Mangel Halto, with its healthy coral reef and its unrivaled underwater visibility, is widely considered to be the best snorkeling spot in Aruba. The snorkeling area, covering the inner and outer side of a coral reef cut by two channels, is subject to currents and exposed to the open ocean. For this reason, only advanced snorkelers should explore it, and solely when there is no wind and waves, and very little current.
Mangel Halto is located in Pos Chiquito, on the southwestern coast of Aruba, just south of the Spanish Lagoon. From Oranjestad, drive south on route 1 (the road serving the airport), following the Sint Nicolaas direction. The driving time is approximately 10 to 15 minutes (10km). A mapping app can be useful the find Mangel Halto, which is not signposted.
Some snorkeling tours to Mangel Halto can be organized with local tour companies.
Due to the potentially dangerous currents and the distance between the reef and the shore, we recommend you not to explore this spot alone.
There are three entry points for snorkeling Mangel Halto’s reef:
The best snorkeling is around the cuts and along the external edge of the reef.
From the beach, you will easily see the two “turquoise” cuts in the reef. The western one (on your right when you are facing the sea) is marked with a big yellow buoy. If there is surf in this area, you should postpone your snorkeling session.
Departing from the shore, we recommend you to fin straight to the reef, taking care to stay on the shallow areas (↕6ft/2m) edging the east side of the bay. Once you reached the reef, you will be able to check the sea conditions in the channels. If the current is too strong, go back to the beach.
If sea conditions allow, you can start exploring the surroundings of the two cuts. Swim along the ridges (↕6-12ft/2-5m) running parallel to the cuts (↕18ft/6m). Here you will find beautiful hard coral – mainly elkhorn coral (acropora palmata) and blade fire coral (millepora complanata), as well as sea fans. Parrotfish, butterflyfish, French angelfish and shoals of hundreds of blue tang are amongst the many fish that can be seen here. Underwater visibility is generally perfect.
Stay away from the cut with the buoy in it: this channel is used by small boats, which come through fastly to enter the bay. If you want to cross it to reach the right side of the reef, watch for boats before crossing.
If the sea conditions are perfect, advanced snorkelers can consider exploring the outside of the reef by swimming through the channel against the incoming current. The outer edge of the reef, facing the open sea, has the most beautiful seabed in Mangel Halto, on both left and right side of the channel. You will swim above a healthy coral garden (↕3-10ft/1-3m), frequented by fusiliers, blue tangs, snappers, and dozens of other reef fish species. Do not venture too far from the cuts if you have a doubt about being able to come back.
The Mangel Halto Bar is facing the mangrove area. The public beach huts set along the road makes Mangel Halto a perfect spot for picnic.
These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell.You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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