Guide To The Best Snorkeling In Aruba

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: December 27, 2021 | Aruba

The snorkeling in Aruba is some of the best in the world. There are options on the island for all skill levels as well as for different styles and ways to snorkel that can suit everyone’s taste. Most of the best snorkeling in Aruba lets you walk straight off the beach without the need for a hired tour, making it much easier and cost-effective.

However, you can also book Aruba snorkeling tours so that you don’t have to swim far out against currents and have that extra security of someone looking out for you. You can also do some Aruba shipwreck snorkeling where you can see the Antilla wreck. This also means the tour guides can show you exactly where to find the best snorkeling sights.

This guide details the best snorkeling beaches in Aruba, and exactly where to snorkel in Aruba to see certain fish and coral species. We’ve listed the 10 best snorkeling locations for a range of skill levels and included what you can see there and what these spots offer in terms of amenities.

Just spend a few minutes reading this guide and you will be in the know about the best snorkeling Aruba locations and only need to concentrate on enjoying your time on the island to the fullest.

In this post:

ARUBA SNORKELING MAP

Click on each of the Aruba snorkeling spots on the map for more details on each location.

Aruba Top Snorkeling Spots Map

BEST SNORKELING IN ARUBA SPOTS

There are so many incredible Aruba snorkeling tour spots, but with a lot of careful consideration, we’ve managed to streamline our top picks to 10 options that we think offer the best experiences across the island. Whether you’re looking for private snorkeling, Aruba snorkeling spots for tours, or locations that offer something unique, you’ll find them below.

Mangel Halto

Mangel Halto in Aruba
Mangel Halto/ Photo Credit: Orietta Gaspari, Getty Images
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Car parking
  • Facilities: Restaurants
  • Look out for: Currents and boats

Mangel Halto is viewed by many as the best snorkeling beach in Aruba out of all the Aruba snorkeling beaches. There is an absolute abundance and variety of coral, fish, and other creatures to see here including blue crust and brain coral, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, oysters, sea cucumbers, and tons, tons more.

There are a few locations to snorkel here for varying skill levels which is another reason why it’s one of the best places to snorkel in Aruba. However, the currents can pick up, so it’s not really the best snorkeling beach in Aruba for complete novices.

The first spot is inside the bay. This is the best spot for snorkelers that aren’t comfortable with stronger currents. The second location is the reef cuts on the left side of the bay opening.

The third is past the reef – you can snorkel to the left and right and, in these deeper waters, the current is slower but the swim to get there is long and it is definitely an advanced-only spot. The fourth is the dock platform. This requires swimming a long distance and should only be undertaken if the currents are mild. The dock has ladders on both sides, allowing you to cross over from the outside to the inside of the bay.

The fifth, and perhaps the best snorkelling in Aruba for semi-experienced snorkelers and higher skill levels, is drifting from Puerto Chiquito to the first cut. You then enter the bay and swim to the dock to exit. This way, you simply snorkel with the current and can focus mainly on enjoying the amazing underwater scenery – this is many people’s favorite Mangel Halto Aruba snorkeling method. However, you will need to do a fairly long swim across the bay as you exit.

Wherever you snorkel, be on the lookout for boat traffic, especially if swimming across the bay. The water depth ranges from 2 feet to 20 feet. Visibility is usually good unless the waves are high when it gets cloudy. There’s parking here and a few restaurants. 

Arashi

Arashi Beach, Aruba
Arashi Beach Aruba/ Photo Credit: Flavio Vallenari, Getty Images
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Car parking
  • Facilities: Umbrellas and chairs for rent, porta-potty, restaurants nearby

Arashi is one of the most recommended spots on the island but you need to know where to swim otherwise you won’t see much. Advanced snorkelers can head to the right end of the beach, and for everyone else, to the left end. At the far right end, you’ll find a shallow rocky area, and farther off the shore, there’s a healthy coral reef with some fish. This area is marked by a white buoy. It’s a long swim to get here, there are substantial waves and strong currents. Beginners will likely damage the coral and quite possibly get into difficulty.

