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, especially on its northwestern coast, all of them being accessible freely from the shore. Swimming through translucent seas, snorkelers are treated to a kaleidoscope of coral, colorful fish, sea turtles and colonies of hundreds of bright-red starfish.
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, a 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 resort area.
Boca Catalina, with its nice reef areas teeming with colorful fish and a good chance of seeing green sea 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 creatures.
All the above-mentioned spots are exposed to the open ocean and have 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 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.
You must certainly have already seen on Instagram a white sand beach where pink flamingos walk among sunbeds… This is Flamingo Beach, located on a private island managed by the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Oranjestad’s main resort. If this beach is great for taking pictures, snorkeling is unfortunately pretty poor there, but you can still take your snorkeling gear with you if you spend the day on the island.
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 conditions are sometimes too bad to go.
Baby Beach and Colorado Point are other nice options in the south of Aruba, but you need a very calm sea to explore it safely.
If you are planning to snorkel the ABC Islands, we recommend bringing with you the excellent Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas (also available in ebook), the reference guide to ID the fish you will encounter snorkeling the islands.
The very best 👇👇👇 of our snorkeling time in the ABC Islands. Exploring the islands of Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba, trying to see as much sea life as we could! These three islands are a coveted playground for snorkelers: calm and warm waters, shallow coral reefs, beautiful shipwrecks, and a myriad of sea life. The name of the snorkeling spot where the images have been shot is mentioned in each sequence.
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.
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Frequently sighted in the deep seagrass meadows of Boca Catalina; rarely seen elsewhere on the island
Large colonies on the sandy beds of Tres Trapi
Common in Boca Catalina and Arashi Beach
On all reef spots
On all reef spots, large schools at Boca Catalina
On all spots, but sometimes hard to see, hidden in the sand
Some healthy colonies at Mangel Halto
On all spots, especially in deep areas
Coral reef and seagrass meadows with turtles and colorful fish
Free shore access
Coral reef with colorful fish
Sandy beds with cushion sea stars
Small shallow lagoon with coral and fish
Shallow artificial lagoon with colorful fish
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