Imagine a place which is perfect holiday destination all year round. What are your expectations? Do you want white sandy beaches, warm, clear sea? Cool places to visit? Guaranteed sunshine, low chance of rain? Should it be safe? We have good news, these you all get in Aruba! And on the top if these, Aruba snorkeling is also first class!
Why go to Aruba?
The list of the reasons why Aruba should be your next vacation is endless. Let us convince you why Aruba is a great all year round destination:
Aruba One Happy Island
Are you in constant search of happiness? Stop searching, you’ll get it here! Did you know that Aruba called officially One Happy Island? You will experience „happy atmosphere” from the first seconds you arrive. There is no need to worry, to rush, everything goes simple and easy in Aruba. If you would need any help, the locals (or other tourists) will gladly help you.
Perfect location, easy to go around
One Happy Island located just 15 miles north of Venezuela in southern Caribbean Sea. Together with Bonaire and Curacao, belongs to the ABC islands, often called Dutch Caribbean (as constituent countries of Kingdom of the Netherlands)
Total area is 70 square mile, 20 miles (32 km) long and 6 miles (10 km) across. Aruba has diverse landscape, from heavenly white sandy beaches to rugged coastline, you will be amazed by wonderful nature.
Roads are in good condition, most places are accessible with normal cars. For the best island experience, it’s recommended to rent a car. Car rental is affordable, it is easy and safe to drive.
Several airlines offer daily flights to Aruba from many different cities including US and Europe as well.
No worries about weather
Average rainfall less than 20 inches per year, average daytime temperature of 27 oC (82 oF), constant blowing trade winds cooling the air. These features make Aruba one of the most temperate islands in the Caribbean. Difference between summer and winter temperatures is just 3.6 oC (38 oF). Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt, it almost never rains. You can experience some thunderstorms during autumn months, but these usually don’t last too long. And you can be rewarded with amazing rainbows after rain! Sea is warm all year round (26-29 oC, 78-84 oF), every season is perfect for Aruba snorkeling!
Public beaches – no entrance fee
One of the best thing we liked in Aruba that all the beaches are public and free! You don’t need to stay in High Rise hotels to have access to the best beaches. Beaches in front of the biggest hotel chains are also public. (You cannot use chairs/umbrellas but are allowed to enter to the beach)
Another plus, that Aruba parking is free! There are few areas in Oranjestad (Harbour, downtown) where you have to pay few dollars for parking, but not around beaches! We always found public parking!
Aruba snorkeling guide
Aruba beaches are considered to be the cleanest and prettiest in the Caribbean. Although there are several beaches all around the island, there is big difference between the coastlines. You need to know, that constant refreshing trade winds blowing from northeast and southeast, peaking midday. Aruba snorkeling beaches can be found on the east and west side. The northern coastline is wild and rocky, beaches are recommended for kite surfers only. (although there are some days when wind stops and possible to swim at these beaches too)
People often ask how to do Aruba snorkeling? Can you do it on your own or better to book private snorkel trip? We did it on our own. If you have your own snorkel equipment, the best is to visit the snorkel beaches private. You can decide where you want to snorkel, how long you want to stay in the water. Less flexible, but from the other hand convenient way is to sign up for guided tours. The best snorkeling tours in Aruba will take you to stunning coral reefs around the island. You may join to half or full day snorkel trips, or book private snorkeling too.
What will you find under the sea?
Caribbean underwater life has a lot to see: sea bottom is covered with different hard and soft corals. Brain corals, huge elkhorn and staghorn corals give home to tropical fish. Blue tangs, yellow goat fish are swimming around in huge groups, parrot and angelfish playing hide and seek between colorful sea fans just to mention a few species. There are bigger sea creatures too: sometimes people use to see rays, manta rays, and you can go snorkeling with turtles in Aruba too!
Aruba snorkeling – Best beaches to go
Famous Aruba beaches include Eagle Beach and Palm Beach that are voted as number one beaches in the Caribbean. Although Eagle and Palm Beach are not the best snorkel spots in Aruba, might be great for beginners to practice snorkeling in shallow, calm water.
Long, wide beach consists of powder fine white sand. Not crowded, there are no big hotels directly on the beach, perfect for relaxing, sunbathing. Sporty ones can do variety of water sports. You might see some fish, but there are no coral formation in this area. You can join Aruba snorkeling tour, a lot of them leave from the pier right by Riu.
Lively beach by the high-rise resorts with paved sidewalk in front of them. Here you can walk along and have a look into the garden of the resorts even if you are not staying in them, since the whole beach is public. Palm Beach is famous about its bars, restaurants. You find several water sports companies here, Aruba snorkeling tours often leave from here. Snorkel spot is between RIU and DIVI resort, directly facing the police station. Perfect spot for beginners, quiet a lot of fish, few coral patches.
Popular Aruba snorkeling place, catamaran and sailboat snorkeling trips usually stop just off the shoreline. Malmok Beach is narrow, sandy stretch interrupted by rocky areas. Clear, shallow water offers great snorkeling, with different type of hard and soft corals, tropical fish and even turtles to see. Best thing we loved at Malmok Beach is Baboo shipwreck which rests very close to shore with its top part above water.
Boca Catalina forms part of Malmok Beach in Noord area. Since it is very popular and well-known by local families and tourists, we mention it separately. Even maps mark it, so it deserves an own section! Shallow entry, immediate marine life right after walking into the water. Small reef just in the middle, unfortunately not the nicest but still tons of fish to see. Catalina Cove is the best place to snorkel with turtles in Aruba! Just about 20-30 meters from shore, sea bottom is covered with seagrass. Here you will spot turtles for sure, we did see many!