It’s strongly recommended to don snorkel fins for this spot due to the long swim. Once you reach the buoy – and be careful not to swim to the second, farther out one – you’ll be snorkeling in very shallow water (2 to 3 feet). Do be careful not to disturb the coral. Visibility isn’t always excellent, especially if there’s algae floating on the surface, which does happen sometimes. 

You can see chain moray eels, orange and white spotted filefish, parrotfish, elkhorn and starlet coral, and tons more here. There’s parking, shade umbrellas, and chairs for rent. There’s also a porta-potty, but there are bars and restaurants around where you can use the toilet too.

On the left side of the beach, there’s more beginner/mid-level snorkeling. However, you’re actually best off accessing this point from the right side of Catalina Cove, although you could still access it from Arashi – the snorkeling in this spot will be described in more detail further down under that location. 

The Antilla Wreck

Antilla Shipwreck in Aruba
Antilla Shipwreck/ Photo Credit: EricFerguson, Getty Images
  • Entry: Boat only
  • Access: Via boat tour – some can pick you up at your accommodation
  • Facilities: On your boat, you’ll be able to buy snacks and drinks and some have a toilet

The Antilla Wreck is a sunken, 400 foot long World War II ship on the north end of the island. Snorkeling in Aruba shipwreck is definitely recommended. It’s not only for divers though as it’s not in super deep water and plenty is visible from the surface. A large variety of Aruba marine life can be found here as well as coral that grows on the wreck. More often than not, the current is a medium strength, waves are choppy, and wind is substantial. 

Approximately a third of the front of the ship is in shallow enough water for snorkelers. Visibility is usually ok, but not always exceptional. Portions of the wreck are covered with small coral and colorful sponges. There are tons of fish, including some rarer and larger types that aren’t normally seen around the island’s shores. See schools of silverfish, large bar jack, damselfish, sea rods, fire coral, and heaps more.

To snorkel here, you will need to look up snorkeling tours Aruba, since it’s only accessible by boat – it’s simply too far and too dangerous (frequent boats, strong currents, choppy water) to swim out here, so don’t try it. This Aruba snorkeling shipwreck can be a good place for beginners since you’ll be accompanied by tour guides and will be given a life jacket.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach in Aruba
Palm Beach Aruba/ Photo Credit: Talbot Images, Getty Images
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Parking at nearby mall or paid parking in garage
  • Facilities: Restaurants, bars, everything you need
  • Look out for: Boats

The snorkeling in Aruba Palm Beach is definitely not the absolute best that the island has to offer. We’ve included it here because this lively beach has a lot to offer in other regards and it’s a great choice for beginners that want to hone their skills before moving on to other spots. This beach is famous for its plentiful restaurants and bars, meaning that once you’re tired out from snorkeling there’s no shortage of places to recharge. 

The reason palm beach Aruba snorkeling isn’t rated highly among experienced snorkelers is that it’s a sandy beach – not much rock for coral to grow on and not as many varieties of marine life to be found. Saying that, there’s still plenty of fish to be seen. The best place to snorkel is probably between the RIU and DIVI resorts, facing the police station. Here you’ll find a few patches of coral and lots of fish. The whole beach is public, you’ll just need to stay off the hotel resort areas unless you’ll be purchasing something.

Puerto Chiquito

  • Entry: Rocky bays
  • Access: Parking area
  • Facilities: None
  • Look out for: Wind, waves, current

Puerto Chiquito is an amazing spot for experienced snorkelers just southeast of Mangel Halto. It’s also called a few other names including Hole In The Wall, Rocky Beach, Snapper City, and Bow Baranca. You’ll see an incredibly diverse range of coral and fish species. There are usually waves, wind, and a pretty strong current. If the waves are particularly high, don’t attempt this spot. 

