If you’re traveling to the southern Caribbean and looking for the best snorkeling in Aruba, we’ve got you covered. Admittedly, Aruba isn’t our favorite place to go snorkeling in the Caribbean (top scores go to our Bonaire snorkeling tour!), but it’s still a fantastic place to participate in this activity.
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There are lots of colorful fish, beautiful coral, and even some sea turtles to spot while snorkeling in Aruba. You can also go snorkeling at some old shipwrecks, too. Just to warn you, I got stung by a jellyfish in Aruba while snorkeling! I feel like this is a pretty rare occurrence as it only happened to me out of everyone on our Aruba snorkeling tour (of course!), but it’s a personal experience that’s worth mentioning.
Would I let that deter me from ever going snorkeling in Aruba again? Of course not! Sometimes these mishaps are all part of the adventure (and I did get a bottle of vodka poured all over my leg, so there’s that).
Where to Stay in Aruba
There are so many wonderful places to stay in Aruba, from boutique vacation rentals to luxurious resort hotels. Most people opt to stay along Eagle Beach or Palm Beach because you’ll be close to those brilliant turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Here are the top three rated hotels on Tripadvisor:
If you’d like to compare the prices and locations of Aruba hotels and vacation rentals, you can do so by clicking on the properties below on this convenient map.
Taking an Aruba Snorkeling Tour
When Justin and I visited Aruba, we took a snorkeling tour on a catamaran. It went to two snorkel sites in Aruba: one off Boca Catalina Beach and the other at the S.S. Antilla shipwreck. Those are the two most popular places to go snorkeling in Aruba. This experience offers a great variety of swimming around a coral reef and an interesting piece of history.
If you only have a short amount of time in Aruba (ie. you’re visiting from a cruise ship, you only want to take a half day snorkel tour in Aruba), this is the perfect option for you. The tour company also provides all of the snorkeling gear, so you don’t need to worry about packing your own.
Aruba Snorkeling: Boca Catalina Beach
We boarded the catamaran and went for a scenic sail along the shores of Aruba. We passed many beautiful beaches and fancy hotels. At one point, Justin and I even saw some flying fish jump out of the water. You might be able to catch glimpses of people going parasailing, too.
We reached the first snorkel site at the Boca Catalina beach area in the northwest end of the island. One of the cool features of this catamaran was that it had a slide at the back. So, we were able to go down a slide into the water if we wanted. Of course, we both took that opportunity! For those who weren’t as strong of swimmers, you could easily go down the stairs into the water.
The water was a little bit chilly, but there were plenty of fish. Many fish swam in schools, navigating through the coral together, and others swam by themselves. The water wasn’t quite as clear as I’ve seen on other snorkel trips, and overall, there was less coral and less variety of fish. Nevertheless, we did see a lot of fish everywhere. You might be able to spot angelfish or barracudas if you’re lucky!
If you aren’t visiting Boca Catalina on a snorkeling tour, you can still snorkel right off the beach. The waters here are clear and shallow, and you’ll be able to catch glimpses of many varieties of fish right from the shore.
Snorkeling in Aruba: Antilla Shipwreck
After spending about an hour at Boca Catalina beach, everyone boarded the catamaran and we headed to our second snorkel site. We sailed for about 10 minutes to the S.S. Antilla shipwreck. Antilla is one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean, and lots of fish and coral have taken over the wreckage.
When we arrived at the site, the deep blue waters were quite choppy. As the waters were choppier than usual, this was best for stronger swimmers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too far before I was stung by a jellyfish (more on that in a bit). The water was so wavy that the visibility here wasn’t great. Apparently, most snorkelers weren’t able to see anything due to poor visibility in the water that day. Hopefully you have better luck than we did!
More Places to Snorkel in Aruba
While snorkeling at Boca Catalina beach and the Antilla shipwreck are the most popular places to go snorkeling in Aruba, there are plenty of other fascinating spots around the island. Some of these snorkeling sites are more popular than others.
For instance, the natural pool is a pretty popular place to visit in general. The earlier you can go there, the better, especially if there isn’t a cruise ship in port that day. There are also many places to snorkel from the shore in Aruba. We’ll go over those as well. Even the less popular beaches can have amazing places to swim and snorkel.
Conchi (Natural Pool)
The natural pool, also known as “Conchi”, is in a rather remote location in Aruba. The only way to reach the natural pool is by walking there, riding a horse, or riding an ATV. As it isn’t accessible by car, I suggest that you book a tour to Conchi for the best experience.
While many people simply go swimming in the natural pool, it’s also possible to go snorkeling there. Sea turtles often frequent the natural pool, so there’s a good chance that you might spot one.
De Palm Island
De Palm Island is the perfect little getaway in Aruba! There’s something for everyone: beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, a water park for kids (and kids at heart), soothing spas, and a multitude of snorkeling spots.
Many people will book a day trip to De Palm Island to participate in thrilling water activities or simply relax in a peaceful place. It’s got the best of both worlds in this regard.
Best Snorkeling in Aruba From Shore
If you love beach days and snorkeling, you’re in luck. Most of best Aruba snorkeling sites are right off the beach. Here’s the best snorkeling in Aruba from the shore, so you can have some fun underwater and a dose of fun in the sun.
