Boca Catalina have everything snorkelers could wish for: a pristine sea, nice shallow coral reefs with an amazing variety of fish, and the possibility to see green sea turtles in the deeper seagrass areas. Located on the northwestern tip of Aruba, this snorkeling spot, accessible from a secluded white-sanded beach or by boat tour, is definitely one of the best on the island.
Boca Catalina is located on the northwestern tip of Aruba, on the way to the California Lighthouse. From Oranjestad and the high-rise resorts in Palm Beach, drive to the north side of the island. Driving time is approx. 20 minutes from the capital, and 5 to 10 minutes from Palm Beach. Both beaches (Boca Catalina and Catalina Cove, a second entry point) are marked with signs on the left side of the road, and have a parking area. Boca Catalina is also serviced by bus from Oranjestad. See Arubus website for details. If you prefer to go there by boat, most of boat tours departing daily from Eagle Beach and Palm Beach include a snorkeling stop on Boca Catalina’s reef.
This portion of the Aruba’s shoreline is mostly rocky, but Boca Catalina Beach provide a safe access to the water, via a sandy breach in the rocks. Enter the water here, and swim away from the shore.
When snorkeling Boca Catalina, we advise you to focus on these three areas:
Most of the snorkeling in Boca Catalina is beyond the buoy line, out of the swimming area. Beware of the many tour boats entering in the area. Sea conditions are usually perfect on this spot, but don’t leave the swimming area if you don’t feel comfortable with snorkeling, or if usual light currents get stronger.
When in Boca Catalina, you may also want to snorkel Malmok Beach and Arashi Beach, which are all located a few hundred yards away.
There are no restaurants or snack nearby, so bring you own drinks and food with you. There are free public beaches hut on the beach, making it a perfect spot for a picnic. Come early if you want to have a chance to get one. The high-rise resorts area, only a 5-10 minutes’ drive from Boca Catalina, is full of restaurants, fast-food and shops.
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.
Sea turtles are a very familiar sight in Boca Catalina. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
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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