This isn’t one of the best beaches Aruba offers so don’t plan to hang out here – there’s not really a beach here at all but there are some small rocky bays to the right and left of the parking area where you can access the outer reef. You’ll need shoes since you have to walk out on the sharp rock. Then you’ll need to switch to fins once you can float. You need to be on the lookout for boats frequently.

In the water, swim out to the left, through the opening of the bay, then you can head to the left or right. You’ll find loads of healthy coral and fish. The current is usually moving left to right – you may want to swim against the current to reach the reef so that you don’t have to do this on the way back when you’re more tired. The depth is around 10 to 20 feet but deeper towards the drop-off.  You can also drift snorkel here to Mangel Halto – read about it above under that location.

Catalina Cove

  • Entry: Rocky beach
  • Access: Parking
  • Facilities: A few restaurants
  • Look out for: Other people, waves

Catalina Cove is one of the best Aruba snorkeling sites for off-the-shore snorkeling. You can also get a boat tour for this spot if you want to. Here you’ll see plenty of fish, some coral, and a number of sponges. It’s very rocky, with a bit of sand – it’s recommended to use shoes. Don’t attempt this spot if there are waves because you could be knocked off your feet and fall onto the rock.

If there are waves, or you’re not using shoes, you can reach the same spot from Boca Catalina (described further down). Here you can do a one-way drift snorkel. You can either enter in the cove, swim to the left, and snorkel around the little rocky point there or, you can go from the sand and swim from the right to the same place. Close to the shore, it’s too shallow, so you need to stay far out enough that it’s a good depth (2 to 5 feet). 

The boat tours feed the fish around this spot so there’s always a lot of Aruba sea life around – be aware of where the boats are at all times. If there’s an algae bloom, you’ll not have good visibility, so try to go on an algae-clear day. Because this is one of the best snorkeling spots in Aruba, it can get busy in peak seasons.

Malmok Beach

Malmok Cove
Malmok Cove/ Photo Credit: Sarahgerrity, Getty Images
  • Entry: Sand beach
  • Access: Limited parking
  • Facilities: None
  • Look out for: Other people, rocks

Malmok Beach is another very popular, beginner-friendly site – lots of tour companies go here too. This spot isn’t exactly the best location for snorkeling on the island. There are a few things to see here, but there are better spots around the same area of the island. If you want to avoid crowds and boats, go in the early morning. Malmok has two small coves with mostly sandy beaches and you can access the snorkeling area here without the need for a boat tour.  

You can enter the water from either of the two small sand beaches. You don’t need shoes but there are a few rocks you need to be careful of. The best area to head to here is the rocky shoreline. You’ll find a few boulders with some sponges and feather duster worms, and plenty of fish swimming around. If you go a bit farther out, you’ll see a few sponges growing too.

The fish here are used to being fed by the tour companies so they’re not afraid of humans. The water depth is around 10 feet across the whole area. Visibility isn’t good if there’s an algae bloom so try to go at a time when there isn’t.

Tres Trapi

Tres Trapi Beach, Aruba
Tres Trapi Beach Aruba/ Photo Credit: Baarssen_s Images
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Parking
  • Facilities: Not much – you’ll need to drive for 5-10 mins to reach some restaurants
  • Look out for: Possible strong currents in open water

Tres Trapi translates into “three steps”. It’s an absolutely tiny (about 10 metres) sandy cove that’s naturally carved into the rock on the northwestern shore of the island, a few hundred metres from Malmok Beach. To reach the little sandy beach, you have to use the steps that have been created from the rock – where this spot gets its name from. This spot is fantastic for beginners wanting to do Aruba snorkeling from shore since the water is pretty much still.  

The best snorkeling area is within 100 metres of the shore, however, the first 20-30 meters doesn’t have all that much to see. Here you can see plentiful (often hundreds) of red cushion starfish on the seafloor. They can grow to be up to about 40 cm in diameter and come in red, orange, brown, and yellow hues.

