Located just north of South America, Aruba’s fairly remote and idyllic location—mixed with its vibrant blend of Dutch and West Indies culture—is reason enough to pay a visit to the tropical island. But its not just its hurricane-free beaches and pastel-colored architecture that make this Caribbean island a popular vacation destination: The snorkeling (and diving) off the coast is among the best in the world. To that end, we’ve compiled the 10 best places to go snorkeling in Aruba.
Located on the northern coast of the island, Arashi Beach boasts crystal-clear waters and a sandy ocean floor, making it the perfect spot for snorkeling. Beginners and consummate snorkelers alike will appreciate the colorful schools of fish that populate the waters as well as the palometa that patrol the shoreline. It can get quite busy here, so be sure to arrive first thing in the morning to claim a beachside hut. Note that rental equipment is not available, as the beach is entirely devoid of vendors.
Also known as "Conchi" (bowl) and "Cura di Tortuga" (turtles cove), the Natural Pool is a stunning rock formation created by volcanic stone circles and frequently visited by—as the nickname suggests—turtles. Due to the Pool’s remote location, and the wildly rugged surrounding terrain, visitors can only access the area either on foot, horseback, or via four-wheel-drive. We recommend signing up for a day tour: Trust us, you don’t want to end up ruining your rental car by attempting the journey on your own. To maximize your day of adventure, go for a horseback ride or hike.
Featuring natural pools and underwater caves, Malmok Beach promises some of the best snorkeling on the entire island. While you're here, you can expect to observe an array of tropical fish, including the Banded Butterfly Fish, French Angelfish, and Trunkfish. Just be careful on your way in, as there are sharp rocks near the shoreline.
Not far from Malmok Beach is Boca Catalina, a pristine white-sand beach overlooking a secluded bay. But just because the sandy shores are relatively undisturbed by humans, don’t expect the waters off the coast to be similarly uninhabited. With sergeant majors and trunkfish swimming close to the coastline, you can walk right into the water and enjoy a world-class snorkeling experience. Boat tours and cruises aren't necessary, though both have a definite appeal. Another seamless element of the Boca Catalina experience? The readily available parking located just along the main road.
While snorkeling in Boca Catalina, you might as well swim further north to explore Catalina Cove. A haven for bar jacks and blue tangs who hide near the rocks, this destination is also one of the best spots on the island for scuba diving. As you swim, be on the lookout for turtles, who are often spotted in the shallow waters. Boat tours also offer excursions to Catalina Cove for those who would prefer to examine the caves from above the water.
Otherwise known as “3 Steps,” Tres Tapi is so named in homage to the staircase of three rocks that visitors use to descend into the water. Thanks to the abundance of sea stars in the clear blue water, this is one of the more distinct snorkeling spots in all of Aruba. Afterwards, head to the nearby Ritz Carlton Hotel for an après-snorkeling cocktail.
Sure, you can swim with pigs in the Bahamas, but in Aruba, you can sunbathe with flamingos on Renaissance Aruba Resort's private island. But before you sun yourself alongside these vibrantly colorful creatures, be sure to indulge in some world-class snorkeling. Between the crystal-clear water, exotic fish, and ornamental birds, we’d argue this sandy locale is one of the best in the tropics.
Located on the southern end of the island, the lagoon at Baby Beach was created by and for members of the Lago colony for their families to enjoy. A concrete barrier separates the lagoon from the rest of the ocean, creating exceptionally peaceful waters for novice snorkelers of all ages. A coral reef within the enclosure provides easy access for snorkelers to witness marine life.
Why not enjoy the island's tropical beauty in blissful solitude? The capital of Aruba until 1797, Savaneta is a historical region with an uninhabited stretch of coastline. The snorkeling excursion alone is worth a day trip to Savaneta, promising the perfect off-the-beaten path experience for avid snorkelers.
Also known as "Spanish Lagoon," this underrated (and, as of now, mostly undiscovered) section of the island is not far from Savenata. Overlooking calm, shallow waters, Mangel Halto boasts a crystal-blue sea lined with mangroves and a powdery white sand beach. You can head right into the water, though do be mindful of the sharp rocks, which can make entry a bit difficult. It is worth it, however, to discover the magnificent array of tropical wildlife just off the coast. From squid to blue tangs, sponges to stingrays, the snorkeling at Mangel Halto is among the very best on the island—and the entire Caribbean at large.