Snorkeling Catalina Cove
Shallow Spot By Boat Or Shore

Snorkeling Catalina Cove

Snorkeling Catalina Cove is pretty good with many fish, a smattering of corals and a good number of sponges to see on the various sized boulders. It can be accessed either by shore or boat tour. Unless you don't have a rental car, or you really want the Aruba boat tour experience, we recommend snorkeling this spot from shore.

Snorkeling Boca Catalina, which is the beach just to the left of the cove, has an easier water entrance. But there simply isn't much of anything to see. It has a sandy bottom with some seaweed patches. You have to swim over to the cove and past it to see much of interest.

Water Entrance For Snorkeling Catalina Cove

Water Entrance At Catalina Cove

The water entrance closest to the good snorkeling area is in Catalina Cove. It is rocky with some sand, but doable with some footwear. If there are any waves, don't attempt this entrance because you could easily lose your balance around the rocks.

If it is too wavy or you have no shoes, enter instead in the sand at Boca Catalina (the farthest sandy beach in the picture below). Walk to the left of the cove until you reach the sandy beach and enter there.

Snorkeling Boca Catalina Beach

If you have shoes, consider doing a one-way drift snorkel entering at Catalina Cove and exiting at Arashi Beach. Then make the short walk back on the road to your car at Catalina Cove.

Where To Snorkel

Sergeant Majors Begging For A Handout
Mixed School Of Grunts

If you enter in the cove, you can swim a little to the left and check out the small rocky point there. If you enter from the sand, swim to the right seeing the same area.

Then, swim out and to the right around the rocky point. Don't stay too close to shore as it gets too shallow. But, you can range a good ways away from shore as it stays shallow enough for snorkeling. You will see boulders of many sizes with a few corals, many sponges and a good number of fish. You will likely encounter a group of fish looking for a handout. It is obvious that the snorkeling Catalina Cove tour boats feed the fish here.

The depths in the area range from about 2 to 5 feet. Unfortunately we had terrible visibility when we snorkeled here. There was an algae bloom and the water was simply fuzzy with it and it covered the bottom too. We hope you have better water clarity.

What We Saw Snorkeling Catalina Cove

There were absolutely millions of silversides and large schools of juvenile grunts.


Schools of Silversides
French Angelfish & Tube Sponge
  • Angelfish, French
  • Basslet, Fairy
  • Butterflyfish, Banded
  • Chromis, Brown
  • Chub
  • Cowfish, Honeycomb
  • Damselfish: Bicolor, Cocoa, Dusky, Sergeant Major, Yellowtail
  • Filefish: Orangespotted, Whitespotted
  • Goatfish: Spotted, Yellow - schools
  • Grunt: Bluestriped, French - schools, Smallmouth - schools, Tomtate, White
  • Herring, Redear - large schools
  • Hogfish, Spanish
  • Jack: Bar, Palometa, Yellow
  • Mojarra: Mottled, Yellowfin
  • Parrotfish: Rainbow, Redband, Redtail, Stoplight, Yellowtail
  • Snapper: Gray, Mahogany, Schoolmaster
  • Soldierfish, Blackbar
  • Squirrelfish
  • Surgeonfish: Doctorfish, Ocean
  • Tang, Blue
  • Trunkfish, Smooth
  • Wrasse: Bluehead, Puddingwife, Slippery Dick
Knobby Brain Coral


  • Blue Crust
  • Brain: Grooved, Knobby, Maze, Symmetrical
  • Finger
  • Fire: Blade, Branching
  • Mustard Hill
  • Sea Rods: Bent, Porous
  • Star, Lobed
  • Starlet: Lesser, Massive

Social Feather Duster Worms

Other Creatures:

  • Anemone, Giant
  • Feather Duster Worm: Magnificent, Social
  • Sponge: Black Ball, Branching Tube, Lumpy Overgrowing, Yellow Tube
  • Squid, Caribbean Reef
  • Tube Worm, Christmas Tree
  • Urchin: Long Spined, Rock Boring
  • Zoanthid, White Encrusting

Driving Directions 

  1. Head north on Route 1 past the high rise hotels, past the windsurfing beach and turn left toward the California Lighthouse when the main road curves around to the right.
  2. Follow this road past Boca Catalina. Take your first left and you will see Catalina Cove, which has a rock wall with a falling apart sign on it, at the bend in the road.
  3. Park in the area provided off the water side of the road.
Catalina Cove Parking

There are a couple of shade palapas on the beach. There are more on Boca Catalina too.



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