Aruba snorkeling guide – Best spots to visit
Aruba snorkeling beaches with powder-fine white sand and warm clear water offer you top conditions to explore the Caribbean marine life. Discover vibrant coral reefs, colorful tropical fish, sea stars and turtles on One Happy Island! Let this guide help you with the list of the best spots to snorkel and get some extra travel tips!
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Aruba snorkeling beaches
- Shipwreck snorkeling in Aruba
- Aruba snorkeling tours
- Marine species to see while snorkeling in Aruba
- Aruba travel tips
10 Best Aruba snorkeling beaches
Aruba beaches are considered to be the cleanest and prettiest in the Caribbean. Although there are several beautiful beaches all around the island, there is a big difference between the coastlines.
You need to know that constant refreshing trade winds blow from northeast and southeast, peaking midday. Therefore, the best Aruba snorkeling beaches can be found on the east and west side of the island. The northern coastline is wild and rocky making the beaches unsafe for snorkeling, but perfect for kite surfing.
Top 10 snorkel beaches in Aruba
A long and wide, relaxed sandy beach on northernmost of Aruba, close to the California Lighthouse. It is a quiet beach during the week (can be busy on weekends) and there is a lot to see under the sea! In the middle of the beach, you find pretty hard coral patches as well as colorful fan corals with angelfish, yellow goatfish groups around.
The reef is the nicest on the right side. To get there, you need to enter the water at the end of Arashi beach, where you find pelicans hunting for fish. Swim about 50-70 meters to reach the coral reef where you will find an extensive area covered with hard coral species, brain, staghorn, elkhorn corals as well as soft sea fans and gorgonian corals. Also lots of fish including huge shoals of blue tangs.
The Catalina Cove (also known as Boca Catalina) is next to Arashi Beach in Noord area. It is very popular and well-known among local families as well as tourists thanks to top snorkeling conditions including shallow water and rich marine life.
Moreover, if you want to know where to swim with turtles in Aruba, Catalina Cove is the place where you need to go! Just about 20-30 meters from the shore,the sea bottom is covered with seagrass. This is the place where you can spot turtles!
This small bay next to Catalina Cove is our top pick to find sea stars! Trapi means steps: there are stairs carved in the rocks here, offering safe entry/exit point. The shallow water makes snorkeling safe and enjoyable even for beginners.
If you are not a confident swimmer, stay close to shore within the buoys. To find the sea stars, swim right from the stairs! There are plenty of them in front the big house with an anchor in the yard!
The beautiful Malmok Beach is a popular Aruba snorkeling spot with a vibrant coral reef that is easily reachable from the shore! The area is a narrow, sandy stretch interrupted by rocks.
The clear, shallow water offers great snorkeling with different types of hard and soft corals, tropical fish and even turtles to see. On the top of these, you can snorkel the Baboo shipwreck too which rests very close to the shore with its top part above water.
Definitely, the best Aruba snorkeling spot if it comes to marine life! We were amazed by the water clarity and the variety of corals! Mangel Halto can be found on the southeast side of the island, south of Spanish Lagoon.
It is not only a beach, but rather a complex area with mangrove forests, pretty lagoon and the healthiest coral reef on the island. You can choose different points to enter the sea, even from the rocky shore on the lagoon side, or from the sandy mangrove beach next to it.
The nicest corals you find on the outer reef, seek the orange buoys! The marine life features parrotfish, yellow-tail snapper, sergeant majors, blue tangs as well as deepwater gorgonian corals, sponges and anemones. Even a shipwreck lies here: the Kappel Wreck is next to the buoy in the lagoon in relatively shallow water.
Located in eastern Aruba, Boca Grandi is rather a kitesurfing beach due to steady trade winds, waves and strong currents. Although there are some days, when the wind stops and it is possible to go swimming/snorkeling here too. The current is still tricky, therefore we do not recommend Boca Grandi for novice snorkelers.
If you are lucky to get pleasant weather to snorkel here, except to see coral pinnacles in the middle of the bay with turtles around, while the outer reef features sea fans and hard coral colonies. Even if the weather is not good for snorkeling, it is worth visiting Boca Grandi because it is a pretty white sandy beach!
A gorgeous half-moon shape shallow lagoon with calm water! Baby Beach is a favorite beach for families with kids on the southeastern side of Aruba. The lagoon is protected from wind and currents: this means snorkeling is safe here, although visibility is not the best.
One can find small coral pinnacles in the middle, often with turtles around. Outside the lagoon the currents are strong, therefore it is not recommended to swim out. Stay inside the lagoon! Beach huts are available and there is an onsite restaurant, the Big Mama Grill. Great food with Flintstones experience!
This small beach next to Baby Beach locally known as Nanki. A quiet place with calm water that is perfect for an easy Aruba snorkeling adventure! The water is shallow at first, but becomes deeper further out where you will find a small coral reef. Snorkeling is similar to Baby Beach, although some people say they prefer Rogers Beach because it is more relaxed and there are more fish to see.
