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Snorkeling with turtles in Aruba is an experience you cannot miss when visiting this heavenly Caribbean Island. The clear, shallow water provides you with ideal conditions offering young and old a great adventure of observing these cute sea creatures in their natural environment. Here I list the best beaches where you can swim with turtles in Aruba including Boca Catalina, Malmok, Arashi, Mangel Halto, and Baby Beach and share a little description of each so you will know when and where to look for them!
Top 7 spots to swim with turtles in Aruba
The secluded bay of Boca Catalina is definitely the best spot if it comes to snorkeling with turtles in Aruba. It is located in a residential area, just a few miles north of the busy high-rise hotel area. This 350 meters long beach offers free parking and water access through soft sand.
Boca Catalina is a beautiful protected cove; the water is warm, crystal clear, with little swell. The best time to visit it is in the early morning when the wind and currents are calmer and when it is the perfect spot to relax and search for turtles!
There are extensive areas covered with seagrass, turtles can be spotted there. You need to swim a bit over the buoys to reach this area. You will find mainly green turtles here as this species is feeding on seagrass.
Boca Catalina extra tip: we found many-many sea stars in front of the big white house with the anchor in the front yard, a lovely spot to snorkel! This area is the best to access from Tres Trapi, the rocky beach section on the south of Boca Catalina.
Arashi Beach lies a little north of Catalina and offers powder-soft white sand, superb snorkeling in peaceful water and a high chance to swim with turtles! We love this Aruba snorkel site because it is very convenient; it has plenty of parking, free beach huts and even a small bar to get snacks and chilled drinks.
Normally the sea is calm here, we experienced bigger waves only once day during our 1-week long stay. The lagoon is safe to snorkel even for kids and beginners, the water is not that deep. You will find colorful tropical fish like French Angelfish and Blue Striped Snappers. Also some hard corals, and plenty of soft corals, sea fans.
The reef is the nicest on the right side of the beach, approx. 200 meters from shore. This area is recommended for advanced snorkelers. It could be difficult to navigate between the corals in the relatively shallow water, and swim back to the shore if there is any current. Turtles can be spotted on the left side of the bay, search them where there are seagrass patches!
Located also on the north coast, just past the high-rise hotels, this long rather rocky beach is very popular with snorkelers. Most Aruba snorkel tours bring their guests here to enjoy nice corals and snorkeling with turtles in Aruba!
The boats usually arrive in the afternoon, so go early in the morning to enjoy this beach uncrowded. It becomes busy and noisy once the boats arrive.
There are two smaller sandy beaches on the rocky Malmok coast, the safest is to choose one of these to enter the warm Caribbean water. Snorkeling is easy and safe here with little to no currents. The reef runs parallel to the shore in 3-5 meters deep water making it easy to observe marine life and search for turtles! On top of this, there are two Aruba shipwrecks at Malmok Beach that you can snorkel too. The Baboo is available from the shore, the Antilla is by boat tour.
Our number 1 snorkel spot in Aruba with stunning marine life and nice, healthy corals! Mangel Halto is located on the southeast coast, south of Spanish Lagoon. This beach offers a unique view: turquoise lagoons surrounded by mangroves. Definitely, a place to visit if you are on the island and even if you would like to do some snorkeling with turtles in Aruba!
The water is shallow initially, you might need to walk a bit till you reach deeper water to be able to put your fins on. To reach the reef, you need to swim out straight, approx. in line with the yellow buoy. In these nice coral gardens, you can spot turtles (mostly Hawksbill turtles as this species is feeding on corals and sponges that live on reefs), tropical fish or even a big moray eel!
The easiest way to get to Mangel Halto is by renting a car (this is what we did so we could be flexible and stay as long as we wanted). If you do not feel like driving, sign up for a Mangel Halto snorkeling tour!
Baby Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches in Aruba providing visitors with safe snorkeling conditions. This half-moon sandy bay on the southeast end of the island maybe doesn’t offer the best coral reefs, but a great place for novice snorkelers to enjoy discovering the Caribbean marine life including different kinds of fish and one of the best places if it comes to snorkeling with turtles in Aruba!
Several sea turtles live around Baby Beach that regularly visit the sandy lagoon where they rest and feed offering snorkelers a good opportunity to observe them. Visit this heavenly little beach if you wish to stay away from the crowd! The onsite Big Mama Grill restaurant has excellent food and cocktails!
Located on the eastern side of Aruba, Boca Grandi is a nice white sandy beach visited mainly by kite surfers. Steady trade winds and challenging waves make this beach rarely accessible for snorkelers and swimmers. But if you are lucky to be here on a less windy day, your reward will be snorkeling with turtles.
We went to Boca Grandi just to see the beach, and did not plan to go snorkeling. But we met 2 boys who just finished snorkeling and told us they have seen 7 turtles. So of course we grab our gear and were in the water in 5 mins! They were right, we found a few turtles just around 40-50 meters from the shore! Also a few hard and soft corals, but the reef is not so nice here.
As I mentioned, Boca Grandi usually is not a safe place to snorkel. But since we visited Aruba during a hurricane activity in the region so there was absolutely no wind. If there is a hurricane in the Caribbean, it takes the wind from the region for a couple of days. That’s why Aruba was not windy at all for a few days.
Note: Swimming/snorkeling for confident swimmers only even in nice weather! The current is strong here!
We found Rincon unexpectedly while driving around and exploring East Aruba. The place looked abandoned but nice with pretty colorful wooden houses, so we decided to go around.
The beach was totally empty, no tourists around, but we met a friendly local man who was happy to answer our questions about the area. He said, that Rincon is a place visited by locals mainly, they built the colorful chalets as weekend houses.
He said that you can enter the water when the sea is calm through the rocky shore and you might see nice sea life and turtles! He was right, although we could not go into the water because there were high waves, we spotted 4 turtles from the shore in very shallow water.
No wonder why this tiny island became a travelers’ favorite in the Caribbean: Aruba is a perfect year-round destination for sun-seekers and ocean lovers. The rich marine life attracts tourists who can explore Aruba best snorkel beaches or explore the Antilla shipwreck, but if your priority is to do some snorkeling with turtles in Aruba, we recommend visiting Boca Catalina, Malmok, Arashi, Mangel Halto and Baby Beach.
Notes and thoughts:
Although we were happy to see many turtles during our stay in Aruba, we experienced that not all tours are respecting these creatures. As you know, turtles breathe air; they need to come to the surface to breathe oxygen. While snorkeling with turtles in Aruba at Boca Catalina, we were said to see groups following turtles with Seabob underwater scooters trying to get closer and closer to them so they could not come up to breathe.
Please show respect towards marine life! Never attempt to reach out, touch, chase, ride, harass, feed or otherwise disrupt the natural behavior, be a responsible snorkeler!
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