Arashi Beach looks just how you’d imagine a picturesque Aruba beach to look like: fine, powdery sands, stunning palm trees, and rows of secluded huts to get away from it all. Located on the northern coast of Aruba, you’ll want to arrive early to snag a beach hut as this beach can be quite popular (the beach huts are free!). You can also combine your visit to Arashi Beach with a trip to the California Lighthouse as it is close by.
Arashi Beach is a fantastic place for a beach day, and it’s also possible to snorkel from the shore. The waters are dazzling and clear, and you’ll be able to see many, many fish. There aren’t any places to rent snorkel equipment here, so it’s best to bring your own or visit on a tour. You’ll find the best snorkeling towards the end of the beach on the right side of it, and there’s another great snorkel site on the left side of Arashi Beach.
You’ll find Mangel Halto on the southeast side of the island, and it’s one of the best places to go snorkeling in Aruba. It’s a stunning lagoon, surrounded by mangrove forests, with an abundance of sea life.
The waters at Mangel Halto are clear and calm, which are the perfect conditions for snorkeling. You’ll be able to spot parrot fish, barracudas, yellowfish snappers, and possibly even a turtle or an eel. There’s even a shipwreck to check out, the Kappel Wreck.
You’ll find Malmok Beach on the northern coast of Aruba, and it’s a great place to snorkel in Aruba from the shore. It’s known for its shallow waters where you can view plenty of fish. This one can get a little busier with tours and tourists, so you’ll want to visit earlier in the morning on your own to have it mostly to yourself.
With that said, it’s popular for a good reason: it’s some of the best snorkeling in Aruba. There are many beautiful corals, colorful fish, and sea turtles to observe. Malmok Beach is right along the same stretch of beaches as Tres Trapi, Boca Catalina, and Arashi Beach, so it’s possible that you can visit all of them if you like.
Baby Beach is right at the southern tip of Aruba in a beautiful, sandy cove. It’s within a manmade lagoon where the waters are a little calmer than other places. It’s a great place for beginner snorkelers and snorkelers of all skill levels to swim.
There is a coral reef within the lagoon that you can visit directly from the shores of Baby Beach. While it doesn’t have the greatest snorkeling in Aruba, you might be able to spot sea turtles here. Also, it’s lesser frequented than other beaches on the northern side of the island, so you’ll escape the crowds.
Tres Trapi is wedged between Malmok Beach and Boca Catalina. It’s named for the “three steps”, the three stairs that are carved into the rocks to help you get into the water. The waters here are very shallow, and you’ll have a chance to view a lot of starfish at this snorkel site.
Rodgers Beach is another place to go snorkeling in Aruba. You’ll find this beach at the southern end of the island, next to Baby Beach. This is a gorgeous beach where you can snorkel right from the shore. However, it’s not as protected of an area as Baby Beach, so the snorkeling won’t be quite as good here. But, it’s a little less visited, so you’ll have your own slice of paradise here.
Bachelor’s Beach, also known as Boca Tabla, is best known as a great place for windsurfing due to the tradewinds in this area (the southwest side of Aruba). There is a coral reef close to the shores of Bachelor’s Beach where you can go snorkeling. As this place is way off the radar for tourists, swimmers, and snorkelers, it’s a very peaceful place.
Getting Stung by a Jellyfish in Aruba
Okay, so I teased up above that I was stung by a jellyfish in Aruba. On my snorkeling tour by the Antilla shipwreck, the water was quite choppy. I wasn’t in the water for too long before I felt a very painful sensation in two places on my leg (back of my calf and back of my thigh). I kept swimming, but it felt like I was being stabbed with many tiny needles.
In a slightly panicked voice, I told Justin that something was wrong. My leg started to feel heavier in the water. We swam back to the boat. When I got back to the boat and looked at my leg, a red, angry rash began to appear.
Treating the Jellyfish Sting on the Boat
The tour guide said that something from the coral must have been agitated and released, and it may have brushed by my skin. It still stung pretty badly, and soon enough, word was spreading around our entire group that I had been stung by something. I believe that I was stung by a jellyfish, and I’m not sure why the guides didn’t come to that conclusion.
The spots on my leg started to blister up and bulge from my leg. He went to a storage area beneath the boat and brought out a big bottle of vodka. He rubbed the vodka all over my legs! It was a little bit entertaining to watch almost an entire bottle of vodka being poured on my leg. Then, he got some moisturizer and rubbed that into my skin.
As it turned out, the group only ended up staying for about 20 minutes at that site, instead of the hour that we were originally going to spend. Another passenger on the tour with us said that the water was too choppy anyway, which decreased the visibility. He said that he wasn’t really able to see anything and we really didn’t miss out. I’m sure there are many days where snorkeling at the Antilla shipwreck would be awesome, but that day wasn’t one of them.
Thankfully, we had an open bar on the way back, and I drank way too much rum punch for it only being 11 in the morning. The rum punch definitely helped with the pain!
More Places to Snorkel in the Caribbean
Looking for more awesome places to go snorkeling in the Caribbean? Take a look at more articles we’ve written about our experiences on snorkel tours.
- Best Snorkeling in St. John, US Virgin Islands
- Snorkeling in St. Martin (Sint Maarten)
- A Snorkeling Eco Tour at Cas Cay, St. Thomas
- Snorkeling at Princess Cays, Bahamas