distribution in the nanowires.