Snorkeling Puerto Chiquito is one of the best spots on Aruba. You can see diverse coral reef and many fish at great snorkeling depths. But this spot is not for beginners because it is exposed and there is almost always a current, waves and wind to deal with. Do not attempt to snorkel here if the waves are big; it is best on a calm day. You also need to watch out for boats when you are over the outer reef.
This spot is known by many names besides Puerto Chiquito: Rocky Beach, Hole in the Wall, Bow or Bou Baranca, and Snapper City. It is just southeast of Mangel Halto, but has no real beach to hang out on. There are a couple of semi-protected little bays with rocky bottoms that offer easy access to the outer reef.
Water Entrance for Snorkeling Puerto Chiquito
As you walk down to the water from the parking area, there are shallow bays to both the right and left. Enter at the corner of the left one for snorkeling Puerto Chiquito. The bottom is rocky and sandy, so shoes are necessary. Walk out until you can float and switch to fins.
Where to Snorkel
Once in the water, swim out to the left a little and through the opening of the bay. After you pass out into unprotected waters you can swim left or right for snorkeling Puerto Chiquito. The current and wind are moving from left to right most of the time, so if you swim right, be sure you can swim against the current back to your entrance. Swimming left, you will be going against the current when you start and with it on the way back.
In this whole area and quite a distance out from shore, you will find healthy corals and a good number of fish in 10-20 feet of water, but near the drop-off it gets deeper. The visibility is generally good, though may be a bit low close to shore.
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Drift Snorkel to Mangel Halto
Another option is, if conditions permit, and you are a strong swimmer, you can go with the currents to the right and do a one-way drift snorkel to Mangel Halto. Read instructions for doing this and see a map on the Mangel Halto page.
Got Hurt Snorkeling and Travel Insurance Won’t Cover It?
Yes, many travel insurance policies exclude snorkeling accidents, leaving you in the lurch. See our recommended travel insurance that does cover snorkeling.
What We Saw While Snorkeling Puerto Chiquito
We saw healthy hard and soft corals and a good number of fish when snorkeling Puerto Chiquito.
- Angelfish, French
- Barracuda, Great
- Butterflyfish: Banded, Foureye
- Chromis: Blue, Brown
- Cowfish, Honeycomb
- Damselfish: Bicolor, Longfin, Sergeant Major, Yellowtail
- Filefish: Orangespotted, Whitespotted
- Goatfish, Yellow
- Grunt: Bluestriped, Caesar, French, Smallmouth – school
- Hogfish, Spanish
- Parrotfish: Princess, Queen, Redband, Redtail, Stoplight, Striped, Yellowtail
- Surgeonfish, Ocean
- Tang, Blue – very large school
- Wrasse, Bluehead
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Driving Directions for Snorkeling Puerto Chiquito
- Head south out of Oranjestad on Route 1. Follow it past the airport.
- At the second traffic light turn right.
- At the end of this road turn left.
- Follow this road over the bridge and take your first right. At the turn there is a sign for Marina Pirata Restaurant.
- Follow this road to the water and around to the left along the water.
- Drive past Mangel Halto which has some rock walls along the road and a rock wall with the name on it.
- Keep an eye out for the two story house on the left, #79. Just past it there is a driveway to the right at the pole with the streetlight. Turn here. There is a small dirt parking lot with some large boulders near the water.
There are no facilities at this spot.