Spot

Mangel Halto


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.
How to get there?

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.

Water entrance

There are three entry points for snorkeling Mangel Halto’s reef:

- The wooden platform set on the shore, next to the road (entry 1 on the map below). This is a convenient entry point (you enter the water with a ladder), but a bit far from the reef: you will have to swim more or less 300m to reach it;

- The cut in the mangrove located approximately 100m from the road (entry 2). This is the entry point we recommend: The seabed is sandy, and the water deep-enough to start snorkel from the shore. You will then have to fin some 200m to get to the reef, which is a reasonable distance for an advanced snorkeler;

- The sandy area at the edge of the mangrove (entry 3). This is the closest entry point to the reef (more or less 150m distance), but also the trickiest: the water is very shallow and you will have to walk on the sharp rocky reef flat to reach the snorkeling area.

Aerial view

Exploration

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.

Blue Tang Mangel Halto Snorkeling
School of blue tang at Mangel Halto

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.

Restaurants and accommodation

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.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Advanced
  • Maximum depth
    18ft/6m
  • Water entrance
    See map
  • Potential Dangers
    Currents, surf, waves, boats
  • Lifeguard
    No
  • Visitor numbers
    Low
  • Access costs
    Free
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes
  • Public toilets & showers
    No

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

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