Aruba is one of the three (along with Bonaire and Curacao) southern Caribbean sovereign island nations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This oceanic island - created many millions of years ago by volcanic activity - lies only about 13 miles (at the nearest point) off the coast of Venezuela. The island is about 20 miles long and some 4-7 miles wide over much of its length.
The north and south coasts of the island are very different. The north coast (windward) is exposed to high wave activity from the open sea. Here, the landscape is desolate and large breaking waves regularly pound a rugged, rocky windswept coast.
In contrast, the south (leeward) side of the island is somewhat protected from the trade winds. This coast is bordered by calmer waters and an extensive series of beautiful beaches.
Aruba Snorkeling Sites
A lengthy fringing reef system - rich in marine life - stretches along the south and west facing coasts of Aruba (see below).
This rocky barrier provides fine snorkeling opportunities for beginners as well as seasoned veterans. Here, the water is typically relatively calm and shallow, and underwater visibility is usually very good.
Some of Aruba's very best snorkeling sites for beginners or intermediate-level snorkelers are located right off the series of beautiful west-facing beaches that line the northwestern coast of Aruba from Eagle Beach to MalMok and Arashi Beaches (see left).
Good snorkeling sites are in abundance along this stretch of coast, and many of the best are but a short swim from shore.
Depths here range from about 2-15 feet over the reef, so there is no real need to even leave the surface to see plenty of marine life. Water clarity is usually excellent except on the occasional very windy days.
You can easily get directly to Arashi beach by a $2 local bus ride from the main hotel area of Oranjestad, which run hourly throughout the day.
For advanced snorkelers who want a more challenging experience, Mangel Halto Reef (aka Spanish Lagoon) located along the west coast to the south of Oranjestad offers more varied snorkeling opportunities.
Here, seasoned snorkelers can quickly reach 60-70 depths along the offshore reefs, which are beautiful and home to an abundance of coral reef life.
Currents here can be strong and getting to and from the reef can be quite a workout, so this is no place for beginners or weak swimmers. Of course, these areas (and many other great snorkeling sites) can also be accessed by any of the local tour boats operating out of Oranjestad.
Aruba has strict environmental laws, and strives to protect its marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
The shallow reefs of Aruba support an abundance and diversity of reef fishes, as well as the occasional sea turtles, octopi, crabs and spiny lobster.
Activities harmful to coral reefs or marine life are prohibited, and violators can face penalties. Do your part to protect Aruba's marine environment; make an effort to learn what you should - and should NOT - do when snorkeling in Aruba.
Aruba Travel Information
Passports and return tickets are required for entry. Aruba's official tourism website provides detailed information on all aspects of Aruba travel to assist you in planning your Aruba snorkeling holiday.
Easy airline access makes Aruba vacation travel about as easy as it gets from just about anywhere. Countries offering direct nonstop flights to and from Aruba include the USA, Canada, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and neighboring islands and South American nations.
The island has a vibrant night life, with restaurants to fit any budget, bars, nightclubs, and casinos. A variety of accommodations, including hotels, apartments, condos, villas, and private properties are available in all price ranges.