Between its long sandy stretches, secluded coves and secret islands, Aruba boasts some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. The small Dutch Caribbean island, located 30 miles off the Venezuelan coast, is bursting with colourful fish, sea turtles and kaleidoscopic coral too. For the best snorkeling, head to the west and northern tip of the island which are protected from the eastern trade winds. The eastern coastline is much rougher, with high waves and big swells that make for excellent surf. If you’re having trouble deciding where to go, we’ve cherry-picked seven of the best places for snorkeling in Aruba.
Best places for snorkeling in Aruba
1. Arashi Beach
Situated on the north coast of Aruba, Arashi Beach is one of Aruba’s most popular spots for snorkeling. You won’t have the place to yourself, but it’s busy for good reason. The shallow waters are brimming with schools of colourful fish. The waters tend to have a gentle current so you can expect crystal-clear waters too. You’ll need to bring your own gear as there aren’t any rentals by the beach, but there is a huge beach bar, beach huts and lounge chair rentals. Enter the sea from the left-hand side for the best snorkeling.
Wrecks are usually reserved for scuba divers swimming in deeper water, but the Antilla Wreck is easily accessible for snorkelers too. It’s the largest shipwreck site in the Caribbean, covered by colourful coral, tropical fish, lobsters, shrimp and tube sponges. Once used for German trading, the 400-ft ship sank in 1939 when it got caught in Dutch waters. After being caught by Dutch marines, German Captain Ferdinand Schmidt ordered 34 crew members to set fire to the ship. The deepest part of the wreck sits around 60-ft deep, but the shallowest end is only around 25-ft deep with visibility up to 90-ft.
Flamingo Beach is the most photographed beach in Aruba. It’s located on Renaissance Aruba Resort’s private island, which is accessible by water taxi. There’s an artificial lagoon at the front of the beach filled with an incredible diversity of Caribbean fish. But while the snorkeling is good, most people come for the famous flamingos that strut around the beaches and pose for photos with tourists.
If you’ve made the most of the mainland, hotfoot to De Palm for an unusual island escape. The privately-owned island operates on an all-inclusive basis, offering everything from a kids waterpark and underwater helmet walk to banana boat rides and body drop slides. The entire island is surrounded by its own coral reef, so you can snorkel from the shore rather than hop off a boat too. You’ll bump into dozens of parrotfish, triggerfish and angelfish, as well as moray eels. When you’re not snorkeling you can sit back with a cocktail at the bar or stretch out in the sun on a lounger. You can also give ‘snuba’ a go, a cross between scuba diving and snorkeling.
Between its crystal clear waters and small secluded bays, it isn’t difficult to see why Malmok Beach is one of Aruba’s most beloved snorkeling spots. The narrow sandy stretch boasts crystal clear bath-water-warm waters too. It’s shallow enough for beginners to have a good time, but also boasts reefs and sunken wrecks offshore for more experienced snorkelers. It’s easy to get there by sailboat or catamaran too. Get there early if you’re looking to snorkel in peace as it can get busy in the afternoons.
6. Baby Beach
Don’t underestimate this snorkeling spot, despite its name it’s actually one of the largest beaches in Aruba. The half-moon crescent-shaped stretch is remarkably calm thanks to the large sand bar blocking currents and big swells too. You can walk out from the shoreline as the bay has a gradual drop-off, with a good chance of bumping into small squid, eels, barracudas and crabs. You can rent snorkel gear, loungers and umbrellas from one of the beach-front shops too.
This secluded bay boasts palm-fringed white sand beaches a few miles from Malmok Beach. It’s relatively secluded, which is surprising given that it parcels up everything snorkelers could wish for. It’s also one of the few places in Aruba where you can get up close to green sea turtles. You’ll need to get yourself to the beach or head here on a boat tour but it’s worth the extra effort. Expect to bump into sergeant majors, trunkfish and lots of colourful coral too.