Aruba is a small island nation in the Caribbean and a Constituent of the Netherlands. The tropical island’s isolation from South America has given it a special charm that can only be found in the Caribbean.

Located at the Southern Caribbean, the island offers pristine white sand beaches and warm, crystal clear waters while remaining far enough from the hurricane belt, which makes it a perfect year-round destination.

The island is just as beautiful underwater, with incredible, healthy coral reefs, a great diversity of life, and a ton of shipwrecks to explore, all of which are pretty accessible thanks to the conveniently small size of the island.

Here we explore the best of the best Aruba snorkeling options and tell you everything you need to know to plan a trip to this quintessential Caribbean destination.

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate/Advanced

DEPTH

Around 10ft (3 meters)

VISIBILITY

Up to 100ft (30 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Huge elkhorn coral, Surgeonfish, Parrotfish

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Channel, wall, strong currents

Mangel Halto is known as one of the best snorkeling sited in Aruba thanks its diversity of options since it covers the inner and outer areas of a healthy, hard coral reef. The site is praised for its near-perfect visibility year-round and the amount of life that can be found in it.

This site, located on the southwestern coast of Aruba, is accessible by road or by tour operators, which are highly recommended if you are not familiar with the conditions and specifications of the site.

Due to its peculiar topography, the site is only suitable for experienced snorkelers, since the channel connecting the reef to the open ocean can create hazardous situations with strong winds or currents.
For calmer conditions, the inner and shallower side of the reef features a beautiful hard coral garden with enormous elkhorn corals, which are the main attractions of the site. If conditions are very good, advanced snorkelers may want to explore the outer side of the reef, a wall with a beautiful seabed that boasts colorful schools of tangs, fusiliers, and probably the best place to spot sharks in Aruba.

At this specific site, it’s important to note conditions before venturing in and to never snorkel alone, since swimming, sometimes a little strenuous, may be required to get back to the beach and there is some boat traffic on one side of the channel.

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

30 feet (9 meters)

VISIBILITY

40 feet (12 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Boat operator

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Tube sponges, Blue tang, Sergeant damselfish

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

400ft wreck

At the northernmost point of the island, you’ll find what is considered by many divers and snorkelers the ‘best shipwreck in the Caribbean’, the WWII German freighter Antilla is definitely worth a visit. Thanks to its closeness to the shore, this site is probably the highlight of Aruba shipwreck snorkeling. The wreck’s bottom rests in a mere 60ft, with the mast rising to 5ft, which makes it perfect for those snorkelers looking to get a history fix while on their vacation.

The ship’s history is always interesting to hear, and Antilla shipwreck snorkeling operators are usually very knowledgeable on the topic and will happily share it with the tour.

Although close to the beach, the site is only accessible by boat due to the boat traffic and the strong currents and rough conditions between the beach and the wreck.

The hull of the ship is now teeming with life and covered in coral and the light filtering through the shallow water gives it a tropical, yet eerie, charm.

The wreck is suitable for all levels since beginner snorkelers can stay at the top and still get a good sense of the size and shape of the ship while only exploring the mast, while more advanced snorkelers can dive down to have a look at the bow or the huge propellers.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

15 feet (4 to 5 meters)

VISIBILITY

Up to 150 feet (45 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Brain coral, Squid, Yellow goatfish

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Coral reef patches

Another incredible site to do snorkel in Aruba is Arashi beach, the most famous of Aruba snorkeling beaches and a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Arashi Beach is a long stretch of soft, white sand and is usually a featured beach by many travel magazines and guides. Close to the beach, there’s not much to see, the bottom is sandy and, at best, you get to see a couple of Damselfish, so be sure to enter the water at the right edge of the beach and swim out a little until you start seeing the patches and bommies of soft and hard coral rising from the flat sand. At this point, keep an eye out for reef squid, which usually hang around these areas.

Besides it being a very well-rounded snorkeling site, probably the best part of Arashi Beach is the number of amenities at the beach itself. Unlike other more remote sites, Arashi Beach has several bars, restaurants, and equipment rental shacks on the beach, making a perfect spot to spend the day with the whole family.

Additionally, a visit to the nearby California Lighthouse also offers a great way to top off a memorable day out in the water.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

12 feet (3 to 4 meters)

VISIBILITY

1000 feet (30 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Green sea turtle, Queen Angelfish, Schooling snappe

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Seagrass beds, Shallow coral reef

A short walk south of Arashi Beach is Catalina Cove, Aruba’s signature snorkeling rocky area snorkeling with shallow coral reefs and tons of life, further down is also Catalina Beach, another popular stretch of white sand with less coral but lots of seagrass patches where green sea turtles love to hang out.

