Snorkeler in the water off a rocky coast

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Best Snorkeling Beaches in Aruba

Aruba is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for diving and snorkeling. Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Aruba is also home to some of the best snorkeling. Which is one of the best ways to explore the underwater world of this Caribbean island.

When visiting Aruba, you can snorkel directly offshore or take several organized snorkeling boat trips. Either way, Aruba is an excellent place for the novice snorkeler as well as the more experienced. Here are some essential tips for snorkeling in Aruba:

  • Bring your own gear, which is the most economical choice, but you can also rent gear for a whole day or several days. Some options for rentals include Adventure Sports Aruba (sets are $25 per day or $75 for a week) and Aqua Windies (mask, tube, fins $18 for 24 hours).
  • Use water shoes; the entry into the water can be a bit rocky in spots, shoes make it easier and safer.
  • Be sure to put on some reef-safe sunscreen, Aruba has banned all chemical sunscreens, and the sun is intense. If you need more info on options for reef-safe sunscreen, check out my blog post here.
  • Be aware of the strong currents in Aruba. The water in parts of Aruba can lull you into a false sense of safety. Be cautious of the currents and know where it’s safe to snorkel and where it’s not.

There are two main areas for snorkeling on the island, the north, and the south. Arashi Beach, Boca Catalina, Malmok Beach, and Antilla Wreck are in the north. In the south, you have Mangel Halto, Pos Chiquito, and at the tip of the island Baby Beach.

Underwater photo of a ship wreck with divers in background
Photo by Rob Schouten from Unsplash

South Island Snorkeling Spots For The Best Snorkeling In Aruba

You will find one of the best areas for snorkeling south of Oranjestad. The Mangel Halto and Pos Chiquito areas could be considered one continuous area. Still, the entry points are separated by a moderate walk along the road. Baby Beach is at the further southern tip of the island.

Map of Mangel Halto Snorkel options
South Snorkel Map
Mangel Halto/Pos Chiquito

First on our list is Mangel Halto, located on the island’s southern coast. This beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles.

Mangel Halto is a tiny beach in Pos Chiquito on your way to San Nicolas. Known as a great snorkeling spot due to its shallow and calm waters. The beach is surrounded by mangroves. This area is a favorite among locals.

There are three different entry points for snorkeling at Mangel Halto. The most popular and easiest is to enter from a small dock with a ladder leading down into the water. Here you will find a sandy bottom in shallow water. A second option is to walk down a path through the mangroves to a beach area. You can walk out through the shallows along the reef edge to the right. Bringing you close to the cuts in the reef for snorkeling. The third entry point uses the currents in the area to do a one-way drift snorkel. You enter at Puerto Chiquito and exit at either the dock or mangrove area at Mangel Halto. For this option, park just south of the Mangel Halto parking area. You must walk back to the parking lot along the road when you exit the water.

There are two areas to snorkel in Mangel Halto; one is inside the bay which is suitable for a beginner, and the other is definitely for the more advanced swimmer beyond the cut. Often the current will be too strong to swim outside the cut, so use caution. One of the best ways to snorkel in this area is to drift with the current from Puerto Chiquito. Swimming along the reef, taking the first cut (just south of the white buoy) and exiting either at the dock or through the mangrove.

When snorkeling here, beware of the heavy boat traffic in the channels. Also, this is not a snorkel location for beginners unless you remain in the bay. Even strong swimmers must assess the current conditions before venturing beyond the bay.

How To Reach Mangel Halto

Head south out of Oranjestad on Route 1. Follow it past the airport. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit, take a slight right toward Spaans Lagoenweg, then continue on Spaans Lagoenweg; Mangel Halto has a rock wall with its name on it that is easy to spot.

Baby Beach

Another snorkeling spot is Baby Beach, located on the island’s southeastern tip. This beach is perfect for beginners and families with children, as the water is shallow and calm. This is only a good snorkeling area for true beginners due to the extremely calm waters in the bay. The bottom is primarily sandy with little to no coral, so interesting marine life is not abundant. If you are snorkeling with small children, this is a good place to test the waters.

Some may be tempted to snorkel in the area outside the bay, but the waters are incredibly unpredictable here, and it’s not recommended. The waves and currents can be strong.

How To Reach Baby Beach

Head south out of Oranjestad on Route 1. Follow it past the airport into the town of San Nicolas. You will see signs to Baby Beach; it’s very easy to locate. Several parking lots make a visit easy.

View of Baby Beach with Palapalas and surf

North Island Snorkeling Spots For The Best Snorkeling In Aruba

Much like the southern island’s top spots, the north is a cluster of continuous spots to enter the water for snorkeling. Since most island visitors stay north of Oranjestad in the Palm Beach and Eagle Beach areas, these are the most convenient spots to snorkel.

