Aruba is exactly what everybody assumes a beautiful Caribbean island should be: warm, vibrant and boasting white sand beaches lapped by impossibly turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkeling. The island is so far south in the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles island chain that it’s practically part of South America. In fact, the Netherlands-administered country is a mere 17 miles (27km) from the north coast of Venezuela, meaning that Dutch colonial, South American and Caribbean indigenous cultures mesh perfectly to create a holiday destination with both cultural and natural riches aplenty.
Snorkeling in Aruba is one of the best ways to enjoy the island’s stunning marine wildlife and the best way to access some of the secluded spots is on a tour. There are more than enough options available to suit most expectations, so here are a selection of the five best snorkeling tours around Aruba based on a number of different factors including price, duration, health and safety, equipment provision and itinerary. Previous guest reviews have also been considered. All tours run on a daily basis unless otherwise mentioned.
FROM: $50/per person
A boat can take you to the types of snorkeling sites that simply cannot be reached by land and road. Escape Aruba’s popular beaches and get some quality one-on-one time with the delightful dwellers of the island’s coastal waters. Your vessel is the Arunsun, a 20-metre (65-foot) catamaran, which has nets over the water and plenty of deck space to sunbathe as you sail to the snorkel spots. Snorkeling equipment is provided along with an open bar and free snacks. Among the stops are Boca Catalina Bay and a shipwreck called the Antilla, which was scuttled in World War 2 and lies just beneath the water, covered in marine life. This tour lasts around two and a half hours.
From $65/ per person
As with the above catamaran trip, the SS Antilla is very much a highlight of any snorkeling experience in Aruba, but can only be reached by boat. The shipwreck is one of the largest in the Caribbean. This tour is excellent value for money, packing three major dive sites into just under five hours, with lunch and an open bar also included in the price. You can also make sure the fish get some lunch too at Malmok, before strapping on your provided snorkeling gear to get a closer look as they feed. The tours run from Monday to Saturday, meeting at MooMba Beach Bar at 10am.
From $51/ per person
For early risers this four-hour morning tour combines both land and sea. Hotel or cruise ship pickup gets you started, with a guided bus tour taking in some of the island’s major landmarks along the way, including the Casibari Rock Formation along the coast, with its natural bridge of coral limestone, and the Aloe Vera Factory, celebrating an important cash crop for the island. The tour winds up at the stunning sandy curve of Arashi Beach, where you can wander along the sand and use the provided snorkeling gear to peer beneath the improbably blue water at what lies beneath. Tours run from Monday to Saturday and refreshments are provided.
From $115/ per person
If you have a little more time and funds to spare, then you might just be able to reach some of Aruba’s more secluded spots. This exciting full-day tour uses Land Rovers to access some of the more rugged and pristine sections of the island, including Arikok National Park and the rock paintings at the Caves of Aruba. There are also two opportunities to swim and snorkel at the popular Baby Beach and the quieter Natural Pool. A BBQ lunch is provided, along with water. As with all tours on this and any other snorkeling-based list, please aim to bring bio-degradable sunscreen/sun cream in order to protect the fragile coral reefs. Tours depart daily from your Oranjestad hotel or cruise ship.
From $37/ per person
Aruba is a small island, so there aren’t the kinds of hidden secrets that you might find in a much bigger country. Having said that, plenty of beaches around the island yield some marvellous snorkeling opportunities, such as the stunning turquoise water-lapped Baby Beach. This half-day tour hops between this and one other beach, normally Mangel Halto, with its soft sand. Both spots have schools of tropical fish flitting about beneath the waves. The tour only runs on Fridays each week, to coincide with the main cruise ship arrivals. Pickup from the ship or your hotel are both available.