Let’s start with the what’s, how’s and where’s of Aruba. For those who aren’t familiar, Aruba is a breathtaking, happy and gorgeous island country near Venezuela in the South Caribbean with pristine blonde beaches and turquoise waters that are oh so picture perfect!
Aruba offers nice sunny weather all year round with a constant cool breeze thanks to the trade winds. Since it is not situated in the hurricane belt, it is less humid and steamy compared to other tropical islands and has much drier, arid weather.
Considered one of the safest Caribbean islands, getting to Aruba is super easy. Its Queen Beatrix International Airport runs flights to and from most U.S. cities and other major airports around the world.
January through March is peak season in Aruba with the highest rates on the island, April through September is off season with the best rates available and a great time to visit. Aruba experiences its highest rainfall (which is not very much) during October through December.
Whether your idea of a vacation is lazing on a beach with a cocktail or to venture out for adventure dive or swims, Aruba has you covered. With some spectacular wreck diving options, beautiful snorkelling locations and scrumptious international food choices, a tourist is often spoiled silly! It is no surprise that Aruba enjoys the highest tourist return rate among the Caribbean islands.
Aruba is known as ‘One Happy Island’ and for good reason!
Snorkelling in Aruba
But Wait! Are there sharks in the water?!
It’s the ocean, of course there are sharks in the water! However, the beaches of Aruba are very safe to dive/snorkel from because sharks are found in the deeper parts of the water approximately 35-40 kilometres off the coast so if you are looking for some easy swims and snorkelling fun, put your mind to rest and here’s quite an amazing statistic to help with that.
Each year there are approximately 5 reported shark attacks globally, while humans kill more than 100 million sharks! Yes, the chances of a shark coming for you are super remote, bordering on non-existent!
Safety tips you must keep in mind while Snorkelling in Aruba
Safety First. With the constant trade winds that Aruba enjoys throughout the year which contributes to its nice weather, it also brings ocean currents which can be strong depending on the wind conditions. One must evaluate these conditions before entering the water to have a comfortable time snorkelling.
Most of the snorkelling locations around Aruba are exposed to the open ocean. Which means there is no reef sheltering the coast from the currents in these locations. One must be mindful of the current by asking the lifeguard on duty whether it is safe to enter the water. However, there are snorkelling locations with protected bays too which we will cover ahead.
Many tourists have entered the water under the influence of alcohol and paid a dear price in Aruba. This is obviously a big no no not only in Aruba, but anywhere in the world.
Marine life you could spot while snorkelling in Aruba
Aruba is home to a wide variety of marine life and healthy coral reef systems, making for a bright and colourful snorkelling experience. An array of playful fish species such as parrotfish, goat fish, blue tangs, angelfish, damselfish to name a few, make for some great underwater entertainment.
Gorgonian fans and colonies of brain coral add to the beauty amongst patches of magnificent hard and soft corals.
Apart from the tropical fish, it is not uncommon to spot sting rays, manta rays and turtles too!
The Most Famous And Best Snorkeling Locations In Aruba
1. Mangel Halto
Let’s start with the best. Mangel Halto is definitely one of the superior snorkelling locations in Aruba, conditions permitting. However, it is not for the amateur swimmer. Unless there are virtually no winds or currents, this would be rated as an advanced level snorkelling location.
Mangel Halto has a sheltered bay area protected by a reef and when the ocean is calm and currents mild, you could swim out beyond the reef for some spectacular snorkelling with lush fields of healthy coral and teeming marine life. Swimming beyond the reef though, can be a challenge and is not recommended for those who are inexperienced. Often, you could find yourself swimming against the current for quite some time which can be dangerous. The upside is that you could do some rewarding snorkelling within the bay area as well which does have some current, but is largely manageable and offers a good chance to snorkel with turtles!
2. Puerto Chiquito
Another gem to snorkel at during your stay in Aruba. However, this is an exposed location which means you must snorkel with caution. Enter the water when the waves are not too big and the current is mild. The visibility is the best during this time and you can ensure a good, safe snorkelling experience.
Also known as Rocky Beach, Hole in the Wall, Bow Baranca and Snapper City, this amazing snorkelling location will spoil you with colourful views of lush, healthy corals and staggering marine life. You could expect to see species such as surgeonfish, groupers, barracudas and wrasse while snorkelling and if you are an experienced swimmer, use the currents to even do a drift snorkel to Mangel Halto.
3. Arashi Beach
One of the most recommended snorkelling spots in Aruba, Arashi Beach offers snorkelling for beginners and advanced swimmers alike. It is one of the northernmost on the island and has calm waters most of the time making it a relaxed, easy snorkelling experience.
With a safe lagoon to snorkel in, you will find beautiful tropical fish as you walk on the powder sand floor towards the deep. Towards the left is the area perfect for beginners, where one can find patches of seagrass and even turtles!
Towards the right is a reef which is recommended for advanced swimmers as the reef is healthy and teeming with life but also shallow and about 200 metres away from shore.
Since this reef is situated on the tip of the island, it often experiences strong currents and it could become difficult to swim back to shore. Beginners should not venture out this far and enjoy the lagoon towards the left side which is no compromise by any means.
4. Catalina Cove
Situated near a residential area, Boca Catalina is a beautiful beach about 350 metres long with a sandy bottom. It is also one of the best beaches for a chance to snorkel and swim with turtles, thanks to the abundant seaweed present in the area. Boca Catalina is often the nicest to snorkel at in the early morning hours when the water is calm and visibility crystal clear to spot sea stars as well!
5. Baby Beach
It is one of the most recommended beaches for snorkelling in Aruba. For beginners, it is definitely a nice beach to play around in the shallow water and get the feel of the ocean within the protected bay. However, for advanced swimmers, we feel it is not such a great place to snorkel and here’s why:
- It offers very little apart from a sandy bottom within the protected bay area.
- Due to the less marine activity in the bay area, people often venture outside it which is not recommended at all because the strong current outside the bay is usually very strong and dangerous.
You could however, spot some turtles if you get super lucky as some live nearby!
6. Malmok Beach
A long rocky beach situated on the north coast, Malmok Beach is very popular among the snorkelling community and often visited by snorkelling tour companies to enjoy the marvellous corals and a chance to swim with turtles.
The snorkelling is easy and safe with a mild current most of the times. The reef runs parallel to the shore and one can spot an array of marine creatures at a nice shallow depth of 3-5 metres.
We would recommend snorkelling at Malmok Beach in the early morning hours as the snorkelling tour boats arrive in full swing by mid-day and it becomes quite crowed.
Snorkelling Boat Tours
There are a host of snorkelling tours available in Aruba and operators include music, food and fun on the boats to make it a memorable experience for guests. Some snorkelling locations such as the Antilla Wreck (A sunken World War II vessel) cannot be reached by shore.
Boat tours take you to locations such as these including the ones mentioned above for a day out snorkelling in the ocean. A typical snorkel tour includes three locations, food, cocktails and fun for about $50 per adult and lasts approximately three hours.