Both sites are accessible from Arashi Beach, but the terrain is rocky and, at times, slippery, so wearing a good pair of water shoes is strongly encouraged if you plan to walk down there.

Another option is to drive down to Catalina Beach and walk from there, still, Catalina Cove is a little rocky so plan ahead.

Most corals and fish you can see while snorkeling Aruba can be found in Catalina Cove around the reefs and rocky areas that surround it. Be sure to look inside the rocks for critters hiding in their boroughs like octopuses, lobsters, and moray eels.

Catalina Beach is best done early in the morning when all the turtles are still feeding, as later in the day, the many snorkelers and swimmers in the area tend to scare them away. Note that the seagrass beds where the turtles like to be are a little further out to sea, so some swimming is required to get to them if the current is a little strong or the wind picks up, this site becomes more suitable for intermediate snorkelers.

baby snorkeling

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

10 feet (3 meters)

VISIBILITY

100 feet (30 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Red cushion sea star

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Sandflat

In the same area as Catalina and Arashi Beaches is Tres Trapi or ‘Three Steps’, which refers to the three rock steps that lead to this shallow but amazing site.
Tres Trapi is perfect for people of all experience levels thanks to its closeness to shore, almost complete lack of currents, and accessibility.

Although the site is basically a sandbar with almost no fish or coral structures to see, it is dotted with hundreds of starfish that make for a wonderful site and a great landscape for underwater photographers.

The site’s shallow depth and great visibility make the color of the bright orange starfish pop out and contrast wonderfully with the white sand bottom.

This easy, yet quintessential snorkeling site is not to be missed.

coral reef aruba

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

15 feet (4 to 5 meters)

VISIBILITY

Up to 150 feet (45 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Filefish, Moray eel, Caribbean painted lobster

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Coral reef, drop-off toward Mangel Halto

aruba sea turtles

Puerto Chiquito is a beach and coral reef inside the Mangel Halto area. This part of the reef is more sheltered and has fewer currents than Mangel Halto, however, it is classified as intermediate due to its proximity to the channel and because it requires more swimming if you drift away from the shore.

If staying only on the left side of the reef and away from the channel and the outer reef, the side is very simple, and it even becomes suitable for children and the whole family.

The depth varies significantly depending on how far from the channel you snorkel, so be careful to stay within your limits and head back if you feel tired. For this site, we do recommend wearing a snorkel vest in case you get distracted and need to swim a little more to get back to shore.

The site, with Mangel Halto have usually fewer crowds, which translates in healthier coral reefs, meaning that everything you would find in an Aruba coral reef can be found on this site, also, the drive south is usually a great experience.

DIFFICULTY

Beginner

DEPTH

10 feet (3 meters)

VISIBILITY

60 feet (18 to 19 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Sea urchin, Redtail parrotfish, Duster worms

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Rocky reef, Shipwreck

aruba coral reef

Another popular snorkeling site in the northwestern side of the island is Malmok, a set of two small and rocky beaches that lead to some of the best snorkeling in Aruba (if you arrive on time).

Malmok is famous for the amount of life that can be found in the rocky crevices and its closeness to the Bamboo wreck, which is easily accessible by swimming, just go toward the hull sticking out of the water.

Because of these awesome characteristics, however, the site is very popular among tours and the only suitable time to visit this site is early in the morning. As the day goes by, dozens of boats and snorkelers visit the area, making visibility horrible and the small beaches very crowded.

If you do manage to go early in the morning, you will most likely be treated to the site’s great conditions and clear, pristine waters.

snorkling aruba

DIFFICULTY

Beginner/Intermediate

DEPTH

15 feet (4 to 5 meters)

VISIBILITY

70 feet (21 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Trunkfish, Brain coral, French angelfish

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Seagrass beds, Coral bommies

sharks in aruba

Snorkeling in Aruba is simply not complete without a visit to the south. Rodger’s Beach, located in this pristine and rugged area of the island, is a sheltered site that is full of life.

The beach itself is very attractive to spend the day there or explore the nearby Baby Beach.

Although many recommend Baby Beach snorkeling while in Aruba, we strongly discourage this due to the sites challenging conditions and the lack of interesting things to see (everything worth it is too far out), but Rodger Beach provides good snorkeling while being close to this beach for spending the rest of your day.

Rodger’s Beach is more secluded than the northern beaches and snorkeling is, therefore, more pristine and enjoyable.

We do recommend assessing the conditions before snorkeling since wind and currents can be hazardous at this site.

