Best Snorkeling in Aruba
Aruba is in the Southeastern portion of the Caribbean about 19 miles North of Venezuela (in South America). The Island is small and spans about 20 miles long and spans 6 miles across so it is quite small but has amazing snorkel sites all around the island. There is just over 100,000 people residing on the island and is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands… so it is Dutch.
Aruba Snorkeling Map
Now you know a little about the country, let’s get to the good stuff…The Best Snorkeling in Aruba. You can take boat tours to the Antilla Ship Wreck which I highly recommend, and then going from Baby Beach in the South to Arashi in the North and everything in between.
Aruba Snorkeling Beaches
Firstly, I will go over the best beaches that you can snorkel directly from the shore and then go to tours and snorkel excursions that might be a bit more advanced like drift snorkeling (starting at one point and drifting with the current to another spot). This is a lot of fun but make sure you know your surroundings and talk to the locals just in case to make sure you are in the right area and won’t put yourself in any danger.
For beginners to seasoned veterans Arashi is fantastic. Right from the shore you will see everything. At the very top of the island (north), there are sandy beaches and shallow water. No need for water shoes or snorkel vests (but always a good option if you unsure). Just off the beach as mentioned is great for beginners but again if you are heading out to the coral and the white buoy there is a bit of a current so not recommended for beginners and make sure you are comfortable in the water before you head out that way.
To and from: You can easily get public transit to the beach from most cities and because the island is so small you could even bike or take a taxi. If you do decide to drive there is lots of parking but if you go on Sunday make sure you go early because it does get quite busy from locals.
Gear: Make sure you have all of your own gear because there are not any rental shops available and trust me you will want to take your gear. When the wind picks up the waves can get moving pretty good and you can even body surf so make sure you are aware of your surroundings when you head out with your gear so you don’t take on water or get run into by a body surfer.
Fish in Aruba
Yellow Jacks and Goatfish
Wrasse – Bluehead and Clown
Coral in Aruba
That’s just to name a few but there are lots more if you look!
Amenities: Not to worry, there are facilities. However the bad news is they are porta-potty but at least you will be covered! In the parking lot there are trash facilities and you can rent beach chairs if you don’t feel like sitting in the sand.
There are a couple restaurants close by including Faro Blanco Restaurant which offers amazing Italian food. The Restaurant is located by the California Lighthouse which is famously named after a ship that wrecked in 1891. Well worth a trip to see but make sure you book your tours early and are reasonably cheap so make sure you do have cash. Around $10.00 per person to check out. You can also do a Segway Tour and Natural Pool Off Road Adventure.
Catalina Cove and Boca Catalina
Catalina Cove is just South of Arashi beach (easily walkable if you have water shoes or sandals even). Boca Catalina is just South again and pretty much the same beach, just around the bend.
In Catalina Cove you will see pristine white sand beaches and lots of fish. Most of the fish in the area are similar to Arashi because it is in the same area. You may find a couple new ones though so be on the watch!
Catalina Cove does have some rocky spots at the entrance though so make sure you have your water shoes. If it is windy or you can see bigger waves make sure you are cautious because you can get hit by a wave and thrown into the rocks or coral.
The depth is about 2-6 feet in certain areas but can get kicked up quite a bit so visibility can be tough in certain areas when you are snorkeling. The good news is because there are lots of boat tours around the area, the fish are used to getting treated so if you have some fish food or even a banana they will try and get it from you. If you are unsure about feeding the fish in certain areas just ask or if you are a beginner, and are unsure about fish all together don’t worry about it and the fish will NOT hurt you!
There is lots of shade trees if you need a rest from the sun but always bring sunscreen and a hat!
Boca Catalina is just to the left of Catalina Cove and easily accessible from land or Catalina Cove if you head to the left and has an easier water entrance of beautiful sandy beaches but as far as marine life goes it is okay. Still definitely worth checking out for the beaches.
To really see the fish at Boca Catalina you need to head out away from shore and you will be able to see much more fish but make sure you are a good swimmer because you will not be able to touch. You may need to get a snorkel vest to keep you afloat! If you are lucky you may even see a turtle swimming around and that is definitely worth it!
There is lots of parking along the main road and facilities consist of porta potties so just take note and you may want to bring toilet paper just in case. They are well kept but you never know!
An absolute must! Whether you are snorkeling or diving you have to go check this wreck out. One of the best in the Caribbean! It is a 400 foot long German freighter that was scuttled in 1940 during the World War 2. It is about 600 yards from shore and accessible by boat and I DO NOT recommend trying to swim from Malmok Beach. There is a strong current, lots of boat traffic and just not worth it.
