Aruba Snorkeling – The Complete Guide
Get the most out of your Aruba snorkeling experience. We have snorkeled nearly every spot on Aruba and there are some great locations with healthy reefs and sea life, but it offers fewer spots than its neighbor islands.
What are the best Aruba snorkeling beaches and fun boat tours? Many of the beach snorkel spots, that you reach by rental car or bus, the boat tours also visit. And some also stop at the famous Antilla shipwreck, which is worth checking out. They take off from the very popular Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, in front of the hotels. Plus the tours include music, food, and other shenanigans.
Aruba Snorkeling Spots and Boat Tours
Click on each location below for a full review, description, and many pictures. And continue down the page for the Aruba snorkeling map and more about what you can expect, including safety and travel tips.
Mangel Halto – The best snorkeling site available on Aruba. You can access it from the shore, with a guide (including at night) or by boat tour.
Puerto Chiquito – Great shore snorkeling with a one-way drift option to Mangel Halto.
Arashi Beach – Beautiful white sand beach with access to some healthy reef.
Catalina Cove – Right next to Boca Catalina, this is a good beginner spot.
The Antilla Wreck – Boat tours take you to this popular shipwreck snorkel.
Malmok Beach – Snorkel this busy spot from the beach or by boat tour.
Baby Beach – This famous location doesn’t have great snorkeling without risking safety.
And hey, if you find this page helpful, you will also like our free monthly snorkeling newsletter.
Other Aruba Snorkeling Locations
While we believe the sites described above are the best Aruba snorkeling beaches and spots, here are a few others that might be good for you.
De Palm Island/Slope – This is a barrier island destination fun park south of town, but north of Mangel Halto. It’s a full day experience for one price, including food and shore snorkeling. They have two protected, man-made coves that are a good for spotting fish. But if you are more experienced you can snorkel outside the coves and there are reefs similar in quality to Mangel Halto.
Savaneta Beach (Commandeurs Bay, Reef) – To access the reef at Savaneta you have a long wade across a very shallow bay over sea-grass and uneven rocks. At the reef there are fish, but the Elkhorn Corals are all dead. You can supposedly snorkel the length of this outside reef, but the common wind, with waves and currents here make this not very fun and potentially dangerous. If you have low winds you could try this Aruba snorkeling spot.
Rodgers Beach – Just west of Baby Beach this beach is also fairly exposed to the winds and waves and there is a good bit of fishing boat activity, making it an undesirable Aruba snorkeling location.
Boca Grande – This beach is on the east coast near the south end of Aruba. There is a barrier reef, but it is so exposed to the trade winds and waves that the currents are too strong to snorkel even behind it. It is potentially dangerous unless the winds are uncharacteristically low and the waves are calm.
Add Bonaire or Curacao to Your Aruba Trip
We suggest augmenting your Aruba trip with some time on Bonaire or Curacao. The travel between islands is easy and fast on a small airplane flight, but you have to go through customs, so we would probably not do it as a day trip. The combination of having some time on the amazing beaches in Aruba, with the better snorkeling on Bonaire or Curacao makes for a wonderful trip.
Have You Seen These Guided Snorkel Travel Adventures?
Learn More About What to Expect
Below learn what we like about Aruba snorkeling and read some safety and travel tips.
What’s Good About Aruba Snorkeling?
1. Less Locations Means You Can Focus
Because there are not many great Aruba snorkeling sites, we would keep revisiting the best one. It will save you a bunch of driving and be a very relaxing snorkel vacation. If it were us, we would stay at a vacation rental right next to Mangel Halto (in fact we did), and snorkel there every day, so long as it is within your skill range. Spending lots of time at one location can be very rewarding, allowing you to uncover little gems of beauty you would normally miss.
2. See Tropical Fish in Good Snorkeling Depths
Most every Aruba snorkeling site offers the ability to swim with many fish, often in 12 feet of water or less. Though there is not much live coral reef, the colorful tropical fish are fun to see on their own.
3. Enjoy the Non-Snorkeling Benefits With Your Free Time
Aruba is rare for how amazing its white sand beaches are. Enjoy them. And go out to eat at Aruba’s restaurants. Try the unique Aruban food, and don’t miss the Dutch Pancake houses.
Aruba Snorkeling Safety
Let’s face it, Aruba has had its fair share of high profile deaths in the news related to snorkeling. It is not necessarily any more dangerous than other locations. But it is very busy, and all sorts of people get in the water with very little ocean knowledge or snorkeling skill. The fact that Aruba is a bit of a party island may contribute to the situation. Please be safe.
Aruba Is Windy
Aruba is consistently windier year round as compared to its neighbors Bonaire and Curacao. Higher winds mean bigger waves and more currents. And depending on the wind direction this can definitely limit your snorkeling options, and increase the danger. So before heading out check the wind directions and make good choices on where to snorkel, we share how here. The Windfinder website is useful for this. And do not get in the water if it is at all rough. We don’t.
Aruba Snorkeling Is Exposed
Most Aruba snorkeling is exposed to open ocean. There are two areas that are fully protected in a bay or behind a reef. One is Baby Beach and if you leave the protection of the bay it is dangerous most of the time. The other is if you stay inside the protected bay at Mangel Halto. But currents are strong in certain areas even inside.
Aruba Ocean Currents
We mention the different currents for each location above, but just be aware that currents are fairly common, and in some places deadly on Aruba. Just because you see other people in the water does not mean they are knowledgeable snorkelers. Just the opposite is likely. Always evaluate each situation with your own skills. We help you learn about ocean conditions on this page.
Aruba’s East Coast
The common wind and wave direction pounds the east side of the island, making snorkeling there almost impossible. Rarely, the wind will switch directions, allowing you to access Boca Grande, mentioned above, more safely.
Aruba Snorkeling Travel Tips
When to Go for Snorkeling
Aruba’s weather is amazingly consistent through the year. The air and water temperatures don’t change much. So you can snorkel any time.
In the past we visited Bonaire and Curacao in March or April, because it is historically less rainy, and the winds are not as high. But Aruba’s winds don’t drop much during that period. It is a little less windy from September through December, which is during the rainy season and hurricane season. We have changed our preferred time to visit Bonaire and Curacao to the fall months due to the lower winds and we put up with the rain. The ABC islands don’t get a lot of hurricanes, but they do see some tropical storms. So if you go then, consider trip insurance.
So as far as the weather, there really is no clear best time of the year to visit Aruba for snorkeling.
The cost of your trip will be higher if you visit during the high season, mid-December to mid-April. So that might influence when you plan your trip for.
Flying and Driving
It is easy to fly to Aruba directly from many cities in the U.S., and there are many flights from Europe as well. Learn what airlines fly to Aruba from what cities on this website.
For getting around Aruba you can either rent a car, or take the public bus. Many of the major car rental companies serve Aruba. A car is all you need. There are no snorkel beaches that require a 4×4 to get to.
Taking a bus is a real option on Aruba. They stop at all of the major beaches. Visit the arubus website for routes, schedules and prices.
Where to Stay for the Best Snorkeling
Aruba is a tiny island, but with a good number of accommodation options ranging from hotel resorts to vacation rentals. Read our Aruba accommodations page for help on where to stay for the best snorkeling.
Note that the most popular resort beaches, Eagle and Palm, don’t have any snorkeling, but you can get on a lot of boat trips from them.