DIFFICULTY

Advanced

DEPTH

20 feet (6 meters)

VISIBILITY

Around 100 feet (30 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Green sea turtle, Surgeonfish, Sea fan

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Coral pinnacles, hard coral colonies

Usually a windsurfing spot, Boca Grandi is only accessible to snorkelers and swimmers when the conditions are perfect. There needs to be absolutely no wind, otherwise, the beach is not accessible for swimming at all.

However, if you happen to be at the right place at the right time, Boca Grandi is an excellent spot for spotting turtles and snorkeling around beautiful coral pinnacles without the crows.

Because of the site’s exposure and current, it is only recommended for strong swimmers and confident snorkelers, this site is not suitable for beginners.

Even when the conditions are windy, the long, pristine stretch of white beach and turquoise waters of Boca Grandi are worth exploring.

DIFFICULTY

Intermediate

DEPTH

15 feet (4 to 5 meters)

VISIBILITY

Up to 150 feet (45 meters)

ACCESSIBILITY

Shore entry

NOTABLE SEALIFE

Parrotfish, Sergeant damselfish, Green sea turtle

NOTABLE TERRAIN/LANDMARKS

Colorful chalets, Rocky bottom

One of the least explored snorkeling sites in Aruba is Rincon Beach. This shallow lagoon has almost no tourists and is a picturesque and colorful little town by the beach. Mostly frequented by locals, Rincon, just as Boca Grandi, is only suitable for snorkeling when conditions are right.

There is the occasional hard coral colony and a lot to see around the rocks, although we recommend bringing a good pair of water shoes since the area can be a little rocky.

BEST SNORKELING MONTHS

Year-round. Despite the occasional winter squall, Aruba is a great spot year-round. Aruba is located further away from the hurricane belt and it is seldom affected by these storms. Some even claim hurricane season to be the best time to visit Aruba because of the reduced wind.

RAINFALL

October through December. These months are the ones that see the most rain, with an average rainfall of 3.2 inches and a temperature drop down to 80ºF.

TEMPERATURE

February to April see the coldest water. Water temperatures in Aruba range from 80-84ºF, with the coldest months being February, March, and April.

TIME ZONE: UTC-4

CURRENCY: Aruban Florin (AFL)

CALLING CODE: +297

ELECTRIC VOLT: 127V

PLUG TYPE: Flat blade plug (type A and B)

MAIN AIRPORT: Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)

NOTABLE DIVING LANDMARKS: Famous for healthy coral reefs, great visibility, and shipwrecks.

1. Is there good snorkeling in Aruba?

Of course! Like most of the Caribbean, Aruba offers snorkelers warm, clear waters, and an amazing variety of life.

2. Where is the best snorkeling in Aruba?

It is hard to pinpoint the best place to snorkel in Aruba, but Noord has the highest concentration of snorkeling sites.

3. Can you snorkel from the shore in Aruba?

Many Aruba beaches offer snorkeling, so it is easy to find a site with a shore entry.

4. Can you swim with dolphins in Aruba?

Yes! Sometimes wild dolphins interact with snorkelers in Boca Catalina.

5. Are there sharks in Aruba waters?

Yes, although not a lot. Also, the usual snorkeling sites have enough people to scare them away.

best place to snorkel in aruba

6. What fish can you see snorkeling in Aruba?

Tropical fish like parrotfish, French angelfish, schools of blue tang, the invasive Lionfish, and much more.

7. Are there coral reefs in Aruba?

Yes, the Caribbean is famous for its coral reefs and Aruba is no exception. The highlight of these reefs are the Elkhorn coral gardens.

8. How much does it cost to go snorkeling in Aruba?

Depends on how you do it. An operator could charge around USD 100 or more for a snorkeling tour, but there are plenty of options to do it by yourself.

9. Where can you snorkel for free in Aruba?

There are many sites with shore entries where you just have to take your gear and you’re good to go. A good example is Arashi Beach.

10. Where to buy snorkeling gear in Aruba?

Some good Aruba snorkel operators selling gear are Aruba Watersports Center and Happy Divers Aruba.

Can you snorkel from the shore in Aruba?

As always, we create our content with you, fellow divers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next dive is a great one!

Carmen Romano

Carmen is a linguist, technical diver, and avid traveler living in Monterey Bay. She is a dive equipment geek who loves trying out new tools and gadgets. As an independent professional, she has had the opportunity to travel and dive the world; from the colorful and incredible WWII wrecks in Papua New Guinea to the cathedral-like cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula. Her favorite thing about diving is that it has taken her places she never imagined setting foot upon. She loves learning about new cultures, is passionate about marine conservation, and enjoys photography when she’s not underwater.

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