What's Aruba Snorkeling Like?

by Cary Bennett
(Roswell, GA)

Can anyone tell me what the snorkeling is like in Aruba? We are definitely taking a week to snorkel the last week of September. It looks glorious and gets great reviews on other sites.

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Jul 25, 2012
Aruba Snorkeling Review
by: Galen & Nicole

Hi Cary. You probably know that we just got back from Aruba. We will have everything written up on our website about Aruba soon, but not in time for your trip.

In our experience there are only about four to five snorkel spots around Aruba that are OK. Maybe one or two of those are pretty good (one excellent), and these require very calm weather and are more advanced. And there is maybe one boat trip to a shipwreck that is worth seeing. Although we enjoyed the beautiful beaches on Aruba, we probably would not recommend it as a snorkeling destination, if snorkeling is what matters most.

We would love to hear other people's experience on Aruba though.

Update: Our Aruba pages are up now with lots of great information and pictures.

Jul 26, 2012
Snorkeling Aruba, Feb. 2010
by: Tom Turner

My wife and I spent 9 days trying to snorkel in Aruba. I agree completely with Galen's assessment. We did have a great time, and I would return to Aruba if given the chance, but snorkeling would not be the primary goal.

We snorkeled every day while we were there and found the weather to be rough and the currents contrary and strong. We were told that February is probably the worst month because the winds come out of the opposite direction than normal and really stir things up.

There is a park of sorts south of Oranjestad that seemed to have some good snorkeling. We tried several times there, but the currents were very strong and we could not get out far.

There is also a private island that you pay to get to that is just north of this park. We spent a nice day there, but again, the snorkeling was modest at best.

Our best snorkeling while in Aruba was probably at the very south end of the island, past the prison. It was not the place that they call Baby Beach. When you get to the shore south of the prison you would turn left and go east. There was a spot where there were several fishing shanties. We went in there and had what was probably the best snorkel during our trip.

There is a ship wreck about a half mile from shore north of Oranjestad, maybe around Eagle Beach, that we swam out to. The water was so murky that we could see nothing.

One of our best memories has nothing to do with snorkeling. On the east side of the island is a place called the Natural Pool. You need a jeep to drive to it, and we only had a Yaris. We drove until the road got too bad, parked, and walked the rest of the way. It was a very interesting walk through the desert, and then we swam in the natural pool. It is a spot that big waves break over rocks and fill into the pool. There is nothing to see as far as snorkeling goes, but it is a very scenic and interesting spot.

I recommend that you take a steering wheel club to lock the steering wheel of your car. We had our car stolen while we were there, and we lost all of our snorkel gear (it was in the trunk). We purchased cheap snorkel gear at a local store so we could still try to snorkel. When we got the car replaced from the rental company, the folks that owned the place that we were staying at offered to let us use a steering wheel club that they had. Now we have our own and it is part of our gear when we go to an island on a snorkel trip. We use it everywhere except the Cayman Islands.

In closing, I expect that the water clarity will be much better in September, so that will be a big plus on the snorkeling side. You do have to search to find some good snorkeling though.

Enjoy.

Jul 26, 2012
Aruba Snorkeling
by: Tim

We found snorkeling at Arashi Beach interesting. You may want to try Baby Beach, although we did not snorkel there because storms deposited lots of sand on the reef. Hope that helps.

Jul 26, 2012
Yaris Theft
by: Galen & Nicole

Tom, we had a cheap little Hyundai that no one in their right mind would take, but suited us just fine. But some locals told us that Yaris are popular with the thieves.

On another note, we had the more regular trade winds, in the opposite direction, so there was no chance to snorkel the east side of things. It is probably unusual that you were able to do so.

Jul 27, 2012
Thanks for the feedback....
by: Cary Bennett

Well, drat. We just made our reservations last night. I had not seen these posts :( I really wanted to go to Bonaire, but, Delta doesn't fly there and I also couldn't find Marriott properties there. We are traveling on points this trip trying to preserve $$ for a big trip to Petersburg, AK next summer staying on Frederick Sound where the Humpbacks congregate. (not for snorkeling!!! too cold!!)

I appreciate all of the feedback and will make careful notes so that we will be prepared when we go. Thanks everyone!!

