Guided Aruba Night Snorkel at Mangel Halto
by Cary Bennett
Gary and myself about to enter the water at Mangel Halto via the path between the mangroves
Well, this was a huge first for us! We took a guided night snorkel at Mangel Halto with Stuart, a guide for Aruba Bob. I’m not sure about Gary, but, I was a little bit nervous, as this was the first time we had ever snorkeled like this. The night swim with Mantas on the Big Island is a totally different experience, it is not a free swimming snorkel trip.
We met Stuart at the put in at Mangel Halto and donned our wetsuits and got ready to head into the water. Stuart provided us with flashlights, vests and gloves, which I was very thankful to have, as it meant a little more coverage and kept me a bit warmer than I would have been. I am very slightly built and get chilled pretty easily. The water entry here is very simple, an easy walk into the water through powdery sand on a path through the mangroves. You simply walk out until you reach about 4 ft. deep water and pull on your fins and mask, turn on your flashlight, and away you go!
We followed Stuart as we crossed the more protected area inside the wall reef, then, crossed the reef single file and drifted along the outer face of the reef. It was a very surreal and magical experience! We saw a lot of life on the reef, including Trunkfish, French Angelfish, Parrotfish, Filefish, Sergeant Major and many more!
Oh, and I almost forgot! Stuart spotted a Porcupine Fish and managed to gently nudge it out of it’s spot in the coral and let us see it up close! They are really cute fish, with a face like a puppy dog and great big puppy dog looking eyes! We also spotted Lobsters, Shrimp and a Green Moray! The entire time we swam, we were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of small fish comprised of Blue Chromis, Brown Chromis and others.
The highlight, for me personally, was the small school of young squid we spotted! I would estimate they were about 5 inches total in length and it was fascinating to watch them feeding on the tiny fish that were everywhere. We saw really beautiful coral formations of many different types, as well as beautiful Sea Fans. Toward the end of our snorkel, we swam over a small boat wreck, the Jane C, that was sunk in the lagoon at Mangel Halto 2 or 3 years ago in about 30 feet of water. It was an eerie sight in the dark, but really neat to get to see. The moon was nearly full that night, and at one point we all turned off our flashlights and enjoyed the beauty of the reef with only the moonlight. It was truly an amazing experience!
We swam for a total of an hour and 45 minutes, I was the one who called it due to starting to get a bit chilly, I felt bad asking to go back in, but, we had a really great time. I would definitely want to do this again if we make it back to Aruba.
I want to say special thanks and kudos to Stuart! He is just a genuinely nice and personable young man and we enjoyed being with him. We felt totally safe with him and he really knows this area and where to spot interesting things that he took the time to show us and tell us about.
These pictures were taken by our guide Stuart.