From wrecks to secluded beaches with acres of offshore corals, Aruba delivers plenty of sites to keep snorkelers busy all vacation long, whether it’s your first time donning snorkel gear or your hundredth. Here are some popular spots for the best snorkeling in Aruba.
For variety, few snorkel sites on Aruba offer more marine life variety than Baby Beach on the southernmost tip of the island. From Oranjestad, it’s a 30-minute drive south— and definitely worth making a day trip for thanks to its wide, white sand beach well suited to sunbathing and picnicking.
For the best snorkeling, enter from the beach’s east end. Start swimming, and you’ll encounter everything from schools of striped grunts to the hot pink fairy basslet fish, as well as possible eagle rays and octopi.
If it’s your first time dropping in at Malmok Beach, the biggest surprise will be the squid. These cephalopods tend to travel in pairs, or groups of three and four. If you keep from charging toward them, they’ll hover nearby, flushing pale white to a deep blue and all shades in between as the ribbon along their midsection undulates.
Even if no squid are spotted on your trip, you’ll be kept busy watching parrotfish, trumpetfish and schools of silversides, a fish measuring just a few inches long. Best of all, this spot is reachable by car, found just 6 minutes north of Palm Beach.
The S.S. Antilla shipwreck—a 400-foot long German cargo ship—offers snorkelers in Aruba the chance to swim among schools of yellowtail snapper and blue wrasse, as well as spot the occasional lobster, angelfish and sea turtle. Snorkelers will likely keep to the bow, the shallower part of the wreck in 30 feet.
The ship lies on its side, with the exposed starboard stretch covered in purple, yellow and orange sponges. Note that the Antilla sits about a half mile off Aruba’s northwestern coast, making it best reached via a daytrip boat, as opposed to a swim from shore.
Mangel Halto Beach
We love this beach for the wide sandbar stretching yards from the shore, and for the gardens of healthy coral, including elkhorn, just a quick swim from shore. Despite this being one of the healthiest reefs reachable from shore, Mangel Halto tends to be a secluded, quiet beach—great for getting away from it all despite its location just 11 minutes by car from the capital city of Oranjestad. The only downside of the seclusion is that cars are more vulnerable in this area, so don’t leave anything valuable unattended.
Just next to Mangel Halto Beach is Puerto Chiquito, offering slightly different scenery, as well as the chance to start here and swim or drift south with the current to Mangel Halto before walking back to your starting point. This spot does not offer a sandy beach, but rather, rock jetty walls.
The upside is wonderfully protected waters, easy for little ones to take on. In the water, expect a sweeping variety of marine life, including cowfish, needlefish and possibly even a stingray.
De Palm Island
De Palm Island, a sliver of land just a 5-minute ferry ride from Aruba, allows snorkelers to spread out on acres of shallow reefs alive with eels, blue and rainbow parrotfish, schools of sergeant major fish, sea stars and more.
We love that families can make a day of it at this all-inclusive destination, fueling up at the grill before taking advantage of the island’s water park.
Boca Grandi is one of the few beaches on Aruba’s eastern side to offer decent snorkeling. However, because few people make the trek to this pink sand beach, it tends toward isolation — so use your best judgment regarding ocean conditions as this side is known to be rougher.
If conditions are calm enough, you’ll be treated to seeing shallow caves, lobsters, angelfish, stingrays and a bevy of other critters. If the waves look too rough for entry, stay anyway to enjoy the beach and ocean views.
Santo Largo Beach
This stretch of sand in front of the town of Savaneta offers snorkelers an opportunity to escape the hotel crowds and swim above a drop-off—known to scuba divers as a wall. The shallow reefs leading to the wall are healthy, with sea fans, sponges and mounds of brain corals. Throughout the area, look for schools of fish, as well as sand dwellers, like lizardfish burrowed in the sand and the tilefish, a white fellow hovering just above.
We love this site for the easy entry leading to patch corals home to trunkfish, peacock flounder, snake eels and more. Here, time of day matters. Afternoons see a handful of snorkel charter boats anchored just off the beach, so visit in the morning for the best odds of seeing sea turtles, lobsters and other bigger marine life.
Found along the northern stretch of Aruba’s west coast, this long, white sand beach allows snorkelers to choose just about any entry point along nearly a half mile of coast. However, we’ve found that the farther north you walk before entering, the denser the coral reefs are, and conversely, more alive with schooling snappers, crabs and juvenile fish.