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Boca Catalina has 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 Beach, Aruba.
Boca Catalina Beach, Aruba.

How to get to Boca Catalina snorkeling spot?

Boca Catalina is located on the northwestern tip of Aruba, on the way to the California Lighthouse. From Oranjestad and the Palm Beach resorts, 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.

The two beaches at Boca Catalina, Boca Catalina Beach and Catalina Cove, 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 boat tours departing daily from Eagle Beach and Palm Beach include a snorkeling stop on Boca Catalina’s reef.

Boca Catalina snorkeling map, Aruba
Boca Catalina snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Boca Catalina

This section of Aruba’s shoreline is mostly rocky, but Boca Catalina Beach (snorkel entry 1 on the map above) and Catalina Cove (snorkel entry 2) provide safe water entrance, from small sandy beaches. Boca Catalina Beach (snorkel entry 1) is the most recommended to spot sea turtles.

Boca Catalina snorkeling tips

When snorkeling Boca Catalina, we advise you to focus on these three areas:

  • The seagrass beds extending in front of Boca Catalina Beach (↕12-20ft/4-6m). Green sea turtles like to feed and rest on the grassy seabed, making Boca Catalina one of the best sites to spot sea turtles in Aruba. Go in the morning if you want to have the best chance to see them, as they tend to swim away when many snorkelers are in the water. Peacock flounders and flying gurnards also occur in the seagrass.
Green sea turtle in Boca Catalina
Green sea turtles are frequently seen in Boca Catalina’s deep seagrass meadows.
  • The area bordering the rocky point marking the north end of the beach (↕3-7ft/1-2m). Here, the seabed is mostly rocky, and quite a few coral and sponges have colonized it. You might see dozens of fish species in this shallow area, particularly boxfish, needlefish, wrasse, butterflyfish, and shoals of hundreds of juvenile grunts. Underwater visibility may vary.
Juvenile Queen angelfish in Boca Catalina
A juvenile queen angelfish, one of the Caribbean reefs’ most beautiful inhabitants.

Most of the snorkeling in Boca Catalina is beyond the buoy line, out of the swimming area. Beware of the many tour boats entering 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, Tres Trapi and Arashi Beach, which are all located a few hundred yards away.

Rocky reef with schools of fish
The shallow rocky areas north of the beach are home to thousands of small reef fish, including grunt, sergeants and wrasse.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

There are no restaurants or snacks nearby, so bring your own drinks and food with you. There are free public beach huts 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 resort area, only a 5-10 minutes drive from Boca Catalina, is full of restaurants, fast food, and shops.

Check this video 👇👇👇 with our best footage taken in Boca Catalina! And see how inquisitive these beautiful French angelfish are!




  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m on seagrass beds
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersDive boats crossing in the area
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsFree from the shore, or snorkeling tour price (from $60pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Sea turtle watching in Boca Catalina


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:

  1. Do not attempt to touch or ride sea turtles
  2. Stay at a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movement and allow sea turtles plenty of space when they come up to the surface to breathe

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.