Map showing the best place to snorkel on the Aruba north coast
North Snorkel Map
Arashi Beach

Arashi Beach is one of my favorites in Aruba. The beach is excellent for lounging; it has amenities such as bathrooms, food and drinks, as well umbrella/chair rentals. (Check out my beach etiquette post here.) I was there so often on my last trip that the umbrella guy would see me coming in the morning and take my chairs and umbrella to the perfect spot on the beach’s north end, which is quieter and less crowded. This is not the best snorkeling in the area, which is reserved for Boca Catalina, but it is just around the cove and an easy swim to some great sections of the reef.

You can enter on the right (northern end of the beach), which is the better area for snorkeling but does expose you to more current. So if you are a confident swimmer, this is a good approach. If you are uncomfortable with the stronger current, head to the left (southern end of the beach) and enter there. In fact, if you are comfortable with a longer swim, you can reach Boca Catalina from this end of the beach. But if you want to avoid the long swim, I suggest driving around the corner and parking at Boca Catalina to enter.

View down Arashi beach with people in the surf

The main section of Arashi Beach is all sand, so it’s not an excellent snorkeling choice. But the northern and southern ends of the beach, where the rocks and reefs start, offer some good fish and lots to see.

How To Reach Arashi Beach

Travel north on L.G. Smith Boulevard past Palm Beach. This is the road to the California Lighthouse. Just before you reach the lighthouse, you will see a parking lot on the beach side of the road. This is where you can park for Arashi.

Boca Catalina

Boca Catalina is a must-visit for snorkelers. This beach is located on the island’s northwest coast and is known for its calm waters, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. You’ll have the chance to see various marine life, including parrotfish, angelfish, and moray eels. You will actually come upon this beach before you reach Arashi. Parking is limited, and there are two entry points at this beach. I recommend parking on the northern end in a small lot along Arashi Road. You can enter and swim north towards Arashi (which I think is the better option) or south towards the main beach.

The beach in this area is small and not the best choice for lounging. If you want to combine a beach day with some snorkeling, I suggest Arashi as your base and either swim to Boca or stop on your way.

How To Reach Boca Catalina

Travel north on L.G. Smith Boulevard past Palm Beach. Before you reach Arashi, you will see the main parking area for Boca Catalina. You can also continue a few hundred feet north and turn onto Arashi Road, and you will find another parking lot.

Sea turtle swimming to the surface
Malmok/Tres Trapi

Tres Trapi translates into “three steps.” It’s a tiny sandy cove carved into the rock near Malmok Beach. To reach the little sandy beach, you must use the steps cut into the rock – where this spot gets its name. Both Malmok and Tres Trapi are fantastic spots for beginners. You don’t see a lot here since there is not any coral. That said, with plenty of seagrass within 100 feet of the shore, you might spot a sea turtle in this area. Red cushion starfish are one of the main attractions here.

How To Reach Malmok/Tres Trapi

Travel north on L.G. Smith Boulevard, just past Palm Beach. You will find two unpaved parking areas just off the road in front of each beach. Tres Trapi is on the northern end.

Antilla Wreck

The Antilla Wreck is a sunken World War II ship. Most shipwrecks are for divers only, but this shallow water wreck is suitable for snorkelers, too, with plenty visible from the surface. This tends to be in choppier water, and the visibility is only sometimes exceptional. Portions of the wreck are covered with small coral growing on the wreckage. There are a lot of fish, including some larger types you won’t see in the shallower waters just offshore.

How To Reach Antilla Wreck

This is only accessible by boat. So look for a tour to book if you would like to explore this unusual snorkeling venue.

Tips For A Visit To Aruba

When visiting Aruba, here are a few tips:

Hotels
  • Boardwalk Hotel is a charming and ideally located hotel. The Boardwalk is on the most northern tip of Palm Beach and shares a beach and beach services with the Ritz Carlton. It’s also very convenient for snorkeling at the Arashi Beach and Boca Catalina areas.
  • Ocean Z Boutique Hotel is another excellent hotel from which to base your snorkeling on the northern end of Aruba. Located outside the busy Palm Beach area, it is a great modern choice just across the street from Molmok Beach.
Restaurants
  • Ocean Z Restaurant is located at the hotel of the same name. It is a delicious and romantic place for dinner.
  • The Flying Fishbone, located in Savaneta, is an Aruba must-experience, known for tables with your feet in the water.
  • Eduardo’s Beach Shack is my favorite place for breakfast in Aruba. Check out this post.

Overall, Aruba is a snorkeler’s paradise, with many great snorkeling options directly from the shore. When visiting Aruba, venture beyond Eagle and Palm Beach to experience spectacular underwater adventures.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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