Aug 08, 2012
Aruba Snorkeling
by: Tmarie

Hi, I was in Aruba in June 2011. I had a great snorkeling experience at Mangel Halto. The reef is in pristine condition and had a wide variety of coral and fish to see. My husband and I were able to arrange a boat trip with 3 other couples to the site through our resort, Bucuti.

We also had a nice snorkel/sail tour that went to the shipwreck. Water was very choppy at that site and it was hard to see. But then we went to Arashi and I got to swim alongside a sea turtle for about 20 minutes. Also, very colorful fish there.

So, there are places to go, but it all really depends on the weather. I would look into Tranquilo Sail, as they were pulling in to Mangel Halto as we were leaving. Hope this helps, and safe travels!

Aug 08, 2012
Crossing fingers for fair weather...
by: Cary Bennett

Well, as the first tropical storm near land goes way south of normal routes and crosses just north of Aruba, I am holding my breath and hoping the reefs have not been damaged. Also, that there won't be any repeats just when we are planning to head down there!!

Thanks for the feedback about Mangel Halto and Arashi!

We are booked for a private snorkel trip for 3 hours out to Mangel Halto and another area as well, which we will see where else we wind up. We are also booked with Tranquilo, they are a small sailboat cruise to a private reef area in the more southerly area. We are also booked with S.E. Aruba Fly'n Dive to go out to Arashi and the Antilla with a small group of 6 maximum. Along with that, we are set to sail with Roberto's Watersports on a trimaran snorkel trip out at Boca Catalina and Antilla also. And, lastly, we are booked for a night snorkel on Mangel Halto. I will update on how all of this goes! We will be there Sept. 23 - 29, with luck, the weather will cooperate!

May 31, 2013
Aruba Snorkeling
by: Ron

We went to Aruba in May this year, and echo a lot of the comments. There are some OK snorkel spots, but take the snorkeling as part of a nice vacation, not the focus. Eagle Beach is stunning for a beach day.

We snorkeled Arashi, Boca Catalina, Malmok and Mangel Halto.

If you have a rental car, there is no need for a snorkel boat. The only benefit I saw from a boat was to get to a wreck off of Arashi Beach, which is about 60 feet down and comes to about 10 feet from the top. I'm sure it's neat but we didn't want to do a boat trip. Otherwise the boats tie up near the shore along the coast.

Arashi - there are two entry points. One is the main parking area closer to the California lighthouse, the other is smaller with limited parking. To snorkel, you want the smaller one. We went straight out and to the right, and it was pretty good. Not sure about the left side, but boats do anchor there. If snorkeling from the main beach area, head left in front of the houses, where there is some coral to hold fish.

At Boca Catalina go to the RIGHT, not left like we did the first time - unless you only want to see starfish :-) Look for the buoys that the boats use to anchor to.

Malmok was near where we stayed. Boats anchor close to there by some ledges but the snorkeling is meh. Better to go up the coast a bit further.

There is a grounded boat off of Malmok but no beach entry - lots of shells and urchins to cross. We watched locals wading all over this area one night fishing, so we walked out with water shoes and put our fins on deeper, then snorkeled the boat. It isn't big but it was fun because it holds a ton of fish, including something huge under the hull. This was near sunset and the lighting was cool. If you have a paddle board, it would be good to use for this spot.

Mangel Halto - I went in from the dock steps, and got good advice - follow the sand to the reef. The dark spots are very shallow, so stick above the sand until it gets deeper. This was the only spot with a reef in some depth and some more interesting corals as well as bigger fish. It is some work to get out deep enough - look for the buoy again (theme here, eh!). Not the place to learn to snorkel but reasonable if you have some experience.

We went to Baby Beach but my spouse wasn't comfortable going past the first buoy line to get closer to the seawall where the snorkeling is. If snorkeling Baby Beach, do not go past the seawall, it is dangerous. Very nice beach spot, and Big Mamma's Restaurant is very cool.

Jun 17, 2013
Pleasantly surprised
by: Holly

We traveled to Aruba in April of 2013. I wasn't expecting the snorkeling to be that great, to be honest, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of fish and the abundant star fish. We did most of our snorkeling in the Malmok area.

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