It also belongs to Malmok area, small bay just next to Catalina Cove. Trapi means steps: there are stairs carved in the rocks, offering safe entry/exit point. Shallow water makes snorkeling safe. If you are not confident swimmer, stay close to shore – open water currents can be strong make swimming back to shore difficult. Swim right from the stairs: in front the big house with anchor in the yard you’ll find seastars!
Long, relaxed beach on northernmost of Aruba, close to California Lighthouse. We liked Arashi a lot that’s why visited several times: usually it is quiet and there is a lot to see under the sea! In the middle, you find hard coral patches, colorful fan corals with angelfish, yellow goatfish groups around. The reef the nicest on right side: you need to enter the water at the end of Arashi, where you find pelicans hunting for fish. Swim about 50-70 meter to reach corals. Extensive area covered with hard coral species, brain, staghorn, elkhorn corals as well as soft sea fans, gorgonian corals. Also lots of fish included huge shoals of blue tangs.
Definitely the best Aruba snorkeling spot if it comes to corals! We were amazed by water clarity, variety of corals! Spotted turtle, huge green moray. Mangel Halto can be found on southeast, south of Spanish Lagoon. It is not only a beach, rather a complex area with mangrove forests, and the healthiest corals on the island. You can choose different point to enter the sea, even from the rocky shore from lagoon side, or from the sandy mangrove beach next to it. The nicest corals you find on the outer reef. Marine life features parrot fish, yellow-tail snapper, sergeant majors, blue tangs as well as deep water gorgonian corals, sponges, anemones. Even a shipwreck lies here: Kappel Wreck is next to the buoy in the lagoon.
All inclusive destination offering adventures for the whole family. Whether you seek relaxation or water-sport activates, you can find it on Palm Island. By calm sea you may snorkel on the outer reef (advanced snorkelers) and explore stunning marine life. Palm Island is open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Rodgers Beach officially known as Nanki. It is a small beach next to Baby Beach. Quiet beach with calm water, perfect for Aruba snorkeling! Water is shallow at first, but becomes deeper further where you will find small coral reefs. Snorkeling is similar to Baby Beach, although some people say they prefer Rogers because it is quieter, and there are more fish to see. Why not visit both if you are around so you can decide yourself?!
Located on eastern Aruba, Boca Grandi is rather kitesurfing beach due to steady trade winds, waves and strong currents. Although there are some days, when wind stops and it is possible to go swimming/snorkeling here too. Current is still tricky, we do not recommend Boca Grandi for novice snorkelers. Professionals might try it when they find conditions right. Coral pinnacles in the middle of the bay with turtles around, the outer reef features sea fans and hard coral colonies. It is worth to visit Boca Grandi just because of its unique landmark!
Gorgeous half-moon shallow lagoon with calm water, favorite beach for families with kids on southeastern Aruba. Lagoon is protected from wind and currents: this means snorkeling is safe, although visibility is not the best. Small coral pinnacles in the middle. Outside the lagoon currents are strong, unfortunately the reef is dead, not recommended to swim out. Stay inside the lagoon! Turtles use to be around. Free beach huts are available. Definitely try Big Mama’s Grill: great food with Flintstones experience!
Aruba snorkeling shipwreck
Aruba is famous for wrecks. Several ship- and plane wrecks rest at different depths around the island. Most of them are accessible for divers only, but luckily there some that can be visited by snorkelers too. One is Baboo on Malmok Beach, with easy shore access. Most famous is the Antilla which is one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks. Antilla ranked #5 on snorkeling Aruba Tripadvisor list! Definitely don’t miss it! Pretty nice place to snorkel with lots of fish, sometimes turtles around! Snorkel tour operator organize Antilla trips but Aruba Bob snorkeling tours also offer this adventure. Antilla shipwreck tours often combined with turtle snorkeling at Catalina Cove or Malmok! The third shipwreck we visited was Kappel at Mangel Halto.
Our Aruba experience
This article based on our own experience, hoping to help you with our stories and advice. Please see below our trip details:
Trip time / Weather
We visited Aruba in September 2017 and stayed 9 days. We couldn’t complain about the weather at all! Wall to wall sunshine, clear blue sky, calm sea on most days. There was hurricane activity in the Caribbean area on those days, therefore the wind stopped for few days in Aruba. If there is hurricane close by, it takes all the wind from the Dutch Caribbean. But there is no need to worry about hurricane in Aruba! We asked locals, and they said there is very low chance for hurricane. They didn’t mention any direct hit, this is a safest area in the Caribbean during hurricane season.
Where to stay in Aruba
We split our days and stayed 5 days in Noord, then 4 days in Savaneta. It seemed to be a good decision since we had enough time to explore both side of the island. We wanted to see as many as possible of Aruba snorkeling places therefore these 2 locations seemed to be the best. Noord is cloose to Arashi Beach, Boca Catalina and Malmok Beach. From Savaneta, you can reach easily Mangel Halto, Baby Beach.
Easiest is to rent a car. It is affordable, very safe to drive, easy to go around. Although we heard that public transport is reliable too!
Aruba One Happy Island is a place to be! Superb weather, beautiful beaches, stunning underwater life made our trip unforgettable. Aruba definitely has that extra factor that makes people return to One Happy Island! Although Aruba is famous of Renaissance Beach and flamingos, we did not go there for a simple reason. We read that flamingos are not native in Aruba (but are in Bonaire), they cut their wings so they cannot fly away. That’s why we decided not to go to Renaissance, instead of spent more time exploring around. Still there are many places we missed due to lack of time, maybe we should return one day?!
If you have any other questions or need help, feel free to contact us!