I will talk about getting there shortly but let’s talk about this ship first! It is great to snorkel or dive and you will be able to see the wreck from the surface no problem. There is usually pretty good visibility and the top of the masts are only 5-10 feet away from the surface and the bow of the ship is closest to the top so you will see lots.
If you are diving you will see even more and still has a eerie feel to it as legends have it from the crew members of the ship, but it will be up to you if it still has that feel… The wreck has a beautiful assortment of coral and even bigger fish!
Catalina Bay and Antilla Shipwreck Snorkel Cruise
Our number 1 recommendation for tours which offers a great way to see the bay and the shipwreck. The 3 hour afternoon tour goes from $60.00 USD depending on availability and time of year.
This particular excursion offers pick and drop off from your hotel which can normally cost around $10-15 USD so you are already saving money. There is an open bar and snacks on board. This catamaran has a great crew and you are most definitely going to have a blast from being in the water to hanging out on the catamaran!
Looking for a different excursion on a real life like Pirate Ship, this is the tour for you!
There are morning, afternoon and evening tours are offered which is great if you do not like getting up early or maybe had a couple too many beverages the night before.
Morning tours are $60.00 USD and start from 9 am to 1 pm Daily
Afternoon tours are $45.00 USD and go from 2 pm to 5 pm Daily
Evening tours are $32.00 USD and go from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm Daily
Check online or call just in case. Better to be safe than sorry!
Each tour offers great snorkeling and a rope swing off the boat! You get access to the open bar and the morning excursion has a great BBQ that shouldn’t be missed.
Great for the whole family.
Malmok Beach is where most tour ships depart from so you are going to get a little more traffic running through here so if you are okay with crowds and the hustle and bustle you won’t have any issues but if this concerns you and still want to check out the beach without a boat excursion, go early (take your beach umbrella with you)!
Most of the beach is a little rocky so make sure you have proper footwear such as water shoes, and a and you will be good to go! There are two entrances to choose from and they are both similar and can end up in the same area so whichever one looks best to you, go for a snorkel and get ready to see lots of fish. The visibility can be murky at times because of boat traffic and if need be, the 3 beaches mentioned above are much better if you are in a time crunch.
One of my favorites with plenty of fish and great coral and more! Take note though you want to make sure you are a proficient and comfortable in the water. Even a snorkel vest may not due if you are not good in the water. The reason I say this first is because there is a strong current that runs through the area. You need to make sure you know which way the current is going and be comfortable with a current snorkel. There is also some boat traffic but it is all worth it once you get going!
Inside the bay. Here you will find the least current and is good for beginners and you will still see lots of fish and coral but when you get outside the bay on the edge of the coral is where you will be blown away, not to say you won’t be blown away inside the bay but it is different for sure.
The best entrance from here is off the dock which leads to a sandy bottom and a small current manageable for most. Easy entrance and exit to enjoy for all.
Current swim: Here you want to start in Puerto Chiquito where there is a parking lot or you can park in Mangel Halto and walk up to Puerto Chiquito but regardless you will have to do a little walk but it is beautiful regardless.
After starting in Puerto Chiquito and heading with the current you will get to the drift point where you will feel a noticeably stronger current and see a white buoy in which you can head back to shore or go past that but beware of boat traffic to the other outer reef. At the outer reef there is a doc in which you can rest.
***always note your energy levels so you have enough gas in the tank to get back to shore. Take your time and also snorkel with someone just in case***
Outside the reef you will see amazing fish and coral.
The water range can vary depending on where you are and how fast the current is. You can be knee level and go up to 18 feet in certain areas.
Facilities: Again there are porta potties and trash facilities. There are lots of places to eat along the way here so you won’t go hungry.
A the very South end of the island you will find Baby Beach. You will see amazing white sandy beach that extends for a while and crystal clear blue waters but DO NOT go outside the bay! This can be misleading, there are some fish in the bay and some coral but to see the reefs and fish like central and northern Aruba you need to go out further but the risks outweigh the benefits. Trust me.
It is a cool beach to go check out for the day and see what is around but stay within your limits. Take a snorkel vest just in case and only go where there is no current because the current can come up fast and strong and take you away without warning.
It is a fun ride down South whether taxi or renting a car to see the entire island and because it is small you could go from top to bottom and see everything if you are in a time crunch but if you want a nice beach this is it! If you are looking for snorkeling and diving, stay North and Central where it is much safer and a lot more to see.
Facilities: There are shade trees, chairs to rent so you don’t get sand everywhere and lots of snack shops so you do not need to worry. Everything you need is at Baby Beach and just be careful and have lots of fun!