The Eagle Beach is considered the most beautiful Aruba beach thanks to its powder-fine white sand and turquoise water, and listed among the number one beaches in the Caribbean. Since there are no big hotels directly on the beach, it is a perfect place for relaxing and sunbathing.
Sporty ones can do a variety of water sports too! If it comes to snorkeling, you might see some fish but there are no coral formations in this area. However, Eagle Beach is a good place to master your snorkeling skills if you are a newbie.
Lively beach along the famous High Rise resorts with a long, paved sidewalk in front of them that is perfect for sunrise or sunset walks. Since the whole beach is public, you can freely stay on it except entering the hotel areas. Aruba’s Palm Beach is also famous for its bars and restaurants.
This might be not the island’s best snorkeling spot since it is a sandy beach, but if you still want to put your goggles and fins on, you might try it between the RIU and DIVI resorts, directly facing the police station. It is a perfect spot for beginners, with quite a lot of fish and a few coral patches. If you wish to see more, sign up for Aruba snorkeling tours at any water sports kiosk at the beach!
Discover other Caribbean destinations too, see here our related posts:
Best places to go snorkeling in Barbados
Where to snorkel in Curacao
Bonaire snorkeling guide
Shipwreck snorkeling in Aruba
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.
These are the Baboo Wreck on Malmok Beach, with easy shore access, the Antilla which is one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks and The Kappel at Mangel Halto. For a detailed description of the locations, read our Aruba shipwrecks post!
Aruba snorkeling tours
People often ask what is the best way to do snorkeling in Aruba? Are the places available from the shore or better to book private snorkel trips? It all depends on your priorities.
If you have a rental car and bring your own snorkel equipment, the best is to visit the snorkel beaches privately. Like this, you can decide where you want to snorkel, how long you want to stay in the water etc… A popular and convenient way of exploring some snorkeling places is joining an Aruba Catamaran snorkeling tour.
Marine species to see while snorkeling in Aruba
The underwater life is rich and colorful in the Caribbean and no matter you go diving or only snorkeling, there is a lot to see! The sea bottom is covered with different hard and soft corals: huge brain coral colonies, elkhorn and staghorn corals give a home to tropical fish species.
A wide variety of fish species, like Blue tangs, yellow goatfish are swimming around in big groups, while colorful parrotfish and angelfish play hide and seek between sea fans. But there are bigger sea creatures too: one can see stingrays, manta rays, and you can go snorkeling with turtles too!
Aruba travel tips
The list of the reasons why Aruba should be your next vacation is endless. This small island with a total area of 70 square miles, 20 miles (32 km) long and 6 miles (10 km) across offers a lot to see!
The diverse landscape, from heavenly white sandy beaches to rugged coastlines is heaven for easy-going beach vacations but also for active trips including water sports and island discovery! If this wouldn’t be enough, the friendliness of the locals will definitely amaze you, no wonder why Aruba is called One Happy Island! Let us give you some travel tips for your Aruba holiday!
Where is Aruba?
Aruba is located just 15 miles north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean Sea. With Bonaire and Curacao, they form the ABC islands, often called Dutch Caribbean as constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Several airlines offer daily flights to Aruba from many different cities. You can get to Aruba with American Airlines from most US airports, while from Europe KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers daily flights.
Where to stay?
Aruba High Rise hotels are popular among holidayers who seek an all-inclusive experience near the best sandy beaches. If you wish to be close to the best Aruba snorkeling beaches and looking for a high-quality resort experience, consider staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Barcelo Aruba or the Hyatt Regency which are in Palm Beach but are not so far from Arashi Beach, Boca Catalina and Malmok Beach.
For a more relaxing stay, you can stay in Savaneta too where you can reach easily Mangel Halto and Baby Beach. At this side of the island, there are no resorts but lovely apartments rented directly by locals.
Best time to go
Aruba is a year-round holiday destination, there is no bad time to go! With an average rainfall of less than 20 inches per year, daytime temperature of 27 °C (82 °F) and constant blowing trade winds Aruba is one of the most temperate islands in the Caribbean. The difference between the summer and winter temperatures is just 3.6 °C (38 °F).
Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt, meaning it is a safe location even in the Caribbean hurricane season. You can experience some thunderstorms during the autumn months, but these usually don’t last too long and you can be rewarded with amazing after-rain rainbows! The sea is warm all year round (26-29 °C, 78-84 °F) making every season perfect for snorkeling in Aruba!
How to get around?
One of the best things we liked in Aruba is that the island is small with roads in good conditions, so it is pretty easy to go around no matter which area you stay in. Most places are accessible with normal cars, but there are some off-road areas where you need a jeep.
Car rental is affordable, it is easy and safe to drive. Parking is free except for a few areas in Oranjestad (Harbour and downtown). Although we haven’t tried but heard that public transport is also reliable.
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