There aren’t any restaurants or food and drink sellers around the breach, so you’ll want to bring some water and snacks along. The nearest restaurants and shops are a 5-10 minute drive away in the resort area.

Baby Beach

Baby Beach, Aruba
Baby Beach Aruba/ Photo Credit: ARUBA48, Getty Images
  • Entry: Sandy beach
  • Access: Ample parking
  • Facilities: Chairs and shades for rent, restaurants
  • Look out for: Poor conditions outside of the bay

Baby Beach is a super popular site for Aruba snorkeling from shore that is usually very busy. It’s a large, protected bay lined with a white sandy beach with shallow water perfect for swimming and snorkeling. 

In terms of underwater scenery, there isn’t as much to see here as you will find in other locations, but saying that, you’ll still see some fish. It’s also a great place for beginners to get their start in snorkeling due to the calm and shallow waters. There are also a few rocky areas with seagrass. Visibility is mostly ok, except for when there are lots of people kicking up the sand.

When snorkeling at Baby Beach, it’s important you don’t leave the protected bay. Sometimes people have attempted to get outside the bay and then got into trouble due to the trade winds, big waves, and strong currents. If you absolutely must explore outside of the bay, ensure that the winds are almost non-existent and operate with the utmost caution. Even within the bay, be wary of watersport activity like windsurfers. When you head to Baby Beach, it’s a good idea to have a plan to also chill on the beach and try one of the nearby restaurants to get the most out of your time.

Boca Catalina

Boca Catalina Beach, Aruba
Boca Catalina Beach/ Photo Credit: Jan-Otto, Getty Images
  • Entry: Beach
  • Access: Spacious parking
  • Facilities: Lots of restaurants to chill at
  • Look out for: Current

Boca Catalina is in the same area as Catalina Cove. It’s the beach just left of the cove. Here you can access the same snorkeling area as the cove but you’re able to enter the water much more easily and you don’t need water shoes making it an ideal Aruba snorkeling from shore spot. 

In the immediate area where you enter the water here, there isn’t a whole lot to see – pretty much just a sandy bottom and a few seaweed patches. If you swim over to the cove and a bit past it, you’ll have a much more interesting experience. Read more about what you can see above under Catalina Cove.

Here though, there are more amenities like restaurants where you can relax and chill out after you’re tired from snorkeling – so it’s not a bad place to base yourself.

ARUBA SNORKELING SPOTS TO AVOID

As mentioned, Aruba offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. However, there are some spots that are best avoided – even if tour companies recommend them.

Rodgers Beach

This beach is just a little west of Baby Beach. Here you’re even more exposed to the winds and waves than you are at Baby Beach. There’s also frequent fishing from boats going on making it quite dangerous for snorkelers.  

Boca Grande

Boca Grande is on the southeast coast of the island. A barrier reef is located here and this entices some snorkelers but because this spot is so exposed to strong trade winds and high waves, it’s simply much too dangerous to risk attempting to get out there. If you must snorkel here, ensure there are uncharacteristically low winds and waves.

CONCLUSION

Aruba is the ideal island for snorkelers of all abilities. You can see hundreds of fish, coral, and other marine life species on the island. For most locations, you can snorkel straight off the shore without the need to spend money on a tour – the Antilla Wreck is really the only spot that you will need to join a boat tour for.

For beginners heading to Aruba, they can check out The Antilla Wreck, Malmok Beach, Tres Trapi, and a few others. More experienced snorkelers can head to Mangel Halto (arguably the best snorkeling beach on the island!). If you’re thinking about traveling to the island to go snorkeling, definitely do it! You won’t be disappointed.

Looking for more information on Aruba? Check out all our guides to the island Here!

Profile Kristin and Andrew with palm tree background

Hi!  We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical.  We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!