Aruba is a small Dutch Caribbean island located some 30 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group referred to as the “ABC islands”. Aruba hosts wonderful beaches and a dozen of nice snorkeling spots, where you can spot sea turtles, cushion sea stars and hundreds of colorful reef fish species.

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The west and east coast of Aruba have radically different sea conditions. The rough eastern coastline is exposed to the trade winds, high waves and strong currents, making it unsuitable for snorkeling. On the contrary, the western coastline is protected against the constant eastern trade winds. It offers sheltered beaches, calm sea and pristine water. For this reason, all snorkeling spots in Aruba are located on the west side of the island.

Most of Aruba’s snorkeling spots are concentrated on the northern tip of the island, a few kilometers north of the main resorts area. Boca Catalina, with its nice reef areas teeming with colorful fish and good chance of seeing turtles, is considered as the best one in this section of the coast, but Malmok Beach (a little further south) and Arashi Beach (a bit north) also offers good snorkeling. In the same area, Tres Trapi, where many cushion starfish lie on the sandy seabed, is a not-to-be-missed spot if you like these fascinating marine animal.

Aruba Snorkeling
Pink flamingo at Renaissance Island, Tres Trapi, and sea turtle at Boca Catalina

All the above-mentioned spots are exposed to open ocean and have a free shore access, but some of them are also included in sail/snorkeling tours departing daily from Eagle Beach and Palm Beach (3-4h/from $60pp., including drinks and lunch). These tours are a nice option if you want to enjoy the boat ride, the other activities and the “all included” formula, but you will have to share the spot with the many other visitors.

These tours generally include a snorkeling stop at the Antilla Wreck, a 400ft/122m long shipwreck resting in 60ft/18m of water, but the visibility underwater can vary. This is the easiest and safest way to snorkel the wreck, as is it too far from the shore to be safely reached by swimming.

On the south part of the island, Mangel Halto, with its healthy coral, is probably the best snorkeling spot on the island, but is not suited for beginners and the sea conditons are sometimes too bad to go. Baby Beach is another nice option in the south of Aruba, but you need very calm sea to explore it safely.
When to go snorkeling in Aruba?

There is no bad time of year to go snorkeling in Aruba: the island enjoys a sunny, dry and windy climate all year round, with steady sea conditions. Nevertheless, a (very) dry season, from April to November, can be distinguished from a “rainy” season from December to March, with daily short and light rains. The average water temperature is 79°F/26°C during the rainy season, and rises to 85°F/29°C during the dry season. It is often recommended to snorkel the island during the rainy season, where there are fewer crowds and lower accommodation prices.

Aruba Snorkeling Angelfish

Where to spot them?

Green sea turtle

Frequently seen at Boca Catalina

Cushion sea star

Unmissable at Tres Trapi

French angelfish

On many spots, like Boca Catalina or Mangel Halto

Foureye butterflyfish

On all reef spots

Banded butterflyfish

On all reef spots

French grunt

On all reef spots

Striped grunt

On all reef spots

Peacock flounder

On all spots, but sometimes hard to see

Bluehead wrasse

On all reef spots

Elkhorn coral

Healthy at Mangel Halto

Bluefin trevally

On all spots, from 6ft deep

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